Ford unveils Atlas pickup concept at 2013 Detroit Auto Show
Brawny truck is a blueprint for the next F-150.
The Ford F-Series is the most successful vehicle on the market. It has been America's best-selling pickup for 36 years and the best-selling vehicle in America for 31 years. Ford has done a good job of updating the truck on a regular basis, redesigning the F-150 in 2009 and revamping the entire engine lineup for 2011. At the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford showed that it's not easing off the throttle, unveiling the Atlas concept, a full-size pickup that is undoubtedly a blueprint for the next F-150.
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Ford Atlas concept
What is it? A concept vehicle that previews the next F-150 pickup.
What's hot? The look is blocky and brawny on the outside and functionally luxurious on the inside. It is built on a Super Crew body style with a bold, chunky grille, quad headlights, pronounced fender flares and knobby tires. Inside, the seats are thin, lightweight and upholstered in black leather.
The pickup bed boasts a lot of functionality. Multiple tie-downs are built in, as are 110-volt outlets to charge power tools or power boomboxes. It also has LED lighting, hidden bed ramps and a new version of the bed step that doubles as a cargo cradle for a roof storage system. Other functional features include a 360-degree camera, Trailer Backup Assist and Dynamic Hitch Assist, which help align the truck to connect trailers.
Under the hood, Ford says the Atlas features the next generation of EcoBoost engine technology, but is giving no statistics. The current EcoBoost is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. The next engine will likely focus more on saving fuel than improving those very capable ratings. Ford says the Atlas features an auto stop-start function, active shutters in the grille and each aluminum wheel, a drop-down front spoiler and power running boards that retract while the truck is moving to improve aerodynamics. Ford says these technologies will save 2 mpg on the highway and give the truck class-leading fuel economy.
Ford didn't mention it in the press conference, but the next F-150 and likely the Atlas are rumored to make use of lightweight aluminum in the body and chassis to save weight. That should also improve fuel economy.
What's not? The interior, while beautiful, is likely not what we'll get in the production vehicle. We'd like to know more about what's to come.
How much and when? Never. This is a concept.
MSN Autos' verdict: Ford is the pickup-sales leader for a reason: It makes great trucks. The Atlas concept shows that the folks from Dearborn, Mich., plan to keep applying the pressure. The EcoBoost V6 is already a hit, and if the next one is better, that will make it even tougher for the competition. We also look forward to a future pickup integrating some of the Atlas' unique bed features.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.