Much like the famous statue of Atlas holding Earth, the Ford F-150 carries the weight of being the brand’s (and America’s) best-selling vehicle. A new F-150, therefore, is a big deal, and Ford gave fans a sneak preview of the next generation with the Atlas Concept.
Though the truck is a concept at this stage, the vehicle rolled out for press and public consumption looks nearly production ready. The company was mum on specifics, but officials did say the Atlas features a next-generation EcoBoost engine. EcoBoost is basically Ford-speak for small-displacement engines that employ turbocharging and high-pressure direct fuel injection to increase power while decreasing fuel consumption.
Other fuel-saving measures in the Atlas Concept include an engine-idle stop/start system that shuts the engine off at a stop and instantly restarts it when the driver releases his or her foot from the brake pedal. The truck employs additional sensors that can detect if there’s a trailer attached; if there is, the stop/start system is automatically disabled. The Atlas Concept employs active grille shutters, a drop-down front chin spoiler, and power running boards, all of which improve the truck’s aerodynamics.
Those who use their rigs for work will appreciate the integrated tie-downs in the cargo box floor, hidden cargo ramps, and an updated version of the current F-150’s tailgate step that converts into a cradle designed to carry long cargo. Workers will also like the 110-volt power outlet in the cargo box that can recharge battery-powered tools, as well as a new suite of built-in “apps” that can turn the Atlas into a mobile office.
The concept also employs many luxury items, such as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, a rearview camera with trailer-backup assist, a surround-view camera, a navigation system, and WiFi hotspot capability.
No production or pricing details were announced, but expect many of the Atlas Concept’s features to make their way into the next-generation F-150. The updated truck should reach dealers in calendar 2014 as a 2015 model.
CG Says: It used to be that large pickup trucks were redesigned once a decade with only very minor changes in between. Recently, this has started to change, as buyers are demanding more from their rigs. We’ve seen an onslaught of powertrain and content updates that are making big trucks more capable, fuel efficient, and even luxurious than ever before. While the current Ford F-150 might be a step or two behind Chrysler’s Ram 1500 and potentially the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, a vehicle based on the Atlas Concept looks like it might very well be just what the doctor ordered for Ford to maintain its market dominance. We’ll see once a production version is ready to hit the streets.