We drove two different models with two different engine sizes in the new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck and our first impression left us impressed with the updates Ford has made to this best-selling half-ton.
Quick Specs & Info
|MSRP as tested
On a bright, cold morning in November, I arrived in Bloomington, Colorado near Boulder to a Ford-hosted event where the new 2015 F-150 was being showcased. This morning arrival was a press invitation to get hands-on with the new truck during Ford’s Consumer Test Drive Tour for the pickup, which would open to the public later that morning. Car News Cafe talked with Ford representatives, had a donut and some coffee, and drove two of the options available for this truck.
We first saw the new 2015 F-150 in its aluminum-clad glory at the Denver Auto Show early this year. Some might have heard that the aluminum build has meant delays in the truck’s production. Well, now we’ve not only seen the production truck, but gotten inside and driven it. Although our time with the truck was limited (for now), it was enough to give us a good first impression of it.
The 2015 Ford F-150 is a good, solid truck that drives well. That’s our impression. It can be fuel efficient, it’s got the towing capacity to keep truck buyers who need that happy, and the aluminum bodywork is just as solid as you will ever hope a truck to be. A lot of deliberation over how much the change to aluminum is going to cost customers down the line is allayed by several key points from Ford. We also learned that the truck, in all its model formats, has some great new interior updates to go with all the attention focused on the body.
We drove two models of the 2015 F-150: the XLT with a 2.7L EcoBoost and the Lariat with a 3.5L EcoBoost. Both are what I like to call “everyman” trim levels. They make up the bulk of the truck’s purchases and fall in between the lowest-end XL and the higest-level King Ranch and Platinum packages. The amount of amenities offered in the two packages is excellent for the price point.
The 2.7L EcoBoost and XLT Packaging
This was the truck I was most interested in seeing, honestly. The 2015 Ford F-150 in its highly ornate King Ranch and Platinum series is great, but for the working man that needs a truck to get the job done, the XLT is the one. If that job doesn’t involve a lot of heavy towing or cargo hauling, but instead is comprised mostly of getting around and carrying light-duty materials and goods, the 2.7L EcoBoost is the way to go.
Wait.. is that a sub-three-cylinder engine in a full-sized truck?
Yes, yes it is. And it makes the F-150 feel like a little sports car with its low-end torque and punchy acceleration too. Our drive was short-lived, but fun. We were in town, so traffic was a factor, but when we hit the highway, the little 2.7 jumped to life. Where you notice it most, though, is at stop lights and intersections where you’re moving at low speeds or starting from zero. It punches into action and moves the truck quick, even with four grown men in the cab. This is a tribute both the little engine’s output and to the light weight of the new truck’s build.
The interior of the XLT is well outfitted for the daily driver. Seating is comfortable and the driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment. Rear seats are spacious and roomy, though a little less plush than the front. Leg, head, and shoulder room are all massive. At this trim level, the instrument cluster is still relatively basic, but gives all the information you want in dials and gauges everyone will be familiar with. Shifting is on the column rather than the console or floor and the automatic transmission responds well to the torqy output of the EcoBoost.
The cloth seating is well-done and feels durable while the dash and center display are solid and soft-touch. The center display is tiny, but since it’s not a touchscreen at this trim, it’s more than functional. Buttons adorn it, but the familiar 0-9 telephone-style pad to one side, to be used with the Bluetooth, is endearing. And useful.
The 3.5L EcoBoost and Lariat Packaging
Jumping into the Lariat with a larger 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine, which carries over from 2014, we find another well-packaged pickup truck with a handful of extra options to show what can be done with this mid-level price point in the 2015 Ford F-150.
The engine is still punchy, but has more power than the smaller 2.7 did. Enough that it can tow about 10,000 pounds without issue. The truck we were driving happened to be the one that the team traveling the nation to show off the F-150 uses to tow their trailer with its tents, computer displays, and other gear. This truck can tow and has some nicely thought out towing package options with braking, lighting, and other controls built-in. It even tells you if the lights aren’t working.
On the road, this feels more like a traditional big, full-sized truck. The differences in trim levels are obvious as well. At this point, the more traditional instrument cluster of the XLT before gives way to a more digitized, information-oriented modern cluster with chrome bezels and LCD output. Shifting is now at the center console rather than the column (this changes depending on the front bench option). Also added was the panoramic roof option, which has a panoramic glass roof with the front half opening as a sunroof. Ford’s new seamless powered rear sliding window was also added. It’s a great touch as in the rear view mirror, you barely see the edges of the sliding glass, making for a less obstructed view out the back.
Aluminum Body Costs
Several have questioned the cost of the aluminum body, down the line, for consumers. Ford has some standard answers to these question, but they’re good answers and they make sense. First, the body is made (mostly) modular so that torn or punctured panels can be replaced relatively easily. Second, most Ford dealerships of volume are already certified to do aluminum body and frame work for the new F-150. Finally, the 3-year warranty traditionally included with the F-150 will likely continue with this model (no official announcement has been made), so that gives smaller dealerships and mom-and-pop shops some time to get the equipment and training required to work with the aluminum truck. For most shops, it’s a matter of a few days in course work and a couple of thousand in new tools.
All in all, I was impressed with the new 2015 F-150. The body style updates are well done, but not over the top, and the grille work and usability additions are all beautiful. The interior is nicely fitted for each trim level and the four engine choices given are phenomenal. The new 2.7-liter EcoBoost is far more powerful than expected and the 3.5L standard V6 and 5.0-liter V8 we didn’t drive are well-loved carryovers from previous years.
Also, as a teaser, Ford says that they will soon unveil the new SuperDuty trucks that will also have aluminum bodies. They’ll likely be meant for the 2017 model year and Ford representatives on hand told me that the clay models they’ve seen are awesome-looking and will be very familiar to those who loved the Atlas concept unveiled in Detroit.