Ford may be a massive automaker with products stretching the globe, but much of its success rides in the bed of the venerable F-150 pickup. The F-Series as a whole (F-150, F-250, F-350, and F-450) ranks as the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., pulling in nearly 500,000 sales in 2013. Revamping your top product is risky business, so Ford spent the better part of five years developing what was to become the all-new 2015 F-150.

Before the truck hits showrooms later this year, we flew down to San Antonio, Texas – the heart of truck country – to give the new F-150 a spin. Ford had nearly every flavor of F-150 present, from XL-trimmed work trucks to full-on luxury models branded with King Ranch and Limited badging. All four members of the F-150’s engine lineup were present, too.

During our time in the hill country surrounding the Alamo, we had the chance to subject the F-150 to everything from drag racing and autocross cones to mud-strewn canyons and 9,0000-pound trailers hitched to the receiver. It was definitely a wide sampling of driving situations.

Ford hasn’t taken the competition coming from GM and Ram lightly. A handful of Silverado and Ram 1500 examples were on hand for side-by-side testing on the autocross course and towing loops. While our time behind the wheel of all three trucks was limited, we came away with a good understanding of where Ford stands in relation to the competition.

Click past the jump to see if the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 can best the competition

  • 2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • 0-60 time:
    6.0 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; RWD; 4WD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive Exterior
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2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive High Resolution Exterior
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The outward appearance of the 2015 F-150 is certainly more evolutionary than revolutionary. The truck still retains those familiar dips in the side windows, the Texas belt buckle-size Ford emblems, and the overall proportions. The new design is more angular and chiseled than before, especially around the edged of body panels. The hard creases make the F-150 look crisp, like it’s fresh from the cleaners.

The truck still retains those familiar dips in the side windows, the Texas belt buckle-size Ford emblems, and the overall proportions

Other design changes include a large plastic air dam below the front bumper that helps to deflect air around the sides of the truck, improving aerodynamics. It’s also soft enough to flex without breaking when pummeled with off-road obstacles. Speaking of, ground clearance is surprisingly good on four-wheel-drive modes, and the off-road course provided some rather challenging terrain not normally traversed by pickups.

Ford paid a great deal of attention to the working end of the truck. The tailgate now holds the optional assist step completely inside, with no obstructions interrupting the tailgate work surface. A new rack system fits along the bed walls and holds aluminum ramps or other optional equipment, and LED lights are now fitted within the bed, making nighttime loading an easier task.

The new F-150 actually makes use of those fancy light-emitting diodes throughout. LED headlights come standard on mid-level trims and above to provide better visibility, consume less energy, and they last the life of the truck. LED spotlights are also mounted in the side view mirrors. They work like police spotlights and illuminate a significant area on either side of the truck.


2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive Interior
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2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive Interior
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2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive High Resolution Interior
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While the F-150’s exterior retains a few design cues and elements from the previous generation, the interior is all new. Gone are the round air vents and slanted center stack – in their place are a wider center cluster with five-sided vents. An updated infotainment screen hosts tons of information, including Ford’s new exterior 360-degree camera system. Like Nissan’s AroundView system, the cameras give the driver a bird’s eye view of the truck and all that surrounds it.

Ergonomics for the driver are much improved

Ergonomics for the driver are much improved as well. We had the chance to sample a 2014 F-150 and the improvements are night and day. A better seating position combined with lower window sills give a better view outward as well as lessen the reach for the dash. Fit and finish of the upscale materials are almost on par with the Germans. Material finishes and hues were carefully scrutinized and chosen based on its ability to reduce light bouncing into occupant’s eyes.

Crew cab models still feature near limo-like legroom while the flat floor under the folding rear bench allows for easy loading of boxes and such. No transmission tunnel to work around; only van-like space.

NVH levels for all passengers are kept at impressively low levels. Wind and road noise are Range Rover quiet while bumps are soaked up with good composure. An unloaded bed does result in a happy rear axle, but it’s much improved over the last generation.


2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive Drivetrain
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Along with the new visible parts of the F-150, plenty of changes happened to the greasy bits as well, including an all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. Slotted above the base 3.5-liter V-6, the new EcoBoost makes an impressive 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. Set up in the proper configuration the little EcoBoost can tow an 8,500-pound trailer; a number that is SAE J2807 certified.

Fuel economy is a big aspect of the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, and it comes standard with an automatic start-stop feature that kills the engine when the truck isn’t moving. Behind the wheel, the EcoBoost is very surprising. It feels just as powerful as the old 5.4-liter V-8 from prior generations.

While you can’t beat the muscle car sound of the 5.0-liter V-8, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost is the star of the drag strip

Of course, Ford still offers both the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Both return for 2015 unchanged. The V-8 lays down a solid 385 horsepower and 387 pound-feet of torque, and it is the engine of choice for frequent towing. For those looking to save on fuel while still being able to two a massive trailer, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is the one to get. With 365 horses and 420 pound-feet of torque, the EcoBoost is rated to pull 12,200 pounds from the hitch.

While you can’t beat the muscle car sound of the 5.0-liter V-8, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost is the star of the drag strip. Stand on the gas and the truck launches forward with surprising results. It’s very un-truck like.

All four engines are backed by the same six-speed automatic transmission that carries over from 2014. That’s not a bad thing though. It shifted very quickly and outshone the six-speed unit in the Chevy Silverado on the autocross course.

Driving Impressions

2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive High Resolution Exterior
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During our day with the new F-150, we spent a generous amount of time on the open roads that carve the hills of southern Texas. It’s amazing how much smaller the new F-150 drives compared to the previous year. Much of that can be credited to the better seating position, fantastic steering wheel, and electronic steering system. Turn-in feels properly weighted and there is almost no dead zone at center.

It’s amazing how much smaller the new F-150 drives compared to the previous year

Highway cruising is an effortless affair with little outside interruption. Wind noise is nearly non-existent and bumps are handled with composure. The driver’s gauge cluster displays all the right information in an effortless fashion. The large TFT display is configurable for different items and gauge choices.

On the autocross course, the SuperCab 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 tester with RWD was the best handler out of the bunch. The front end felt much lighter and more tossable, and the steering seemed to respond more quickly with more precision around the corners.

The F-150 works well for those folks who buy a truck for a daily driver and only occasionally needs to haul a cooler in the bed. For those doing more strenuous work, the F-150’s lighter curb weight, stronger frame, and stout engine lineup give plenty of reason to avoid buying a three-quarter-ton truck.


2015 Ford F-150 - First Drive High Resolution Exterior
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Overall Ford has done a fantastic job with the new F-150. While we only had a limited amount of time in the truck in controlled settings, it seemed to excel. We’ll wait to pass a final judgment until we’ve spent more time with Ford’s newest baby. Until then, know the F-150 represents a menacing threat to the Chevy and Ram teams, not to mention Toyota and Nissan.

  • Leave it
    • * Gets expensive with options
    • * Infinite configurations isn’t for the indecisive
    • * Almost too nice to use for work
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