Ah, the generic white pickup truck, about as common as dirt. You see them everywhere; these workhorses serve contractors, municipalities, movers, gardeners, you name it. The white work truck is so ubiquitous on American roads that it's practically invisible.
This 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum, bedecked in $595 White Platinum Metallic paint and chrome brightwork, aims to be more than just a work truck and it's anything but invisible. It balances its potent 4x4 power train with a luxurious, leather-trimmed cabin. It's not just a workhorse; it's a well-groomed Clydesdale.
It's also smarter than your average truck. For 2015, the F-Series has undergone a tech transformation. The pickup now features full LED lighting from its quad-beam headlamps to its tails. The body is now composed of lightweight aluminum and its frame of high-strength steel. And though the F-150 is still available with a beefy V-8 engine, Ford's focus seems to be squarely on a new selection of downsized EcoBoost V-6 engines.
Aluminum chassis and ride quality
Though now composed of aluminum and high-strength steel, the 2015 Ford F-150 still feels like a truck. Ford says that the new F-150 is lighter than the previous generation by up to 700 pounds (depending on options), but at about 4,696 pounds, our Supercrew-configuration example is still a heavyweight.
The ride is smooth, I believe due to the double wishbone front suspension's controlled articulation. The F-150 can feel a bit floaty over highway undulations and a bit bouncy over larger bumps and potholes, but it never felt uncomfortable during my hundreds of miles of testing.
Trips were made more comfortable, thanks to this example's power multicontour seats. The front buckets featured heated and cooled surfaces, a ridiculous amount of adjustability, and massage functions. The seat backs and bottoms have separate massage controls with two levels of intensity. The bottom massage was a bit odd at first, but I felt that the slight shifting of the seating surface helped to ease fatigue during one of my longer trips -- a 4-hour ride from San Francisco to Sacramento and back to pick up new seats for my project car.
Being a Supercrew model, the F-150 offered gobs of space, both in the bed -- the shorter 5.5-foot box -- and in the cabin. The rear seats offer enough space to comfortably hold three adults. When not in use those rear seats fold up, not unlike in a Honda Fit, revealing a flat floor that can accommodate bulky items that need protection from the elements.
Back in the bed, thoughtful Platinum features -- such as a power release rear tailgate with an integrated, slide-out step -- help the F-150 owner load and access cargo. Our example also featured an optional bedliner and a fold-out bed extension.
Downsized engine, not down-powered
Under the hood of our F-150 breathes Ford's 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 engine. Ford claims that this 365-horsepower, 420-pound-foot engine boasts the power of a V-8 and the efficiency of a V-6.
The first thing that I noticed when firing up the EcoBoost-ed F-Series is how quiet the 3.5-liter engine is. At idle and when cruising, it's barely audible and nearly vibration-free. Around town and in traffic, the EcoBoost feels powerful enough to motivate the massive truck without feeling taxed, but a digital boost meter on the dashboard let me know that I'd barely begun to stress the engine's capability.
The engine is mated to a single-option six-speed automatic transmission that connects to all four wheels via an electronic differential and a two-speed transfer case. Using a knob on the dashboard, I could toggle between rear-wheel drive and three different flavors of permanent four-wheel drive configurations. For my fuel economy testing and light-load hauling, I spent the vast majority of my testing in the two-wheel drive setting.
The EPA reckons that the 2015 Ford F-150 with the EcoBoost V-6 is good for 17 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg combined. I started my test with the aforementioned highway cruise and ended the 4-hour trip at 18.2 mpg. Our example was equipped with the optional 36-gallon extended-range fuel tank, so I had plenty of fuel left over at the end of that trip. The rest of the week's driving was around town commuting, which included helping a friend move. By the time the low-fuel light came on, the trip computer was indicating 15.7 mpg.