Model: 2015 Ford F150 SuperCrew 4×4 Lariat, 5 1/2′ box.
Drivetrain: 2.7L twin turbo V6 EcoBoost engine, 325hp @ 5750 rpm and 370ft/lb @ 3000 rpm
Price as tested: $59,469 ($37,849 base XLT SuperCrew) – $49,726 at Leslie Motors
Infotainment: Ford MySYNC w 8″ LCD pressure touch screen, nav, bluetooth, CD, backup camera.
Comfort: Heated and cooled perforated leather seating front, perforated leather seating rear.
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Once again my first test of the year is the legendary Ford F150. No secret that not only is this my personal favourite truck, but it’s my most anticipated ride ever. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this test since Ford first announced this truck early last year. I watched in envy as automotive journalists from all over were invited to Texas to give this truck its first tests. Finally, thanks to the folks at Leslie Motors, I got my hands on one to test. Never has a vehicle faced such high expectations, and I’m just speaking from me. Ford’s 2015 F150 is a long overdue complete redesign of their flagship vehicle. Ford sold more F150s than any other vehicle in Canada again in 2014; a feat they have repeated for 5 years. F150s have also outsold their competition in Canada 49 years running. This new truck has some mighty shoes to fill.
Legacy pressure aside, Ford had the monumentus task of merging innovation with long standing reliability. They needed to build a truck that helped bring better mileage without changing their drivetrain too much. They did introduce a new engine, the 2.7L EcoBoost V6, but are making diesel fans like myself wait a bit longer for one. Ford’s new truck uses the same 6 speed transmission as it’s predecessor does, and the same 5L V8, 3.5L EcoBoost V6, and 3.7L V6 engines. There’s rumours of an 8 speed in the works, but that won’t be for a couple years yet. What this does mean, however, is while this truck is a total redesign, at least the drivetrain is tested and proven over the last 4 years. Which is a good thing too, because Ford has taken a big gamble with the 2015 F150.
That gamble is Aluminum. Ford has introduced a military grade Aluminum alloy body mounted to a high tensile strength steel frame. You notice the Aluminum right away. Body paneling feels and sounds different. Doors are light, lacking the weightiness other half ton trucks have. While the tailgate does have a dampened lowering system, you still feel the benefits of Aluminum alloy when you’re closing it. Gone are the days of the two handed, leg boosted heave required to slam the tailgate home. In contrast, the tailgate is feather weighted when compared to its competition. Ford has made some subtle, but attractive changes to the exterior design, while maintaining the same look and feel we’ve come to expect from the F150. Front windows still have that two tiered flare. I’m a big fan of the front grill and headlight design. My tester lacked the available LED headlamp system, which would look stunning. Even still, LED design highlights abound and give this truck a real upper-class feel.
This F150 also features a much needed interior refresh. While the center console is simplistic in design, there are an awful lot of small, confusing buttons to the driver’s left. These control window locks, mirrors, mirror lights, power pedals, and other accessories. It presented a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to dim the interior dashes, and to explain to a new driver how to use/find the power pedals. That said, once you learn where things are, you don’t forget. Center dash, however, is laid out very well. You can easily reach, without looking, to make basic changes to climate and audio volume. In general, I really liked the options in this truck. Push button start, with remote start, are wonderful things in Canadian winters. Seats, both front and rear, were exceptionally comfortable. Long road trips would be a cinch in the 2015 F150.
As a whole, this truck came up against some extremely high personal expectations. Like tweeny girl about to meet Justin Beiber level of expectations. If anything could have made it fall on its face, it would have. Thing is, this truck didn’t. The more I drove it and became familiar with how it worked, the more I felt it’s not only a suitable successor in the F150 line, it’s probably the best new truck on the market. Period.
