CHATHAM, Mass. – Ford is on top of its game. The all-new 2021 Ford F-150 is a superb vehicle which just happens to be both a full-size pickup truck and the cornerstone of America’s best-selling range of vehicles, the Ford F Series.
Engineering and technological strides coupled with an understanding of the needs and desires of the pickup consumer – as well as anticipating advances they could not even imagine – have resulted in a vehicle which is supremely comfortable to being almost luxurious in features; thoroughly modern in advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) and infotainment (including WIRELESS Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is still far from universal even in the luxury car segment), and still a hard-nosed work truck at heart.
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None of these advances have dulled or softened the F-150’s ability to do whatever job its owner needs done because Ford still offers it in more two- and four-door cab (seating for three, five or six), 5.5-, 6.5- and 8-foot bed, five wheelbase and six engine combinations than I could ever detail here. Basically, if you need a full-size pickup, you can build a Ford F-150 to fit your needs, pocketbook and desires.
First full hybrid in the full-size pickup segment
The one we drove might be the most unique of the mix – an F-150 4X4 Supercrew 145-inch Wheelbase 3.5-liter Powerboost Full Hybrid – because of the powertrain. This is the first full hybrid offered in a full-size pickup truck resulting in both the most power of any F-150 and the highest non-diesel fuel economy, as well.
The powertrain combines Ford’s Ecoboost 3.5L V6 gasoline engine with a 35 kilowatt (47 horsepower) electric motor integrated into the 10-speed automatic transmission for 430 total horsepower and 570 pounds-feet of torque. Enough power to pull a trailer up to 12,000 pounds, yet through engineering, attention to aerodynamic design and other details, produces 24 miles per gallon in everyday driving and up to 700 miles on a single tank of gas!
The hybrid does all this without any drama or special action on the part of the driver. I smoothly navigated Cape Cod’s highways, streets, parking lots, beaches and dirt roads in my usual aggressive manner and the fuel efficiency stayed within two-tenths of a gallon on either side of 24mpg regardless (and this is the federal Environmental Protection Agency combined rating, as well).
Power isn’t only important under the hood. Available Pro Power Onboard expands F-150’s capability by bringing generator levels of exportable power to work sites, camp sites and everyday life.
Our PowerBoost-equipped F-150 had the optional 7.2 kilowatts of electrical output accessible through in-cabin outlets and four cargo bed-mounted 120-volt 20-amp outlets, and a 240-volt 30-amp outlet. The system even provides power on the move to charge tool batteries in between jobs as well as any of the passengers’ mobile devices (one of which, if so enhanced, can benefit from the included wireless charging pad in the center console).
Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist makes driving a breeze
Ford filled this F-150 with a comprehensive collection of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) features under its Co-Pilot360 Assist umbrella. Many of the systems, of course, start with the capability of the braking components which include electronic brake boost, anti-lock (ABS) and a power-assisted four-wheel disc (13.7-inch vented rotors front and rear) system with an electronic parking brake.
The ADAS include: blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert; evasive-steering assist; lane-keeping system; post-collision braking; reverse-brake assist; active park assist (including the ability to park the big truck – 209 inches long, 80-inches wide not including mirrors – with virtually no driver involvement; really cool!); 360° camera; pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection, intelligent adaptable cruise control, and auto high beams.
An interior fit for a luxury sedan
Approach the F-150 with the intelligent access key (with push button start) in your pocket and the truck greets you by blinking its lights and deploying the powered running boards which make getting up and into the spacious cab easy (even my wife found it simple to climb in, something she has not found in many of the large pickups and SUVs we have reviewed).
Space, filled with leather and technology, greet you inside. A push of the start button and the 12-inch customizable instrument-cluster screen comes alive as does the 12-inch color touch screen at the heart of the dashboard.
Buttons stretching from the driver’s door panel, across the dash, heated steering wheel and center console allow control of all the truck’s various systems for climate control (dual zone, automatic), navigation, ADAS and infotainment (AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/streaming audio/wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto – all projected by the B&O Sound System Unleashed by Bang & Olufsen). Voice activation (a button push on the steering wheel) can also initiate many of these systems.
Two options on this truck further showed Ford’s understanding of the pickup consumer and how they use their trucks.
Push a button in front of the automatic-transmission gear selector and the selector retracts into the console allowing you to unfold the top of the center-console storage cover into a flat, solid workspace (or, as my wife and I discovered, a great, flat surface for eating a whole-belly clam-roll dinner). And, thanks to the included 4G hotspot and adjacent 110-Volt outlet, a day of working on a laptop computer is just as convenient.
Should you want to take a bit of a rest during said workday, the other unique option – fully reclining seats (which, in this case are power-adjustable, leather, heated/ventilated and massage equipped) – allow a quick nap in the comfort of the F-150’s cabin.
Not all the luxury and comfort go to the front-seat passengers; those in the rear, easily wide enough for three large adults, have seat heating and 12V, 110V and USB power for a variety of mobile electronic devices.
More than the sum of its parts
The pickup truck segment, especially the full-size portion, has become one of the most competitive in the U.S. market. For years it has provider major profits for the automakers, while building brand loyalty.
Attention to detail is essential; knowing what your customers need – and desire – will make or break a truck. Ford’s experience and refusal to rest on its laurels has produced a great range of pickups, one offering something for everyone.
The F-150 range bases at $28,940 for a two-door XL with V6. We drove a comprehensively equipped Supercrew Platinum which has a $59,110 starting price and in our hybrid version totaled some $75,000 (including $2,300 in fees and delivery charges). A lot of money, BUT a LOT of truck.
Impressive in every way: the 2021 F-150 is impressive as an everyday vehicle; as a workplace, and as a work tool. In today’s market, it represents very competitive and superb truck value.