The new, aluminum body Ford F-150 trucks that are up to 700 pounds lighter than their older, steel brothers are in production and coming to the market. While the material shift in the No. 1 ranking fullsize pickup in the U.S. was deemed "radical" when it was introduced at auto shows at the beginning of this year, what are people saying ahead of the 2015 model with military-grade aluminum-alloy set to hit dealerships next month?
he first all-new 2015 Ford F150 truck comes off the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant November 11, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan. The new 2015 F-150 is the first mass-produced truck in its class featuring a high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body and bed. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Here are just a few snippets from early reviews swirling on the Web to those of you who are thinking of putting it on your wish list:
Consumer Reports: On local roads around our test facility, we found the handling commendably responsive with a direct steering response that made the truck feel secure. [...] Towing performance was also decent, as detailed by my colleague Tom Mutchler’s experience pulling his Airstream trailer. Overall, the lightweight materials in the new F-150 show Ford’s efforts to make one of the country’s most popular vehicles more responsive and fuel efficient. Read the full review.
Auto Week: The F-150 feels lighter than its competitors on the road, too -- and maybe a little less tedious to drive in terms of attention to lane position or slight steering corrections. Ride quality is solid-axle, large-pickup standard; these days it’s easily tolerable. You won’t be wishing for a load to dampen the bounce. There’s no obvious difference in noise or vibration frequencies with the aluminum. The F-150 is quiet enough for low conversation inside, though GM’s trucks might still be a bit quieter. The 2.7 EcoBoost (and 2.7 only) has stop/start. It’s more intrusive than those in the best Euro sedans, much less than those in commercial vehicles. Before long you probably won’t notice, and you can always turn it off. Read the full review.
A new 2015 Ford F-150 truck goes through the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant November 11, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan. The new 2015 F-150 is the first mass-produced truck in its class featuring a high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body and bed. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Motor Trend: After a day spent in the Texas Hill Country driving and riding in the full range of 2015 F-150 trucks, the most striking thing about the world's first aluminum-bodied mainstream pickup is how unremarkable its aluminumness is. It doesn't crumple like Belushi's beer can when you lean against it. The door doesn't fling open when you give it steel-door effort and it closes with a conventionally solid thwunk. The truck doesn't fly any farther off a sharp railroad crossing than a normal truck. You'll basically have to study the numbers to appreciate what the 500-700-pound weight difference does for you -- or wait for your kid to fling a car door into it in the garage (it's actually way more dent resistant), or drive it for ten Michigan winters to notice it hasn't rusted out. Read the full review.
Car and Driver: If an aluminum body is controversial, a 2.7-liter V-6 in a full-size truck ranks as blasphemy. (A freebie for those who hate F-150s and love bad analogies: You can buy a 3.0-liter of Stars & Stripes cola at Dollar Tree.) But Ford’s new EcoBoost engine is packed with technology and punches above its displacement with output ratings of 325 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. It uses twin turbochargers and direct injection like the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, augmented with robust hardware such as a compacted-graphite-iron block, cracked main caps, and cylinder heads with integrated, water-cooled exhaust manifolds. [...] Despite aluminum’s cost premium over steel, Ford kept price increases for its F-150 to less than $500 in some cases, but that doesn’t temper the shock of just how expensive full-size trucks have become. We drove a low-spec four-door XLT model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, cloth seats, rear-wheel drive, and relatively few creature comforts that carried a sticker price of $42,875. That’s a problem that doesn’t plague just Ford, but the entire full-size-truck segment. If you’re going to spend that kind of money on a truck, though, the F-150 best justifies its price. Read the full review.
Kelly Blue Book: As I drove along, the hype surrounding the aluminum body of the new F-150 faded away. The F-150 quickly established itself as a really nice truck that felt light and agile. The interior was very quiet too, making it easy to hear texts through Sync, interrupted only by the dulled thwack of bugs hitting the windshield as we spent the day driving through Texas. After a lunch stop and a stop for gas, I reached El Paso before the dinner hour and had plenty of time to rest for the next day's journey. [...] One of the biggest shocks on this trip was the total lack of fatigue: no back pain, no leg cramps, no feeling of being the least bit uncomfortable. Impressive all around, the 2015 F-150 proved to be an excellent vehicle for a long road trip, towing and off-roading. Read the full review.
The new truck, which will be in dealerships in December, is the company's response to customers' requests for a more fuel-efficient and nimbler pickup. Ford hopes the advantages outweigh customer doubts about the durability of aluminum or potential repair costs for the pricier metal.
Doors for the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 truck await assembly at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant November 11, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan. The new 2015 F-150 is the first mass-produced truck in its class featuring a high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body and bed. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Ford will announce the truck's fuel economy figures later this month, but the company says the 2015 truck will have from 5 percent to 20 percent better fuel economy than the current version, which gets up to 23 mpg. A figure in the higher end of that range might convince some buyers to switch brands, Jesse Toprak, chief sales analyst for the car buying site Cars.com, said.
Watch the welcoming of the new truck at Ford Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan last week:
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated for clarification.