During a live streamed event Thursday night Ford unveiled a new generation of it’s best-selling truck and the 2021 F-150 is a big update.
The new truck has a redesigned interior, a refreshed and more aerodynamic exterior design, and a bunch of new technology—including hands-free driving. There’s even a new power generation option that allows you to leave your generator at home. And all of that is really just window dressing to the real news here: The 2021 F-150 will be available with a monster hybrid powertrain that Ford says will offer class-leading of power—in more ways than one.
We’ve got a full deep dive into every single new feature of this truck in the video below. Check it out. Or, if you prefer text, read on after the break.
🚧 Episode Chapters 🚧
1:20 Exploring the new Exterior Design
2:50 ELEVEN Grilles!
3:05 New Headlamp Design
5:05 Most Aerodynamic F-150 Yet: Grille Shutters and Air Dam
6:15 New Running Board Design With Kick Switch
6:45 Powertrain Overview
8:00 The New PowerBoost Hybrid
13:20 Pro Power Onboard Integrated Generator
15:25 New Tailgate Features
15:57 Interior Redesign
16:04 New 12-inch screens and Sync 4
16:52 Fold Down Flat Console
17:10 Max Recline Fold Flat Seats
18:00 Tech Updates and Hands-Free Driving
We can’t really talk about what’s under the hood before addressing the new hood itself, so let’s start with the new look of the 2021 F-150.
Ford says it redesigned every panel of the truck’s body. There’s a good mix of Ford’s truck design language found in this new look.
From certain angles, especially head-on, you see a bit of the 2020 Super Duty influence.
From the 3/4 angle I see a bit of the Ranger, and the profile of the truck is really what we’ve come to expect since the 2015 model that introduced the aluminum body.
So if you love the profile of this truck already, don’t worry, they didn’t ruin it.
Of course a lot of your impression of the truck will depend on what version of the front end you’re looking at and that will apparently vary greatly. That’s because Ford is offering eleven—yes, eleven— grille options on the 2021 F-150. And here’s the thing, it’s not a trim dependent option. Ford says these grilles will be offered across the entire lineup.
Flanking that football team’s worth of grille options are a pair of redesigned headlamps. So let’s talk about that, because the headlamp really determines a lot of how we feel about a truck’s look.
For the 2009 model year, Ford introduced a headlamp design that it would really carry for the better part of the next decade. In 2015 they started pulling elements of the grille into it giving it a shape resembling an “F”—maybe as a shout out to the F-Series name. In the model years since Ford has finessed that design and taken a bit of the boxiness out by integrating it more into the overall grille design.
This new design though is on more even footing with the rest of the grille. It has a taller appearance and is much less angular. The “F” inspiration is still there and is arguably now more apparent, thanks to a new LED lighting accent that runs along the outer and top edges of the lamps themselves.
The outside edge of the lamps still have a slight angle to them in following the slope of the fender, but its much more subtle. Plus the lamps themselves have that upright stacked design that I am always happy to see. Chevy was including it for a while on their half-ton Silverados and I was sad to see them shelve that look.
Ford has also gone with a new power dome hood design and wrap around fenders with this model and that is where you feel that Raptor influence. The fenders are also a bit higher off the ground and the cumulative effect is that they just give the truck a more distinct and more aggressive footing.
And though the truck is still the same 79.9 inches wide as the 2020 model, it definitely has a wider look to it thanks to those new fenders and the fact that Ford is equipping this truck with larger diameter tires that are pulled out three quarters of an inch wider than before.
Another important element to the new exterior design of the F-150 is aerodynamics. Ford says this is the most aerodynamic F-150 yet.
Beyond the new geometry of the truck’s cab design and tailgate, Ford has also implemented active grille shutters and a new automatically deploying active air dam. We’ve seen these features before as Ram introduced them with the launch of its redesign back on the 2019 model year 1500 trucks. Essentially, the air shutters work to reduce wind resistance by pulling air into and through the grille of the truck rather than allowing it to rush over the hood. The air dam is located beneath the truck’s front bumper and will typically deploy by swinging down below the bumper at a certain speed—usually around 40 miles per hour though Ford isn’t specifying. This also reduces wind resistance by guiding air beneath the truck.
One final note on the exterior, Ford has included a new full-length running board design. These new running boards not only extend further now, allowing you to to hop up and reach into the bed from them, they also automatically lower whenever you approach the truck with the key fob in your pocket.
And if you don’t have the key fob? Ford thought of that too. A new kick switch underneath allows you to manually activate the drop down.
