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2015 Ford F-150 Video Preview: 2014 Detroit Auto Show

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Ford Motor Co. [NYSE:F] is placing a quite extraordinary bet, and it revealed its hand at the 2014 Detroit auto show this week. It's replacing much of the steel in the best-selling vehicle in America, the Ford F-150, with aluminum.

With aluminum body panels and structural pieces, Ford hopes the F-150 will post much higher fuel economy ratings, and that it will also get equivalent performance to today's engines with a downsized range of six- and eight-cylinders.

And lastly, it's hoping that customers perceive aluminum trucks to be just as rugged as those made the old-fashioned way.

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Ford has been hinting for two years that its next F-150 would undergo some radical changes to meet coming new fuel-economy standards. But actually seeing an aluminum truck on the show stand--and finding out Ford had been running prototypes in Baja for months, out in public--made the rumors reality. The all-new F-150 gets aluminum cab structure, an aluminum front end, and an aluminum bed and tailgate. In all, Ford says it will shave 700 pounds from an equivalent 2014 F-150 in the conversion.

At the same time, the new trucks carry bed boxes that are a bit bigger than today's full-size pickup--and weigh 70 pounds less.

The downstream effect is as radical as the aluminum-body F-150 is reassuringly angular. There's no more 6.2-liter V-8, because the top-line 5.0-liter V-8 will deliver equivalent performance. The twin-turbo V-6 returns as the strongest tow engine. A new 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 becomes the new base engine, and a turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 is to be offered.

Six-speed automatics will be standard across the board, and other conventional bits are familiar, from the Hotchkiss rear end suspension and electric power steering.

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Three different cabs will be offered: Regular, SuperCab, and SuperCrew, with three different cargo box lengths (67.1 inches, 78.9 inches, or 97.6 inches). At launch, the 2015 F-150 will be available in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum models.

New features will include Sony premium audio, blind-spot monitors, inflatable rear seat belts, pickup-box LED lighting, and real wood trim. The Tremor package is gone, but an FX4 Off-Road package returns, with skid plates, off-road-tuned shocks, and an electronic locking rear axle.

Pricing and final gas mileage ratings haven't been announced, but we expect that information to dribble out as we near the first drive of the new F-150 later this year.

Stay tuned for that, watch our video preview of the new F-150, and connect with the rest of the show debuts at our Motor Authority 2014 Detroit Auto Show hub.

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