Star of the Show: Ford's Atlas Concept

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It's not easy keeping a big secret, but that's exactly what Ford tried to do at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Sure, there was plenty of buzz about the possibility of Ford showing something interesting, but much of the chatter around the various media sites and water-coolers wasn't definitive ... even right up until the press conference. 

Now that the Ford Atlas concept has been revealed (aptly named because of how much weight the F-150 carries as it relates to Ford profits), here are the details as we know them. 

Ford is adamant that this is just a concept vehicle. Some design and technology details could make it to a future vehicle, but until Ford gauges customer interest and does the requisite number of the feasability studies, the automaker isn't sure what those details might be. In some cases, the technology highlighted could be, as we understand it, incorporated into a truck as soon as a 2015 model while others are much more futuristic than that.

Thankfully, among some of the coolest features on the Atlas concept are those centered on the more traditional truck capabilities like towing and hauling, but, of course, special attention is given to the all-important topics of aerodynamics and fuel economy.

On the towing side, the Atlas uses some of the same Lincoln technology that allows a vehicle to parallel park itself. The concept adapts it for truck owners who do a lot (or a little bit) of towing. This makes sense since the Atlas' lead chief designer, Gordon Platto, previously did the Lincoln MKS and MKT vehicles. Here are some of our favorite features: 

  • Dynamic Hitch Assist: The center display screen will show with visual cues exactly where the hitch ball and trailer socket are located and make it an easy, one-time backup operation. 
  • 360-Degree Camera: This is a first for full-size pickups. With four separate cameras, the driver is able to see all around the truck from a bird's-eye view. 
  • Trailer Backup Assist: With the same sensors that help with the hitch assist, the truck can be programmed to back up the vehicle and trailer into a designated space without the driver's hands on the steering wheel. 

The new Atlas concept also includes a great many cargo-hauling features designed to help the work-duty construction worker as well as the weekend warrior. Integrated into the bed tailgate — much like the existing tailgate step — is a ladder or long-cargo cradle designed to more easily accomodate longer gear such as a ladder, construction wood or piping. Even the roof has detents and latch-points for cargo. Integrated into the tailgate are two lightweight ramps for loading bed toys (ATV, motorcycles or bikes) or work gear into the bed. 

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As to the important issue of aerodynamics (both GM and Ram have been working in these areas lately, as well), the new Atlas concept is the first truck with active wheel shutters that are designed to automatically close off the wheel's open sections for smoother air flow. Likewise, the Atlas also employs active grille shutters like certain models of the current Ram 1500, but it also includes an industry-first active front air spoiler that can automatically gauge wind speed and flow and extend and contract as needed.

Most importantly (this is where the Ford people get sketchy), the Atlas is reported to be using the next-generation EcoBoost engine, but no sizes, power ratings or fuel-economy numbers were discussed. Ford officials would only tell us that this engine would be appropriate for a truck with both work and play duties, but they did share that the concept's engine did have auto start/stop, which shuts the engine off when idling. This sytem also would be able to detect whether to continue that mode when towing. 

As to the physical size and look of the truck (inside and out), the truck does have a strong, extra-large "Super-Duty-ish" feel to it. The Atlas has 33-inch BFG All-Terrain tires, riding on 22-inch rims. There's a touch of the Raptor vibe in the overall look and feel. Inside, the look is much more futuristic and daring, but we'll let you judge that for yourself.

There was much discussion around the size and weight of the Atlas concept as journalists got to the Ford representatives. "We'll be looking at a lot of ways to reduce weight on the next-gen F-150 to meet out goals," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of global product planning. Previous reports had some at Ford saying they would like to lose as much as 700 pounds from the half-ton to help with aggressive fuel-economy targets. Nair went on to say, "... if we can get that kind of weight out of that truck then we can start looking at more efficient, even smaller EcoBoost strategies — smaller engines can be more appropriate for lighter vehicles."

Realistically, what does the Atlas concept mean for the next-generation F-150? Some of that answer, we believe, was in the truck's introduction, where Nair referenced the Ford's Mighty F-350 Tonka and Super Chief concepts from 2002 and 2006, respectively. Both gave us some real clues of how the next-gen Super Dutys would look and exactly what types of features (meaning luxury option packages) we'd be seeing in the future. 