I have a confession to make. When Ford announced the release of the 2015 F150 they hinted at a new engine release. I was quite disappointed to see the third engine on offer was a smaller gas EcoBoost engine and not a diesel one. At 2.7L, I assumed this engine was simply not up to the task of half ton trucking. In fact, during many of my dreaming sessions, I would explicitly price the 3.5L EcoBoost engine instead, outright ignoring the little EcoBoost. An article in MotorTrend comparing three trucks began to change my tune, however. When Leslie Motors first listed the fresh crop of 2015 F150s, this red beauty I tested soon became the one I kept dreaming about, despite the little 2.7L. Now that I’ve driven it, I feel ashamed. On paper this engine has every right to be considered capable. It boasts 325hp and 370ft/lb of torque at a mere 3000rpm, mated to an efficient and proven 6 speed transmission. Couple that with the fact that this F150 is now clad in Aluminum alloy, it features excellent thrust to weight ratio (holla to my Kerbal Space Program fans). A stomp on the accelerator is followed, nearly immediately, by an equal thrust of acceleration. Considering its size, this F150 clambers up to speed very quickly. While I did long for the throaty V8 idle speed, the 2.7L had a delicious noise when under acceleration that erased that longing. Think suped up rally truck sound.
Where the 2.7L did let me down was in mileage. I’m having to knock down the score here because the F150 didn’t quite hit the marks I was expecting it too. While Ford says, according to the sticker, the truck should get 10.4L/100km highway and 13.3L/100km city, my test ran an average of 13.5L/100km. Now, there are some considerations at play here. I managed to get a good balance of back road highway driving and city driving in the test. However, half way through we got over a foot of snow. This meant that two of the days were spent in full time 4×4 mode, which does have a negative impact on mileage. I should also note that the driving behaviour has a lot to bear on actual mileage as well. While the F150 did miss it’s highest mark, it didn’t by much. The drivetrain’s overall performance was superb, never a hiccup in where the transmission needed to be. Throttle response is bang on. For a full size truck, the 2015 F150 doesn’t leave much wanting when driving, even with the little 2.7L EcoBoost.
As is any Canadian winter, my test managed to cover a variety of driving surfaces. From buried beneath a foot of snow to bare. In all of these conditions the F150’s ride didn’t change. It felt stable and capable. Passenger comfort was exceptional, and when you add heated/cooled perforated leather seats it only gets better. It was easy to get the seat into an optimal position, all drivers commented on the space and comfort afforded them. In the back we easily fit three full multi-stage child seats. Even with the driver seat full back, we could enter and walk across the rear passenger space to load our kids. Though lacking heating or cooling, the rear seats are still a comfortable perforated leather. Not that kids in car seats will notice that sort of thing. As a truck this F150 aced comfort. Long stretches on boring roads never felt tiring. Even though it didn’t have the LED headlights, night coverage was still excellent. Entry into the F150 was easy for people of all heights thanks in part to a well-placed side step. Even my nearly 4 year old kids could enter and exit on their own with relative ease.
Being a Lariat, my test truck was loaded up with lots of luxury extras. In addition to the seats, it also feature automatic climate control and remote start. Both were wonderful on our cold Canadian mornings. On the whole there wasn’t a thing I felt that could make this truck ride or feel any better. Its stability on all road conditions combined with excellent interior finishes makes one great riding vehicle. Even for a truck, the suspension had some softness to it.
I looped in the opinion of a couple of the contractors in my life here. My father in law and brother in law are both hard working contractors. My brother in law actually drives pickups for work with some regularity, including a 2014 F150. Both were very impressed with how the F150 handled itself as a work vehicle. If you opt for the optional tailgate step, which you should, rear bed access is easy and fast. While the remote tailgate release is a nice touch, it only seems to work when not clogged with ice or snow. Parking with the truck facing down also impedes or prevents the tailgate from opening by itself. My brother in law pointed out that, while handy, having to wait for the tailgate to descend on its own would grow annoying fast. Everyone who checked out the truck was blown away by how light the tailgate was. Its weight makes heavy tailgate slamming a thing of the past; you can easily close the thing one handed. Another handy perk is the laser cut rear window. Gone are the days of three glass panes. Gone also is choosing between a window that opens and a window that thaws. In Canada, the latter is a must. My test truck had both. This new rear window system is brilliantly executed and has great aesthetics.
