The Ford Motor Company is in the midst of an experiment, one that could just as easily be described as a gamble.
Beginning with the 2015 model year the F-150 is all new, but its uniqueness isn’t limited to a fresh face or a new engine — both are apparent — rather to the company’s resoluteness to go with an aluminum body instead of steel.
That decision is a light-weighting move that Ford says yields a more economical model. Indeed, with the smallest V-6 engine chosen, the 4×2 F-150 is now rated at 26 mpg on the highway.
Some critics have openly wondered whether the new Ford trucks were up to the task, but the automaker has assured us that the trucks have endured millions of miles of testing to prove its brawn, something that I was able to confirm after a week of testing.
2015 Ford F-150
That test model was a 2015 Ford F-150 4×4 SuperCab, the middle of three cabin choices. A three-passenger regular cab and a six-passenger SuperCrew cab are the other choices.
Before we examine the model at hand, a look at the available models (or editions) is necessary. Ford prices the 2015 model from $25,800 (XL edition) and also offers XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum editions for a maximum price of $51,350.
But you will pay more for 4×4 models and special packages. Ford also eliminated half of its editions for this year, a move that consolidates its offerings.
Furthermore, Ford also eliminated the larger of its two V-8 engines — displacing at 6.2 liters — and now offers three V-6 engines and just one V-8. Certainly, that sort of maneuver would have been unheard of a decade ago as most truck fleets were dominated by V-8 engines with a token six-cylinder offered.
The base engine is a normally-aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 followed by a new, 2.7-liter EcoBoost (turbocharging and direct fuel injection) V-6. A 5.0-liter V-8 is the next choice, followed by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. All four engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode. Importantly, each model takes regular grade gasoline.
The weekly loaner had the smallest of the four engines, so I was able to experience what this 325-horsepower motor has to offer. My verdict is in: the smallest engine is big on power — not once did I feel that I was being “cheated” by its comparably diminutive footprint.
There were times when I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a V-8 under the hood, such is the vigor of this powerhouse from the low end of the RPM band at that.
Weight Saving Measures
Ford says that it trimmed up to 700 pounds with its latest generation pickup truck, a move that has had no adverse effect on payload or towing — the twin prerequisites of large trucks.
In fact, Ford now claims preeminence among its competitors as its 3,300-pound payload and 12,200-pound towing capacity beat its five competitors: the Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan.
Has Ford raised the bar with the all-new F-150? You be the judge. And if its near four-decade dominance in the segment is not enough to convince you of its fortitude, then you probably need to do some head-to-head testing to find out yourself.
Additional Changes Enumerated
Besides going with a high-strength aluminum-alloy body and steel frame, changing its engine offerings and streamlining the editions, the 2015 Ford F-150 boasts a number of other modifications that are noteworthy.
First, the tailgate can now be remotely locked just as you would do with the doors. Indeed, if you activate the close door feature you will hear the doors and the tailgate lock in place.
Second, Ford upgraded its lighting offerings to make LED headlamps and tail lamps available.
Third, an available 360-degree camera view makes it possible to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the truck, a feature that makes it easier to park or maneuver your F-150.
Fourth, Ford rolled out a BoxLink system that utilizes a coalescence of metal brackets and custom cleats to secure accessories in your cargo box.
Fifth, a smart trailer tow module makes use of an all-new wiring harness to help the driver pinpoint problems with connectivity, including brake light and trailer battery issues. Separately, Ford also offers a trailer hitch assist in the form of a rear view camera that makes use of dynamic lines, removing the necessity of a human spotter.
Other updates include: 400-watt, 110-volt power outlets in the cab, a new 8-inch LCD productivity screen, LED lighting embedded in the walls of the cargo box, and under seat storage in the SuperCab and SuperCrew models.
SuperCab Means Constrained Rear Space
My impressions of the SuperCab model are mixed. On the one hand, I had no complaints about the driver’s seat, the instrument panel or center stack (although the Ford Sync system needs improvement) or the performance.
However, the second row is accessible by means of a pair of rear-pivoting half doors what provides ease of access to that section, but also means you can only open them when the front doors have been opened.
Like other manufacturers, the SuperCab configuration provides the extra room, but that room is best used by families with younger children — legroom is tight, especially if either the driver or the front passenger pushes his seat back. Surely, if you want an F-150 for your work crew, the SuperCrew is your best choice.
Standard with the XL edition are 17-inch silver steel wheels. Painted aluminum, machined-aluminum and polished aluminum wheels are available. All-season tires are standard; all-terrain tires are available.
Ford trucks are offered in three bed sizes: 5-foot-6-inch, 6-foot-6-inch and 8-foot beds. Each bed represents Ford’s traditional “Styleside” design.
