2015 Ford F-150 4×4 SuperCrew Shortbed 3.5L: The sound of performance, the feel of power, this turbo’d half-ton delivers on multiple levels
Twenty-two miles–per-gallon, mid-six-second 0-60s, and five-tons of towing capacity are nothing to sneeze at when one is talking about a V-6-powered full-size pickup.
Add to that the body is aluminum and it’s easy to see why the 2015 Ford F-150 is the talk of Work Truck Town.
Yes. The 13th generation of Ford’s F-150 is quite remarkable on many fronts, as I found after spending a week in it driving hundreds of miles as if it were my daily driver.
I made several runs to the local boards-and-nails outlet, the grocery store, post office, muni golf course and the airport, used it to tow a couple equipment trailers, and managed a weekend trip into the mountains.
On every outing some aspect of its new technology surfaced that made each of those trips smoother, easier and safer for both myself and my passengers.
The remote tailgate was quite handy when loading plywood in the bed, and the smart-trailer tow module that immediately let me know the trailer lights and connections were good-to-go sped up the trailering process.
Fit For Work Or Play
Voice-activated navigation, the lane-departure warning system, and the 360-dgeree camera view made it easy to know where I was and how to get where I wanted to go. The keyless start/stop feature meant I never had to fish for the ignition keys.
Between MyFord Touch and the “productivity display” in the instrument cluster display, there didn’t seem to be any piece of information, climate or audio control that wasn’t at my fingertips. Knowledge is power.
I was impressed with the truck’s interior quietness and how smoothly the voice-activation system worked even over gravel roads and pavement that wasn’t much smoother.
The SuperCrew Lariat interior is roomy, the seats comfortable. There’s just enough leather, brushed metal and wood trim to give the truck the feel of richness without being over-the-top.
Ford designers have done a good job bringing a nice balance for the business owner who needs a pickup that’s going to get dirty during the week, yet easily cleans up when it’s time to take friends and clients to dinner.
If the 2015 F-150 has any shortcomings compared to its GM and Ram rivals is its ride, unloaded, is ever so slightly firmer than the Silverado/Sierra and Ram 1500s, and the Ford’s electric power steering is a bit more sensitive.
Otherwise the EcoBoost FX4 off-road package I was driving is a stellar performer on pavement and off, at work or at home.
Ford rates this particular model F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 , with 3.31 axles, capable of towing up to 10,700 when equipped with a weight-distributing hitch.
The 3.5L EcoBoost and six-speed automatic pulled a 20-foot tandem-axle Landoll equipment trailer with a Kubota RTV diesel UTV on it, that weighed in at 5,200 pounds with ease on the factory weight-carrying receiver.
But doing so required carefully positioning the load so the proper tongue-weight was applied.
EcoBoost Quenches Thirst For Power
Power with the 3.5L EcoBoost is never an issue. With 365hp and 420 lbs.-ft. of torque, the latter more than the 5.0L V-8, the twin-turbo V-6 has plenty of muscle available through a wide rpm range. This is especially noticeable when towing.
Note: EcoBoost V-6s require the use of Premium fuel when towing according to the F-150 owner’s manual. Ford engineers say the extra cost for the higher octane fuel is offset with a gain of 20hp and 10 lbs.-ft. of torque.
The transmission never “hunted” for the right gear when I was pulling trailers; it seemingly locks into a gear when pulling grades and pulls strong from around 2,800rpm to redline.
I also learned during my week behind the wheel that both “tow” and “sport” modes enhance the feel of the V-6’s power.
The button marked “T/S” near the bottom of the shifter electronically changes the transmission’s upshift and downshift points so the truck is much more responsive. Selecting the sport mode also enhances (lightens) the throttle sensitivity and holds shift points higher in the rpm range.
The F-150 is deceptively fast loaded or empty, too. I clipped off 14.90 quarter-mile times pushing past 93mph with ease, and managed 0-60mph sprints in the 6.40-second range.
Those times would be a few tenths quicker if the truck had the optional 3.55 gearing, which I’d recommend for anyone towing on a regular basis.
I found the biggest driving challenge during the acceleration runs was finding the sweet spot between keeping the EcoBoosted Lariat 4×4 from striping the roadway for a considerable distance when traction-control is turned off and getting the best times.
Tricks & Treats
It was during these speed runs where I got to experience another of Ford’s new technology: slight of sound.
Roll hard into the throttle and the EcoBoost V-6 sounds lust like a V-8. Why? Ford engineers have actually mated the sound track of a V-8 with the throttle position sensor and pipes the V-8 exhaust growl into the truck’s sound system, perfectly synched with the V-6.
So, to those inside the cab, the F-150 EcoBoost V-6 sounds pleasantly healthy. To those outside, well, it still has the “whoosh” sound of a turbo’d V-6. (They have done the same on EcoBoost Mustangs.)
Where electronic slight-of-hand doesn’t play any part is in fuel economy. It’s as real as the power part. Drive this truck gently and you are rewarded with really good mpg numbers.
My 120-mile interstate run on cruise-control netted 22.1 mpg at 65mph. City numbers hovered around 16.6mpg, while towing those 5,000-pound loads at 55mph netted 11mpg. EPA figures are slightly better: 17/19/23.
All in all, the Lariat model 2015 F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 3.5L EcoBoost is an impressive pickup. It’s oozes power and state-of-the-art technology that makes the work week go faster and smoother.
It also combines a level of creature comfort, connectivity and safety into a package that sets a very high bar for its ½-ton pickup competitors to match. – Bruce W. Smith/Senior Editor
Make/Model: 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 Lariat
Engine: 3.5L EcoBoost V-6
Horsepower: 365 @5,000rpm (385hp on Premium)
Torque: 420@2,500rpm (430 lbs.-ft. on Premium)
Transmission: 6spd Auto
Axle Ratio: 3.31:1 w/ Electric Locking rear diff
Fuel Tank: 36-gallon
Bed Length: 5’5”
Max Tow: 10,700 pounds (w/WD hitch); 5,000 pounds on-the-ball
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 city/19 combined/23 hwy
Fuel Economy (as tested): 16.6 city; 22.1 hwy; 11 towing
Base Price (MSRP): $44,465
Price as tested: $55,965
- 0-60mph: 6.4 sec
- ¼-Mile: 14.90 @ 93.1mph
2015 EcoBoost 35.L SuperCrew FX4 gets 11mph towing a trailer such as this Landoll tandem-axle carrying a Kubota 1120D UTV that had a trailered weight of 5,200 pounds. Ford requires Premium fuel in the EcoBoost when towing. Doing so adds 20hp and 10 lbs/ft of torque.
The larger of the two EcoBoost V-6s Ford delivers V-8-like power and fuel-economy when towing using Premium fuel, but it gets much better mpg when running on Regular Unleaded without a load in the bed or on the hitch.