CHATHAM, Mass. – The MPG meter indicated 24, not an impressive number for most of the cars and SUVs on the road today, but for a fully loaded, Ford F-150 King Ranch 4X4 pickup truck, a marvel.
Last week provided another opportunity to sample Ford’s new hybrid F-150 full-size pickup, this time in King Ranch livery. The four-wheel drive version I drove may have been set up for towing with the Tow Technology Package ($880) and scrambling off pavement thanks to the FX4 Off-Road Package ($1,005), but it was supremely comfortable and livable as a daily driver thanks to the almost opulent King Ranch accommodations.
The King Ranch nameplate on the tailgate tells the world you are driving one of Ford’s best-equipped, amenity-filled F-150s and the ranch’s subtle logo reminder can be seen throughout the vehicle from the wheel hubs to the stitching on the dash to its stitched reproduction in the leather seats.
And interior fit for a King
Reaching those seats is greatly eased thanks to the power running boards (part of Equipment Group 601A along with power tailgate, tailgate step and 16-spearker B&O sound system) which deploy as soon as you approach the vehicle with the key fob (no actual key is necessary to unlock or start the truck) on your person.
Seamless power adjustment enables front-seat occupants to move into virtually any position including a bed-like near flat setting thanks to the Max Recline option. In addition, the driver’s ability to find the perfect perch is aided by electrically adjustable pedals and steering wheel, all of which, along with the seat-position setting and those of the outside rearview mirrors, can be stored in one of three memory positions.
Of course, the seats for all five of the potential occupants are heated, with the fronts being ventilated as well. Cupholders, power outlets (110 Volt, 12 Volt and USB), grab handles and too many storage compartments to count are easily accessible front and rear. In addition, the capacious front console-storage (which can fit a sitting toddler) cover can flip forward (after pressing the button which lowers the automatic-transmission shifter into the console) to create a flat, large work surface or – in our case – picnic table at a busy fast-food joint with no available seating!
The ride is firm without being harsh; I imagine a full 1,830 pounds in the 52.8-cubic-foot, 5.5-foot cargo box would smooth it out, but neither I nor my passengers ever objected regardless of road conditions. Ford has really done a great job of producing a truck with a comfortable ride.
The engineers and designers took advantage of the interior room, easily integrating a 12-inch color touch screen in the top half of the dash without it appearing too large for the space. The screen is the heart of the infotainment system and Ford Sync 4 which includes enhanced voice activation; WIRELESS (still an unusual, but much appreciated touch) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; navigation; Bluetooth streaming audio and amplified, clear sound courtesy of the Bang & Olufsen tuning.
There is a lot going on in the passenger cabin of the F-150 King Ranch 4X4 Supercrew Full Hybrid thanks to all the amenities, power systems and driver aids, but Ford has done a superb job of grouping switches, buttons and knobs for related functions together, thus making operating the myriad of systems in this truck simpler, more intuitive and safer to operate.
The design might not be subtle or subdued, but its functionality is as complete as any luxury vehicle. It delivers the same results, though maybe in a setting not quite as plush.
A powertrain for modern times
The powertrain is the same as the previous hybrid we drove. It 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!
As before, 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).
Ford’s ADAS makes maneuvering the truck relatively easy
A very comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) allowed me to circumnavigate the Cape’s crowded summer roads without any drama or near misses. The large mirrors are supplemented by a good blind-spot warning system and front and rear parking assist systems.
The 360° surround-view camera angle helped getting into and out of parking spaces in frenetic shopping centers and features like the reverse brake assist, automatic-emergency braking and lane-keeping system helped ease my mind when traffic became intense.
Further details on the powertrain, the chassis/underpinnings and ADAS of the truck can be found in the earlier F-150 (a virtual clone in these terms) review by clicking HERE.
A King amongst royalty
The Ford F-Series has been America’s top selling vehicle and top selling pickup-truck range for many years and after driving several iterations and pouring over spec sheets and order guides, I can understand the attraction. You can build and buy the truck you want and need – Ford gives you the vast catalog of options allowing you to make it just right.
The King Ranch hybrid we drove, with all its features and amenities, carried a MSRP of $75,875 (including $1,695 for destination & delivery). A lot of money for a lot of truck. You can spend a lot less on an F-150 or even a bit more (there is the Platinum top-of-the-line model which means the King Ranch is not quite king of the hill), but this 2021 F-150 King Ranch Supercrew 4X4 Powerboost Full Hybrid delivers the goods in a supremely comfortable, controlled manner.