We think it's worth noting that much of Ford's reasoning behind not having a small truck in the U.S. market hinges on the new global Ranger's capability range that overlaps quite a bit with the F-150. From a business proposition, Ford officials don't think it makes sense to have both here. With the new Atlas concept going bigger, this could mean Ford might be trying to create more separation between the two segments (half-ton and midsize) to open up a spot for a smaller truck. We'd guess that's what the automaker will do if the new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon start getting good sales results later next year. We'll see.

To read the full Ford Atlas press release, click here

To read about Gordon Platto, chief designer of the Atlas, click here.

To see more photos of the Atlas on our Facebook page, click here.  

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Comments

Doesn't really look any bigger then the current F-150 just has the more impossing super duty like grill, still six lug wheels.

like I said on the last article

"This is just a lame attempt to get people not to buy the 2014 Gm or 2013 Ram. The thing sits perfectly level on 325/50R22, which is a 35x13R22 in old money, bfg at's...active shutters on 22in wheels with 70lb tires on them...way to go ford"

Thinking about it more this thing is just a joke, people are going mad for it thinking they will be able to go to a ford dealer in 18 months and buy this thing.

Just see this for what it really is, an admission by ford that now GM and Dodge are so far ahead of them that they needed to do some crazy concept to see if they can keep buyers from going to a different brand

Might look more appealing than the 2014 Gm but the gm is real and you can buy it, this thing is fake you youll never be able to buy it.

Don’t forget, you are also looking at the design direction for the upcoming Ford Expedition.

WHOOOPTEEEE FRICKIN DOOOO!!! Ford hopes to steal thunder from GM AND RAM WITH THIS??? LMAO
They are an even bigger joke that I thought! This thing looks like it has a modified Super Dooty grille stuck on a slightly freshened F-150 body. More creative ideas from the GIRLS AT FORD!!! LOL

Hey Ford the 2004 F150 just call and said can you do more then change my grill? Ok so now we got a 2004 F150 with a super duty grill BORING!!!!! YAWN ZZZZZZZZ OUT DATE FORD TRUCKS GOING TO SLEEP NOW! Ford forgot to design I guess. atleast GM added new body lines and bumpers.


Posted by: 2004 150 calling FROM THE PAST | Jan 15, 2013 8:22:26 AM
you got that right make some new ford stop useing outdates 10 year old gross looking styleing!!!

Let the haters begin their crap! Ford has a great truck here! Looks like Ford took the wind out of GM's sails with this one. Not that their 2014 was new. I love the article on MotorTrend's website saying that Ford looked over at the GM trucks, shrugged their shoulders and kept going as if to say oh you have a truck here too? Only will be a matter of time before those other 2 morons (HEMI V8 and TomTRX4) start the bashing contest on how much better they think the Fiat 1500 oops meant Ram 1500 is than this truck. YEAH RIGHT!

"Ford officials don't think it makes sense to have both here. With the new Atlas concept going bigger, this could mean Ford might be trying to create more separation between the two segments (half-ton and midsize) to open up a spot for a smaller truck."

Exactly. We have been saying this for a very long time, F-150 is the best selling vehicle for 31 years. It would either stay the same size or get bigger, not smaller. The next gen smaller truck, F-100 or Ranger, has nothing to do with F-150 and the will do it's own thing.

There goes Bob posting crap under his multiple GM personalities! Next we will hear about how much better fuel economy and how many more GM turds are going to be sold this year! Well is the past is any indication they won't be even close to Ford again this year with one truck line!!

Whats up with the plastic on the hood like the 07-2013 gmc trucks heck even sticks up high so it be in the way like the gm 900 windsheild wipes everyone was crying bout. The inside looks like a ram and new gm trucks mixed together and they copy gm bed lighting. Then you got this stupid big ugly looking hole in the dash on the passengerside lmao. You got a stupid looking indent in the roof with rails that make the truck look like real crap and lets not forget the little useless mirrors

What a brute. Ford really knows there way around trucks and what appeals to guys. This thing looks like a futuristic piece of construction equipment. Much better than the bubble car designs coming from the others.

aerodynamics and mpgs?? i seen bricks with more aerodynamics then this turd!

