Dearborn, Michigan - This, folks, is the latest version of the F-150, which is Ford’s, and North America’s best-selling vehicle. The company’s cash cow, and bigger brother to the Ranger that sells well in South Africa and other parts of the world.
On the subject of Ranger, it is widely believed that the next-generation Ranger, which will be built here in Mzansi from 2022 onwards, has a front end design that resembles the new F-150, and there are plenty of renderings out there that imply this.
But enough about the little bro, let’s take a look at the all-new F-150, which for the foreseeable future will remain forbidden fruit for the South African bakkie buyer.
Like its predecessor, the new Ford F150 is built around a high-strength steel frame, and the body panels are made from aluminium.
Given that they’ll soon be a dime a dozen on US roads, Ford has sought to differentiate the F-150 derivatives a bit more, by offering 11 different front grille designs.
There are some nifty new options too, such as optional onboard generators offering up to 7.2kW of output. These can power tools at remote work sites and will also come in handy for those camping at far flung locations, where the banjos echo in the distance.
Another handy new feature is the Tailgate Work Surface that includes integrated rulers and clamps for cutting wood, and spaces to stash your phone or tablets upright as well as your pencils and coffee cup.
You can pretty much turn the cabin into an office with the Work Surface option, which has surfaces designed for laptop use and document signing, while the Max Recline front seats can fold to almost 180 degrees to allow customers to camp in the cabin. There’s also an underseat storage vault in the back of the cabin for stashing valuables.
But it remains to be seen whether any of these useful new features will filter down to the next Ranger.
“We see it as our duty to deliver not just what our customers want and need, but what they might have never thought possible,” says F150 chief engineer Craig Schmatz.
“The F-150 will be tougher than ever, and with fully connected over-the-air updates, it opens up a much wider range of potential enhancements – from system upgrades to feature offerings.”
To that end the new cockpit, which features optional digital instrumentation and Ford’s new Sync4 infotainment for the first time, also allows for over-the-air system updates for downloading new tech features as they become available.
New hybrid powertrain
The big news on the powertrain front is a new hybrid model that pairs a 35kW electric motor to Ford’s 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost turbopetrol engine, to allow for improved fuel economy and a towing capacity of up to 5400kg.
Ford hasn’t mentioned any of the other engine options at this stage, but it is sure to offer a range of V8 petrol units too.
The F150 also comes with new driver-assist features, including the Active Drive Assist system, which allows for hands-free autonomous driving on more than 160 000km of divided highways in the US, which have been mapped on the navigation system. The F150 is also available with a new Intersection Assist gizmo that detects oncoming traffic while the driver is trying to turn left.