There’s a big story behind the 2015 F-150. It is never a small feat updating your best selling vehicle but Ford was up for the challenge. They were not satisfied with just updating the styling and/or fitting it with new powertrains and technology either. Although they did update these things they also took the time to rethink building the truck from the ground up. Just like every other auto manufacturer, Ford is looking for better fuel economy numbers across the breadth of their lineup and what better way to achieve lower mpg’s than to shed weight? That’s where the new all-aluminium body comes into play. Adding this high-strength, lightweight material to the build process allowed them to knock the weight of this full-size truck down by 700-pounds. That’s a major savings and allows for more significant changes down the road.
This truck is also a bit wider and with the lighter body the majority of the weight is low down. This sounds like things they do to sports cars to make them handle better. Luckily it translate the same into trucks as well. The 2015 F-150 feels like a much lighter vehicle and is much easier to maneuver. It also means that while off-roading the springs aren’t having to deal with as much weight and therefore have less rebound giving you a smoother ride.
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It’s not all about the aluminium body and weight savings though; you also get a slew of new features and technologies packed into this great new truck. Just a few of the more notable technologies are things like a 360-camera system that allows the driver to get full visibility around the truck. This helps for things like off-roading so you know exactly what’s coming in front of you and what to avoid on each side of you. It is also extremely helpful in your everyday parking lot. Being able to see the lines of the parking spot and exactly how close you are to the vehicle in front of you is a great benefit for bigger trucks. You can also get radar-guided cruise control that allows you lock on to the vehicle going down the road in front of you and keep a safe distance – if they slow down you slow down, when they speed up you speed up. I’ve said this before and I’ll reiterate it again that this is one of my favorite new technologies on any vehicle these days.
More technology comes in with the parallel parking assist. This lets you drive up to an open spot on the side of a street then let the truck do all the hard work to get you in the open parking spot. Even though I don’t do a ton of parallel parking, this is a great feature to have in a truck as you never really know when you’re going to need it.
There are many more technologies we could touch on and I love geeking out on small touches that the Ford engineers packed into this vehicle but lets move on to what we drove.
We started off in a 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum which is the new top of the range truck sporting a beautiful interior and special, upscale touches on the exterior. This truck also features the F-150’s premium powerplant; the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. This engine is pushing 365-horsepower and 420-lbs.ft. of torque. It also delivers 12,200-lbs of towing capability which is best-in-class. Luckily it’s also a 4×4 so I was ready to see how it holds up when going off-road. We pulled out onto the course and right away you’re getting the tires wet crossing a small dip into the creek.
Going around the corner the course opens up for a bit so this is an opportune time to floor it and see what the engine is really packing. The 3.5 EcoBoost has always been a great engine for this truck but with the loss of 700-lbs it’s got even more kick! This truck takes off! Our next big obstacle comes in the form of another small creek crossing only this time it’s a steep drop down then an immediate climb back up. The F-150 kept its composure on the decline without any need of engaging drivers aids like hill descent control. Getting back up the hill can be a tricky proposition as your tires are now wet and the ground is slick and slippery from the trucks in front of you making the same maneuver. Again, the F-150 powered right up the hill without worrying about what mode we might be in.
We’re about halfway through the course and it’s already apparent how much more stable and responsive this truck feels with its major weight loss. Our next obstacle is a rock climb up a hill that’s about a 15 to 20 foot climb. It’s time to make sure the F-150 is in 4-wheel-drive mode and for this run we’ll just keep it in 4-high. Approaching the hill we make use of the 360-view camera and start to climb at a steady pace. The 4-wheel-drive system kicked in right away and made sure that the tires that had grip were steadily pulling us up and over the rocks. As we reached the top I was once again stuck thinking how smooth and effortless that climb really was, especially compared to some of the more heavy trucks out on the course.
After we made it back I was ready to jump into the new 2015 Ford F-150 King Ranch and decided to take this truck out on the back country roads around the ranch to see how it handled on the road. Like all King Ranch trucks the interior in this one had a great Texas ranching flair with special leather and a full-panoramic sunroof. If you’re looking to ride in style and luxury you can’t beat a truck like this. I knew the interior would be nice so what I was really looking for were significant changes in the way this truck rides on the road compared to the previous generation.
Once again it was immediately apparent that this truck was much lighter and much more composed around tight corners. This truck is also equipped with the 3.5 EcoBoost engine and power delivery was smooth and readily available. I really like how the new F-150 handles itself off-road but I was blown away at just how nice of a ride it was on the road, where you’ll be doing the majority of your driving anyway.
The last test was seeing how the new truck was at hauling a load. We jumped into a 2015 Ford F-150 XLT, a package that will make up the majority of sales for the brand. This truck was specked out with the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine that pushes 325-hp and 375-lbs.ft of torque. It’s able to haul up to 2,250-lbs in the bed and tow up to 8,500-lbs. We had a big water tank strapped to the back of this truck full of water which ends up being just over 3,000-lbs of load on the truck. We took the truck out on the same twisty back roads as the we did the King Ranch. This new engine packed a great punch as well and handled its load with ease. There were times during the drive that I forgot the trailer was even back there. The towing management feature, which keeps the truck in lower gears and higher revs, when it makes sense, helped keep everything in check without me really having to think about it.
In the end the new F-150 has 4 different powertrain options including the 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 at the base, the 2.7 EcoBoost slotted just above that, the all important 5.0-liter V8, and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost sitting in the premium spot. You can also choose from 5 different trim levels and many options, like axle ratios, in between. Basically, you can build the truck that’s right for you and no matter what model you pick it should be more fuel efficient and much more composed than the previous generation. After all the driving and talking to Ford engineers it was apparent to me that this was a labor of love and this was truly a project where they let the engineering team take the reigns. If you want a truck with the best technology, the best interiors, some of the best powertrain options, and great towing or off-roading the 2015 F-150 is an easy win. That’s why it has been named the 2015 Truck of Texas.