Seat Time: 2015 Ford F-150

October 16th, 2014 at 12:11pm

2015 Ford F-150

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

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Reviewer: Sean McElroy
Manufacturer: Ford
Make: Ford
Model: F-150
Type: Full-Size Pickup
Competitors: Chevy Silverado, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra
Price: $42,380 (XLT 4X2 SuperCrew), $51,630 (Lariat 4X4 SuperCrew)
Made in: Dearborn, Michigan; Cocomo, Missouri
Drivetrain: 2.7L V6 EcoBoost; 6-Speed automatic transmission
EPA Ratings: N/A

Final Impression:

2015 Ford F-150 InteriorThe 2015 Ford F-150 is a full size pickup that competes against other trucks like the Chevy Silverado, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. The first example I drove was a XLT 4X2 SuperCrew that was priced a little over $42,000, including destination charges. My second ride was in a Lariat 4X4 SuperCrew with a price tag of over $51,500. Both trucks were powered by the all-new 2.7L V6 EcoBoost engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. No EPA ratings have been released for the new F-150 yet, but I’ll share my observed fuel economy in just a moment.

For nearly a year now we have been reporting on the aluminum-intensive 2015 F-150 and during that time I’ve wondered, as I’m sure many of you have, what it’s like driving the new and lighter truck. We’ve heard from Ford executives and engineers how much of a difference the aluminum body makes and I finally got my chance to put those claims to the test. While I thought the most noticeable change would be felt during acceleration, it was actually in handling and braking. In fact, it was difficult to discern any difference during acceleration. But driving through a makeshift slalom course and making everyday maneuvers out on the road, really highlighted its handling and braking. The truck felt planted in turns thanks in part to the reduced weight but also to some new suspension tricks, like moving the rear shocks outside of the frame rails and mounting them in opposite directions. The brake response was impressive, slowing or coming to a stop quicker than I would have expected. It often made me feel like I was in a smaller truck.

I did get a chance to do some off-roading and even stopped in the middle of a hill with a 17-degree incline and climbed up it with no problem, but I must admit I have little to no experience in the off-road area. So, while I was impressed it’s a little hard to know how impressive it really was. And I would not be surprised if the current steel-bodied model could’ve handled the course just as well.

But let’s move along to what moves the truck along down the road. The 3.5L V6 EcoBoost and 5.0L V8 engines that are currently available carry over to the new model. There’s also a 3.5L V6 non-turbo engine, but the real highlight is the brand new 2.7L V6 EcoBoost option. If you have any questions about how this engine is put together, I urge you to check out last week’s episode of Autoline After Hours because we had the chief engineer of Ford’s powertrains in North America on the show and he does a masterful job of breaking it down. But I’m sure you’re wondering what the truck drives like with this engine and let me tell you it’s pretty amazing, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s very smooth and with 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque there’s more than enough power on hand to pass slow moving traffic. One thing I did find very interesting was that in the XLT model I drove first the 2.7L engine noise was much quieter inside the cabin than the more expensive Lariat model I drove second. The Lariat did have the upgraded infotainment system and I’m willing to bet, like the Mustang with the 4-cylinder EcoBoost, it has an Active Noise Canceling system that tones down outside interferences and boosts engine sounds. While at these vehicle events I always try to drive like I would in the real world, getting up to speed in a pretty economical manner and only accelerating hard when needed. That netted me an average fuel economy of 22.7 miles-per-gallon in the XLT 4X2 SuperCrew model, but my more heavy-footed driving partner only returned around 16 miles-per-gallon. I was surprised to see that over 70 miles-an-hour the mpg dropped off pretty steeply to 20.5. That square front end must be a bit of a brick traveling through the wind. In the Lariat 4X4 SuperCrew model, again with the 2.7L engine, I drove with the air conditioning on and averaged 20.7 miles-per-gallon. Anyway you cut it those numbers are pretty darn good.

While I’m sure that’s what most of you are interested in, there’s significant changes to the interior and content as well. The dash layout has been reworked and I like it better than the current model. To me it just seems more robust. There’s also a new larger sunroof that lets in loads of natural light and a seamless sliding rear window that can be opened and closed with the touch of a button. New technology includes a 360-degree camera view to aid parking as well as a new rearview camera feature that aids in hooking up a trailer, just to name a few. The rear tailgate, which adds dampers so it doesn’t slam down, can now open with just the touch of a button on the key fob and the step assist is now housed inside of the tailgate rather than being mounted on top.

One of my major concerns for this truck is repairability. Ford has said that repair times have been reduced due to some of the processes that have been implemented. But that’s only for major structural components that get damaged. It’s still going to cost more money to replace or fix an aluminum panel than it would for steel. Not to mention that its dealers need to get the proper repair equipment installed and the techs need training on how to fix the aluminum truck. Another issue I see is that the optional parking cameras and sensors have been packaged into other components, like the front and rear bumpers, front grille, side-view mirrors and rear taillights. That means a minor fender bender could end up a whole lot more expensive.

So, how do I think the 2015 Ford F-150 stacks up against the competition? Well, it handles and brakes better than the others and I’m sure it will return better fuel economy than everyone, except maybe the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. I did find the Ford to lack behind GM’s full-size trucks in refinement. The new motor and body mount in those trucks really make a big difference. But overall it’s a really good truck and I can’t wait to see how the actual customers respond.


One Comment to “Seat Time: 2015 Ford F-150”

  1. blueovalblood Says:

    Sean, the rear shocks have been mounted outside the frame since 2004, but you are correct that they haven’t been staggered.