Ford Motor Co. recently held a media drive for the all-new 2015 F-150 in San Antonio, Texas. Journalists from around the country, including Automotive Fleet, test drove the aluminum-bodied F-150 for the first time.
Upon arrival, journalists drove the predecessor model for first-hand comparisons between it and the newly debuted current model. The differences were noticeable.
First, there was a sure-footedness of the 2015 F-150 on the road, as it is wider than the predecessor model, with a lower center of gravity. Also, there is a greater torsional rigidity. The 2015 F-150 features an all-new steel frame with more high-strength steel. The frame is the strongest F-150 frame ever. The main frame rails are taller and wider for greater resistance to bending and twisting. The 2015 model frame features eight cross members compared to seven in the previous F-150. Five of the crossmembers go through the frame rails and are welded on both sides to create a strong structure. The 2015 model frame uses 78 percent high-strength steel compared to 23 percent in the previous F-150 for a weight savings of 60 pounds.
The body and box are built of a high-strength, military-grade aluminum. The aluminum alloys used on the new F-150 have a better strength-to-weight ratio than common steel, which allows the use of up-gauged (thicker) body panels to resist dents and dings. In the cab frame, multiple panels of thick gauge alloys are layered, riveted, and bonded together with adhesives for strength and occupant protection.
One additional advantage to aluminum is that it is naturally resistant to rust. When aluminum corrodes, it forms a protective layer of oxidation, which means red rust will never occur, as it does when steel is scratched and exposed to the elements.
The 2015 F-150 features a total weight reduction of 700 pounds compared to the previous model. The reduced weight contributes to better fuel economy and increased payload capacity, along with better handling, braking, and maneuverability.
The 2015 F-150 is available in five trim levels: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. AF primarily test drove the XL, XLT, and Lariat models, equipped with the 2.7L EcoBoost and 3.5L EcoBoost engines.
One impressive factoid is that the 2015 F-150 underwent 10 million miles of testing.
Four Engine Lineup
The 2015 F-150 debuts with a four engine lineup with improved power-to-weight for better performance. The power-to-weight ratio is calculated by dividing the engine power (either horsepower or torque) into the vehicle weight.
My favorite of the four engines was the all-new 2.7L EcoBoost engine. It produces 325 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque. It is capable of towing a maximum of 8,500 pounds. The engine features auto stop-start to reduce fuel consumption and emissions when the truck is stopped by shutting off the engine. One caveat is that the auto stop-start function is disabled when towing or in 4x4 mode to maintain power on demand. Also, the auto start-stop can be disabled by the driver, if desired.
The 2.7L EcoBoost features the first use of a compacted graphite iron cylinder block in a gasoline engine. It is the same material used in the Ford Super Duty 6.7L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel V-8 engine.
One nice feature is that the 2.7L EcoBoost also features a variable-displacement oil pump, which supplies oil pressure based on the engine’s needs.
The other three engines include:
- The 3.5L TI-VCT V-6, which produces 283 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is E-85 flex-fuel capable.
- The 3.5L EcoBoost, which produces 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque.
- The 5.0L TI-VCT V-8 that features an aluminum block and cylinder heads with four valves per cylinder. It produces 385 horsepower and 387 lb.-ft. of torque.
More Interior Space
Another noticeable difference with the predecessor model is that the 2015 F-150 has more interior space. The redesigned interior is two inches wider offering increased hip and shoulder room, along with increased leg room for rear passengers.
The new F-150 SuperCab rear doors open 170 degrees, ideal for loading or unloading in tight spaces. The SuperCab and SuperCrew have a fully flat, rear load floor, ideal for storing tool boxes and other portable tools and equipment.
Ford was sensitive to workplace ergonomics and the interior buttons were designed to be operated while wearing gloves. There is also an out-of-sight laptop storage in the center console.
From a safety perspective, new inflatable rear outboard safety belts are available. Another safety feature includes a 360 camera with split-view screen mounted in the center console. The system includes four exterior cameras to create a “bird’s eye” view of up to seven feet surrounding the F-150. Drivers can use the camera while backing up, parking, maneuvering in tight spots, and navigating through narrow roads and trails.
Other optional safety features include:
- Blind Spot Information System.
- Adaptive cruise control.
- Lane-keeping assist.
- Active park assist.
- Reverse sensing system.
From the driver’s perspective, there is a new larger instrument cluster that includes tabs that make moving between screens easier. There is also a customization feature, called My View, which allows the driver to select the screens most often used and combine them together into a consolidated screen.
Lots of Innovative Features
There are a number of innovative features and options available with the 2015 model.
One noteworthy feature is the F-150 includes a remote tailgate release that allows you to put the tailgate down to a flat position with the press of a button. There is also a power tailgate lock that eliminates manual locking and is standard on the XLT and is available on the XL trim levels.
Another innovative feature includes LED side-mirror spotlights that rotate with the mirrors to illuminate the dark areas on either side of the truck.