2021 Ford F-150 First Drive Review | The PowerBoost hybrid is peak pickup
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Few automotive events are more business critical than the launch of a redesigned Ford F-150. The Mustang Mach-E and Bronco may be the eye of enthusiasts and are important parts of Ford's future, but few vehicles mean more to the U.S. auto industry than pickup trucks, and Ford's F-Series is reigning Sales champion in this popular and profitable segment.
While this isn't a complete head-to-toe makeover, the 2021 F-150 received a major powertrain overhaul, a new interior, and some new "hey, neat" features that could sway a buyer who otherwise thinks almost any truck will do as long as price and capability tick the correct boxes. You can find more information about the Ford F-150 in our coverage of the launch day. However, we will put the highlights together for you here.
While the 2021 F-150 has been redesigned, its appearance is not a major departure from the previous model. Changes are more noticeable inside, where a new steering wheel and cleaner center stack highlight a host of other small improvements. The obvious upgrade here is Ford's fourth generation Sync infotainment system, which has received some serious hardware upgrades to improve its performance over Sync 3. The most important of these is a huge 12-inch touchscreen, although our time with it prevented an in-depth review (well, aside from the message that there is a long range from the driver's seat to the right side of the screen)
Ford also threw in some cool new exterior tidbits, such as a redesigned tailgate that now has an available flat work surface with built in pinch pockets and bottle openers. There's also outside zone lighting (which only lets you light the rooms where you work - or play), as well as an in-bed power system that blows away anything you've seen from a factory pickup.
The 2021 Ford F-150 will be offered with six drivetrains, but not the same six that were available for the 2020 model. The headliner of these changes is the new party piece of the F-150: the PowerBoost Hybrid. Based on the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a new modular 10-speed hybrid automatic transmission, this is the powertrain for the 2021 model with an output of 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque.
Apart from that, the 5.0 l “Coyote” V8 and the 3.5 l EcoBoost each deliver 400 hp. The V8 produces 410 lb-ft of torque while the EcoBoost V6 produces 500 lb-ft. This turbocharged V6 was previously available in 375 and 450 hp variants, the latter being reserved for the Raptor and High-End Limited models. The existence of a new Raptor has been confirmed, but with the upcoming arrival of the Hellcat-powered Ram TRX, we suspect Ford will take a fresh approach to its high-performance truck.
Below that, the 3.0-liter power-stroke diesel with 250 hp and 440 lb-ft returns. The turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is the next step down, making the same 325 hp and 400 lb-ft as the outgoing truck. The 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V6 also returns as the base 290 hp engine and 265 lb-ft back - another carryover number.
The new F-150 has a maximum towing capacity of 14,000 pounds, an 800 year-over-year increase, outperforming the Silverado 1500 at 13,300 pounds and the Ram 1500 at 12,750 pounds. In terms of payload, the new F-150 can carry a maximum of 3,325 pounds, 55 more than before. The Ram 1500 has the next highest rating at 2,300, and the Silverado 1500 is just behind at £ 2,280. As always, however, the payload depends incredibly on the length of the engine, cabin and bed.
Specifically, we'll find that the PowerBoost can carry up to 2,120 pounds in bed and haul up to 12,700 pounds. Both numbers are the best for the Power Stroke Diesel in equivalent SuperCrew configurations. And if you're wondering about the hybrid's weight (a key factor in towing capacity and payload), it's only about 250 pounds more than the equivalent diesel and 350 pounds more than a 3.5 EcoBoost. Not bad.
While we focus on the F-150's capabilities, we need to address one of the more exciting new features of the F-150. Pro Power On Board takes the power supply for on-site accessories to the next level and transforms the bed of the F-150 into a mobile power plant with a built-in generator.
Not only is this system suitable for the hybrid, but its utility is maximized by the electrified powertrain. While the petrol engines equipped with it only produce a maximum of 2.0 kilowatts, the hybrid increases to 2.4 kW with an optional upgrade from 7.2 kW. If you choose to upgrade, you get 240 volt 30 amp operation in bed with a NEMA L14-30R connector and four 20 amp 120 volt outlets. The 2.0 and 2.4 kW variants only get 120 V sockets with 20 amps, but that is still more than the competition offers.
In addition to the huge touchscreen available, the interiors include optional "Max Recline" front seats for the Platinum, King Ranch and Limited models. These seats can be folded almost completely flat, making it possible to take a nap with the passenger or even take a nap. A new table option called "Interior Work Surface" is provided above the center console. The gear selector can be stowed, folded forward into a recess so that the table can be folded down, and a work area is created in which a folder, a notepad or even a small laptop can be stored.
There's also a full-width rear seat storage solution that both locks and folds flat to make room for larger cargo. The door-to-door space requirement makes it ideal for storing longer items, like outdoor Ford gadgets or even some firearms.
Our time with the 2021 F-150 was short so we couldn't test all of these new devices. We have focused on putting as much time behind the wheel of the various powertrain offerings as possible, starting with the new PowerBoost hybrid.
We're not going to crush any words: the 2021 F-150 PowerBoost is the most impressive everyday pickup we've ever tried (aside from extreme raptors and power wagons). Despite the use of the meanwhile proven and conventional hybrid technology, the PowerBoost does not make its hybridity obvious. There is no uncomfortable braking transition between regenerative and hydraulic operation. No fussy CVT or planetary gearbox that generates unwanted vibrations or holds the speed in the stratosphere under strong acceleration. It just drives like a truck - a powerful truck.
If anything, it's almost like driving a half-ton pickup truck on a high-performance diesel powertrain, just without the nuisances associated with modern diesel ownership. And you get 24 mpg everywhere, both in the city and on the highway. That's the same combined number as the outgoing 3.0-liter power stroke diesel that only makes 250 horsepower. Sure, this lightweight diesel will save you less fuel on the freeway, but if you're not exclusively driving on I-45, the hybrid will be a good fit in the long run. Gasoline is also much cheaper than diesel pump in most states, so filling it is cheaper.
For comparison: the 5.0-liter V8 feels like a dog. It is far less responsive, to the point that it makes itself felt when driving around town. Crush the accelerator and the Coyote will wake up, but it takes a lot more deliberate nudging to get the 5.0 to act like the Hybrid, which requires no thought at all.
We also tested the more volume-oriented six-cylinder, and while nothing is new about the 3.3-liter or 2.7-liter turbo V6, we have to acknowledge its excellent all-round performance. It offers a lot of grunt and feels great, especially in a short wheelbase truck. We had to play around with one of that exact specification, with a 1,400 pound payload attached to the bed, and found it to be extremely trustworthy even with a relatively tight slalom on Ford's skidpad. If you are unable to purchase one of the F-150's flagship engines, this 2.7 liter EcoBoost is for you.
With all the many updates to the 2021 F-150, there really is only one story here: PowerBoost. This can save you up to $ 4,500. This makes it the second most expensive of the available engines on the F-150 SuperCrew, and is $ 500 behind the Power Stroke. Even between that and its slight slap on overall performance, this is an amazingly impressive powertrain. Ford's hybrid system not only makes the F-150 a better truck, but also a better office, campsite and work place. And in your author's personal opinion, it makes his driver a better citizen, and that's just a nice little bonus in a sea of upsides.
This is the reveal of the new 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost
Powered by a brand new 3.5 liter PowerBoost Full Hybrid V6
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