Ford Atlas Concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Looks like: Ford knows how to wow — even with a pickup truck
  • Defining characteristics: Retractable cargo ramps and 360-degree camera system
  • Ridiculous features: Active wheel shutters open and close at highway speeds to improve the wheel’s aerodynamics
  • Chances of being mass-produced: This is the future of Ford’s F-Series

Ford’s Atlas concept doesn’t reek of being too futuristic or “out there,” and it’s a look into the features and style of Ford’s next-generation of pickup trucks. Many useful features appear on the pickup concept that Ford says are inspired by listening to customers and how they use their trucks for work and play.

Check out more Atlas photos from Ford

“We wanted the concept to reflect how Ford trucks help customers in both their worlds — professionally and personally,” J Mays, Ford group vice president and chief creative officer, said in a statement.

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The Atlas’ cargo box features multiple tie-down points integrated into the cargo area and load floor, as well as household 110-volt electrical outlets for charging power tools. The cargo box itself is illuminated at night by LEDs. A hidden roof-carrying system frees up room in the cargo box by extending a support vertically from the tailgate so a kayak or ladder can stretch over the truck’s roof. Retracting rearward from the cargo area are two integrated ramps for loading dirt bikes and landscaping equipment. 

Pickup trucks are synonymous with towing and a new Trailer Backup Assist gives drivers control of backing up a trailer with the twist of a knob. Plus, a Dynamic Hitch Assist uses the truck’s center display to show visual cues when lining up the truck’s hitch with the trailer coupling. A 360-degree camera provides a bird’s-eye view of obstacles surrounding the truck, similar to Infiniti’s Around View Monitor and other automakers that use multiple cameras around the vehicle to create a top-down view.
Powering the Atlas is a next-generation EcoBoost engine with auto start/stop to shut the engine off at idle; the Atlas’ execution can disable the feature automatically when it senses a trailer in tow. Few details are available, though aerodynamic enhancements abound to make the Atlas easily slip through the air for increased fuel economy.
Ford uses active aerodynamic features in the form of a retracting front air spoiler below the bumper, which lowers at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics under the car and retracts at low speeds for additional ground clearance. The grille and even the wheels feature active shutters that close at highway speeds to create a flush, aero-friendly surface; they also open at low speeds for improved airflow. The wheel shutters use self-powering batteries that capture the wheel’s motion for juice.
The Atlas’ interior and exterior have a high-tech rugged theme and feature lightweight, thin seats for increased rear passenger room with storage for smaller items, plus buttons that are designed to be glove friendly.

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Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: Email Joe Bruzek

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