The newest version of the best-selling vehicle in the country, the 2021 Ford F-150, gets new tech, new trim, and whole lot of practicality.
It may not be as exciting as the reimagining of the Corvette or the return of a classic like the Bronco, but the unveiling of the 14th-generation of the best-selling vehicle going back over 40 years is still a big deal. The new 2021 Ford F-150 builds on its already dominant position atop the US automotive market with a mixture of new tricks and tired-and-true competence. Let’s dive in to all that’s bright and shiny on the new 2021 F-150.
As with any generational update, the F-150 got some updates to its exterior. The F-150 largely sticks to what made the 13th-gen successful, though there are some notable changes. First, you’ll be able to choose from 11 different grille styles. If that sounds like a recipe for choice overload, remember, there are going to be a lot of F-150s out there on the road, and Ford is just trying to lend us all a hand in standing out from the crowd.
The F-150’s architecture remains unchanged with a steel frame and aluminum body. There will be 6 different trims to choose from and 6 powertrain options as well, including a brand new one for 2021.
Most of the powertrain offerings remain largely unchanged from the last generation. Ford has yet to confirm exact numbers, but here’s what’s returning: the base 3.3L naturally-aspirated V6, the 2.7L EcoBoost V6, the 5.0L NA V8, and the 3.0L PowerStroke diesel. Options for the two 3.5L EcoBoost V6s has been reduced to the smaller output version, with the higher output Raptor version going conspicuously unmentioned. Given the RAM Rebel TRX is getting a Hellcat engine, you’d have to assume Ford will also be upping the ante in the “crazy” truck contest.
Most notable is the new Powerboost hybrid option for the F-150. This will pair a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 with a 35kW electric motor. Ford hasn’t released final numbers on this or any of the other powertrains. However, Ford does claim the hybrid F-150 will be class leading in horsepower and torque and have a towing capacity somewhere around 12,000lbs. Additionally, they claim this hybrid system will allow the F-150 to have a range topping 700 miles on a single tank of fuel. As we’ll see, this isn’t the only feature designed to make the F-150 a serious cross-country hauler.
The new F-150 may have stuck to its roots with a modest styling update, but there are plenty of new tech features that indicate Ford isn’t resting on its collective laurels. And really, what would a new semi-luxury pickup truck be without all sorts of new electronic bells and whistles? The first thing you’ll notice when getting into the 2021 F-150 is the infotainment screen. In the arms race for the biggest screen, the new 12-inch screen (available on the XLT trim and up) is a serious shot across the bow. Even with all that screen, Ford was still wise enough to keep physical buttons where you want them. The infotainment system shares the new SYNC 4 system with the upcoming Mustang Mach E, screen resolution is excellent, and features Amazon Alexa in addition to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.
The F-150 will receive over-the-air software updates, like the Mach E, and also like the Mach E, one of those software updates will be a semi-autonomous hands-free driving mode (scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2021). We expect this mode to be similar to GM’s SuperCruise and best suited for those highway long hauls.
Ford knows their key demos, and a lot of those folks will be buying the 2021 F-150 as a work truck. This is why some of the most innovative features on the new F-150 are geared to increased practicality. Here’s a quick rundown.
Ford is betting that substance over style is the key to success, with the minor cosmetic updates and big swings on functional improvements. The RAM might be a little more luxurious and the GM’s trucks might have trick tailgates, but the F-150 looks to hold on to its crown as the undisputed champ by simply being a more powerful, practical, and efficient truck. We can’t wait for a test drive.