Ford Unveils F-150 Preview: Ford Atlas Concept

Posted by: Matt Iasenzaniro onJanuary 15th, 2013

The Ford F-150 sells better than some competitors’ entire truck lines, so Ford made a very big deal about their newest light truck concept, the Ford Atlas Concept, which bears a plethora of features which should make it into the new F-series some time next year. Timing wise, previewing what an F-150 successor would look like right now works out well after the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra debuts.

Our first clue that this wasn’t going to be an average presentation was the fact that we had to make the trek from the Cobo Center to Joe Louis arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings. They piled us all into a third of the arena where Ford had gigantic screens both at the back and on the floor. It felt less like a car show than a concert.

Three Ford executives, including Bill Ford, came out and talked about Ford’s 2012 successes and
where they were focusing their growth for 2013. The answer? Commercial vehicles. Ford revealed an immense range of new Transits to maintain their status as the leader in commercial vehicles in North America for the last 50 years. After the Transits moved aside, Ford dimmed the lights and introduced the highlight of the presentation, the new Ford Atlas Concept.

A giant steel frame lowered from the ceiling, showing men in hardhats and high visibility vests doing manly things like hammering and welding. It was meant to highlight the working man and average Ford F-series buyer who has oomph and grrr and toils all day to make a living at the quarry/plant/factory. It came off a little stereotypical, but I live in Alberta where little old ladies have jacked up diesels so maybe I’m jaded. After the laughable intro they dropped the Atlas from the ceiling and had four more men, straight from the job site, to unhook the chains.

From then on I stopped caring about the yellow hats, the shiny vests and the testosterone, because the truck looks awesome. It’s powerful and modern, with LED lighting all around, a new grill design and high stance. The interior is extremely concept-esque with crazy lighting, seating and instruments and none of it is anything new and none of it is likely to make it into production so there’s really not a whole lot of point in talking about it.

The highlights of the Atlas are in the features that will likely go into the new F-Series and it starts with the innovative new tailgate step and cargo cradle. The step raises up from the tailgate to hold extremely long cargo level with the roof to free up box space and lower the total height of the load that would otherwise be sticking up at an angle. Also at the back is a Trailer Backup Assist which tells you exactly what you need to do in order to properly reverse with a trailer once you tell it where you want to go. It knows where to go thanks to a 360 degree bird’s eye camera up top which will help with all parking maneuvers, not just trailer parking.

Moving forward, the Atlas Concept has powered running boards, wheel shutters and grill vents along with a drop-down front air dam, all designed to be functional when necessary and aerodynamic at higher speeds. All of those, combined with a new generation of EcoBoost engine, will provide fantastic, likely best-ever, fuel mileage for the F-series.

The design of the Atlas will likely change but it’s already causing debate at the show, let us know what you think by viewing the gallery below and then posting on the forum.

When he’s not busy writing about cars or travelling the auto show circuit, he’s reviewing apps and video games related to the automotive world. In his spare time, Matt is a motorcycle enthusiast, trying not to kill himself riding along with the crazy local drivers. He is also a weekly contributor in the Motor Mondays segment on News Talk 770.

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