There’s a lot of buzz building about 2015 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck since the Ford Atlas concept debuted at January’s Detroit Auto Show. It turns out that prototypes are already hitting the streets of Detroit for testing, complete with some strange equipment that leads us to believe that what we’re seeing might not even be the full-size trucks. It could be something smaller.
Looking at the evidence, it appears that Ford is going back to a five-lug wheel setup on what we believe is the base version of the next F-150. That’s odd since Ford traditionally uses six-lug wheels for its medium-duty pickup and eight lugs for its heavy-duty trucks. Rumored to be using aluminum extensively, it could be that Ford simply doesn’t need to use such a heavier-duty axle and lug system for its next truck.
On that truck, however, is a set of Hankook tires, which, as we learned while visiting the tire maker in South Korea, only come as standard equipment on base models. Another model testing nearby also has dual exhaust pipes, traditionally representative of power coming from a diesel engine. Ford is introducing a new 3.2-liter five-cylinder Powerstroke diesel for the Ford Transit full-size van, which is also available on the overseas Ford Ranger, that produces 197 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque–pulling force–in European spec. It is expected to be a little more powerful when certified for the U.S. It would also be advantageous for Ford to sell it in the 2015 F-150 with the 2013 Ram 1500 entering the diesel market with a new 3.0-liter engine entering the U.S. shortly.
From what we can see in our photographs, one of the trucks has a narrower track, with inset wheels, showing that there may be a smaller truck based on the 2015 Ford F-150′s platform coming, too, using the full-sizer as a decoy. Ford sells a Ranger that’s not much smaller than the F-150, but it could give Ford leverage to battle the Toyota Tacoma and pick up lost sales since the U.S. Ranger exited the market two years ago. Rumor has it that Ford will call it the F-100.
Our early guesses say that what we see testing in the dead of winter are base-level 2015 Ford F-150 pickups with some details looking like those from the Ford Atlas concept. But we wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Ford were looking at downsizing again. What say you?