Drive

The 2015 Ford F-150: Slim, trim and still the boss

2015 Ford F-150

• Type. Two- or four-door full-size pickup truck, with two- or four-wheel-drive

• Engines. 2.7-L EcoBoost V6 (325 hp/375 lb.-ft.), 3.5-L V6 (283/255), 5-L V8 (385/387); 3.5-L EcoBoost V6 (365/420)

• Transmission. Six-speed automatic

• Base price. $21,399

When an automaker shaves weight off a truck, good things happen. Not only does fuel economy improve, but towing and payload capability increase.

That’s the big news at Ford, where its all-new 2015 F-150 has trimmed down by almost 320 kilograms over the previous model.

That’s primarily due to an all-aluminum body and box, along with a redesigned steel frame that’s also much lighter than before. Although fuel figures aren’t yet available, Ford says to expect an improvement of 5 to 20 per cent over the previous model, depending on the engine.

That lighter body also allowed engineers to add an all-new 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 engine, which uses two small turbochargers to crank out more power than many larger engines when required, but which returns better fuel economy when full grunt isn’t needed.

It also features start/stop technology, which shuts off the engine at idle, for even more fuel savings.

Other engine options include two versions of a 3.5-litre V6 — one turbocharged, one not — and a 5.0-litre V8.

You really feel the weight difference when driving. The new F-150 feels agile, accelerates quickly, and brakes faster and better. Maximum towing capacity is now 12,200 lb. (5,533 kg), up from 11,300 lb. (5,125 kg).

The interior is also an improvement over the old model, but it’s not quite as spectacular as it could be, and bears considerable resemblance to its Chevrolet Silverado rival.

What does impress is how much attention Ford paid to the details, offering such standout features as rear doors that open 170 degrees on the SuperCab for easier entry, LED spotlights on the mirrors that can be aimed to light up a campsite or work area, an electric liftgate that can be lowered with a button on the key fob, and a 360-degree camera that helps guide you to your trailer hitch.

It won’t be long before the other auto makers chase this revolutionary (not evolutionary) new truck.

But, for now, the F-150 is definitely the leader of the pack.

Market position

Ford may be taking a gamble among traditional truck buyers with its all-aluminum body, but expects the fuel economy and increased capability will win them over. It may start a trend among other manufacturers as well.

Good to know

• Since the steel frame and aluminum body can’t touch without creating corrosion, they’re separated by coatings and special fasteners.

• The new frame contains eight crossmembers for strength, one more than before.

• The much-touted “military-grade aluminum” is just a marketing phrase, as there is no such standard.

Interesting features

Available LED headlights, power-telescoping trailer mirrors, 360-degree camera, box side steps, integrated tailgate step, stowable loading ramps, self-parking feature, side-mirror spotlights.

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