• Jan 22nd 2008 at 4:31PM
  • 39
click above for more high-res pics of the 2009 Ford F-150

The Ford F-150 is America's annual best seller, moving more units than anything else since Jimmy Carter was president. It's also one of the most challenged when it comes to cutting through the air, although we know there's worse. If the F-150 is going to clear the hurdle of new CAFE regs, that's going to change: its combined 16.5 mpg won't make it any friends come 2020.

Ford designers, led by North American Design Director Peter Horbury, are already looking at ways to make the next generation F-150 more aerodynamic, despite the all-new 2009 Ford F-150 having just debuted. The problem is, there simply aren't many options for making a difference: the only two components are the giant block of a passenger compartment and the massive drag-creating void of a bed behind it. Ford design did attempt to go a little aero with the front end of the 10th generation 1997-2003 F-150, but that, frankly, wasn't what people expected from an American pickup.

[Source: Auto Week]

And Horbury mentions those expectations as problem. Discussing the idea of moving the windshield forward, he said "Nissan has a hard time trying to sell people that idea, but maybe the time has come." While there could arguably be greater reasons for Nissan's difficulty in capturing truck share with the Titan, it is well known that pickup truck buyers are a knowledgeable group who know what they want. Dynamic aero aids, then, could be on the cards. An F-150 with a Carrera GT-style retractable wing? Or perhaps a Kenworth-like sleeper cab over the rear passengers?

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Kowell is also correct, people should not be buying these giant lumbering things as solo transportation or family cars.

      On the other hand the government should not be eliminating choices we as consumers should be free to make. We can choose to buy a small house or a large house, we should be able to buy a small car or a large truck. CAFE will certainly eliminate choice we as consumers will be able to make in both cars and trucks from several manufacturers.

      It would have been much more intelligent to simply not tax sedans or cars that average 25mpg per tank or more, or no sales tax on hybrid vehicles. Something along those lines.

      CAFE won't eliminate fullsize trucks or SUVs, people willing to pay to fuel them will still buy them. It will hurt mainstream performance cars, enthusiasts and many manufacturers. It also remains to be seen if it will have any effect on the overall oil consumption in the US.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The BEST solution; The major automakers selling full sized trucks in NA have to form a commission. The commission will determine a set of rules on pickup truck dimensions. The manufacturers will commit to following those rules for their upcoming trucks. Any holdout automakers that refuse to sign on are publicly humiliated by the competition and environmental groups.

      Pickups have horrible CD because the manufacturers are terrified of looking effeminate in this testosterone fueled segment. There have to be rules in place to keep Dodge (for example) from killing X million dinosaurs just to prove it has the biggest ... ummm ...frontal area.

      The good news is that these rules don't have to be legislated by the government, IF the industry can get it's act together.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, the 2009 Ram has a 9% lower drag coefficient than the 2008. (.422 vs .463) I have no idea how that compares to Ford/GM/Toyota.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What I think will happen is the government will realize that companies won't be able to meet the CAFE standards and sell certain well known cars. I believe they will have to change some part of the law to give a little, not much, but a little bit of an edge for bigger vehicles.

      It would be cool if they made it like cars that sell less than 5k a year (random number) are exempt from fuel standards or have to pay a fuel tax like they have now but they still have to meet the tougher emissions. This would save tons of cars like the Z06 and other sports cars from being changed to little more than a ricer. And the best part is the V8 lives on in at least a couple cars.

      That's my two cents.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The 09 F150 is NOT all new, at least not "all new" in the sense of the 09 Ram or the 07 Silverado bodies. Ford itself has said they only expected to do some underneath engineering work and a new front clip, and then realized how much further the competition was going. So they did more, like a stretch to the crew cab and put a couple more bends in the fenders, in addition to the new front clip.

      But if you look at the 08 and 09 you will see the same windshield, the same roof, essentially the same windows and fenders, a very similar interior (with tweaks and mods of course). The point being autoblog should know better than to say "all new" when it isn't. The 09 mods should more than keep up with the marketplace, but what you really have here is an improved version of the 04 F150 and nothing like the change that occurred between the 1996 and 1997, or changes from 2003 to 2004.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think it would be pretty cool to see F150/250's/350's/ect with the front end like the larger commercial trucks (F650/750). It would still look tough, it would be more aerodynamic, and the tilt-forward hood design would make working on the engine easier (so they don't have to lift the whole cab off the frame like they do now with the Super Duty). I'm quite the traditionalist when it comes to trucks, but even I wouldn't mind that.

