Ford Atlas: The truck as art form

Updated Jan 21, 2013


Unveiled today in Detroit, the Ford Atlas concept truck radiates so much eye candy you almost get the impression it can fly. If nothing, it’s a looker. No hovercraft capabilities were mentioned in the press release, however, but the amount of technological sophistication should satisfy nonetheless.

The Atlas may not fly, but it threatens to. For improved aerodynamics it has active grille shutters. These stay open when engine cooling is needed and close to reduce drag at highway speeds. A drop-down front air dam acts like a spoiler and lowers itself when you speed up
to likewise reduce underbody turbulence and help the Atlas cut through the air.

When you slow down, the ram retracts so as not to catch on curbs and obstacles. Even the wheels have “active shutters” that close at highways speeds to reduce drag and open up for better looks, when you feel the need to go stylin’ round the parking lot.

Ford claims the aerodynamic features can boost fuel efficiency more than 2 mpg.

Assuming you are going to use the truck for work, the Atlas takes the tailgate step a bit further and adds a cargo cradle to it for lifting and holding extra long items above the bed space. Trailer backup assist allows drivers to back a trailer with the twist of a knob. Dynamic hitch assist gives you visual guidance on the truck’s center display screen to help you align the truck with the trailer tongue. The Atlas also sports a 360-degree point-of-view camera, giving you a bird’s eye view of the truck for better maneuvering and positioning in parking lots and tight spaces.

LED headlights and tail lights bring a bucket load of lumens to the Atlas’ driving environment, more than HID or halogen lamps, the company says. The cargo box is also lit with LEDs. That combined with ice blue ambient lighting in the cab gives the Atlas a very cool, UFO look.

Ford also armed the interior with all the current state of the art digital stuff, including text-to- voice capability, Wi-Fi hot spot and USB modem or smartphone compatibility, and a rear vision backup camera. Ford is also looking at an open mobile app platform for developers to integrate their apps with SYNC AppLink.

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Drive time safety is improved for work weary drivers with forward collision warning, blind spot information systems and a lane keeping and lane departure warning system.

Digital dazzle aside, those of you who shop in the big and tall stores will appreciate this detail: Ford uses thinner seat cushion material to gain room in the cab.

The Atlas name is just the tag Ford is hanging on the concept. (Too bad, it’s a great name for a truck.) And the features here may or may not appear in future editions of Ford’s truck line up. According to the company what they keep from the Atlas will depend on how well they are received at the show.

Ford tapped a collector of vintage motorcycles, Gordon Platto, as the chief designer on the project. If you like what you see, let em’ know on Facebook.