As soon as the Ford Atlas pickup concept was revealed, speculation ran rampant that it was a thinly veiled preview of the 2015 F-150. Based on photos of these mules testing, it appears the initial hunch about the Atlas indicating the styling direction of the new F-150 is correct. The blocky shape of the Atlas' headlight housing looks to carry over largely intact from the Atlas, although at least in the lower-trim models, lighting will be conventional incandescent or projector-beam, rather than the full-LED illumination shown on the Atlas.

As with the current F-150, the next-generation truck will be offered in a multitude of bed and cab configurations, as one of these regular-cab mules attests. Some of the current engines, namely the base 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V-6, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, and 5.0-liter V-8 will initially carry over. But the thirsty 6.2-liter V-8 used in the Raptor may be dropped and left as the base engine in the Super Duty.

Looking a little further into the future, a smaller-displacement EcoBoost V-6, between 2.7 and 2.9 liters and code-named Nano, could make its way under the F-150's hood, and two other potential engine options are a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine or the 3.2-liter I-5 turbodiesel that will make its U.S. debut in the 2015 Ford Transit as an option. The production debut of the 2015 F-150 could come as soon as the Detroit auto show in January, or the Chicago auto show in February.