When Ford unveiled its Atlas concept at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, auto fans collectively gasped in genuine surprise. We didn’t cover the show this year, so we jumped at the chance to check out the Atlas when it rolled out at the local Cars and Coffee meet.
Our first impression of the concept was that it’s wide. As we later learned, the Atlas has nearly nine inches of extra width than the regular F-Series. Thus, you don’t fully realize that it’s also slightly longer than a standard SuperCab.
Mike Levine, truck communications manager for Ford, acted as our guide on all things Atlas. First, he pointed out the features that made the concept a Ford: the drop-down beltline, wraparound front bumper, round-wheel arches, and–of course–the chrome-clad, twin-nostril, two-bar front grille. After our eyes recovered from the sunlight hitting all the cladding, he covered the Atlas’ purpose and explained why the automaker built it in the first place.
The Ford Atlas concept is a design study, a hint where the company might be heading with its future vehicles. Many of the features, which Levine called “Active Air Dynamic” elements, aimed at improving fuel economy for trucks while maintaining their utility and even looks. These elements include:
- Grille shutters that pop open and close to direct airflow around the truck
- A front chin spoiler that drops during highway driving to smooth airflow
- Wheel rims that, like the grille shutters, open and close to direct airflow
Levine said the elements increase fuel economy by 2-3 mpg, a significant improvement.
Other notable features included side-view mirrors with LED floodlights, a birds-eye view camera system, trailer hitch and backup assist, and hidden cargo ramps located below the truck bed, allowing owners to load, for example, an ATV. Levine also said the truck concept came equipped with Ford’s next-gen EcoBoost powertrain with stop/start engine technology. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to peek under the hood, or get inside the cab, to verify this.
Overall, we found the visit to be worthwhile. Like the rest of the autosphere, we don’t know which features will ultimately make the cut and show up in future F-Series trucks. Personally, the wheel shutters, which were closed on the front tires of the concept and open on the back pair of wheels, are our favorite feature. They were faves for the Cars and Coffee crowd as well: Levine constantly had to stop curious bystanders from touching or poking them.
Written by Joel Arellano.