The Ford F-150 has been totally redesigned for 2015, riding atop a brand-new frame. In addition to this upgrade it also features some powertrain enhancements and a passel of segment-exclusive features. But these items are not this truck’s signature innovation. Engineers and product planners bet the farm on a new material.
|Engine: A new 2.7L EcoBoost V6 makes 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: A six-speed automatic is the only gearbox offered.
Pricing: Starting at $26,615 including $1,195 in destination fees, the XLT 4×4 SuperCrew model we evaluated cost around 50 grand.
Competitors (Aluminum) Foiled
Their wager was a lot more than just throwing a few bucks at a slot machine. In a move that’s akin to plunking all of your retirement savings on red at a Vegas roulette table, engineers divorced steel and wed themselves to lightweight aluminum, using it for the truck’s cab and bed. Depending on the model this decision resulted in a maximum weight savings of some 700 pounds, a handsome payout.
Additionally the F-150’s fully boxed, ladder-style frame is now comprised of about 77 percent high-strength steel, up from around 23 percent in today’s model. This makes it stronger, more rigid and helps it shed up to 60 pounds.
But how will contractors, plumbers, linemen and loggers take to this new reduced-fat F-150? Would the vehicle’s core buyers still embrace a truck that’s built out of aerospace-grade materials and not tired-and-true ferrous metal?
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Ford wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. Ensuring the 2015 model would not crumple like a gum wrapper the first time you put a few bags of mulch in the bed they rigorously evaluated it in the laboratory, the real world and even the deserts of Mexico during the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race. Throughout development it endured some 10 million miles of testing, more than any other F-150 in history.
Beyond this the company keeps reiterating things like “high strength” and “military grade” when referring to the truck’s cab and bed. It was a recurring theme at the media drive. They really want to make certain everyone knows the new F-150 is still a tough workhorse even though it’s gone on a diet.
Additionally the aluminum engineers used in this truck is thicker than comparable steel. In fact the bed floor is 65 percent thicker. This helps the truck resist denting. Beyond this the various panels and sections the pickup is constructed of are riveted and bonded together, not just spot welded, which makes the new F-150 even stronger.
Power to Spare
Four different engines are available. The base unit is a 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated V6. It’s slightly smaller than the entry-level offering in today’s model since the truck is so much lighter; it doesn’t need as much displacement to get the job done. It puts out 283 hp with 255 lb-ft of torque yet still provides a 5 percent better power-to-weight ratio than a similarly equipped 2014 model.
Once again the range-topping engine is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which is just as thunderously capable as before. It puts out 365 ponies and a stout 420 lb-ft of torque.
And that latter option is the most interesting powertrain available in the 2015 F-150 since it’s loaded with high-tech features and promises to be an efficiency champ. Slashing consumption it’s armed with Auto Start-Stop, a variable-displacement oil pump, direct fuel injection and more. Unfortunately Ford has not shared ANY economy numbers at this time.
But horsepower and torque figures are something they have made public. The 2.7 delivers 325 ponies and 375 lb-ft of torque; GIANT numbers from a TINY engine. It can even tow a maximum of 8,500 pounds and carry up to 2,250 pounds of cargo.
What a Haul!
When it comes to getting work done, product planners didn’t forget about the business-end of the 2015 F-150. For easier access they made the bed sides slightly shorter than today’s version, though the box is still plenty deep.
Engineers redesigned this truck’s signature rear step, integrating right into the tailgate, meaning it’s no longer on the inside surface. This keeps it out of the way and makes it easier to slide cargo into and out of the bed when the tailgate is down. It’s also simpler to deploy the step. Additionally the tailgate can be dropped with the push of a button on the truck’s key fob, if so equipped.
The bed can also be outfitted with Ford’s Boxlink system, which provides removable cleats and other E-Track-friendly accessories. This allows you to have integrated ramps, cargo dividers and all kinds of other items. It’s a clever feature and one that makes this pickup even more versatile.
The new F-150 is certainly a handsome vehicle, though perhaps not as tastefully styled as the Ram 1500. In any event this rig features a suitably premium cabin. Attractively grained materials abound and there are lots of thoughtful touches.
Overall the interior has been made two inches wider for more hip and shoulder room. Thanks to a lower beltline outward visibility is improved. Additionally the secondary controls are logically laid out and easy to use.
Trucks equipped with a rear seat (SuperCab and SuperCrew variants) now feature a totally flat floor so it’s easy to slide items right in. Beyond this, SuperCab models benefit from rear-hinged back doors that open a whopping 170 degrees, making it a cakewalk to load passengers or cargo.
Sweetening things for customers, the 2015 Ford F-150 is available with numerous class-exclusive features including Active Park Assist, adaptive cruise control, multi-contour massaging seats and a 360-degree camera. But even more important than all of this is the fact that the truck’s badges get a new font. It’s true!
You can also opt a 400-Watt, three-prong power outlet right in the dashboard. It’s muscular enough to operate all kinds of heavy-duty items from laptop computers and battery chargers to electric drills and work lights.
Drop it in Drive
Underway the 2015 F-150 behaves very well, though its enormous weight loss is not immediately obvious. This is still a massively wide, tall and long vehicle, especially in SuperCrew configuration. At first you feel every bit of it overall hulking-ness, if we’re allowed to invent a word.
But the farther you travel the tidier this truck starts to feel, it’s almost as if various components and the mass they contain fall off as you drive. After a couple hours behind the wheel the new F-150 feels a good bit friskier and smaller than when you started. This is particularly true when compared to other full-size pickups.
The truck is fairly nimble, with light yet accurate steering; it tracks like a laser beam. Regrettably the tiller is a bit uncommunicative; it doesn’t tell you a lot about how much grip the front tires have. Think of it as the strong, silent type.
The front seats are incredible, with just the right blend of plush comfort and supportive firmness. They’re some of the best chairs I’ve ever sat in and even after hours in the saddle I was not fatigued in any way. I wish I could say the same about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’ front seats, which had me squirming like an actor in a Preparation H commercial after just 15 minutes.
The all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is a little gem. It’s powerful and very torquey, punching hard at low RPM, though it doesn’t run out of breath in the upper rev range. It’s startlingly capable in a big, heavy truck and the acceleration it provides is surprisingly strong. It’s also extremely smooth and quiet.
The only transmission available in the new F-150 is a carryover six-speed automatic, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Other competitors may have more gears but Ford’s unit is well sorted, very responsive and silky smooth.
About the only dynamic complaint about this new truck is the braking. The pedal is pretty touchy until you get a feel for the way it bites.
As for pricing and availability the 2015 F-150 should start at $26,615 for a stripped-down XL model, including $1,195 for destination and delivery. A heavily optioned Platinum version, the fanciest one available, is easily double that figure. The new F-150 should start arriving at dealers late this year.
Thanks to its aluminum-intensive construction and massive weight loss this truck is a body-on-frame gauntlet thrown down from a mountain top. The competition had better pay attention because this truck delivers class-leading features, it drives extremely well and the fuel economy it delivers ought to be pretty impressive. Overall it’s revolutionary in many ways and a HUGE advancement in the pickup segment; it’s also proof that sometimes when you gamble it can really pay off.