Ford has released full details on the new 2015 F-150 pickup, and with a host of new technologies and engines, it may be the most advanced full-size truck ever.
The company says it's tougher, smarter, and more capable than ever before--and looking at the styling, it's hard to argue on the first point.
We're aware that many of our readers are less than keen on big pickup trucks, and the brash, square-edged styling, three-bar grille, and enormous proportions are unlikely to change that.
It isn't hugely different from before--Ford knows better than to mess too much with the formula which has kept it at the top of sales charts for years--but the new grille, unique divided headlights, and familiar proportions should appeal to new and old buyers alike.
Lighter than before
Restyle aside, the most interesting development with the new body is its construction, now aluminum in an effort to reduce weight.
There's only so much you can do with a full size truck body sitting on a steel chassis, but the upshot is a reduction in weight of up to 700 lbs compared to the previous model--a not insignificant figure and one that should aid the F-150's performance, handling characteristics and of course, efficiency.
It's also stronger than before, according to Ford, as well as being more corrosion resistant--always important for a hard-working truck.
Two new engines join a four-engine range in the new model. Most important is the new 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost featuring standard Auto Start-Stop.
The system has been specially tuned for truck customers to maximize ease of use--the engine shuts off to save fuel when the vehicle is stopped, but doesn't do so when towing or in four-wheel drive, ensuring power is always there for the driver when they need it.
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It even has motor sport pedigree: Ford entered a disguised F-150 into the Baja 1000 cross-country rally in Mexico, where it completed all 883 miles without issue.
The 2.7 EcoBoost is joined by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing, and both join the existing 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8 to complete the range.
EcoBoost models are equipped with aerodynamic Active Grille Shutters to further improve ecconomy. These remain open when cooling is required--in traffic, or in hot weather, for example--but close at highway speeds to reduce drag and improve gas mileage.
Ford is boasting 11 new class-exclusive features on the 2015 F-150, to give it the edge over its competition.
A 360-degree camera view aids parking and maneuvers, enhanced by trailer hitch assist--a camera that superimposes lines onto the rear view camera to help drivers line up truck and trailer when maneuvering.
Loading and using trailers is made even easier with integrated loading ramps, a smart trailer tow module--to diagnose any problems with the trailer while towing, such as blown bulbs--and BoxLink, a package of brackets and cleats for securing trailer accessories and other cargo items. The tailgate--now damped to drop down slower--can also be locked, unlocked and released from the key fob.
2015 Ford F-150
There are high-wattage power outlets in the cab (400 watts,110 volts), LED lights front and rear, LED spotlights on the sideview mirrors, a new tailgate step and of course, that 2.7 EcoBoost engine.
Other useful features include an 8-inch display screen on the dash, LED lighting for the pickup bed, rear under-seat storage in Super and Crew cab models and a boxside step for the 5.5-foot box models.
Safety is enhanced by a blind-spot information system, lane-keeping control, Curve Control to slow the vehicle down more when entering a turn too quickly and second-row inflatable safety belts for the rear passengers.
This is the big unknown for the time being, but with the new 2.7-liter EcoBoost in the range it could be the most efficient F-150 yet.
At its best, the new F-150 has to beat the 16 mpg city, 22 highway and 18 mpg combined of the 2014 EcoBoost V-6 model, and 13 city, 18 highway and 15 combined of the V-8.
With the weight reduction and subtle aerodynamic improvements, it could be enough to lift the F-150 comfortably above 20 mpg combined in the most efficient variants. In fact, Ford says it's hoping for highway economy of "close to" 30 mpg for the new 2.7--higher than any other full-size pickup to date.
The 2015 F-150 will go on sale later this year in XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum and King Ranch trims, with an optional FX4 package for most four-wheel drive models.
We'd expect full economy figures to appear a little closer to that date--but in the meantime, we'll be harvesting all the information we can at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.
You can keep up to date with the latest launches on our Detroit Auto Show hub page.