Enthusiasts in Southern California have gotten used to the weekly hangout at Cars and Coffee, an impromptu gathering of cars of all types, hosted in the parking lot of Taco Bell and Ford's West Coast headquarters in Irvine, California. On any given weekend, you can find a broad variety of cool cars, old and new. But this past weekend, there was a special appearance by the Ford Atlas Concept, the star of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, that stole the thunder of General Motors' full-size trucks.

This time, the Atlas didn't have to compete with GM's trucks for attention, but it drew a crowd nonetheless, even among the well-informed group of gearheads. Although this will be the Atlas' only West Coast appearance outside of the normal auto show circuit, the Atlas is on a nationwide tour, including an appearance in Canada, as part of Ford's efforts to increase its visibility among potential buyers ahead of the next-generation F-150's eventual debut, as well as get feedback from potential customers about its design. "Everywhere we take Atlas, everyone likes what we've done with the concept," said. Mike Levine, truck communications manager for Ford.

Although the Atlas conveys a bold, angular appearance, and suggests it would have all the aerodynamics of the proverbial barn door, active grille shutters, wheel shutters and other features show that economy and efficiency were on the mind of Ford engineers in the creation of the concept. "Being tough in appearance is not mutually-exclusive with being aerodynamic," said Levine.

How close will the next F-150 be to the Atlas concept? While the production model may not have all the bells and whistles on the concept, the Atlas is probably a fairly accurate preview of Ford's next half-ton.