To say Ford has a lot riding on the F-Series pickup is a gross understatement. The full-size trucks are some of the most popular models for the automaker, representing between 600,000 and 800,000 units sold each year. While those numbers include the entire F-Series lineup, made up of the Super Duty models and the half-ton F-150, much of the sales can likely be attributed to the F-150. I say “likely” because Ford doesn’t publish the breakdown between the two classes. Still, the F-150 is an immensely popular truck.

That’s why it was so critical for Ford to nail its next-generation F-150. Completely remade from bumper to bumper, save for some carryover powertrains, the new-for-2015 F-150 took the leap into aluminum, ditching its steel body for high-strength tin foil.

Well, calling it tin foil might not be accurate. Ford will quickly point out the aluminum used on the F-150 is “military grade” stock. While that sounds great, the basic premise is this: the truck is lighter without its strength being compromised. Much of that strength doesn’t actually come from the aluminum, however. The F-150’s new frame is comprised of high-strength steel. Fully boxed, the frame is stronger than before, yet weights nearly 60 pounds less than the 2014 F-150’s frame.

All this is designed to let the F-150 do work. Configured correctly, the pickup truck will haul 3,270 pounds of cargo and tow 12,200 pounds worth of trailer. Those are numbers one-ton trucks like the F-350 couldn’t match a decade ago.

Despite those outrageous numbers, the F-150 is no stripped-out tractor. In fact, I had the chance to sample Ford’s range-topping trim level for the 2015 model year, the Platinum. While 2016 is bringing the even-more-luxurious Limited trim, the Platinum rivals the best mid-level luxury sedan in terms of comfort and equipment.

Let’s take a look

Continue reading for the full driven review

  • 2015 Ford F-150 - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    365 @ 5000
  • MPG(Cty):
    17
  • MPG(Hwy):
    23
  • Torque @ RPM:
    420 @ 2500
  • Energy:
    Twin-Turbocharged
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    107 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine, 4WD w/ Low Range
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Video Walk-Around


Exterior

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655520
2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655521
2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655515

The F-150 has an all-new appearance for 2015. Sharper angles and harder lines are found everywhere, while round fender flairs help smooth out the design. New LED headlights and fog lights are available, found standard here on the Platinum trim. The LED lighting continues towards the rear. Innovative spotlights on the side mirrors destroy the night when the truck is parked or moving under five mph. Lighting in the bed allows for easy viewing of cargo at night or under a tonneau cover.

Low-speed maneuvering is simple thanks to a 360-degree camera system

The innovation continues with Ford’s folding bed step. Mounted inside the tailgate, the folding step allows easy access to the cargo bed. Though not as simple as GM’s bumper cutouts and stake-pocket hand grabs, the step works well and is quick to operate. Also attached to the bed is the F-150’s optional cargo bed extender and so-called Box Link stowable loading ramps. Though my tester didn’t come with the ramps, their locking cleats were mounted on the bed walls ready for use. Two more foot-operated steps just ahead of the rear tires make it easy to grab items from the bed. A firm kick locks them back into place.

Other parts ready for work include the frame-mounted receiver hitch, four- and seven-pin wiring connectors, and front tow hooks.

For practicality’s sake, power-folding running boards make getting into the cab very easy. Ford has also made low-speed maneuvering super simple thanks to a 360-degree camera system that displays on the eight-inch infotainment screen on the dash. It gives a wide angle around each corner of the truck, making backing up a snap.

Interior

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 655543
2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 655546
2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 655541

Speaking of the dashboard, the F-150’s new layout is surprisingly car-like, yet it somehow doesn’t lose that truck-ish feel. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a pleasure to grab and other main controls are within easy reach. Keyless push-button starting let the keys stay in your pocket. If you’ve forgotten your keys, Ford still has the five-button keypad on the driver’s door, ensuring you’re never locked out.

The interior is surprisingly car-like, yet it somehow doesn’t lose that truck-ish feel

Once behind the wheel, the F-150 offers plenty of gauges and controls. The eight-inch screen within the gauge cluster is configurable, allowing the driver to see the gauges he wants to see. The tachometer and speedometer are the only analog gauges. Of course, this screen’s availability is based off trim levels and optional equipment.

The center console is smartly designed, though the shifter takes up a large portion of space. The truck does offer several USB ports, though not as many as the GM twins. There are two 110-volt, three-pronged outlets for charging household devices. The center armrest is massive; large enough for hanging file folders. Other storage sports are found on top of the dash, in the door pockets, and along the sides of the center console.

The F-150 SuperCrew offers more rear-seat comfort than many full-size sedans. The back seat is impressively cavernous. A folding center armrest offers a spot for elbows, while two air vents keep occupants cool. The seat bottoms also fold upwards in a 60/40 split, allowing for a massive amount of storage space. The flat floor further aids in storage options.

Ford’s SYNC2 software works well at controlling everything from HVAC to navigation and radio to vehicle settings. It does, however, have several small “soft” bottoms that require a precise touch to push. The font size throughout the software is also a bit small. Thankfully Ford has revamped its SYNC2 system for 2016 with SYNC3 that is said to be much improved.

Overall fit and finish in the cabin is impressive. Real wood and aluminum accents richen the environment while the optional double-pane moon roof with power-operating shade provides plenty of light. The mocha brown leather is supple, while the front seats offer plenty of support for long-distance traveling.

Drivetrain

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655530
2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655539
2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 655540

Ford offers four engine options in the F-150, but the range-topping mill is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Largely carried over from the previous generation truck, the twin-turbocharged engine produces an impressive 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The engine is designed to be easy on fuel when not towing, hauling, or burning the rear tires, but still have all the grunt F-150 owners need for towing a maximum trailer weight of 12,200 pounds.