Six different engines will be available on the 2021 F-150, up one from last year thanks to that new hybrid option we mentioned earlier. The good news is that you won’t have to worry over which transmission to pair to these options since Ford has dropped its base 6-speed offering. For 2021, no matter what you choose, it’s going to be paired with Ford’s excellent 10-speed automatic.
But back to the engines. Ford hasn’t released any official horsepower, torque, towing, or payload ratings as of yet, so all we know right now is what engines will be available.
The engines returning from 2020 are the 3.3L V6, the 2.7L EcoBoost V6, the 5L V8, the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 and the 3L Power Stroke Diesel.
And that brings us to the headliner, the all-new hybrid. Since it’s an all-new powertrain option, Ford’s got a new name to describe it and that’s PowerBoost— a nice little mash-up of its Power Stroke and EcoBoost names.
At the core of this hybrid powertrain is a is the PowerBoost V6 which is paired to a 10-speed transmission. Integrated into that transmission is a 35 kW electric motor and rounding this platform out is a 1.5 kWh lithium ion battery.
Ford says it has stuffed the battery beneath the truck and says that it doesn’t bulge into or reduce any space in the truck’s cab or bed.
Like other hybrids, the electric motor will apply braking energy torecharge the battery.
Based on the specs, it looks like this engine and battery combination is built off the 3.5L EcoBoost. Like the 3.5L EcoBoost, the 3.5L PowerBoost is a twin-turbocharged and intercooled 60-degree V6 with overhead cams and it has the same 10.5:1 compression ratio.
Now usually the big upside to a hybrid is the fuel efficiency and from the looks of things, Ford’s PowerBoost hybrid will deliver there as well. As of right now Ford says it expects the 2021 F-150 with PowerBoost to be rated at an EPA estimated range of 700 miles per tank of gas.
If you divide that range estimate by the 30.6 gallon tank size of the PowerBoost F-150 configuration, you get roughly 23 miles per gallon. Not exactly groundbreaking, but if that ends up being the truck’s combined fuel economy rating, it would slot it just better than the 22 mpg rating the 2.7L EcoBoost brought to the 2020 model and just under the 24 miles per gallon combined rating for the 2020 with 3L Power Stroke diesel.
Fuel conscious but still powerful
Here’s the thing, while fuel economy is nice, Ford knows that what truck customers really care about is power. So it’s not surprising that the big draw to Ford’s first version of a hybrid powertrain is power.
Like we said, Ford hasn’t provided any official SAE ratings for 2021 yet, but they say that they think that when these models do ship, the 3.5L PowerBoost will have the most horsepower, and the most torque among all half-ton trucks and it will boast more than 12,000 lbs of towing capacity.
Now, that figure is not going to be enough to topple Chevy as the current half-ton towing champion as the Silverado 1500 with a 6.2L V8 delivers 13,400 lbs of towing capacity. But it’s still an impressive number for a first-generation hybrid powertrain.
Now anytime we’re talking about a powertrain with any kind of battery we have to talk about the effects cold weather and load have on range. Ford hasn’t provided any specifics other than to say that the battery is rated for sustained use in extreme outside temperatures and under heavy loads.
Given that they’re not shying away from boasts of this hybrid powertrain’s power capability, it will definitely be interesting to see how much payload and towing reduce that 700 mile range that Ford is currently touting.
The fact of the matter is though that a hybrid powertrain on a pickup is a no-brainer at this point. The combination of a fuel-burning engine and an electric motor and battery is a powerful one, bringing you extra range, quicker torque delivery and a boost in horsepower as well. We saw it with Ram’s etorque hybrid a couple years back and it’s nice to see Ford embrace the model as well.
And let’s not forget, this is just a prelude to a fully electric model coming in the next two years.
Pro Power Integrated Generator
But we’re not quite done with power. Let’s turn our attention to power generation.
For a lot of folks in the trades, lugging around a generator is just a fact of life. But Ford is looking to change that with this new F-150 with a new feature called Pro Power Onboard. This is essentially a generator that is integrated into the truck.
You’ll be able to access power through outlets both in the cabin and up to four 120-volt 20-amp outlets in the bed.
If you opt for the PowerBoost hybrid V6 engine Pro Power comes standard in a 2.4 kW configuration. In one example Ford gives, 2.4kW is enough for an 8-inch compound miter saw, a ½ horsepower air compressor and a battery charger to be plugged in and running at the same time.