The base XL edition is outfitted with a 40/20/40 vinyl bench seat. It can also be updated to cloth. It isn’t until you reach the Lariat edition where leather is available and offered standard. Bucket seats are optional with the XLT and standard in the Lariat and above.
The Lariat also offers a power driver and front passenger seat. This feature is optional with the XLT, but it isn’t available with the XL edition. In SuperCab and SuperCrew models, you get a 60/40 flip up bench seat.
All models are equipped with air conditioning, with dual-zone climate control coming in when you choose the Lariat. A standard AM-FM audio package upgrades to a Sony audio system elsewhere.
Navigation is standard only with the top end models, optional elsewhere except with the base model. Furthermore, SiriusXM satellite radio and SYNC with MyFord Touch are optional.
Every Ford F-150 comes with power windows and door locks, a 12-volt outlet up front and an additional 12-volt outlet in the rear for extended cab models, and an auxiliary audio input jack. King Ranch and Platinum editions come with a USB port, what is also included with tech packages elsewhere. The two top editions also come with a rear view camera.
There are a number of important points about the dashboard that should be considered. Notably, the instrument panel is easy to read with large analog dials for the tachometer and speedometer and four smaller dials for the gas gauge and other features.
Smack dab in the middle of it all is a digital driver’s information center — what you control on the surface of the steering wheel. By the way, a tilt and telescopic steering column is standard.
Surprisingly, the center stack features a small color display. It just doesn’t seem sized right for this vehicle. Moreover, the SYNC 3 system that will begin rolling out for the 2016 model year cannot come soon enough.
I absolutely appreciated the storage spaces between the front seats. You have an enclosed storage compartment, a pair of open compartments as well as a place to hold your smartphone.
The requisite deep storage compartment between the seats was also there as well as a large and deep glove box. Commercial account buyers should be satisfied with this design.
Besides the available rear view camera, all models come with a suite of six airbags. Curve control is standard as are four-wheel anti-lock brakes. SuperCrew models offer inflatable rear safety belts with all editions except for the XL. A blind spot information system with rear cross traffic alert is available.
Crashworthiness testing as conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is not yet complete for the 2015 Ford F-150. However, in testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the regular cab model received 5-star ratings for both the 4×2 and 4×4 editions. That represents the NHTSA’s highest score.
The Bottom Line
Will the 2015 Ford F-150 satisfy current owners? That seems likely and judging by early demand for the new model and Ford’s careful ramping up of production, there just doesn’t seem to be much to stop the F-150.
Concerns that some have expressed about its durability are unfounded. Furthermore, bodily repair costs should be in line with other trucks, something that the insurance industry stands by.
2015 Ford F-150 Highlights
1. Fresh Styling Inside and Out
The 2015 Ford F-150 is at once familiar as it is all new. The front fascia receives a new grille that is flanked by available LED headlamps for a segment first, what provide brighter illumination and longer life. LED tail lights bring up the rear which now includes a power operated tail gate.
2. New Engines Available
Ford continues with its four gasoline engine strategy, but it has swapped out two engines for two new ones. The 2015 model is down to one V-8 engine, displacing at 5.0 liters.
Its standard engine now measures 3.5 liters, a normally aspirated model that is joined by an EcoBoost engine of the same displacement. Most notably, a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine joins the line up. All four engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
3. Lightweighting via Aluminum
Ford claims that the new model comes in at up to 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing edition. Ford achieved the weight savings by making use of aluminum alloy across the body and high-tensile steel. Going with the smaller engines also reduces the trucks weight.
4. Improved Exterior Views
Ford lowered the front door windows and pushed forward the side view mirrors to provide improved exterior views. 2015 Ford F-150 buyers will also enjoy a 360-degree camera system that makes use of exterior cameras to provide a birds eye view of the truck.
Parking, maneuvering and keeping ones eyes out for small children will be greatly improved with the new model.
5. Inflatable Rear Safety Belts Included
Ford is a pioneer in inflatable seat belt technology and will equip the rear seating postings with these belts. The way that they work is when the truck is in a front-end accident, the seat belts inflate like airbags to provide an extra measure of protection for rear seating passengers.
6. Auto Start-Stop Technology Added
Pull up to a stop light or idle anywhere for about five seconds and your 2015 Ford F-150 conveniently shuts off, conserving gas. Step on the accelerator and your truck instantaneously fires up, ready to bring you on your way.
The technology is so sophisticated that Ford deactivates it when you’re towing or operating in 44 mode, those times when constant engine power is needed.
7. Cargo Configurability Choices
Ford takes cargo tie downs to the next level with the 2015 Ford F-150. The new truck features a BoxLink system, with stowable cargo ramps and lockable die-cast aluminum tie-down cleats that owners can configure in scores of different ways.
They can be mounted on the tailgate too, making it easier to load up mowers, motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles.
2015 Ford F-150 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.