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Ford has completely redesigned its wildly popular F-150 pickup for the 2015 model year. This tough truck made its global debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

LIGHTing The Way

The company is taking an enormous chance with the new F-150. Breaking with tradition they’ve switched to an aluminum body in an aggressive bid to cut mass and save fuel. Traditionally the widespread use of this lightweight metal has been exclusive to top-dollar luxury cars like the renowned Audi A8.

The end result of this innovation and hard work is jaw dropping. Company representatives claim they’ve reduced the truck’s curb weight by 700 pounds. The overwhelming majority of that reduction, about 500 pound’s worth came out of the body. Engineers were able to take about 130 pounds out of the truck’s powertrain and an additional 70 out of the frame, which is now 77 percent high-strength steel, up from just 23 percent in today’s F-150.

A heavily revamped engine lineup also accompanies the new body. Ford’s immensely thirsty 6.2-liter V8 has been left to the brand’s Super Duty trucks. This means the popular and torque-rich 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 should serve as the top offering. A familiar 5.0-liter V8 will still be available.

Beyond these changes there’s a new base engine. The F-150’s current entry-level powerplant is a 3.7-liter V6, but since the 2015 model is so much lighter they’ve been able to downsize that to a 3.5-liter six-shooter to further increase fuel economy.

Even with the dip in displacement “we’ll still deliver better acceleration” said Doug Scott, truck group marketing manager at Ford. Additionally Scott said it should be “the most efficient F-150 ever,” though he declined to share any fuel economy estimates.

All-New EcoBoast V6

Aside from its groundbreaking aluminum body, this truck also features a brand-new EcoBoost V6. According to Scott it’s a “whole new engine family” and the 2015 F-150 is the first application.

The powerplant displaces a diminutive 2.7-liters and is designed to maximize fuel economy. “In our view it broadens the F-150 lineup,” Scott said. The engine is meant for customers that like the versatility and ride height of a pickup but don’t need massive towing capability.

Aside from direct fuel injection and turbocharging, the engine also comes with standard stop/start technology to further improve efficiency. But the company appears to have made one curious engineering omission when it comes to saving gasoline.

Paradoxically while the 2015 F-150 has an aluminum-intensive body the new 2.7-liter EcoBoost actually features an iron block. We all know ferrous metal is considerably heavier than aluminum, why would they go with such a material when they’ve bet the farm on lightweight metal for huge portions of the pickup?

While company spokes-folks wouldn’t comment specifically on this material choice, they did mention that a portion of the new engine’s block is made from an advanced metal called compacted graphite iron, CGI for short. This stuff has numerous advantages compared to either gray or ductile cast iron. Chiefly it has higher tensile strength and greater wear resistance. These benefits allow for much thinner, lighter castings ostensibly with no sacrifice in durability.
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