The 2015 Ford F-150 is fully redesigned and represents the 13th generation in the model's history. It's now significantly lighter thanks to the use of aluminum body panels. The lineup also gains more refinement and a smaller EcoBoost engine.
What Is It?
As America's number-one-selling vehicle, the importance of the Ford F-150 cannot be understated. The headlining changes are its aluminum body panels, which allow the truck to be as much as 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor. That translates to better fuel economy, better performance and increased towing and payload capacities. Other changes are just as substantial, with a new 2.7-liter V6 engine and numerous improvements to the interior.
The subject of this road test is the F-150 SuperCrew with the 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. Behind the cab is a 5.5-foot bed, which is the shortest available. A 6.5-foot bed is also offered for SuperCrew models, while an 8-footer can be had with regular and super cab trucks. Midlevel Lariat trims like our test truck start at $42,865 with the base 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine and feature leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, the Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment system and a Class IV hitch. The 5.0-liter V8 increases the price by $800. An abundance of comfort and safety options push the as-tested price to $56,070.
How Does It Drive?
The Ford F-150 SuperCrew is equally at home on wide-open highways and in more confined urban settings. Despite dimensions within a few inches of its Chevrolet and Ram competitors, the F-150 doesn't feel as lumbering. Part of this can be attributed to its 5,233-pound curb weight, which is several hundred pounds lighter than its rivals.
The lighter weight also helps the F-150 accelerate to 60 mph in a respectable 6.9 seconds. The 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine SuperCrew models we tested were between a half and a full second quicker, respectively. Coming to a stop from that speed required 132 feet, which is a few feet shorter than average.
Power response is immediate when leaving the line or overtaking, and the brakes gracefully bring the truck to a stop whether it's loaded with cargo or empty. Steering effort is light in parking lots and doesn't increase much at higher speeds. As a result, the F-150 easily executes multiple-point turns (a common occurrence with the truck's large 47.8-foot turning circle), but the steering can feel vague on a winding mountain pass.
How Does It Do Truck Stuff?
With the optional FX-4 package, our F-150 gained a 3.31 rear axle ratio with an electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control, off-road suspension tuning and skid plates. While these features enhance the truck's off-road capabilities, the low front airdam and optional side step bars limit ground clearance. Fortunately, the airdam can be removed by taking out only eight bolts, and power-retractable side steps are also available. The F-150 with all-season tires easily tackled rutted dirt trails and moderate climbs.
Loading cargo in the 5.5-foot bed is easy thanks to the optional spray-in bedliner that allows bulky items to slide without the fear of scratching either the bed or cargo. Four sturdy tie-down cleats help to secure cargo, and the remotely operated soft-open tailgate takes some of the pain out of transporting big items. Had we ordered the truck for ourselves, we would have also added the handy tailgate step for easier access.
Is There a Downside to the Aluminum Body?
Our testing of the aluminum body showed it to be more durable in an impact than traditional steel. The aluminum panel sustained far less deformation and, unlike steel, it won't rust. It is important to note that aluminum is more expensive to repair, but considering its strength, we don't see a downside.
How Is the Interior?
The 2015 Ford F-150's cabin has received noticeable material improvements with sturdier plastics and more soft-touch surfaces. Much of the 2014 model's industrial design remains, along with its utilitarian strengths. There are plenty of generously sized pockets and cupholders, and the center armrest bin is positively huge. As with its GM and Ram rivals, the F-150's rear seats fold up to provide additional interior storage. And, among crew cabs, the F-150 offers the most space.
Buttons and knobs are logically placed and easy to read, and the multifunction display in the instrument cluster provides a wealth of information and can be reconfigured easily. That leaves the MyFord Touch infotainment system as one of the few drawbacks. Compared to the segment-leading UConnect system found in Ram trucks, the F-150's is slow to respond and not as intuitive. Initial impressions of Ford's upcoming Sync 3 system have been positive, and it will be available in 2016 F-150s.
Is It Comfortable?
The F-150 SuperCrew's spacious cabin fits five large adults easily and comfortably. Smaller drivers are also taken into account, with wide adjustment ranges for the telescoping steering wheel, seat height and pedals. The wide front seats are well padded for extended periods, as we discovered after more than 500 miles in a single day. The cooled seats (standard on the Lariat trim) further enhance comfort, even in the heat of summer through California's high desert.
On the highway, wind and road noise were nearly nonexistent. The larger tow mirrors increase wind noise but not to intrusive levels. The FX-4 off-road option made the ride quality noticeably stiffer than the standard suspension, but it was never objectionable over rough surfaces. As with most pickups, a few hundred pounds of cargo in the bed greatly reduces the rear end's busy-ness.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Can You Expect?
The EPA estimates our 5.0-liter V8 test truck's fuel economy at 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway), which is comparable to its chief competitors. These estimates are confirmed by our 16.2-mpg average during its time with us and a 19.2-mpg result on our evaluation loop.
These results make a strong case for the 5.0-liter V8 in real-world driving conditions. We've been unsuccessful at achieving the EPA's estimates of 20 mpg combined (18 city/23 highway) with our 2.7-liter V6-powered long-term F-150. Our lifetime average remains below 17 mpg. In fact, a 475-mile fuel economy test proved that the two trucks' efficiency is much closer than the EPA rating would have you believe. The V8 earned 19.9 mpg to the V6's 19.8 mpg.
It's also important to consider the V8's 9,000-pound towing capacity (up to 11,000 if properly equipped) versus the V6's 8,000-pound limit.
What Safety Features Are Available?
In addition to standard safety features, the 2015 Ford F-150 comes with trailer sway control and automatic post-crash emergency services notification via a paired cell phone. Optional features include a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, a rearview or surround-view camera and inflatable rear seatbelts for SuperCrew models.
What Are Its Chief Competitors?
It's an age-old battle royale among full-size pickup trucks. The 2015 Ford F-150 is unique for its use of lightweight yet sturdy aluminum, but it's not prudent to ignore its rivals. The Ram 1500 is also an Edmunds "A"-rated truck, benefitting from a coil spring rear suspension that delivers a more composed ride and the only diesel engine in the class. The "B"-rated Chevrolet Silverado and similar GMC Sierra are also strong choices, but they trail the Ford and Ram in most categories.
Nissan's redesigned 2016 Titan is showing promise, as it will offer the only other diesel engine in the class. The Toyota Tundra, which now has the oldest powertrain and chassis among half-ton trucks, trails the group.
Why Should You Consider This Truck?
In addition to all of the strength and utility demanded of pickup trucks, the 2015 Ford F-150 gets high marks for comfort and interior quality. With the 2.7-liter EcoBoost unable to meet its fuel economy estimates in real-world driving, we recommend stepping up to the more capable and equally efficient 5.0-liter V8.
Why Should You Think Twice?
Our few gripes are minor and include the imperfect MyFord Touch infotainment system. The Ram's ride quality is noticeably smoother whether empty or full of cargo, too. Otherwise, it's hard to beat the F-150.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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