Ford F-150 trucks score a new platform and lightweight body

2015, Ford, F-150

FORT WORTH, Tex. -- In this Texas city nicknamed Cowtown we're cruising along Stockyards Boulevard in a revolutionary remake of the best-selling F-150 full-size pickup from Ford Motor Company.

The new F-150 -- 2015 models with five trim versions, four powertrain options plus three sizes for the cab and three lengths for the truck box in back -- presents a brawny new face marked by a flat triple-bar grille and C-shaped LED headlight clusters.

A new ladder-frame chassis with high-strength steel boxed rails serves as the rigid foundation of F-150 to enhance the ride and handling with a strong suspension system and beefy brakes. The suspension components include an independent double-wishbone design in front and a non-independent rear Hotchkiss-type live axle.

The body of the truck incorporates high-strength but lightweight aluminum alloys for skin panels which make the body lighter, stronger and more resistant to dents.

Ford estimates the new aluminum-body F-150 sheds some 700 pounds in weight compared to the previous steel-body F-150 and that weight loss enables the truck to tow and haul more, accelerate and stop faster, and run more efficiently.

The F-150 of 2015 divides into five primary trim grades: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum.

Cab designs conform to the labels of Regular Cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew.

The 2-wheel-drive (2WD) orientation with a front-mounted engine sending engine torque to the rear wheels is standard configuration for the F-150 line but 4-wheel-drive (4WD) traction is available with electronic switching.

The rack and pinion steering system on 2015 F-150 models receives electric power assistance, which eliminates a load of hydraulic equipment and contributes to the efficiency of the engine to improve fuel economy.

Brakes for all versions install a vented disc at every wheel plus an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability control device with RSC (Roll Stability Control) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC).

A total of four engines will hitch to the new F-150 and each ties to a 6-speed electronic automatic transmission with tow/haul mode and optional SelectShift manual control.

Standard plant for F-150 2WD trucks is a dual-cam 3.5-liter V6 with Ti-VVT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) technology and flex-fuel capability. It generates an estimated 283 hp.

Optional engines include a DOHC 5.0-liter V8 worth 360 hp, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with twin turbo-chargers for 365 hp and a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with automatic start-stop feature and a net output of 325 hp.

F-150 XL has 12 cab/box/drive configurations with cabin features like a 40/20/40 split-bench front seat and 4.2-inch audio/climate screen. All four powertrains are on tap for the XL, along with optional appearance packages of chrome, sport and FX4 off-road.

F-150 XLT shares configurations and powertrains with the XL but adds chrome bumpers/grille plus 17-inch aluminum wheels. Options include trailer hitch assist, blind spot information system and inflatable rear seat safety belts.

F-150 Lariat skews upscale with 18-inch aluminum wheels and the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 or 5.0-liter V8 engine aboard. Pickup box LED lighting and a rear backup camera with trailer hitch assist go to the list of standard features with options like the Microsoft-powered Sync system with MyFord Touch and an 8-inch productivity screen.

F-150 King Ranch carries chrome bumpers/grille, running boards and 2-tone paint. High-intensity LED puddle lamps and LED spotlights mount on exterior mirrors and a new remote tailgate release is standard. Specific King Ranch leather upholstery trims front and rear seats and Ford's 5.0-liter V8 is the standard engine.

F-150 Platinum with a SuperCrew cab stocks the 5.0-liter V8, a satin-finish grille and chrome bumpers, power-controlled running boards, high-intensity LED headlamps and 20-inch aluminum wheels. Real wood lines the cabin fitted with leather-clad front bucket seats and a Sony audio kit.

Ford structures the MSRP chart for 2015 F-150 trucks in a broad range from $26,615 for the F-150 XL Regular Cab 2WD to $52,155 for a top-trim F-150 Platinum 2WD.

By Bob Plunkett

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