The latest NAIAS show blew into Cobo Hall in Detroit last week and bought a slew of major production and concept car debuts. They included a new version of the best selling vehicle in North America, a hot variant of one of 2013′s biggest debuts, and a new design direction from a major brand. Here are the cars and trucks you need to know about to be “vehicle literate” in the coming months.
What’s the big deal? This is the all-new version of America’s best-selling vehicle. Ford took styling cues from last year’s acclaimed Atlas concept including the sculpted bracket-style headlamps and radical side window profile. While this is arguably the handsomest truck in the market, Ford saves the real radicalism for what’s under the skin, and the skin itself. Aluminum, once the province of high end makes like Audi, Jaguar, and Cadillac, goes mainstream with use throughout the F-150 with an eye towards massive weight savings. Coupled with an advanced lineup of 4 and 6 cylinder power plants Ford is on track to wring great fuel economy out of these rigs.
Will people buy it? The only thing that could hold this juggernaut back is a glitch in all the new technology at launch, so Ford has to get the rollout right. They sell 500k plus of these things every year in a segment with high customer loyalty so expect pent-up demand to be satiated. One potential wrinkle is the lack of expertise and equipment to fix dents and dings in aluminum body panels at most body shops around the country – leading to potentially more costly repairs and insurance. Nevertheless Ford says this will merely bring rates into line with the rest of the industry and have the clout to get shops to invest in the needed tools. Expect a huge marketing blitz on this truck.