I like it!
Looks like theyre trying to make it look macho like tundra. My epnis feels bigger just looking at the picture.

Only problem is there is so much more to break. That's not a problem with nissan or toyota so much but with F.o.r.d. its a huge liability.

(360-Degree Camera: This is a first for full-size pickups. With four separate cameras, the driver is able to see all around the truck from a bird's-eye view.)

Yeah you will need that with the junk thin metals that ford uses on their so called trucks

Is it just me or does the grill outline look like the new GMC dash center control area?

If you are doing a concept, why use the current door style? That just seems lazy unless they really are planning to build it.

Dynamic Hitch Assist and Trailer Backup Assist

Yeah ford owners need all the assist they can get with all ford blue kool-aid they drink

What you see on the hood is part of the tailgate step/cargo cradle. It used for carrying long objects like ladders.

I really like this truck.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=529897060368186&set=a.529897030368189.119076.107995845891645&type=1&theater

What you see on the roof i mean

For a pic of the ladder holder third post down.
http://www.f150online.com/forums/2015-f-150-concept/482175-ford-atlas-concept-truck-2.html

More pics on PickupTrucks.com's Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.529897030368189.119076.107995845891645&type=1

Maybe not quite a home run, but nearly. Ford has obviously hit some delicate GM and Ram nerves today (see comments from preschoolers above). So much hate, so little time.

@Bob, no-one ever claimed you'd be able to buy this truck, as Ford says it is merely a market study for tech they want to use in their future trucks.

This article here:
http://fordf150blog.com/2013-ford-atlas-concept-is-this-the-much-rumored-concept/
says it all, this can barely be called an F-150 concept, features on this Atlas concept might make it into the next-gen Ford F-150. I think Ford did a great job of taking some of the smart things chevy did with their 2014 models and built on that, to remain competitive. For example both trucks have LED's in the bed. But Ford takes it a step further with the pop-up in the tailgate to be able to haul long objects like surf boards or 2x4's.

I think they did, indeed, do a good job with this forward thinking concept. It certainly will have a lot of people talking about Ford, which is exactly what they wanted.

This is suppose to be fords big announcement? HAGAHAHAHA

I'm glad ford has admitted that the 2013 Rams are superior trucks. But if they think this thing is going to make them relevant again lol. This is no more impressive then the 2014 GM twins.

active shutters on wheels.. great.. just something else they wont warranty if you should actually use the truck as a truck and get some mud or salt water in it to foul it up.

Actually, most of the features on this truck have already been confirmed for the 2015 on the dealer sheet that was revealed last week....

- tailgate step/cargo ladder craddle

- led lights

- built in cargo ramps

- next gen EB

etc. etc.

Pic of the ladder craddle in action. Genius?
http://www.f150online.com/forums/members/rambo-albums-2015+f-150-picture188709-cargo-cradle.jpg

Yes, Bob, one will be able to buy a truck pretty darn close to this next year.

I love FORD but the decision to not offer the new Ranger in US is as stupid as it gets. It's a big difference between a midsize and full size trucks, no customer will go for a full size if he's in the market for a midsize and the other way around. I've been waiting for so long, I've put 280,000 miles on my 2000 Sporttrac but it looks like I'll have to go with the future Colorado, Canyon or Tacoma. The current ones have no comfortable rear seats (leg room) but the new models will correct that (fingers crossed). Too bad FORD doesn't get it...

Wow! It looks a lot leaner and meaner than the current truck. I can't wait to see the production version.

Really makes GM's twins look outdated, which is kind of sad considering they're brand new and will be sold right along side the production version of this.

Concept or no concept, one thing is for sure. The 2015 F150 will be sick.

Looks like I'll be allocating a portion of my check to a new savings account for the next 18 months - thanks Ford.

hey fellow blue kool-aid drinkers the new ford with the rip off of the 2014 gm trucks girll/ hood and bed lights looks so great i mean hell check out the huge indent on the roof with 2004 f150 side look hell that ram and new gm interior mixed together looks great inside our ford well im off to chug ford kool-aid cause this 2004 f150 mix with rip offs of ram and gm trucks made me hot!

I see that Ford wants to copy GM by putting a black plastic piece on the hood. I still do not want the shifter on the floor. It makes the cab feel smaller and the cost is not worth it. It is a truck and a car.

@Sorin
"We think it's worth noting that much of Ford's reasoning behind not having a small truck in the U.S. market hinges on the new global Ranger's capability range that OVERLAPS QUITE A BIT with the F-150."

There is not a business case for it. Besides as it comes from Thailand the Unions would not be happy about that.

No need for a Ranger here because we have full-sizes and the next small pickup will be a Transit...

The Atlas suggests that Ford is at least considering a commercial-duty pickup truck derived from its upcoming Transit van. The Transit goes on sale next year, and will eventually replace the E-Series full-size vans after production is up to speed in Kansas City. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Ford F-150 will turn to intensive aluminum construction to reduce weight and boost fuel economy; it's also possible that a Transit-based truck like the Atlas could be paired with the F-150 in the truck lineup, as a unibody-based, frame-rail-reinforced alternative to other models.

Why have two truck lines? The commercial models could boost Ford's truck fuel economy by making use of diesel engines, while making a better financial case for building the Transit in the U.S.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/cars/ford-atlas-concept-a-transit-pickup-truck-stays-in-step-in-detroit/2013/01/15/1221de06-5f1d-11e2-9dc9-bca76dd777b8_story.html

Mike Levine when he was working here and dishing out future production info, he said instead of a Ranger that was too big, Ford was working on a Transit based small pick-up. When he mentioned this he said something like......oops, did I say that. I believe it 100%.

'Might look more appealing than the 2014 Gm but the gm is real and you can buy it'

= Bob, Tyler, Sierra, SierraGS, BvonScott and the rest all just admitted the Ford looks better over the Chevrolet or what he calls "GM". You think Ford won't make this a reality? Dream on pal. To kick Chevrolet's ass, Ford will do whatever it takes. Chevrolet is a slave to GM/GMC. I'm sure as a GMC clown you like that though. I still support Chevrolet (Not GM) but they aren't getting it done anymore. This truck vs. the Silverado is proof of that. There is no comparison in looks, design or quality.

Getting ready to be in the market, I was going to really check out the GM twins, but now I don't see any need to hurry. This will be worth the wait to compare all the trucks side-by-side and see what is the best.

18 months from now - New TRUCK!!! Come at me with the best deals and the best vehicle.

BTW- the more some of you commenters post and knock down the other trucks to build up your favorite, the less I would want to own the same vehicle you do so people don't lump me in with you fools.

There goes Bob posting crap under his multiple GM personalities! Next we will hear about how much better fuel economy and how many more GM turds are going to be sold this year! Well is the past is any indication they won't be even close to Ford again this year with one truck line!!

Posted by: FordTruck77 | Jan 15, 2013 11:42:01 AM

LMAO...TOO FUNNY! I post in here UNDER MY OWN NAME thank you very much and I hardly come in this blog anymore because of all of the rabid Ford Fanbois in here. What about all of Ford GIRLY GIRLS like ToddMikkelson, yourself, FordTrucks1, etc. etc. They all sound like the same person. Give me an effin break!

'I love FORD but the decision to not offer the new Ranger in US is as stupid as it gets. It's a big difference between a midsize and full size trucks, no customer will go for a full size if he's in the market for a midsize and the other way around. I've been waiting for so long, I've put 280,000 miles on my 2000 Sporttrac but it looks like I'll have to go with the future Colorado, Canyon or Tacoma. The current ones have no comfortable rear seats (leg room) but the new models will correct that (fingers crossed). Too bad FORD doesn't get it...'


- better watch out, your wish is Ford's command. They'll stomp the Colorado out with the global Ranger just to piss off Chevy.

LMAO...TOO FUNNY! I post in here UNDER MY OWN NAME thank you very much and I hardly come in this blog anymore because of all of the rabid Ford Fanbois in here. What about all of Ford GIRLY GIRLS like ToddMikkelson, yourself, FordTrucks1, etc. etc. They all sound like the same person. Give me an effin break!


- Too funny. Coming from GovtMoCo Troll Bob.

