Ford’s claims will have to play out on roads, across Canada, in the coming years but from what I’ve seen in Texas, I’d say “Giddy Up!”
by Howard J Elmer
San Antonio, Texas.
In 1948 Ford redesigned its pickup truck and introduced the F1.
Marketing at the time ran ads shouting about the “Million-dollar cab” emphasizing how much money Ford had spent to redesign just the cab of the new half-ton. That first F-series truck was indeed all new – and so is its great-great-great-great grandson the 2015 F-150.
After several generations of rounder, then squarer front ends the 2015 draws inspiration from the ’48. The horse-collar grille is brought back with a much more angular hood; in fact, you’ll see many more lines in the metal thanks to the all-aluminum body. These are design elements, but are also needed for strength. On each side of the grille are distinctive new C-clamp headlamps while above the windshield a cut-in shades the windshield. This truck is also 2.5 centimetres lower than the old one, perhaps signalling the end of the overactive thyroid problem most trucks have been experiencing for the past 20 years. Around the back, the looks encompass a laundry list of new features like a powered tailgate, second-gen pullout step that moves the grab-bar inside the gate, in-bed lighting, new removable tie down system and even built-in cargo ramps.
Luxury is becoming a key selling feature of the F-series. There are nine trim levels available now and this year, the popular FX4 off-road version becomes a package that can be added to any of the trims. Cradling that luxury is a new cab that’s two-inches wider and has rear seats that get more legroom. Storage bins have been added and with the 40/20/40 seats carry six adults comfortably. On SuperCab, the rear suicide doors now open flat along the box to 170 degrees, no more getting trapped at the mall. But the big update is all about electronics. A new instrument cluster is larger and all the gauges are video projected. Because of this you can configure the cluster however you want – add info or subtract it’s up to you. The centre console screen is eight-inches wide and displays the views offered by the new 360-degree camera. Four cameras around the truck stitch together a birds-eye view displayed on the screen. Toggle through other screens for expanded views in front, behind and to the sides. Great for parking, not to mention hooking up trailers. For your gadgets Ford offers 12V plug-ins but also 110V power. A new inverter pumps out 400 watts of power (plugs in the front and back). New and improved driver assist features include BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) that also sees cross-traffic; Adaptive cruise control; Lane-Keeping system; Active park assist; rear view camera; reverse sensing system; auto high beams and rain sensing wipers.
What you can’t see is the 317 kgs that the ‘15 F-series has lost, thanks to that aluminum body and the increased use of high-strength steel in the frame – but, you can certainly feel it while driving. The truck is nimbler, has less wash in the corners and simply handles better. The cab is virtually silent and for comfort, the HVAC is split side-to-side, front and rear. The hood and side windows have dropped in profile for better visibility, while the size, colours and quality of the computer generated gauges and controls simplifies operation while driving. I towed with the new truck and its manners are good if not improved. In part, this is assisted by the long list of towing features like trailer sway control; tow/haul mode; Dynamic Hitch Assist, SelectShift transmission and better tow mirrors. Off-road an electronic manual rear differential locker has been added. This truck churns mud better than ever.
Payload is up (to 900 kgs) and so is towing (approx. 5.5 tonnes) yet overall body weight is down by 317 kgs. Ford offers four engines and even the smallest 2.7L EcoBoost will still tow up to 3.8 tonnes. The cab is quieter, yet larger. The floor is flat yet has more storage compartments. The dash is less cluttered yet offers more information. Do you sense a theme here? Consider that the design phase of this truck took four years and the testing was the most intense ever.
The result? A list of improvements a hockey rink long – that’s a fact. Now, how will they all work together?
Well Ford’s claims will have to play out on roads, across Canada, in the coming years. But from what I’ve seen in Texas, I’d say, “Giddy Up!”