The EcoBoost pushes the F-150 to 60 in roughly 5.6 seconds, which is surprisingly fast for a 5,577-pound truck

The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shifting capabilities and a Tow/Haul mode. Behind the transmission is the optional 4WD transfer case. The electronically controlled gearbox offers two speeds – high and low range – and is controlled by a knob on the dashboard. That same knob also controls the electronically locking rear differential. Simply pull out on the knob and the rear diff locks both tires into turning at the same speed, allowing the truck to power through mud or over slippery surfaces. Best of all, the diff can be locked even in 2WD.

Performance wise, the EcoBoost V-6 feels stout. It pushes the F-150 to 60 in roughly 5.6 seconds, which is surprisingly fast for a 5,577-pound truck. Highway passing happens just as easily, though turbo lag can be felt. When you’re not dogging the throttle, the EcoBoost in this truck will achieve 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. Sadly, my average was only 15.7 mpg over my one-week and 238-mile test cycle of very mixed driving.

Safety Systems

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 655583

Safety with the F-150 starts with its new frame and aluminum body structure. The frame is designed to better protect occupants in a crash, while better absorbing the impact in its crumple zones. The same is true with the aluminum body. Inside, airbags can be found nearly everywhere. The two main front airbags work in conjunction with the side curtain airbags and seat-mounted torso airbags.

Optional in the second row are Ford’s innovative inflatable seatbelts. In a crash, a long, narrow airbag within the seat belt inflates, expanding the area in which crash forces are delivered to the occupant’s chest. Of course, I didn’t test them out, but I did find the belts to be thicker and harder to rout through by daughter’s car seat.

Those systems are great, but the F-150 tries to prevent accidents altogether. Optional is the Adaptive Cruise control with Collision Warning system, Lane Keeping System, and Blind Spot Monitoring system. Of course, stability and traction controls systems keep the truck’s shiny side up during hard maneuvers.

Driving Impressions

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 655550

The F-150 is surprisingly nimble and easy to drive, despite its larger size. The steering is relatively quick, throttle response is good (though some turbo lag is noticeable), and braking is confident and linear. Visibility is extremely good, though the side mirrors could be a bit wider.

The F-150 is surprisingly nimble and easy to drive, despite its larger size

Like I mentioned before, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost is a heck of an engine, providing ample amount of power for everyday driving. The transmission executes shifts quickly and without issue, both up and down, and is smart about balancing the powerband with fuel savings.

The F-150 does a fine job of being a primary vehicle and is never tiring for the driver. Heck, the front seats even provide a massaging function, along with heating and ventilation. In all, the truck is a good driver and provides the driver with a satisfying experience.

Pricing

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655529

While the F-150 carries a base price of $25,071, the Platinum is a tad more pricey. Keep in mind, the Platinum is the range-topping trim level for 2015. It’s starting price is $54,385 for a SuperCrew with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 4WD drivetrain. My tester pushed that price further north with a slew of optional extras that totaled $7,140.

Those options included the Ruby Red paint ($395), moon roof ($1,295), trailer tow package ($495), FX4 Off-Road package ($770), bed extender ($250), box side steps ($325), 36-gallon extended range fuel tank ($195), and the spray-in bed liner ($475). Also added was Equipment Group 701A for $2,540, which is basically the Platinum series with the technology package, adaptive cruise control, and tailgate step.

The grand total for my tester came to $62,220.

Competition

GMC Sierra 1500 Denali

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali - Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive
- image 642631

Slotted at the top of GM’s truck line is the Sierra Denali. Basically a step down from the Cadillac Escalade, the Sierra Denali offers all the swanky tech and luxury GMC has to offer. It includes bright chrome bodywork, heated and cooled leather seats, more USB ports than a computer store, and a great infotainment system call IntelliLink.

The Sierra 1500 Denali comes standard with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8, but can also be had with the mighty 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8. Derived from the LT1 V-8 found in the Corvette and new Camaro, the 6.2-liter kicks out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It comes backed with GM’s 8L90 automatic transmission.

Pricing wise, the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali starts at $50,015, but quickly becomes more expensive with options. My last tester and the one pictured here topped out at $58,480.

Read our full review of the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali here

Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

2016 Ram Laramie Limited High Resolution Exterior
- image 616776

Riding atop Ram’s trim lines is the new-for-2015 Laramie Limited. It offers all the same luxury as the Laramie Longhorn, but without the Western-style flair inside the cab. Leather seats with contrast piping are matched with real wood accents and aluminum trim. The massive 8.4-inch infotainment system houses Uconnect, one of the industry’s best software programs.

Powering the Laramie Limited are two engine options: the standard 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 or the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. Both engines have their strong points and weaknesses, so customers should choose wisely as to what their needs are.

Prices for this trim level start at $50,675 for the Hemi-powered 2WD Crew Cab and escalate to $57,300 for the EcoDiesel with 4WD, before options.

Read our full review of the Ram 1500 Laramie Limited here

Conclusion

2015 Ford F-150 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 655514

The Ford F-150 has long been the top selling truck in the U.S. market. Now, the new 2015 truck is tasked with continuing that legacy while overcoming the numerous concerns its aluminum construction presents. Working in its favor, the new truck offers far more creature comforts and drivetrain options than the outgoing truck, helping appeal to wealthier buyers while keeping its loyal base of blue-collar workers happy.

The 2015 F-150 raises the bar in pickup refinement while not abandoning its heritage. That’s a pretty good approach to take since Ford is darn near staking its reputation on the F-150’s success.

  • Leave it
    • * Thirsty despite the diet and "Eco" theme
    • * Expensive
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: