Should you drive with your pickup truck's tailgate up or down? It's an age-old controversy that's divided drivers for decades. Traditionalists will swear you should leave the tailgate down. Makes sense, right? It would seem to let the air flow more cleanly over the body and through the bed. But there's also a school of thought that argues trucks are designed to look and operate in a specific manner, and modern design techniques can help channel the airflow properly. So don't mess with all of that: Leave the tailgate up.
Thanks to the smoke wand in the wind tunnel, you can actually see the difference in our video.
Which is true?
To solve this tailgate debate, we went inside the wind tunnel at Ford to test the aerodynamics of the 2015 Ford F-150. The model's exterior design manager Brad Richards explained that the new truck was designed with purposeful edges and shapes that look imposing, yet still allow the F-150 to maintain strong aerodynamics. "We think this is the toughest F-150 by far, but also the most efficient," Richards said.
All of this matters, as loyal Ford truck buyers expect the F-150 to look a certain way, but the Blue Oval is also projecting fuel economy gains thanks to the new truck's use of lightweight aluminum. And no matter how light the truck is, fuel-economy gains could be wiped out with poor aerodynamics. With that in mind, Ford styled the truck to maintain its beefy look, but also beat its predecessor in the wind tunnel. Ford paid close attention to a new, lower air dam, mirrors that were redesigned "a dozen times" and a small lip on the rear tailgate. Acting as a spoiler, the lip allows air to cleanly detach from the body. Thanks to the smoke wand in the wind tunnel, you can actually see the difference tailgate up versus tailgate down in our video.
Ford remains tight-lipped about the F-150's fuel economy numbers, but it admits dropping the tailgate would increase drag by about eight percent - and sandbag fuel economy. Even for older models without the fancy spoiler, you're hurting efficiency and lowering your gas mileage when driving with the tailgate down, argues Richards.
So there's your verdict, straight from the wind tunnel: Leave the tailgate up.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ford is ready to tell the story of its 2015 Mustang Convertible, the can't-miss bits being the easier, quicker and quieter roof operation, a more robust roof build for a coupe-like cabin noise, more trunk space, better visibility and reduced in-cabin buffeting. The top release system has been completely redesigned with a single, center-mounted latch on the windshield frame instead of the dual latches of before. The driver can now release the roof without having to lean over into the passenger space, after which the top goes down fully automatically with the press of a button. Ford doesn't say how long it takes to stow, but it's apparently done in half as much time as before, so figure around 8 seconds.
The roof uses a five-bow structure, with the fabric outer and full inner headliner sandwiching ten millimeters of insulation. Detailing work on the top has eliminated "unsightly folds" in the corners when the roof is up and made it more compact when down; its Z-fold assembly is 6.7 inches lower than before at its highest point when put down. Ford says the new electric drive internals make less noise when in operation, and the fully-finished droptop look is achieved with snap-in caps that flank the rear seating and stow in the trunk when not in use (the outgoing Mustang's top was higher and the front when folded and always looked like it was catching air and creating drag).
The compact roof and newly independent rear suspension setup in back means liberated trunk space, 11.4 cubic feet ready to swallow golf bags and tourist swag. You can read a lot more about it in the press release below, check it out in the short video of running footage and learn about the aerodynamic improvements made to the entire Mustang lineup that decrease drag and increase fuel economy.Permalink | Email this | Comments