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Detroit show: Ford’s sensitive, new-age F-150

Big boy: Ford's latest F-150 ute will not be coming to Australia anytime soon.

All-new F-Series pick-up is packed with hi-tech features and will offer 2.7-litre V6


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14 Jan 2014

FORD has unveiled its new-generation F-150 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a model that the American auto giant describes as its “toughest, smartest and most capable” full-size pick-up truck ever that sets the standard in its class.

Ford Australia has this week ruled out the vehicle coming here – a spokesman told GoAuto that the company’s emphasis remains firmly on the smaller Ranger utility – however the new F-Series is certain to become available through specialist converters after its launch in the US later this year.

It is also central to the fortunes of the Blue Oval brand in its all-important home market, with the F-Series standing as the best-selling truck in the US for no less than 37 consecutive years, and as America’s best-selling vehicle for the past 32 years.

Based on the hulking Atlas concept that premiered this time last year, the new-generation F-150 is claimed to be tougher and more durable than ever courtesy of extra lighter-weight but higher-strength steel used in the fully boxed ladder-frame chassis – now with 77 per cent high-strength steel employed (up from 23 per cent) – and a stronger, lighter body using “military grade” aluminium.

Full specifications are still to be provided, but Ford says its engineers have reduced weight in the (wider) steel frame by 27kg and saved around 320kg in the vehicle overall compared to the previous generation, particularly through the use of hi-tech new materials.

New safety and convenience technology also makes its way onto the pick-up truck, from seatbelt-mounted airbags across the second row to driver-assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot detection and ‘curve control’, the latter providing more aggressive four-wheel braking when the truck is going into a corner too fast.

These are among 11 new features that Ford describes as “class-exclusive”, with others including a 360-degree surround-view camera, fully integrated loading ramps, a new ‘BoxLink’ system for securing a variety of accessories in the tub, 400W/110V power outlets inside the cab, LED headlights, tail-lights and side-view mirror spotlights, and a remote tailgate release function.

While an improved 5.0-litre petrol V8 will be available (with output still to be confirmed), Ford is emphasising that the big new F-Series – to be sold in regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles, stretching from 5.3m to 6.2m in overall length – will also be available with its latest EcoBoost engine technology, including a 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 with automatic engine idle-stop and ‘active grille shutters’.

Not so long back, a displacement as low as this this would have been unthinkable as a power source for Ford’s best-selling full-sized pick-up truck, but now the company is proclaiming it as bringing “new capability and efficiency” to the series.

A 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 continues, while a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 (with twin variable camshaft timing) replaces the current 3.7-litre V6.

The cabin has a host of new-to-F-Series features, including an eight-inch LCD ‘productivity screen’ that includes truck apps (from fuel economy to towing tips) and the ability to create a customisable home screen for easy access to frequently used smartphone apps.

“More than ever before, customers want a truck that is a dependable partner, mobile office and a go-anywhere workshop,” said Ford’s group vice-president of global product development, Raj Nair.

“To meet the needs of our truck customers, we created smart new features and a whole new approach to using advanced materials and engines to improve capability and efficiency.” The F-150 will continue to be built at Ford’s truck plants at Dearborn and Kansas City.

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