The Four Wheeler staff weighs in on the new non-ferrous Ford
After scouring over the specs, images, its individual components and the truck in person, there are a few things that the Four Wheeler staff found out about the new aluminum 2015 Ford F-150, so we decided to weigh in on Ford’s newest F-series.
Our first concern was what this meant for the future of the SVT Raptor, one of our favorite 4x4s of all-time. All we could get from the Ford PR people was that more news is coming later this year. Considering the recent increased Ford involvement in desert racing, we suspect the that the Raptor will eventually get a version of the new aluminum body and heavy-duty frame. Some rumors noted that the Raptor would keep the old body and frame for at least another year, but that seems unlikely. So we wait.
About 94 percent of the body and bed of the 2015 F-150 is aluminum. Much of the firewall is still made from Quiet Steel, a unique noise, vibration, and harshness dampening material with a viscoelastic layer laminated between two sheets of steel. It’s been in use on the F-150 for several years. Good news is that the new aluminum bed and body are said to be more dent resistant than the steel components on the outgoing F-150. Contractors will rejoice at the idea of fewer unsightly dings until they realize that easily removable magnetic company banners and logos will no longer stick to the doors. For more info about the new 2015 aluminum Ford F-150 click here:http://www.fourwheeler.com/roadtests/2015-ford-f-150/
It's hard to discredit a truck that's been the number one selling fullsize pickup for 37 years and the number one selling vehicle overall for almost as long. However, 40-percent of truck buyers base their purchase on brand loyalty, that's the kind of momentum you only find in a mile-long freight train loaded full of lead bricks, and it's difficult to slow it down, regardless of what economical or functional new features GM, Nissan, Ram and Toyota offer or Ford fails to offer in the 1/2-ton truck segment. In a quickly advancing and competitive truck market that includes GMs powerful economic direct-injected engines and a solid, vault-like chassis along with Ram's soft-riding coil-link rear end, self-leveling air suspension, eight-speed transmission, and a clean diesel pushing near 30-mpg, is the 2015 Ford F-150's facelift a significant enough redesign? To be honest, I was hoping for more in the form of a light-duty diesel, a 10-speed transmission and a linked rear suspension.
Of course there are plenty of new safety and convenience features to talk about, but the real news with the 2015 F-150 is the all-aluminum body, lightweight high-strength steel frame and available 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 engine with auto start-stop technology for improved fuel economy. Many competitive-brand fanboys will be quick to make the comparison of the new F-150 to a crushed beer can. When you get past the heated brand-loyalty arguments, aluminum has been used successfully and extensively in planes, battle tanks, as armor plating and even in 4x4 vehicles, including our 2014 Four Wheeler of the Year, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, where, thanks in part to the lightweight and rigidity characteristics of an aluminum unit-body and suspension, Land Rover engineers were able to dump more than 700 pounds from the Range Rover Sport's chassis, which resulted in significantly improved handling, acceleration, and braking performance over the outgoing model.
The company may tell you otherwise, but Ford's bet on aluminum is mostly a fuel economy play. It's said that for every 100 pounds of mass taken out of a vehicle, the fuel economy increases by about 1-2 percent. Through the use of the non-ferrous metal, Ford will be able to decrease the weight of its F-150 by up to 700 pounds. No 2015 F-150 mpg numbers have been posted as of yet but considering the new engine and the lighter weight, it’s my guess that Ford should be able to get a strippy standard-cab shortbed version of the F-150 to hit near 30 mpg.
Under the aluminum skin you'll find what appears to be mostly the same drivetrain and suspension that's been available on the F-150 for several years, including the somewhat antiquated leaf-spring rear suspension. Nothing new here.
I love that the FX off-road package featuring a selectable locker, skidplates, and tuned shocks will remain available, but it won’t be enough to console me over the loss of the Raptor, if Ford decides to kill it.
If the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 taught us anything, it's that an unloaded EcoBoosted truck does get great fuel economy. However, hitch up a trailer or toss a heavy cargo in the bed and you can see mpg pulled down into the single digits. The new 2.7L EcoBoost-equipped F-150s will likely have significantly reduced cargo and towing capacities, and like 3.5L EcoBoost trucks, I suspect they will deliver significantly reduced fuel economy when fully loaded. The 2.7L EcoBoost F-150 will probably be a good option for those that rarely tow or haul heavy loads, yet enjoy the convenience of owning a pickup, which interestingly enough is the majority of the 1/2-ton truck market.
I love the innovative light-weight thinking behind the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150, although I suspect Ford will have a lot of F-150 teething problems prior to, and even after the official launch date. Everything from the aluminum stamping issues mentioned a few weeks ago, to paint adhesion, durability, corrosion and more will likely need to be addressed. There are a lot of unknowns considering this is the first aluminum pickup truck. Only time will tell if this was the right move for the blue oval to maintain its market superiority. I think it's going to be difficult for the typical light-duty truck consumer to wrap their mind around lighter (aluminum) and smaller (2.7L V-6) as being better. The lead train may be slowing.
Wow, I dig the Super Duty-esque exterior styling! I think the '15 F-150 looks tough. With the addition of the fascinating new twin-turbo 2.7L EcoBoost engine there are now four available engines, which is an impressive number. However, I'm bummed to see that the 6.2L V-8 has apparently been axed. Only one V-8 option? Combined with the up to 700-pound overall weight savings that Ford is claiming, it'll be interesting to see the mpg numbers on the 4x4 truck with the new 2.7L engine. I'm hoping for big things. On the surface, it looks as though the new BoxLink system has some great ideas. The stowable cargo ramps are cool as are the lockable die-cast aluminum tie-down cleats. Maybe I'm getting old, but I'm really digging the new key fob-operated auto lower feature of the rear tailgate, too. Most importantly, I'm glad to see that the FX4 package is still alive and well and includes an rear electric diff locker. Overall, the new F-150 is more than I expected. I'm looking forward to seeing how that "more" works on the street, dirt, and here on the farm.
I’m guessing Ford’s New Year’s resolution must have been to lose weight, and with shaving 700 pounds from the F-150, I’d say the company is off to a good start. While moving to aluminum presents its own set of challenges, it’s exciting to see the lightweight and strong material making its way into the mainstream. The styling of the truck is far from radical, which is both understandable, but a little disappointing. Although, it does carryover some cues from the Atlas concept truck, Ford was wise not to go too far over the top with the best-selling pickup in America. The unveil of smaller powerplant options is another aspect that fails to excite, but I am sure the company was glad to get the trucks weight low enough to make the new engine options effective. Admittedly, I was hoping to read that the 6.2L V-8 available in the Raptor would be an option for other lower-tier F-150s. Maybe next year. Instead of horsepower wars, we are stuck in a technology battle that Ford seems to be getting the edge on. A 360-view camera is pretty trick and likely more useful that many may realize. I look forward to getting behind the wheel to experience firsthand what all the new glam actually equates to on-road.