It's easy to imagine how Ford's all-new F-150 pickup could have spent the past four years in a workout program that transforms bodies from regular to ripped. That's because Ford reinvented its award-winning F-150 by making it lighter but stronger, and more fit than ever to tow, carry loads, and perform like a champ off-road.
"We wanted to build the toughest, most capable F-150, while making it as much as 700 pounds lighter," says Pete Reyes, Ford F-150 chief engineer. "We challenged the team to torture the truck harder than any F-150 before it."
What's unique in the truck world is the 2015 F-150's an all-new high-strength aluminum-alloy body and high-strength steel frame. Ford tested its new structure with more than 10 million miles of both simulated and real-world evaluation that included participating in the legendary Baja 1000 off-road race and putting the pickup in the hands of select truck-tough customers. Although it weighs less, it boasts best-in-class towing (upped by 900 pounds) and 1,000 pounds more payload capacity.
The lineup of models includes the base XL (starting at $25,420), the XLT ($30,695), the high-end Lariat ($38,685), the King Ranch ($48,495), and the top-of-the-line Platinum ($50,960).
The F-150 seats from three to six passengers and comes in three cab models: Regular Cab (available with a 6.5- or 8-ft. bed), SuperCab (with 6.5- or 8-ft. bed) and SuperCrew (with 5.5- or 6.5-ft. bed options).
The new F-150 is 2 inches wider than the outgoing model, and has a slightly more aggressive and more sculpted exterior; its beltline has been lowered by 2 inches to improve visibility.
Inside, there are multi-contoured seats, grab handles at all four doors, a bigger windshield with smaller-but-strengthened A-pillars, more stowage, more rear leg room, and an available twin-panel moon roof. The backup camera displays a black line guide to assist those who might be hitching up a trailer or tow vehicle.
Among the upgrades to the pickup's bed is a strengthened bed floor with 65 percent increased thickness. The tailgate drops locks and unlocks by remotely or by a switch in the bed. Additional features include four LED cargo lights, a new box-side step that extends and retracts with foot pressure, and upgraded steps and grab handle integrated into the tailgate.
Powering the 2015 F-150 are four engine choices. First is an all-new, high-output 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that gets 325 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque with standard auto start-stop; Ford promises mid-range V-8-like towing capability of 8,500 pounds and 2,250 pounds payload.
A standard 3.5L V-6 offers 283 hp and 255 lb.-ft. of torque and can tow 7,600 pounds and haul 1,910 pounds payload. Ford says it's best in class for V-6 capability for light-duty trucks.
Other engines are a 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 with 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque that tows 12,000 pounds hauls up to 3,050 pounds, and a 5.0L V-8 that delivers 385 hp and 387 lb.-ft. of torque and tows up to 11,000 pounds and hauls 3,300 pounds of payload. All are matched to a six-speed auto transmission; some models add a "sport" mode.
A tow/haul mode has been improved to hold gears longer and the electronic trailer brake controller now has a "smart" trailer connect that provides drivers with trailer connection status, lighting, and trailer battery alerts and warnings.
We drove along a traditional drive route of close to 150 miles in San Antonio's Hill Country region and evaluated towing prowess by pulling a 9,000-pound trailer. We concentrated our drive on a Lariat 4x4 SuperCrew powered by the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6; Ford's smallest engine in a truck for 67 years, the 2.7L EcoBoost boasts increased towing and payload numbers.
Throughout the product line, we experienced a quiet ride, nimble handling with precise steering, great on-tap power and performance, strong brakes, and a collection of nice interiors.
Our drive route also included an off-road course with up and downhill sections, a corduroy track of partially buried logs, as well as a section with water and deep mud. Peter Frantzekakis, F-Series engineering manager, shared our ride to help identify vehicle changes that improve off-roading, such as a 15-mm wider track, 1-inch higher ground clearance, new transfer case, improved electronic locking differential, recalibrated hill descent control, "light weighting" by some 15 percent to help the truck handle better over bumps and dips, and staggered outboard rear shocks that reduce the "power hop" at the back of the frame. We found it capable and composed throughout the course.
Also of note, the keyless entry touch pad is now higher on the truck door, which helps keep it farther from dirt and mud, and it can be used with gloves. Increased door handle clearance also accommodates a gloved hand, while the rear-seat area gets a flat floor for stowage of large items, and wider-opening doors ease access for people and cargo.
Copyright © 2015 Motor Matters
|Base price||$38,685 (as tested: $45,660)|
|Curb weight||4,425 lbs.|
|Engine type||EcoBoost V-6 w/SDI|
|Epa mileage rating||18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||23 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||325 at 5750 rpm|
|Overall length||231.9 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||375 at 3000 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5/6-passenger 4x4 pickup truck|
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