By William Walker, Jason Udy
The first thing I noticed when the Ford rep gave us a walk-around tour of the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 SuperCrew was its upscale feel — inside and out. And it should. After all this is the top-of-the-line model with nearly every option box checked. Our tester rang the register at $61,195 (including $1,195 destination). That’s lots of coin for a half-ton pickup, but it’s also quite a bit of truck.
Our Platinum SuperCrew tester was fitted with Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 rated 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Now that the low volume 6.2-liter V-8 is restricted to the Super Duty pickup line, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost becomes the top engine in the 2015 Ford F-150. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic four-wheel-drive system features a two-speed transfer case. It is also equipped with premium features new to the pickup segment — more on those features later.
Weighing in at 5,532 pounds, the 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum is only 330 pounds lighter than our 5,862-pound 2012 Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew long-term tester with the same drivetrain. While Ford claims that a comparably equipped 2015 F-150 can weigh up to 700 pounds less than the outgoing model, our tester was equipped with weight adding features not available on the previous model, such as massaging seats, the panoramic moonroof, and a power inverter for the 110-volt, 400-watt outlets.
At the drag strip, the 2015 F-150 hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 15.0 seconds at 92.5 mph. In comparison, the 2012 model reached 60 mph in 6.6 seconds and the quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds at 92.1 mph. The 2015 F-150 SuperCrew with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost slightly edged out the 597-pound lighter 2015 F-150 SuperCab with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 (325 hp, 375 lb-ft) to 60 mph. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost propelled the SuperCab to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds at 92.8 mph.
Around the skidpad, the 2015 F-150 pulled 0.76 g and lapped the figure-eight in 28.1 seconds at 0.74 g average. The 2012 F-150 pulled 0.72 g around the skidpad and finished the figure-eight in 28.7 seconds at 0.72 g average. The 2015 model with the 2.7-liter: a 0.75 g average on the skidpad and 28.5-seconds at 0.69 g average around the figure-eight. In braking, the lighter truck stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet, whereas the 2012 model needed 133 feet. The 2015 F-150 SuperCab need one more foot to stop from 60 mph.
While the 2015 Ford F-150 was only marginally faster than the 2012 model, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost feels quick around town and on the highway, though maybe not much quicker than the outgoing model. As before, there is plenty of power for passing and merging, making those maneuvers uneventful. The 2015 F-150 feels more confident on curved onramps and interchanges than is expected for a half-ton pickup. Unloaded, however, the ride may be a bit harsher than the outgoing model.
“The 3.5 easily handled the trailer’s weight,” associate editor Christian Seabaugh said during Truck of the Year testing. “There’s a bit of turbo lag off the line, but then the turbos spool up, the rear wheels spin a bit, finally hook up, and it pulls like a freight train. The truck seems to handle the weight well, though the suspension looked noticeably saggy in back, and I felt the ride was harsher than it should’ve been.”
That $61,195 price tag includes the Platinum trim SuperCrew with 5.5-foot bed ($52,155 including destination), 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 ($400), and four-wheel-drive ($3,425). Equipment packages include the 701A ($2,540), which comes with the Technology Package (Lane Keeping System, 360 camera with split-view display, and Dynamic Hitch Assist), adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, and tailgate step with tailgate lift assist; the Trailer Tow Package ($495) with 4-pin/7-pin wiring harness, auxiliary transmission cooler, Class IV trailer hitch receiver, Smart Trailer Tow Connector, and upgraded front stabilizer bar; and FX4 Off-Road Package ($770) with 3.31 electronic-locking rear differential, Hill Descent Control, off-road tuned shock absorbers, skid plates (fuel tank, transfer case, front differential), and bedside decals. Other options include Twin-Panel Moonroof ($1,295), deployable box side steps ($325), 36-gallon extended fuel tank ($195), and all-weather rubber floor mats ($95).
Finished in Ingot Silver Metallic with black leather interior, our 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 SuperCrew features equipment once reserved for luxury brands, including heated, cooled, and massaging front seats, heated rear seats, memory driver seat, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, real wood interior trim, dual-zone climate, power-folding, heated side mirrors, push-button/remote start, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and power adjustable pedals. Other standard features on the Platinum trim include navigation with Sync and 8.0-inch touchscreen, power tailgate lock and remote tailgate release, locking removable tailgate, power sliding two-piece rear window, power running boards, and a pair of 110V, 400W outlets. With the exception of the fog lights, the F-150 Platinum comes with full LED exterior and interior lighting including the headlights, taillights, and bed lighting.
