Drive Type: rwd
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States
Solid axle? What solid axle?
I was fully prepared to embark on a seven-day journey down a rabbit hole of broken bolts, internet hearsay and consternation.
This should not have gone this easily. Having a long and checkered history of simple projects punctuated by much wailing and gnashing of knuckles, I was fully prepared to embark on a seven-day journey down a rabbit hole of broken bolts, internet hearsay and consternation when I finally decided to lay hands on the '89 Mustang with the goal of relieving the car of its stock rear axle. Instead, it took less than a full morning's worth of work to carve the old 7.5-inch solid axle from its moorings and mock up something, well, different.
Car buyers have a responsibility to be well-informed consumers. That's not always a very simple task, but some guidelines are self-evident. If you live in a very snowy climate, you generally know a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro might not be as viable a vehicle choice as an all-wheel drive Explorer or Traverse, for example. If you want a fuel-efficient car, it's generally a good idea to know the difference between a diesel and a hybrid. But what if it's kind of tough to be an informed consumer? What if the information you need is more difficult to come by, or worse, based on different standards for each vehicle? Well, in that case, you might be a truck shopper.
For years, customers of light-duty pickups have had to suffer through different ratings of towing capacities for each brand. For 2015 model year trucks, though, that will no longer be a problem. According to Automotive News, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler Group have announced that starting with next year's models, a common standard will be used to measure towing capacity. The Detroit Three will join Toyota, which adopted the Society of Automotive Engineers' so-called SAE J2807 standards way back in 2011.
The standard was originally supposed to be in place for MY2013, but concerns that it would lower the overall stated capacity for trucks led Detroit automakers to pass. Ford originally passed, claiming it'd wait until its new F-150 was launched to adopt the new standards, leading GM and Ram to follow suit. Nissan, meanwhile, has said it will adopt the new standards as its vehicles are updated, meaning the company's next-generation Titan should adhere to the same tow ratings as its competitors.
Ford has given the F-150 a dramatic makeover for 2015, switching to an aluminum body that helps reduce weight by about 700 pounds. Because the truck is dramatically different, Ford also had to change the way it makes the F-150, so we went inside its sprawling factory in Dearborn, MI, this week to see the Blue Oval's new manufacturing techniques in action.
The company has added 850 jobs at the site and upgraded its stamping and tool and die facilities. The body shop is also modernized, and it has been fitted with 500 new robots that join the structures together. The first 2015 F-150 rolled off the line on Tuesday, and the trucks will begin arriving in dealerships in December. Get a closer look at the F-150's unique assembly process in our video.