Ford Atlas is a sneak peek at the next F-150

There aren’t a lot of surprises at auto shows these days, but Ford dropped a titanic one on the Motor City and stole the spotlight from the introduction of GM’s new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra at the Detroit Auto Show.

The Atlas concept is a look at what the future of Ford’s full-size pickups may hold, and if it’s anything to go by, expect bold styling and a lot of technology.

The crew cab incorporates traditional Ford truck design cues, including round wheel arches, a beltline that drops at the front and vertical nostrils on the grill, but presents them on a chunky, super-sized scale. The black leather and chrome-trimmed interior features low-profile seating that clears up additional space for passengers and gear.

Ford says the vehicle is envisioned to use the next generation of its fuel efficient turbocharged EcoBoost engines, and it employs several active aerodynamic devices to help cut down on wind resistance, including shutters in the grille, a front air dam that drops down at high speeds, and additional shutters in the wheels that close off the spokes to make them more streamlined for highway cruising.

Work focused innovations include built in ramps to roll gear and vehicles into the LED-illuminated bed, a tailgate step that can be extended vertically to line up with a cargo cradle on the double bubble roof to carry long items like ladders, and a trailer backup assist feature that uses automated steering that lets the driver guide the truck in reverse by using a dial on the dashboard and a 360 degree camera system mounted around the vehicle.

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Ford is quick to point out that the Atlas is not itself a production-intent vehicle, but with new F-150s and heavy duty trucks on the way in the next couple of years, it’s a safe bet that elements from the Atlas will find their way into showrooms soon.