      Really though, I think the only way to significantly reduce drag on a pickup is to make it smaller. Why not create an F100 again, and slot it under the F150? Make it exactly like the F150, but at about 3/4 the size or so. Then you can use a smaller engine, like the 4.6L or a small V6 diesel, and still have plenty of power with much better mileage (while still being able to tow 7,000lbs).

      They are pretty close with the Sport Trac, but that is more SUV than truck. For the F100 to be successful I think it would have to be just like the F150, but slightly smaller.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If it wasn't for Chrysler, Ford would be voted car company with the stupidest management.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Didn't we already dispel the whole bed-drag thing on Mythbusters?

      And those five years I drove a truck?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Folks really should think of it this way. Trucks like my '69 CST/10 make near the same MPG as most modern trucks. I look at the profile of my truck, and the profile of modern ones, and there is little difference.

      There are guys, if their engine is running smooth (carb tuned right) that can get 16-18mpg average, out of a near 5k lb truck with next to 0 of the equipment used today to "help" with fuel mileage.

      Yes, carbs, pushrods, 3 speed autos, and all, I can estimate my '69 to be in the 12-14mpg area, but thats due to the 3.83 gears in the rear. Dana 60 rear too.

      Your biggest improvement can be made in the engines. Take a smallblock Chevy, give it DI, the DoD, Variable timing (think Direct injected Cadi 6.2), and the two mode hybrid trani, and you have a pretty well-off truck in the MPG, that makes no sacrifices towing.

      It's hard to make a brick slice air smoothly. So, make the stuff powering the brick more efficient.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Standard truck bed cover ftw.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Exactly! Factory tonneau covers might help some. If they were standard, but removable, they might be able to have them offically rated with the cover on.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They should just ditch their line of conventional V8s altogether in favour of more advanced diesel engines for their full size trucks, if not across their lineup.

      Europe's been going Diesel in a big way for years due to gas prices, but whatever the reasons are for switching it's clear that Diesels get you more mpgs.

      Conventional V8s in full size pickups are just for cred in the Wal-Mart parking lot anyways - admit it already! Real bona-fide, stuff-haulin macho folks would appreciate that Diesel grunt more, right? :D
        • 7 Years Ago
        In Europe they don't use pickups much at all, let alone diesel ones. I've seen contractors tooling around in a Fiat Multipla or Renault Twingo...

        ...or an Piaggio Ape. I'd love to see a manly American pickup owner behind the wheel of an Ape. It'd make my day.

        On a related note, I've seen one Sierra 2500HD in upper Bavaria (once!) and it looked so out of place it was kind of disturbing
      • 7 Years Ago
      There's a lot that can be done to improve on the aerodynamic performance of the F-150. Underbody aero panels would probably be the most effective. Unfortunately the biggest problem it has is the huge regions of separated flow behind the cab and behind the tray. These are tough to rectify without compromising on functionality.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think the public will be ready to give up some of the "tough truck" styling they love to get better gas mileage by the time the new 150 comes out.

      Of course, the 4.4 diesel and the ecoboost engines will help too.

      I think the main problem is that trucks today are so big and expensive, and really aren't as useful as they claim to be.

      It's time to either downsize a little or at least stop growing.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You can still have Tough Truck styling and improve areodynamics by simply giving the front end a slippery rake as in the F750. Also, speaking of tough trucks - most of the new big rigs have areo styling. I would think that the bigger truck look has even more "Tough Truck" appeal and it reduces drag at the same time. I am sick of pickups looking like a brick.
        • 7 Years Ago
        No, you've got the wrong approach. Scrap CAFE altogether. And throw out CARB as well. Just increase the fuel tax, like they do in Europe. THAT is what will change the vehicle mix.

        CAFE is basically trying to push on a rope -- it tries to make the automakers sell vehicles that the public doesn't want to buy. It is much more effective to simply change what the public wants to buy via the price elasticity of the demand for gasoline. The price goes up and people will want to buy more efficient vehicles.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Full Size pickups have their use... The problem is with the ridiculously high number of people that buy this as a "family car"...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Scrap the CAFE exceptions for light trucks and you'll very quickly see fewer people buying these as family cars. The reason people bought these (and why manufacturers made them) is that it allowed a larger vehicle without paying as much as a penalty.

        I like CAFE in principle but the exemptions (trucks, flexfuel) are complete porkbarrels.
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