2015 Ford F-150. Click image to enlarge
Review by Jacob Black, photos by Jacob Black and Jeff Wilson
Detroit – 37 years is a long time at the top by any measure. For Ford, almost four decades of constant pickup truck domination mean they have a lot to live up to. Even more so if you look at Canada, where the F-Series has been the biggest-selling full-size pickup for 48 years. So there were understandably some nerves leading up to the unveiling of the 2015 Ford F-150. Ever since the Atlas concept was revealed, customers have been hoping for a bigger, better truck.
To achieve that, Ford decided to add “smart” to its credo of “Ford Tough”. CEO Mark Fields says, “F-150 is well-known for being Built Ford Tough. Now, it is both tough and smart.”
The addition of a new 2.7L six-cylinder EcoBoost engine to the ranks is part of that strategy. The 2.7L engine includes Auto Start/Stop and, as with the existing 3.5L EcoBoost V6, active grille shutters. Those close at cruising speed to reduce drag and improve fuel economy.
There is also a new naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing that replaces the outgoing 3.7L non-turbo.
Oh no! Smaller engines? What about the “proper” truck engine? Fear not, my friends, the 5.0L V8 remains on the roster – for now.
High-strength aluminum alloys are also used throughout the body to shave off 317 kg (700 lb). Despite the weight reduction, Ford says the new body work is more dent resistant and tougher.
The weight reduction makes the F-150 more efficient, and while Ford has yet to release tow capacities they claim the weight reduction leads to a higher rating.
Also available in the new model are integrated, stowable loading ramps for motorcycles, ATVs and other wheeled equipment. Ford’s new BoxLink system includes metal brackets and cleats that can be used to reconfigure the bed in multiple ways and also secure loads. The bed is accessed by a remote-operated tailgate, which is damped to improve hands-free lowering. Also there is a new-and-improved tailgate step, which is fully integrated and becomes invisible when not in use and, new for 2015, the boxside steps are available in the shorter 5.5’ box.
Frequent towers may appreciate tow-hitch assist software which overlays the back-up camera with tow hitch guidelines depending on steering angle, and also Smart Trailer tow module that monitors trailer connectivity issues like broken lights and turn-signal indicators.
The suite of camera and radar technology also contributes to a top-down, 360-degree park assist that will help reduce the risk of dings and dents when maneuvering around loading docks, work sites or other tight areas.
2015 Ford F-150. Click image to enlarge
All that is displayed on a new eight-inch “productivity screen” (touchscreen to the rest of us) that includes Truck Apps. These features offer things like towing and fuel economy tips, and the home screen can be configured to show quick access to the apps most used by operators.
There will also be smartphone connectivity, plus two 400 watt, 110-volt power outlets to keep the mobile office powered up.
LED lighting has a huge presence in the new F-150, with spotlights on the side mirrors to help illuminate the truck exterior, and even LEDs embedded in the walls of the bed.
As well as the now-standard Ford features like lane-keeping system, blind-spot assist, hill-start assist and adaptive cruise control, Ford F-150 has a Curve Control feature, which automatically provides more aggressive four-wheel braking when the truck is going into a corner too fast.
Ford says the exterior and interior design “reflect decades of listening to customers and understanding their occupational and recreational needs”. Certainly the appearance is blockier, bulkier and more aggressive. The interior also includes work-focused touches like a laptop storage bin, business card holder and buttons that have been “optimized for use with work gloves”.
The 2015 Ford F-150 goes on sale late in 2014, with five trims available: XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum and King Ranch. Ford’s FX4 off-road package complete with skid-plates, off-road shocks and an electronic locking rear axle will be available on most 4X4 models.