Drive

The all-new Ford F-150 is a lighter-weight knockout

It doesn’t get much more off-road than this scene: I’m up to the middle of my winter tires in snow, climbing a steep path cut into the hill of a quarry.

It’s part of an event Ford held recently in Quebec to demonstrate the overall ability of its all-new 2015 F-150 pickup truck.

The biggest news about the popular F-150 is Ford’s weight-saving decision. By replacing the steel body with one made entirely from aluminum and using a more high-strength steel in the frame, Ford has changed its game entirely.

Weight loss can improve fuel economy and also the truck’s overall capability, since the ratings include the weight of the truck, plus everything it’s carrying and towing. By reducing the truck’s weight you can essentially transfer that amount to the load. The new F-150’s maximum payload is now 1,497 kg (3,300 lbs.), while top towing rises to 5,534 kg (12,200 lbs.). Three engines are carried over from the 2014 model: a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6, turbocharged 3.5-litre Eco-

Boost V6, and 5.0-litre V8. There’s also an all-new turbocharged 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 that does an excellent job.

The idea behind the turbo engines is that they provide bigger-engine power when it’s needed, but deliver smaller-engine fuel efficiency when not. That said, if you’re the type who drives with your foot to the floor, or tow a great deal, you will probably use far more fuel than the published figures suggest.

I like how the F-150 drives: Even though it’s a big truck, that weight loss and its smooth steering make it feel like it’s smaller.

If there are any complaints, it’s that the ride can get bouncy on rougher roads, and the interior, while much improved, isn’t as notable as some of its competitors. However, the truck is impressive overall, whether tackling dry pavement, or the ice and snow of a rural Quebec road in winter. The pickup truck segment seldom sees a change as massive as the F-150’s construction, but I think this model is going to remain as popular with buyers as it always has been.

The Basics

Type. Two- or four-door full-size pickup truck.

Engines (hp/torque). 2.7-litre turbo V6 (325/375); 3.5-litre V6 (283/255); 3.5-litre turbo V6 (365/420); 5.0-litre V8 (385/387) Transmissions.

6-speed automatic

Price. $24,899 (excluding destination)

Cool features

Available LED headlights, 360-degree camera, tailgate step, BoxLink cargo cleats, stowable loading ramps, side-mirror spotlights, self-parking system, and power-operated liftgate.

Points

  • The new 2.7-litre V6 includes auto start/stop, which shuts off the engine at idle and restarts automatically when needed, for maximum fuel efficiency.
  • It was named 2015 Truck of the Year by the Automobile Journalists of Canada (AJAC).

Market position

The F-150 has been Canada’s best-selling truck for 49 years. The aluminum body is a bit of a gamble, and Ford is working with the collision industry on the unique training and equipment needed to repair it.

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