Reviews

2015 Ford F-150 Walk Around

The Ford F-150's signature split-level front windowsills, generous blue ellipses and angular sides punctuated by semi-circle wheel openings define the truck so obviously that most people won't need a badge to identify it. And although it appears a wee bit lower overall, the more upright, blunt face better relates to big-brother Super Duty.

Big bumper push-pads and a rectangular grille with dog-eared corners delineate front end and trim level, and there are grille shutters that provide cooling air when needed and less aero resistance when not. A deep front air dam scuffs on pavement occasionally and frequently off the highway, but was still there after we spent a day in the dirt with one.

Headlight assemblies resemble C-clamps holding the grille in place, angled rearward for maneuverability and aerodynamics. There are small aerodynamic aids all-around and aerodynamics have improved, but this still a big box pushing through the air. LED headlamps of upper trims cast a very white light, so much so we'd check aim with a load on to ensure we aren't blinding bats in the trees rather than seeing the road.

Compared with the previous-generation, the windshield on the 2015 F-150 is curved and angled rearward more, the top edge is not straight and is sure to catch a replacement windshield-installer's attention. Side windowsills are deeper for easier drive-through access and level with the bed top, the cab has a little more tumblehome, and the bed sides appear identical to the predecessor with different lights in the same cutouts.

The tailgate is quite thick in the middle and heavily creased, appearing to reach almost as far back as the rear edge of the bumper. A lock is standard, trim panels, badges and decals vary, and the tailgate step now comes out of the lowered tailgate like a drawer and is then deployed. Despite the internal step and lift-assist, the tailgate is still said to be removable by one person. (Be mindful of your back if you remove it; better yet, get someone to help.)

Mid-level-and-up trucks include a rearview camera; on some it shows predictive lines for the sides of the truck and a hitch ball relative to steering wheel angle. All-around cameras are offered, including one in the nose, washed whenever the windshield is washed. It is not low enough to serve as a fish-finder but will be useful pulling out from gated driveways or urban alleys.

Plenty of running boards and side steps ease cab entry or reaching over the bed rails. Bed moldings are typical for double-stacking 4×8 sheets, tie-downs run from simple loops to cleats to industrial rails. LED in-bed lights ease loading operations and LED floodlights in the side mirrors are so bright you want to be sure you have the correct switch before you light up a neighboring campsite tent like a UFO.

Interior

The F-150 has a roomy front seat and functional layout, regardless of cab configuration. Dimensionally it is nominally larger than the previous generation, most noticeably in hip and shoulder room, and the lower windowsills aid spaciousness.

Front seats, whether 40/20/40 bench, 40/console/40 or pure bucket seats all proved comfortable, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel helps proper driving position. Extremes can be expanded with power adjustable pedals, and comfort enhanced with heated/cooled seats and massage to avoid sitting in one position for any length of time. If you seek the quietest cabin, and the F-150 cabs are quite quiet, you will hear the massage and cooling operating.

SuperCab rear seats are good for kids and can handle moderate-size adults in four places; you will not comfortably fit a quartet of six-footers. Outboard headrests offer good whiplash and rear-window protection and LATCH points are easy to locate. On all but the Base XL the door windows roll down.

SuperCrew rear seats are adult size, that quartet of six-footers having knee space and legroom left over; ten inches more legroom than SuperCab. An armrest comes on upper trims, inflatable rear seatbelts (to better cushion small or frail occupants) are available, there are AC vents back edge of front-console models and storage below the left side of fold-up seat cushions.

We found no materials out of place: vinyl flooring on work trucks, easy-clean hard-surface lower trim panels, to real wood and fine leather on top trims. Fortunately, none of the glossy or chrome surfaces direct glare or reflections at the driver.

The dash is dominated by large air vents, which look aluminum-framed on some, sectioning it. The glovebox extends to the door, the center stack controls are climate at bottom, radio/infotainment above, center screen and drive control switches at top. Some have a 110VAC/400-watt outlet (300 watts with the truck in motion) on the right, some a duplicate outlet in back. The differential lock and 4WD switch is on the left of center.

These controls work well, the top models using a touch-screen with Sync and MyFord Touch. This is better than prior generations and work-ability among this, GM's My/IntelliLink screens and Ram's Uconnect will most often come down to familiarity. Our biggest gripe with the F-150 is smallish buttons on the touch-screen that made getting the right one while driving on less-than-smooth roads a hit-and-miss proposition. With any of the telematics systems, charges vary; the SiriusXM Traffic and TravelLink option includes five years of service, SiriusXM radio does not.

The instrument panel locates the tachometer on the left, speedometer on the right, engine, transmission and fuel gauges between. Data screen sizes vary from 2.3 to 8 inches, the largest using graphical representations of the four analog gauges and offering vast quantities of information, from which trailer is connected to how far the truck is leaning over. We verified 21 degrees of side tilt on the trail but you're not usually looking at gauges at that point. These screens are manipulated by thumb controls on the slightly dished four-spoke steering wheel.

Storage areas include big lower and small upper door pockets, glovebox, behind or under seats and on consoles a small bin ahead of the shifter and space under the armrest to put a laptop case or small backpack. It's well-sealed as evidenced by our often having to pull the door twice to shut it all-windows-up (this may be eased slightly in production models) and quiet window motors.

Mirror floodlight switches are handy under the left vent, lights below and pedal and electronic parking brake switch (3.5-liter and 2.7-liter models) below that. Column or console shifters offer the same gear positions and rocker-switch manual up/down selection.

Outward visibility is helped by low-mounted mirrors you can see over and good glass area. Trucks without blind-spot warning or towing mirrors have a wide-angle element in the upper outside corner to eliminate blind spots; towing mirrors range up to power-extend, power-fold, dual-power-element heated units with blind-spot warning and turn signal repeaters. The windshield pillars are none-too-thin and have grab handles built-in and we often found ourselves moving head side to side to look around them and be sure; those sitting closer to the pillars will find this amplified.

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