Ford’s Boldest Move in Terms of Strategic Business Risk
In my humble opinion, the new F-150 was the biggest risk for Ford in its recent history. I tell you why: The F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in Canada and the US for decades. This is a vehicle on which tens of thousands people depend to earn their daily bread and to feed their families. Even by building only the F-150, Ford still would be among the top ten vehicle manufacturers in the world. And to reinvent such an important vehicle by using aluminum is not easy task to swallow.
The 2015 F-150, after four-and-a-half years in development, tens of thousands of engineering hours and some 10 million miles of testing under different and extremely harsh climate conditions, now faces the ultimate test of the market acceptance and competition from the rivals.
Retooling the Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan and refining the productions processes at the expense of several months of production still-stand was a bold decision and a tough transition. There were even rumors that Ford now building its truck from “Coca Cola cans”. The latter probably denotes to a communication problem that is being gradually solved as more and more vehicles reach the customers.
Ford F-150 Platinum with 3.5 liter V6, EcoBoost engine
I tested the new F-150 with 3.5 liter, V6 EcoBoost engine in Platinum version and with all bells and whistles reached a salty MSRP of CAD 77,249. The testing ground was the countryside of Burlington and Oakville, in Ontario. Certainly, using lightweight aluminum over steel in the F-150 — approximately shaving the weight of three adults — can be felt immediately. On the curvy roads in the triangle between Burlington, Milton and Oakville, the truck manages the corners, steers easier, dives less during braking and gets up to speed quicker. You feel like driving a vehicle one size smaller. Ford says all models will see a 20% fuel economy improvement simply from the weight loss, which now makes for a range of 1,800 to 2,300 kilos, depending on how the truck is configured.
The new F-150 is unmistakably a revolution in the history of trucks with the full deployment of aluminum used to construct the cab, box, fenders, hood and doors. This means a weight loss of more than 300 kilos, depending on the configuration. The military-grade aluminum, as Ford calls it, requires some 2,500 rivets to assemble and should be more dent-resistant than the previous model. Aluminum never rusts, but can corrode.
Our test vehicle gave the impression of a rock-solid truck from the beginning. Door-shutting test, which I like to implement usually before driving any test vehicle showed that slamming the 2015 door was the first passed-test in quality control.
The new model offers a better visibility and comfort inside the cabin. While wider overall by 40 mm, opening up the interior even more, the redesigned hood offers better visibility out front. Better, the driver and passenger side windows swoop down more deeply for an excellent view to the left and right, as well as around the large A-pillars. A new leather steering wheel feels excellent in the hands, and redesigned side mirrors are smaller, better designed and yet still large enough to be effective.
And while the aluminum body on a revamped, fully-boxed ladder frame, which is now comprised of 78% high-strength steel (improving rigidity by about five to 10%) raises the bar.
My test vehicle was equipped with the 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine moving the truck without the feeling of being underpowered. After 256 kilometers, mostly in the countryside, I came up with an average of 17 liters.
Equipped with standard start-stop, the engine will shut down to save fuel instead of idling it away, though the device becomes inactive when towing or in four-wheel drive. EcoBoost engines also get standard grille shutters that stay open when extra engine cooling is needed. At cruising speed, they automatically close to reduce aerodynamic drag.
For models equipped with the EcoBoost V6, the maximum tow rating is now 5400 kilos. The twin-turbo engine, breathing with 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque (unchanged from last year) also returns a maximum payload of 1,700 kilos.
The 2015 F-150 has added some very cool features, though some are only available on certain trim levels, which range from XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum and King Ranch. Chrome packages are available on XL, XLT, Lariat and King Ranch. Monochromatic packages are available on the XL, XLT and Lariat. Pricing starts at $21,399 for the base 4×2 model and climbs to $66,999 for the top line Platinum Super Crew 4×4. The FX4 off-road package can be added to most four-wheel-drive models, improving off-road capability with an electronic locking rear axle, skid plates and off-road-tuned shocks.
The reinforced aluminum bed is joined by Ford’s new BoxLink system, which is probably more useful than many others on the market. Optional, stowable loading ramps hook to the tailgate so they can’t fall off during use. The tailgate can also be equipped with an improved “old man step” for easier climbing into the back.
The built quality inside is better at first look. Materials are more varied and you see and feel more soft-touch surfaces, and real aluminum on Platinum models as in our test vehicle.
New safety features include second-row inflatable safety belts, curve control (which automatically provides more aggressive four-wheel braking when the truck is going into a corner too fast), adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
Although my test drive was a limited impression without hauling, towing and driving on rough terrain, it gave very promising impressions.
Now on the market, the F-150 is another big step towards raising the bar in the highly competitive and relatively profitable North American full-size truck market.
Type of vehicle: Full-size truck
Engine: 3.5 liter, V6-cylinder DOHC, Turbocharged, HP, lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): CAD 66,999 / 77.249
Destination charge: CAD 1,700
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): city; 9.7 highway;7.6 as-tested; 10.6
Optional features: Equipment Group 700A
Selectshift transmission, 20″ Polished Aluminium Wheels, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost Engine: 900
Twin-panel Moonroof: 1,750
All-weather, Rubber floor Mats: 150
Adaptive Cruise Control (with Trailer tow-Package): 1,500
FX4 Off-road Package: 750
Pickup Bed Extender: 350
Box side Steps and 136 Litre Fuel Tank: 300
Active Park Assist: 550
Technology Package: 1,250
Platinum Black-leather Bucket
Spray-in Bed Liner: 550
Total Options: 8.550
Destination & Delivery: 1,700
Total Price as Tested: 77,249
Article: Varol McKars
Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars
Test vehicle was provided by Ford Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)
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