Crazy-smart Ford engineers have struck again – this time blending the sport mode feature borrowed from the all-new Mustang with the reduced weight of the all-new F-150 to deliver an engaged, dynamic driving experience with any of the four high-output, fuel-efficient powertrains available to truck customers.
Since the all-new 2015 Mustang and F-150 were developed on a similar time line and share certain automatic transmission technology, powertrain engineers often drove both vehicles on the same trips used for testing.
“Our team realized how well the new F-150 handled and responded to acceleration due to its reduced weight,” said Karl Jungbluth, Ford transmission calibration engineer. “So we decided we could adapt the sport mode capabilities of the six-speed automatic transmission from Mustang to F-150 to enhance the overall driving experience for truck customers.”
Sport mode on F-150 is activated by pushing the tow/haul mode button twice. An amber S appears in the lower-right portion of the tachometer indicating sport mode is active.
The feature works by changing the frequency of gearshifts, so the truck stays in the “sweet” spot of the powerband and holds lower gears longer to make driving more fun. That means less shifting on engaging drives, such as twisty roads with rolling hills. Instead of shifting gears up and down for peak efficiency, the transmission holds a specific gear longer to make driving more responsive and spirited.
Sport mode reduces the frequency of having to step on the gas pedal to reach peak torque – resulting in quicker acceleration with less pedal travel. The truck feels more responsive to the driver’s pedal inputs. When combined with the transmission changes, the result is an on-demand performance feel similar to what an aftermarket modification might add to the truck, but with the benefit of maintaining the Ford vehicle warranty.
An advanced feature of F-150’s six-speed automatic transmission is its ability to match engine rpm as it downshifts in slowing for a corner. Electronics calibration for this feature comes straight out of Mustang.
“Sport mode keeps the engine operating in the desired power and torque ranges, or what we like to call the ‘sweet’ spot,” explained Jungbluth. “It makes Mustang come alive, and we feel it does the same thing in F-150.”
Sport mode is similar to F-150’s tow/haul mode, which also changes shift points under acceleration, keeping the truck at a higher rpm and further up in the power range while driving over rolling terrain for an improved towing experience. The technology limits the transmission from shifting up when the vehicle crests a hill, and provides downhill brake support that allows engine-compression braking to slow the vehicle and maintain a steady speed.
Sport mode is standard with every F-150 engine and can be activated in two-wheel drive, four-wheel-drive automatic and four-wheel-drive high settings.