2013 Detroit Auto Show: Ford Atlas Concept

2013 Detroit Auto Show: Ford Atlas Concept

2013 Detroit Auto Show

What Is It?
Ford Atlas Concept

What's Special About It?
Detroit's Joe Louis Arena is a huge venue for a press conference, and Ford took full advantage of that, lowering the Atlas concept onto the stage from the rafters while construction workers/actors used spot welders in the background. It was an awful lot of theatre for a concept truck that doesn't look that much different from a regular F-150. However, the Ford Atlas previews several bits of technology that Ford plans to bring to the production F-Series.

Saving fuel is going to be a big deal on full-size trucks in coming years, so this Atlas has a "next-generation EcoBoost engine," and that's all Ford officials will say about it. Said engine will incorporate stop-start technology, but it will be calibrated for a truck application.

"If you're pulling a trailer, the truck disables start-stop," says Mike Levine, Ford's communication manager for Trucks, "because when you're towing, you need power right away."

The Atlas also incorporates active shutters on its grille and wheels to smooth airflow and minimize drag as the truck goes down the freeway. There's also an active front chin spoiler that drops down at highway speeds but retracts at low speeds so it doesn't get in the way of off-roading.

Ford is also using the Atlas to introduce two new tech features that help with towing. One of them, Trailer Backup Assist, is basically an enhancement on automated parking systems. When you have a trailer hooked up, you turn a knob on the dash to indicate which direction you want the truck to go and then the system backs up the truck for you. All you have to do is control the speed with your right foot. Dynamic Hitch Assist makes use of a 360-degree camera system and provides visual cues to help you get the truck's hitch lined up to accept the trailer coupling.

Finally, the concept truck has a cargo cradle in its bed to allow you to secure extra-long items over the bed, so as not take up valuable space in the bed.

What Edmunds Says: Ford officials wouldn't get specific about timing for any of this technology, but it's likely all in the pipeline.

Base Price: Not for sale
Engine: "Next-generation EcoBoost engine" with stop-start technology calibrated for truck application (won't engage when you're towing)
Gearbox: TBA
Key Features: Trailer Backup Assist, Dynamic Hitch Assist, active chin spoiler, cargo cradle that secures long items above the cargo bed

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