Ten features of the new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck were designed to satisfy customers without them ever even noticing.
“If I do my job, the customer simply intuits that things are right – both inside and outside of his truck – without even having to think about it,” said Cary Diehl, Ford human factors engineer, who worked on the design of the all-new F-150.
The 10 things F-150 engineers thought of:
1. Hard buttons on keypad: Designers wanted smooth capacitive touch keypad buttons on the outside of the driver-side door, but pickup truck drivers prefer tactile feedback, allowing easier usability for when they’re wearing gloves. For customers who wear bifocals, hard buttons also enable input by feel, instead of having to tilt their head back to read numerals.
2. Beltline armrest on front doors: The beltline on the front doors is wide enough to accommodate most arms with the window up. The feature could be considered an armrest, and is at the same height as the center armrest.
3. Sculpted, finger relief inside door handle for easy hold: When grabbing the inside handle, the hand is already holding the door – a helpful feature to avoid losing control of the door on a windy day.
4. Buttons clustered for ease of use: Customer surveys showed a strong preference for controls clustered together. All lighting controls – headlamps, side spotlights, bed light – are grouped together on the left-hand side of the instrument panel, while all radio controls are to the right and below with the climate controls. Towing and other controls are to the right of the steering wheel as well.
5. Steering wheel feel: Finger indents remain on the back side of the steering wheel, a feature that on some competitor trucks is now smooth. These indents allow a lighter feel on the wheel for ease of maneuverability, especially when backing up a trailer or offroading.
6. MyView productivity screen customization: Because each customer uses the truck differently, the importance of specific features can vary. The truck is the “multi-tool” of vehicles. Some truck owners haul produce to farmers markets, while others tow horse trailers or go off-roading, making it tricky sometimes for engineers to determine the most essential information to include in the instrument cluster. Ford’s solution is MyView, which allows truck customers to sort and organize their top seven favorite gauges in the cluster on the 2015 F-150’s 8-inch screen. One button click can shift between individual tire pressure, trailer information, off-road mode or trip fuel – whichever their favorites are.
7. Entertainment information exclusively in center stack: Ford made a data-driven decision to not include any radio or entertainment features in the instrument panel cluster behind the steering wheel. “Our customers were adamant that trucks are different from cars, and vehicle information is essential,” Diehl explained. “Their truck is their tool, and they need to know what it’s doing. Other stuff can be in the center of the dashboard, or what we call the center stack.” The only entertainment information that appears in the instrument cluster of the F-150 are incoming calls and turn-by-turn directions.
8. Four-spoke steering wheel: F-150’s traditional, four-spoke design allows for a comfortable grip on the lower portion of the steering wheel. Other pickup truck manufacturers have closed off the bottom portion of the steering wheel.
9. Grooves in tailgate handle: For ease of grip and use, grooves in the tailgate handle allow a customer to open and close the tailgate with one hand.
10. Large box step: Ford made sure there was enough surface area on the box step of F-150 for a customer to place a full-size work boot – both to stand on the step and to push it back under the bed when not in use.
From nose to tailgate, the 2015 F-150 is an entirely new vehicle, right down to its signature feature – an all-new, fully boxed ladder frame with more high-strength steel than ever to make the truck stronger yet lighter. For the first time, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys are used throughout the F-150 body. These alloys, already used in aerospace, commercial transportation and other industries, make the new truck’s body lighter, stronger and more resistant to dents. Overall, F-150 is up to 700 pounds lighter, helping it tow and haul more, accelerate and stop faster, and operate more efficiently.