The 2015 Ford F-150 EcoBoost has been slowly permeating the American market for months now, but we haven’t really examined what that means. And it does mean something, because Ford snuck the future into this newest F-150, almost right under our noses. I say almost because we really seem to like it. America bought 17% more of its favorite truck last month. Ford has had to increase production. We like it despite how different it is, or perhaps because of it.
We’ll start with the weight difference. The 2015 has made the previous year’s model look like a relic, fitted with a crank starter and a spark advance. Because the 2015 has an aluminum body, making it seven hundred pounds lighter.
Cars have been employing aluminum here and there forever. Engines, wheels, grilles, even old Land Rover bodies were all made of the aircraft bones. But if this succeeds, and all reports indicate that it will, this will likely be the biggest automotive consumer of aluminum ever.
Make no mistake: The F-150 is American Ford’s oxygen. It has been their best selling vehicle for decades. The 17% more F-150s that sold last month boosted Ford’s overall sales 15%. So to suddenly switch to what amounts to an exotic material on such a mainstream application was risky. It was like T-Swift buckling on an accordion and doing a polka album. It was weird, but you would probably buy it.
Yes, Ford swore the aluminum was even stronger than the former steel body, and the weight savings would go a long way to improve fuel economy, but surely aluminum was for goofy old kit cars and Teslas. Back an F-150 up to a dump truck to receive a load of gravel and it would crumple like a Faygo can. It doesn’t, in fact, though when it does need repair, Edmunds recently discovered that the cost of repairing an aluminum F-150 bed was much higher than the same job with steel.
Yet we still don’t care. We’re still buying them. We pragmatic and traditional Americans are embracing a lighter, more efficient vehicle. Of course there are carbon fiber cars. It’s been a target staple of supercars since Ferrari’s F40 debuted nearly 30 years ago. But carbon fiber has remained niche. So for every Lexus LFA or Koenigsegg One:1 or Pagani Huayra there are millions of heavy, steel pickups.
But if the most popular vehicle in America has gone light weight it’s a very good sign that it could soon be embraced as an actual, viable solution for better gas mileage and better performance.
Ford’s continental president Joe Hinrichs says they don’t plan to use more aluminum on their cars, but that, “Light-weighting over time, and it doesn’t have to be all aluminum, will be an important part of the equation for us and our competitors.” Ford even made the wheels on their recent Mustang GT350R out of carbon fiber. Like Koenigsegg. They saved the car 52 pounds.
Engines are the other factor in Hinrichs’ equation. EcoBoost has been a hit for Ford, most famously on their ST twins and the new Mustang. But they’ve disseminated the direct injection, turbo system more widely on their F-150 over the last few years. Ford took it a step further with their aluminum F-150, offering an even smaller EcoBoost V6, a 2.7 liter, which spools up to a very viable 325 hp, compared to the 3.5 turbo’s 365. It only gets a single MPG more than the 3.5, but it’s a start.
Lighter platforms and smaller, turbocharged engines. These have been an option all over the world for ages. But American pickup customers didn’t want to sacrifice the size, and all the practicality and presence that came with it. Now, thanks to some clever engineering from Ford, they won’t have to. And hopefully, with such a mainstream application, we’ll only see more power and lighter vehicles throughout the industry.
So we know you have a great truck. But how do you make your 2015 F-150 EcoBoost even better? We have a few ideas. It’s a smaller engine than its V8 big brothers, but that doesn’t mean it has to have a smaller sound. So let’s start with an exhaust from Magnaflow. This side-exit system has been dyno-tested to improve horsepower and offers a ferocious, serious note. And this single part number works for all engine levels, from the 2.7 all the way up to the 5.0.
How about protection? Your F-150’s carpet will see some serious abuse before the engine ever shows any signs of wear. And you don’t want to have to replace that carpet while the truck is still rolling. Husky Liners WeatherBeaters are just about indestructible. You could do a super power death match between a WeatherBeater and Superman, Hulk, and Liam Neeson and it would still win. Here’s a little more about how strong they are. And here’s where you can pick yours up for cheap.
They designed the 2015 F-150 to look tough, but with this heavy duty Fab Fours front Bumper, with a pre-runner guard and an included winch mount, it’s even tougher. It also includes housings with 90mm fog lights, turn signals, and D-ring mounts. It’s also available with a full guard or no guard at all. (We just think the pre-runner guard looks the coolest.)
That lighter weight will come in handy off-road. What else will come in handy? A pair of ReadyLift 2” strut extensions to help give you that extra ground clearance you need.
And once your truck is lifted, give yourself a step up with a pair of black GenX Oval Tube Drop Steps from Westin Automotive. They’re easy to install, will last you forever, and give your truck a beefier look. (Linked product fits SuperCab applications. Please use the year/make/model search on StreetsideAuto.com or call one of our expert American techs for exact vehicle fitment information before purchasing.)
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.