2021 Ford F-150 Pickup Is Less of an Overhaul Than We Expected

  • The massively popular Ford F-150 pickup is new for 2021 with some added work-oriented productivity features, larger touchscreens, and the addition of a hybrid powertrain.
  • Four gasoline engines and one diesel are carried over from the previous generation, and the new hybrid model has a 3.5-liter EcoBoost. The electric version of the pickup isn’t coming for a couple more years.
  • The 2021 Ford F-150 will arrive this fall, and pricing is expected to start at around $30,000 for the XL model and reach upwards of $70,000 for the Limited model.

Ford is introducing the 2021 F-150 as an all-new truck. But when you get down to the details and look at this new generation of the best-selling truck, it doesn’t actually seem all that changed from the 2020 model. There have been a few exterior tweaks, the addition of some useful productivity features, bigger touchscreens, and the addition of a hybrid powertrain. But we can hear Ford thinking, why fix something that isn’t broken? The new F-150 is still built on a steel frame with an aluminum alloy body, and other than the hybrid, its muscle has stayed relatively the same. Even the much discussed electric F-150 isn’t making its debut yet and won’t be on the market for two more years.

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Andrew TrahanCar and Driver

Same Engines, but a New Hybrid

The 2021 Ford F-150 has six powertrain options, five of which have been carried over from the previous generation, and a 10-speed automatic transmission is standard with all. Like its predecessors, the 2021 F-150 can be equipped with a choice of four gasoline engines and one diesel. The only change for 2021 is that a new hybrid 3.5-liter EcoBoost powertrain is available, with the all-electric F-150 to follow within the next two years, Ford says.

Ford did not give horsepower or torque figures but told Car and Driver that the power and torque outputs for the carried-over 3.3-liter V-6, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, 5.0-liter V-8, and Power Stroke V-6 diesel are “basically the same” compared to the outgoing models. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost, however, will see some improvements in power and torque. In addition, the 5.0-liter now has cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy at cruising speeds.

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Ford has given the name PowerBoost to the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 hybrid powertrain. It comes standard with rear-wheel drive but is also available with four-wheel-drive versions of the F-150. A 35-kW electric motor, powered by a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery, is integrated into the transmission and provides an additional 47 horsepower. Ford says that the F-150 PowerBoost is targeting 12,000 pounds of towing capacity and an EPA-estimated range of 700 miles on a 30.6-gallon tank of gas.

The PowerBoost model comes standard with Ford’s new 2.4-kW Pro Power Onboard generator; a 7.2-kW generator is available as an option. On trucks equipped with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, and 5.0-liter V-8 engines, a 2.0-kW generator is available. All of the onboard generators are fitted with dual 120V 20A outlets in the bed, and the 7.2-kW generator has two additional 120V 20A plugs, one NEMA L14-30R, and a 240V 30A outlet.

At first glance, the new F-150 looks like a face-lifted version of the current-gen truck. The track is slightly wider and higher front fenders give it a more muscular stance. The headlights are similar to the ones found on the 2020 model, but they are larger, more squared-off, and have either halogen or LED bulbs. LED headlights with a dynamic bending feature are standard on the Lariat and above. These have motors in the headlamps that bend the beams to conform to road changes. Ford says the new trucks are 3 percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing models, and that’s largely in part to active grille shutters that close at cruising speeds. Customers have the choice of 11 different grille options and 13 wheel designs, ranging from 17- to 22-inch, to choose from.

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Andrew TrahanCar and Driver

Looking Inside

Getting inside the truck, you’ll notice deeper holes behind the door handles. Ford says this addition was made so that doors can be easily opened if someone is wearing gloves, and there’s a new standard dual glovebox. Additionally, there’s an available lockable storage compartment under the rear seats. Etched into each side of the dashboard is an American flag to serve as a reminder that the truck is built at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri, plants.

On XL and XLT models, an 8.0-inch horizontal touchscreen is standard, which replaces the 4.2-inch screen on the previous base models. The XLT Lux and above get the most exciting change: a 12.0-inch horizontally oriented touchscreen, which is meant to compete against the Ram trucks’ available vertically oriented 12.0-inch touchscreen, and an available 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster. The screens are equipped with Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system, which will receive standard over-the-air updates and support wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Additionally, owners can remote start, lock, or unlock the truck, control the climate, and locate the truck using the FordPass mobile app.

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Ford

Work-Friendly Features

Some useful productivity features have been added to the 2021 F-150 for those who use their trucks on the job. Inside is an available fold-down flat work surface so owners can use their laptop or eat a meal comfortably in the truck. The shifter folds down and then the top of the center-console armrest folds down to create a flat work surface. Also available on only the King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited models are max recline seats that fold with nearly 180 degrees of recline so owners can take a snooze.

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The tailgate is one of the most important parts of a work truck, so Ford integrated standard tie-down locations on the new F-150’s tailgate along with clamp pockets. There’s also an available tailgate work surface that adds rulers, a mobile device holder, a cupholder, and pencil holders into the tailgate along with available zone lighting to light up areas of the truck and bed when working at night.

The 2021 Ford F-150 is slated to arrive this fall along with the PowerBoost hybrid model, and the electric F-150 will be available within the next two years. There are six trim levels: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited. Pricing is expected to start at around $30,000 for the XL model and reach upward of $70,000 for the Limited model.

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