2015 Ford F-150
When you build the bestselling vehicle in the land for over a generation, all major changes need to be done with care. But, being careful does not mean playing it safe. At least, not if you are the Ford Motor Company and the vehicle in question is the F-150 pickup truck series.
By now you’ve likely heard that the 2015 Ford F-150 is not just all-new in design, but it is all new in how it’s made, as the first pickup truck with an all-aluminum body. Make no mistake, this is a huge risk for Ford. But, the reward is being able to shave up to 700 pounds off the weight, and boost fuel economy to new heights.
Ford is no stranger in gambling with their top seller. Just a few years ago they placed a big bet that American truck buyers would embrace a twin-turbo V6 in a full-size pickup, rather than a traditional, fuel thirsty V8. They won big on that one, and are now doubling down with an even smaller twin-turbo-6, a 2.7-liter, with 325-horsepower.
The original 365-horsepower Ecoboost 3.5-liter is still here; as is a normally aspirated 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, and base 283-horsepower 3.5-liter V6.
After our first outing we can say that the new 2.7 feels solid, with no noticeably turbo lag. It works well with the 6-speed automatic transmission, even when the standard automatic stop/start kicks in.
As for that aluminum body, it doesn’t radiate quite as much space-age masculinity as the Atlas auto show concept, but it comes pretty darn close. The grille is larger, naturally, and hi-tech, crystal clear LED headlamps are available.
On profile the signature drop notched front window carries on above fairly traditional sheet metal sides. However, like most trucks, things look cleanest from the rear.
As expected, extra cost options abound, and some new ones actually put function over form. Like the 360-degree camera view with trailer hitch pointer, seamless sliding rear window, side kick steps, Box Link cargo management system, remote tailgate opener, easier to use tailgate step, integrated loading ramps, adaptive cruise control, and even Active Park Assist.
But, the infusion of technology and lighter curb weight of the new F-150 do not come at the expense of usefulness and being “Ford Tough”. The 2015 F-150 tows up to 12,200 pounds, or carries up to 3,300 pounds of cargo. Both figures are class best. Perhaps most important of all, no matter which engine is under the hood, from behind the wheel, the truck itself still feels super rugged as the frame remains all-steel.
While the interior design is very evolutionary, materials have certainly taken a turn for the better, and there are plenty of big knobs and buttons. An available 8-inch productivity screen in the instrument panel takes the available info to a new level, including detailed towing and off road status. Seat comfort is good up front, and there is more of both leg and hip room in the rear.
For a comprehensive Road Test of the 2015 Ford F-150, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3411 that begins airing on November 14, 2014. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.
While Chevrolet and Ram have been chipping away at F-150 diehards in recent years, Ford didn’t become the undisputed king of pickup trucks by playing it safe. With the launch of the 2015 F-150, Ford has raised the pickup bar enough that it will have rivals playing catchup for many years to come.
2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
We’ve been getting a lot of MQB chassis time in lately. That’s Volkswagen’s nearly all-purpose front and all-wheel drive compact underpinning that supports such fun-to-drive models as the Golf R and Audi’s S3, both of which we recently tested. Now, it’s the turn of another MQB model, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, a tidy sedan that has long been one of our most favorite VW’s of all time.
The GLI is, for all intents and purposes, to the Jetta what the GTI is to the Golf hatchback. So not only does it get more power than the standard Jetta, it puts it into play more effectively with VW’s VAQ electronic limited-slip differential. A major part of the GLI’s much improved handling, along with a multi-link rear suspension and sport-tuned dampers.
The GLI may not be a hard core performance car, but it remains an extremely seductive car to drive, while also managing to have a very different sport sedan feel than the GTI hot hatch. The GLI to us is a little more laid back. Yet has lots of potential when you turn thing up a notch. Throw in plenty of interior space, some great seats, and a smooth ride; and that’s pretty much everything we look for in a sporty daily driver.
Another part of what makes the fun factor high is the standard 6-speed manual. Throws are a little long, but the shifter is very positive and feels good overall. A 7-speed DSG is also available if you must.
The spacious and well put together four-door interior would have made for a nice Audi not that long ago. Revisions here for 2022 include upgraded materials, but there’s also a new sport steering wheel with a clutter of touch-sensitive controls.
GLIs include lots of gloss black trim, along with red accents throughout the cabin. VW’s digital cockpit is now standard on all Jettas. The GLI upgrades to a 10-inch fully configurable version.
Outside, all ’22 Jettas don a new grille. The rear bumper is revised with larger exhaust outlets…dual on the GLI… plus fresh wheel designs. GLI also adds exterior gloss black trim and red accents, along with projector beam headlights, a honeycomb-finished rear diffuser, and 18-inch rims.
There is not quite as much power in the GLI as in the current GTI, with VW’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 outputting 228-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. But there’s no lack of grunt at all, and that’s plenty enough to make it quicker than most in the compact sedan class.
The GLI’s trick differential can send all of the engine power to one front wheel if need be. Sport mode puts the adaptive dampers at their firmest setting, which kept body roll to a minimum when the roads get curvey.
For our complete road test of the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #4142 that begins airing on PBS June 24, 2022. For a listing of the PBS public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About the Show” tab at the top. You can also watch weekly episodes of MotorWeek on our cable partner MAVTV with new episodes airing each Saturday at 7:30 PM. Check their entire schedule at MAVTV.com. MotorWeek can also be streamed in its entirety on PBS.org/MotorWeek, as well as on PBS Living, a part of Amazon Prime Video. Roadtest videos are also be available at motorweek.org and on youtube.com/motorweek.
The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is just the latest really-good-time that the MQB chassis has visited upon us. Indeed, we’re sure glad Volkswagen still offers the affordable and fun Jetta GLI sedan, and even more happy to drive it every chance we get.