For generations of loyal Ford truck owners, the quintessential full-size truck has been the Ford F-150. Indeed, as Ford proudly points out, the F-150 has been the best-selling truck and the best-selling vehicle for the last three decades.

With an all-new design for 2015, much of the steel replaced by aluminum (in body panels and structural pieces), all-new high-strength steel frame, and all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, Ford is betting consumers, including current and potential F-150 owners, will find the latest iteration of the big Ford truck is more appealing, durable, capable and fuel-efficient than ever.

At the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford wowed showgoers with the all-new truck, which bears a strong, if a bit toned-down resemblance to the Atlas concept.

What’s Aluminum, What’s Not?

The big news, of course, is something that would have been considered unthinkable just a short time ago: putting aluminum in a full-size truck. Ford shaved 700 pounds from the truck’s curb weight by replacing steel with aluminum in the cab, front end, aluminum bed and tailgate.

The new trucks carry bed boxes that are a little larger than the 2014 F-150 pickups, and weigh 70 pounds less.

The use of aluminum, Ford says, should help the truck post much higher fuel economy ratings, as well as “tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter.”

As for how strong aluminum is versus steel, Ford argues that many military vehicles, such as the HMMWV and Bradley Fighting Vehicle, use a similar aluminum alloy in their construction.

It’s important to note that the F-150’s backbone, a fully boxed ladder frame, is constructed of high-strength steel rated up to 70,000 psi. Eight through-welded crossmembers provide increased stiffness, while staggered rear outboard shocks provide greater stability.  According to the automaker, the “2015 Ford F-150 is the strongest and most durable F-150 ever,” stating that it had been “torture tested” in labs and the real world for more than 10 million miles. A disguised 2015 F-150 completed all 883 miles of the Baja 1000.

About Engine Choices

Most of the headlines center on the all-new 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine that Ford claims will “deliver the same power as some mid-range V8s.” While official horsepower and fuel economy ratings aren’t yet available, it’s estimated the engine will deliver 300 horsepower and 350+ pound-feet of torque. The automaker says the engine slots right above the base new 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6.

There is no more 6.2-liter V-8, because the 5.0-liter V8 will deliver equivalent performance to the discontinued engine. The twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 returns as the F-150’s strongest tow engine.

Six-speed automatic transmissions are standard across the board.

Intriguing New Tech

Parking a big truck can be a hassle. That’s why Ford adds an optional 360-degree camera that’s connected to an eight-inch LCD screen. This creates a bird’s-eye view of the truck to assist in parking, maneuvering tight spots and navigating narrow roads and trails.

LED lighting is used front and back, and at highway speeds, the F-150’s active grille shutters automatically close to improve fuel economy.

Integrated loading ramps stowed in the pickup bed enable easy loading of ATVs, motorcycles and mowers.

Other new tech features include:

  • 400-watt power outlets inside the cab
  • Remote tailgate release
  • Tailgate step, fully integrated inside the tailgate and invisible when not in use
  • Smart trailer tow module
  • Trailer hitch assist, a new rearview camera feature that helps the drive line up truck and trailer without the need for a spotter or getting out of the vehicle
  • LED lighting embedded in the cargo box walls
  • Rear under-seat storage in Super and Crew cabs provides hidden storage, and two storage bins are also located underneath rear seats
  • Boxside step, now available for the short 5.5-foot box
  • New eight-inch LCD productivity screen in the instrument panel

Other driver aids available as options include SYNC with MyFord Touch, hill start assist, MyKey, rearview camera, reverse sensing, trailer brake controller and extendable tailgate step.

Safety tech includes second-row inflatable safety belts, curve control, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping system and blind spot information system.

The 2015 Ford F-150 goes on sale late this year and will be available in five trims: XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum and King Ranch. Chrome appearance packages will be available on all but the Platinum trim, and monochromatic sport appearance packages can be added to XL, XLT and Lariat.

Most four-wheel drive models can be ordered with the FX4 off-road package, which includes an electronic locking rear axle, skid plates and off-road-tuned shocks to improve capability on the trail.

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