Funny you should ask. The Ford F-150 is a pickup truck. It’s been America’s best-selling pickup truck for 37 years straight, and America’s best-selling vehicle period for 32 years straight. Nothing stands a chance against an F-150.
In 2013, truck-loving Americans snapped up more than 763,000 of them — double that of Ram, more than a quarter-million higher than Silverado, seven times that of Tundra, and 48 times over Titan. This doesn’t mean any of the other trucks are bad news. It’s just that Ford claims more pickup loyalists than any other brand — because when it comes to trucks, people usually live and die under one name.
Why should you care?
Aluminum. Even if you despise Ford, the very existence of an aluminum-bodied cab and bed should move your metronome up tempo. Aluminum is a lighter metal, and lightness — Ford claims the 2015 F-150 shaves up to 700 pounds — delivers all sorts of wonderful things, like better handling, acceleration, braking and, most important, fuel economy. High-strength steel makes up 77 percent of the all-steel ladder frame (up from 23 percent) and is 60 pounds lighter, too. Along with a new 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 and active grille shutters, Ford is planning high (for a pickup) EPA numbers. Within that chiseled, beefy front are optional LED headlamps and a camera, along with other cameras on the sides and rear, that can show a 360-degree view around the truck when parking. LED lights also can adorn the rear lamps, side mirrors and interior. Also available: a remote tailgate release, blind-spot monitoring and lane assist (which can tug the steering wheel), integrated tailgate step, stowable wheel ramps to load bikes and ATVs onto the bed, and even automatic parallel parking. There’s more luxury and convenience features here than anywhere.
What’s not to like?
No other pickup truck has ever used a full aluminum body before, because it’s typically not as durable, is more difficult to manufacture and is more expensive to repair than a traditional steel body. Ford claims it tested the new F-150’s body for more than 10 million miles, including in the field with mining companies, and uses aircraft-grade aluminum to improve “dent and ding resistance.” But if Ford’s wrong — or if the F-150 is priced too high — this could be disastrous. Fleet buyers, which comprise a big chunk of F-150 sales, may be unnerved if aluminum repairs prove too costly.
Again, the addition of aluminum means two things. Either the price goes up by several thousand dollars, or Ford eats the costs with only a marginal increase over the 2014 model. We’ll bet on the latter. The F-150 is so profitable as it is that Ford can afford to take risks on the 2015 model. Expect it sometime later this year.