The king of pickup trucks has a new wardrobe.
Ford has finally pulled the cloth off their new re-design of their extremely popular F150 light duty pickup truck. Despite the fact that they are the last to do so, sales for the previous generation continue to be very strong. Ford has been fairly tight lipped about the new truck despite GM and Dodge playing good hands recently. They gave us a taste with the Atlas concept but nothing more. With a brand new Sierra on sale for nearly a year by release and an efficient new Dodge engine on offer, Ford has some tough competition. Now that the next generation of the F150 has hit the general public, let’s take a look at what we’ve got coming.
In summary, it looks like Ford have done a lot of work trying to make their trucks efficient in ways not done by others. New construction materials represent a gamble in manufacturing retooling and overhead. Only one new engine on offer – the biggest disappointment in the announcement – and no new drive train changes either. In typical Ford sense it seems what works is what’s been stuck to. The exterior features a totally new grill with nods to distinguishing features, like the Sierra, but varies little beyond the A pillar from current trucks. Lighting is the biggest change drivers are likely to notice. Let’s dive into the details.
As with the Dodge and GM redesigns this is where we see the biggest changes. Obviously the truck “in the flesh” will have a different look and feel to it, we can still get a good grasp from media pictures Ford has released. As previously noted the biggest change is facing the truck head on. Ford seems to have opted for a massive grille and a very different headlamp design. At fist blush I wasn’t sure I liked it, but the more I see it the more I really appreciate the design ques. It represents something very different from what the others have to offer; I’ve long said the LED design in Dodge and GM signal lamps looks identical. Beyond that there is the typical swoop up in the front window. In fact, from the side mirrors back the design changes are really only seen in the badges. A bit disappointing, but there are only a few ways in which a box can be designed. They have now included LED lighting in the box as well as along the sides of the mirrors. They look stylish and will provide great function for those working in the wee hours.
The big change of the exterior is the build material. In what can only be described as a bold move, Ford has opted to go for an Aluminum alloy. The frame remains a fully boxed, strengthened steel construction with eight crossovers. The Aluminum alloy is then draped over the frame. The results are 700lbs lost compared to the current model of F150. It also means that F150 bodies now have great corrosion resistance; this will be happy news to parts of North American who get winter. A big plus for sure. Ford hopes, however, that the weight gain will help translate into better mileage numbers. As we’ll see in a bit, this is a huge gamble on their part.
This is where things get a little more foggy. On the official launch page there are very little in the way of glimpses into the interior of the truck. We have some images of the Atlas interior but that was concept. How much, then, of the interior changed then? What we do know is there is a focus on powering the tools of the trade and what looks to be a well designed infotainment system. The image on dash suggests we’ll see the F150 with a Ford MySync system similar to what’s on offer from the Taurus. Not a surprise really. As for other details? We’ll have to get our grubby paws on it for that.
The fogginess around what Ford will be offering in the new F150 lifts only slightly here. There is no mention of transmission in any of the documents. There are rumors of Ford and GM working to build a transmission but it may not be in time for the 2015 model. Or will it be? There is no indication here either way. Also missing is the gearings; will these trucks have 6,8 or 10 speed gearboxes? New mileage numbers depend on more gears for the engines to select from. It also requires new engines with better performance. Here is where Ford seems to have made their biggest error. The 2015 does come with the powerfully efficient and capable EcoBoost engine, it
still offers the traditional 3.5L standard V6 and 5.0L V8 options. Three engines that, while known and reliable, have no mileage improvements over current models. New transmissions could have provided this much needed boost. Weight loss can only go so far.
There is a new engine on offer: a 2.7L EcoBoost V6. Nothing in mileage numbers on this one but it will surely be better than current offerings. Capability and real-life usability will remain to be shown. This isn’t the engine that Ford should have been introducing, however. What is also notably missing, and a huge shortcoming in my opinion, is a light duty diesel. Ford has huge European offerings around small diesels and it would have served them VERY well to get one of them into the F150. A 3L V6 or similar would put the F150 well ahead of it’s competition and take a huge bite out of the market share the Dodge Ram EcoDiesel is certainly going to take.
Ford has finally given us a fresh, new F150 to come up against the latest redesigns from GM and Dodge. Ford has been surprisingly conservative in some respects and very bold in others. I wish I could say they were in both cases where it counts but, sadly, they weren’t. They have brought us a good looking truck that promises to be capable and very fuel efficient. Aside from the Aluminum construction, sure to be a hit in Canada, they have little proof of their claims. Surely we shall see more as the truck release approaches and the real tests will come from driving.
You an see the official 2015 Ford F150 launch page by clicking here.