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The Ford F-150 is the undisputed best-selling pickup truck in America. So, the arrival of an all-new 2021 F-150 is a big deal. Kelley Blue Book’s Micah Muzio got an early peek at the new 2021 Ford F-150 and shares his thoughts in this first look review.
Every body panel has been changed resulting in a fresh yet very familiar look but the biggest news is under the hood.
The F-150 has always offered a range of engine and transmission choices but for 2021 they’ve added something interesting. Alright, here’s the engine roll call. There’s a 3.3L V6, a 2.7L EcoBoost V6, a 5.0L naturally-aspirated V8, a 3.5L EcoBoost V6, a 3.0L V6 diesel, and…wait for it…a 3.5L PowerBoost Full Hybrid V6, which is basically a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 matched to a 47-horsepower electric motor integrated into the 10-transmission automatic transmission that comes standard across the board.
And before you ask, no Ford hasn’t revealed power or fuel economy figures for any of the engines, though Ford says they’ve targeted the PowerBoost hybrid to deliver the most horsepower and torque of any light-duty full-size pickup, and it’ll tow at least 12,000 pounds. Cool.
I can also tell you that, the hybrid’s 1.5 kWh lithium ion battery pack sits beneath the truck, so cargo and interior space are unaffected. Speaking of electricity, the Pro Power Onboard option lets you use the F-150’s engine instead of a generator to charge tools, electric bikes, coolers …you know, stuff that needs electricity.
Pro Power Onboard is optional with a 2 kw output on certain gasoline engines with charging handled via in-cab or up to 4 bed-mounted 120-volt outlets. The hybrid includes a standard 2.4 kw output but there’s also 7.2 kw output option that adds a 240-volt 30-amp outlet.
Like the exterior, the interior has been completely overhauled. The materials have been updated, there is a newly standard dual glove box, a new work surface option creates a hard open space between the front seats, and new max recline front seats power back into nearly flat positions for in-cab naps. For internal storage there’s now an optional lockable vault under the rear seats. The SuperDuty has something similar that I was able to easily slide a hand through even when locked. Let’s see how this one does.
In the bed there are now clamp pockets for…clamping things, tailgate cleats for tying down extra-long items, and there’s an optional Tailgate Work Surface that includes a cupholder, pencil holder, phone holder, and a large flat surface with integrated rulers.
On the infotainment front, Sync 4 comes standard on a base 8-inch screen or a 12-inch screen in the XLT or higher trims. Oh, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. Ford has also made over-the-air updates a standard feature, dangling the possibility of new features or performance improvements over the life if the vehicle.
To the basic equipment roster buyers can add a litany of options that include 11 grille options, Intersection Assist, which helps keep you from turning left into approaching traffic, an automatic parking system that automatically handles steering, braking, and the transmission, Ford’s nifty Pro Trailer Backup Assist technolgoy, and a new feature for the FordPass app called trailer theft alert.
From a safety perspective, even the basic XL trim now includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection but for extra-classy levels of driver assistance Ford has created Active Drive Assist. It’s basically like Cadillac’s SuperCruise, letting you take your hands off the wheel along pre-mapped freeways, of which there are 100k miles. Heads up, the system includes a camera to make sure the driver’s attention is on the road ahead. Sorry, you’ll have to write the great American novel while parked.
And if you’ve ever wished for a Tesla-like rollout of driver assist tech for a large pickup truck then you are going to love Active Drive Assist twice as hard. Because you’ll need to pay for the Active Drive Assist prep kit which contains the necessary hardware…and then in the 3rd quarter of 2021 the software to make that hardware work will arrive as an over-the-air update for an additional fee.
The full-size pickup segment just keeps on evolving. Based on this, Ford looks well positioned to take on RAM and Silverado. Prices haven’t been revealed but the 2021 F-150 arrives in dealers in the fall of 2020.