In another example, they say it’s enough for a jackhammer and a compact concrete mixer.
And if you want more available power, you can upgrade Pro Power to a 7.2kW configuration. That’s enough to power a whole crew’s worth of hand power tools. In one example, Ford says the 7.2kW is enough to power a 120V plasma cutter, a 120V TiG welder, a chop saw, a 1.5 hp air compressor, an angle grinder and a work light at the same time. The 7.2kW configuration also lets you install a 240V 30-amp outlet in the bed.
On the 2.4kW version of Pro Power, you’ll be able to run connected tools for up to 85 hours on a full tank of gas. On the 7.2kW version run time is 32 hours on a full tank. Both of these configurations are only available on the PowerBoost hybrid.
Even if you don’t want the PowerBoost hybrid engine, Ford will still let you equip either the 2.7L EcoBoost, the 5L V8 or the 3.5L EcoBoost with Pro Power. However, with those engines, the feature is limited to 2kW, which is still enough to power your gameday tailgate or tools for one-man or smaller crews.
While we’re on the subject of tools and working from the tailgate, this is a good time to mention a couple new tailgate and bed-focused features on the new F-150.
Ford says the entire 2021 lineup will feature new cleats mounted to the sides of the tailgate to act as tie-down locations for extra long items in the bed. Plus, new clamp pockets have been built into the tailgate of every truck for holding down materials.
You’ll also be able to opt for a new Tailgate Work Surface that adds little touches like integrated rulers, a tablet holder, cupholder and pencil holder—all kinds of holders—to the surface of the tailgate.
There’s several changes and a couple of really interesting new interior features on the 2021 F-150 so let’s turn our attention to the inside of this truck which Ford says it has completely redesigned.
The most apparent new feature is the new 12-inch center display with an all new version of Ford’s Sync operating system, Sync 4. Beyond just being larger than past screens—and the 8-inch display that comes standard on this truck—the 12-inch display also features split-screen capability for using multiple apps at once. Among the new Sync 4 features is one that I’m personally excited about and that is the ability to connect to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly. Goodbye lighting cable!
You’ll also be able to spec the new truck out with a slick new 12-inch digital gauge cluster that essentially replaces the entire space in front of the steering wheel with a screen. Ford has even worked up a set of graphics and animations that correspond to driving modes, off-road data and turn by turn navigation.
Another new feature to this interior is something Ford is calling the Work Surface, essentially a new design for the center console that turns your truck into a better mobile office. Available on the XL through Limited trims, it allows the center console to fold completely flat for working on a laptop or signing documents. They’ve even designed a new console shifter that folds and stows away for this feature.
There’s also good news for those who sleep in their truck. And maybe some inspiration for others to start sleeping in their truck? That’s the new Max Recline Seats.
Ford says this new seat design folds all the way flat, nearly 180 degrees. But it’s not just a simple recliner. It actually involves a bit of seat origami to achieve because the bottom cushion of the seat actually rises up to meet the back cushion to form that neatly flat surface. Plus, you can even rotate the upper back rest for dialing in an even more comfortable nap.
You can see these seats in action in the video above.
Other interior features include lockable, fold-flat rear storage—this is essentially a vault that extends the width of the rear seats—and optional Zone Lighting for turning on and off individual sections of exterior lights.
Tech and connectivity
We’ll wrap things up on the tech side of things. Maybe one of the most anticipated tech updates Ford is bringing to this truck is over the air updates, making it the first full-size pickups to have that feature standard. Ford says these are bumper-to-bumper updates and most of them will install in under two minutes. Ford is allowing customers to schedule updates that will take more time for later in the day.
The 2021 F-150 also features Ford’s Co-Pilot360 2.0 suite of driver assist features. This update brings more standard driver assist features to the XL trim including a rearview camera with dynamic hitch connection assistance, auto high-beams and auto headlamp activation, as well as Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection.
But the biggest new driver assist feature is hands-free driving. Ford calls this feature Active Drive Assist. Ford says the feature has been tested on 100,000 miles of divided highways across all 50 U.S. states and Canada.
And it actually is hands-free driving, though there are some safety requirements. First, before you can use the feature a camera in front of you will make sure your’re actually paying attention and looking at the road. Ford says the camera tracks head position and eye gaze. Once the system is satisfied that you’re not planning on taking a nap in those sweet, sweet Max Recline seats, you can remove your hands from the wheel and it will steer for you.
Another new driver assist feature for the F-150 is Intersection Assist, which detects oncoming traffic during a left turn.