Some of the styling ques and stance of this F-150 is very similar to the global Ranger.

The proportion of the glass house area to the body of the truck. The proportion and wheelbase length to the proportion of the pickup tub and cab length. The height of the front end to the height of the windshield.

It might be "larger" than the current truck, but for affordable weight reduction without comprimising strength this concept will be unaffordable for most.

Remember it is a concept and built for the oh ah factor and feedback ie styling is more important as size.

As for the Ranger replacement, what about a Ford Falcon ute? These are already designed and the unitary platform they are built on run engines from a 2.0 ecoboost to a supercharged V8, including a Lion V6 diesel. They also have quite flexible chassis configurations.

- Too funny. Coming from GovtMoCo Troll Bob.

Posted by: BrianL. | Jan 15, 2013 1:37:28 PM

You must be one of the Ford Fanboi Trolls that posts under multiple names. LOL

I almost bought a new 150 yesterday but decided to wait to see if Ford makes my purchase obsolete in 18 months. Nope. Going back tonight to buy my Lariat 150. To the Dodge fans out there, if Dodge could make a safe truck, I would consider it, but their crash tests are marginal and I would never put my kids in it.

Too BIG. If I wanted an M-1 Abrams...

@Sorin
I have the Mazda BT50, which is identical except for body panels as the global Ranger.

The rear leg room and rake on the rear seat is good for adults now, people over 5' 10" will fit quite comfortable in them.

Extended journeys are now acceptable in the back for adults and are more than adequate for families with teenagers.

The new mid sizers have put a lot of effort into this area of design. But with these dimension increases the pickups have increased significantly over the previous generation mid sizers we had.

@Try Again
Please explain to me how ram trucks are superior to Ford's, when Ford's have the most advance engines, the 2013 1/2 ton ram frames are still weak compare to the F150 frames. Most importantly Ford will still continue to out sale Rams by a large margin. Says the buying public and commerical industries

HELL MOST PEOPLE ARE STILL AFRAID TO BUY RAMS BECAUSE OF A HISTORY OF POOR QUALIFY, ME INCLUDED.

WHAT'S SUPERIOR??????????????????????????????????

Not a fan of the gill or mirrors, besides that a good looking truck. I wouldn't buy it as is, though.

The usable features are really nice for people that actually use their trucks for work and play. Nice to see a manufacture thinking about it's customers again. There hasten been that much thought into what people actually could make use of on a truck since Nissan introduced the Titan. I for one am looking forward to seeing the production version. On top of that I hope the other truck makers take note and start considering what could make the truck more functional.

I see a lot of people bickering about the looks of this concept. I guess when you cant find fault you have to attack something that's subjective. That's really sad considering how much usable stuff this concept has that the rest of the market is ignoring.

Awesome looking truck. They should bring back the Ranger in a similar style. The interior is definitely different, but like most concept vehicles we'll probably just get a more toned down and conservative looking interior when or if it goes into production.

Ita sad that gm had all that time to design a new truck and the best they could do was a updated old design.Obviously ford has been working on this new f 150 for a couple yrs now and it shows.

Superior looking in design and function. In the looks dept. it's old truck already made gm's new truck look old and this new one makes it look 10 yrs older already.

Another article I read said that this is very close to what ford will roll out in late 2014 as its 15 model. It will pretty much make the gm twins avis rentals for weekend warriors and fleet sales.

Ford is on a roll and it looks like the gm and the fiat ram and toyota turdra will continue to be yrs behind ford in every department.

simply stated FORD does it again!

I can already imagine the video someone is working on about Ford besting GM yet again. You know the ones from the Hitler movie when they add subtitles to make it look like he's just finding our Ford beat GM to the punch, and has a breakdown. This truck concept that trumps GM's refreshed truck at the show is perfect for one of those videos.

@Red
That is a "standard" design for new Ford pickups/utes.

I read an article that stated Ford designers used DeWalt worksite radios as a basis for their current interior dashes. They felt it gave a more "manly" appearnace and would appeal to the "macho" impression males try to exhibit when driving these sorts of vehicles.

Even the global Ranger has alot of similar design philosophies as the interior of this concept F-150.



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