The optional 360-degree camera makes maneuvering and parking in tight parking lots easier. There is also a front-view camera setting like on the outgoing SVT Raptor. Other thoughtful touches include an LED light on the tailgate near the handle that shines on the hitch ball, making it easier to hook up a trailer in low-light situations. LED lights mounted low on the back of the inside of the bed are thoughtful touches, though GM’s full-length under-bed rail lighting may be more effective.
The available tailgate step and assist handle have been redesigned for one-handed operation. Where before the tailgate-assist handle was mounted on the tailgate, it’s been moved behind the same cover on the top of the tailgate door as the tailgate step. The new location of the tailgate assist handle eliminates the issue with shoveling dirt, manure, or mulch out of the bed and off the open tailgate.
As we noted earlier, our 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 SuperCrew tester only weighed 330 pounds less than our 2012 Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew long term truck – less than half of the automaker’s claimed weight savings of up to 700 pounds for the new aluminum-intensive body. Of course comparing the weight of a mid-level 2012 F-150 Lariat to a loaded 2015 F-150 Platinum isn’t an apples-apples comparison, as the redesigned Platinum model comes with features not available on the outgoing model.
Standard content on the 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum not available on the 2012 F-150 Lariat include massaging front seats, heated rear seats, power tilt/telescoping steering column vs. manual tilt steering column in the 2012, power inverter for the dual 110-volt, 400-watt outlets, power tailgate lock and remote tailgate release, inflatable rear seat belts, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), and power deploy running boards vs. chrome step bar. Optional equipment on the Platinum model not on the Lariat includes adaptive cruise control, a panoramic moonroof vs. a standard moonroof, 20-inch alloy wheels vs. 18-inch alloy wheels, fuel tank, transfer case and front differential skid plates, and retractable box side steps.
Many of those features can add a significant amount of weight, including the panoramic moonroof, the power inverter, the power running boards, larger wheels, three skid plates, and retractable box side steps. The combination of those heavy features and the multitude of power and driver assist technologies with their accompanying wiring, sensors, cameras, and electronics could explain the 370-pound weight discrepancy over Ford’s claimed 700 pound weight savings. We’re guessing the panoramic moonroof could add up to 100 pounds alone with the added structural support, dual glass panels, and motors for the front glass panel and sunshade. The three skid plates could easily add 50-100 pounds more. With all the added content, the loaded 2015 F-150 Platinum is still 330 pounds lighter than the mid-level 2012 F-150 Lariat with the same cab, bed, and drivetrain configuration. Also of note is the rear gear ratio, which affects acceleration and fuel economy. The 2015 model used a 3.31 rear gear compared to the 2012 model’s 3.55 gear ratio.
Ford promises better fuel economy for the new lighter truck and while official EPA estimates haven’t been revealed we can compare our 2012 F-150 long term tester’s observed fuel economy to our RealMPG testing of the 2015 F-150. The 2012 F-150 Lariat was driven in real world conditions including towing, steep grades, and by lead-footed journalists, while our RealMPG testing is conducted on public roads under controlled conditions.
While not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, it does give us a good indication of the fuel efficiency difference between the old and new models. The 2012 Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew is EPA-rated 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined. Over the course of 30,207 miles, we observed a combined average fuel economy of 14.4 mpg. In our RealMPG testing, the 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 SuperCrew achieved a combined fuel economy rating of 16.8 mpg. That’s 2.4 mpg better than the 330-pound heavier 2012 model. The 2015 F-150 also achieved 14.8/19.9 mpg city/highway in RealMPG testing. Those numbers are lower that the EPA’s rating for the 2012 model.
Although the 2015 F-150 returned better fuel economy numbers in our RealMPG testing compared to our real world observed fuel economy during a year with our 2012 F-150 in the same cab, bed, and drivetrain configuration, is a 2.4 mpg or 16.7 percent improvement in fuel economy worth its weight in aluminum? Ford is betting lots of research and development that it can convince the consumer that aluminum is the future of full-size pickups. Until there are official EPA numbers and real world numbers, we will have to wait to see if the investment in aluminum pays off.