The 2015 F150 also proved eager and ready to handle everyday life. Parking in a near capacity mall parking lot was much less anxious than I expected. Driver visibility is excellent, but Ford has included a backup camera system which gives you excellent visibility into the blind spot behind the truck bed. Large mirrors actually reduce blind spots while accentuating exterior design. Both front and rear doors feature three stop points, which means you don’t have to use your bum to hold them open in tight spaces. My wife and I were easily able to maneuver ourselves and kids in and out of the truck; often clambering up ourselves to buckle them. The SuperCrew’s flat floor let me stash our kid’s suitcases easily under the rear seat. We actually carried three days worth of sleeping gear, sheets, toys, and winter gear inside the cabin: with the kids! Ford also provides optional side mirror mounded LED lights. My wife loved these at night. Not only do they make the truck really look classy, they illuminate the ground and step. Dark corners of the world are chased away with the click of a button. While certainly not quite Minivan practical, the 2015 F150 is very close.
Probably one of, in my opinion, the biggest weaknesses in the outgoing generation of the F150 was its infotainment unit. When stacked against competition, it fell short. Recently Ford moved away from a Microsoft powered system to one powered by QNX, now owned by Blackberry. This system easily rivaled the GM system, which I loved, both in simple design and robust functionality. A clever split multi view home screen gives you a summary of what each element is doing; climate control, navigation, media, and phone. I loved this feature, and accessing each function from this screen was as simple as pressing a large button. Navigation system puts directions onto a customizable LCD screen between the dials. While it offers the same functionality as competitive products, it does it with much better design. Standard Bluetooth connectivity worked fast, and was easy to pair by voice command or screen input. My phone seemed to struggle a bit on initial pairing; I suspect Microsoft Phones no longer like Ford SYNC. I got them to play nice though, quickly enough. USB inputs, SD card, and a 12V plug hide in a compartment just below the radio deck. It’s a handy place to stash and secure your smartphone. Ford’s F150 only has two USB ports, GM puts 4 + 2 in theirs, including none in the rear cabin. While there are two 112V plugs, the fact that there were 4 old fashioned 12V plugs is a bit puzzling. Most devices use the 112V or USB charging these days. Ford should consider removing the rear 12V plug in favour of another USB hub.
Voice commands worked the best of any system I’ve tested yet. Navigation automatically placed me in the province I drove, and only searched from cities there. I could speak my address and city on the first go. After a short pause, the truck essentially nailed my fast spoken input. While it wouldn’t accept a spoken phone number, it easily recognized the name of the contacts after I said them. Switching radio stations and media modes was also much simpler than before. Get the right input word, and the truck gives you what you ask. Don’t, and it makes its best effort. Sound comes courtesy of a Sony system, modified with simple equalizer and fade controls. It handled a range of music types well, solid fidelity and reproduction throughout. Music sources include FM/AM, Satellite, USB, and Bluetooth. Audio controls are both steering wheel mounted, or quickly accessible on the center console.
Ford uses LED lights to create a soft ambient lighting atmosphere. We discovered how to change the intensity and colour of the lights in the infotainment unit. Bright bubbles of colour are selected to make the change. It also proved to be a wonderful entertainment device for children of all ages.
This is a great truck, fender to fender. The only question it really begs is: how will the Aluminum alloy stand the test of time? Questions aside, the 2015 Ford F150 is worthy to carry the F150 badge. A truck amongst trucks, aluminum amongst steel.
A big thanks to the folks at Leslie Motors for letting me test another one of your vehicles. You can visit Leslie online, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Like this truck as much as I did? You can buy it! Please remember to tell them I sent you.