On the surface, the 2021 Ford F-150 does not look like there’s much redesign that’s going on. You cannot see the clearest sign of a redesign which is often a widely revised exterior. The designers took on a different route–the same path that Porsche 911 took. According to Ford, the 2021 F-150 is the safest, most powerful and most advanced pickup the automaker has ever built, boasting a rich number of options and features never offered before.
Ford applied evolutionary tweaks on the outside of the 2021 F-150 while making immense changes on the inside. One of which is a hybrid powertrain with up to 700 miles of range, and so much more like a redesigned infotainment suite, an available onboard generator that has the capacity to power everything even a full-tilt construction site, smarter towing systems, an advanced hands-free driver assist, nifty zone lighting, a sleeper eater, a desk and a revised interior design. That’s on top of everything that made the F-150 so popular. Read on to learn more about the 2021 F-150.
SO WHAT’S NEW?
The major addition for 2021 is the F-150’s very first gas-electric powertrain and Ford expects 10 percent of its new trucks to have. It is branded PowerBoost. The hybrid powertrain pairs a twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V6 with a 35-kW electric motor and a 1.5-kWh lithium ion battery. Since the battery is small, it also has limited all-electric range. But the new PowerBoost hybrid should be the most potent F-150 out there by a handy margin. You can expect it to be a decent tow tool as Ford promises that it has a 12,000 pound capacity.
However, there are some reservations with this engine as it uses a similar design (electric motor integrated into the transmission) to the Ford Explorer Hybrid and Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring and it is found to be lacking in terms of level of refinement. What typically happens is the vehicle is uncertain whether to use its electric motor or gas engine, which result in unpleasant behavior, such as sudden surges of acceleration. The new F-150’s hybrid system is expected to solve this issue with a revised transmission and additional calibration work on the part of Ford’s engineers.
Along with PowerBoost is Ford’s new Pro Power Onboard generator. Basically, owners can use their vehicle to power different electrical appliances via plugs in the bed. The generator is available with up to 2.0 kilowatt of electrical capacity on gas-only F-150s, while a 2.4 kW capacity is standard for a F-150 Hybrid and there’s also an optional 7.2-kW capacity. The two standard setups have twin 120-volt outlets, whereas the 7.2-kW arrangement has four 120-volt plugs plus a single 240-volt outlet.
The least potent setup could still do well at a tailgate. Ford claims the 2.0-kW Pro Power Onboard system can power an electric heater, portable speakers, TV, blender and a mini-fridge at the same time. The most powerful setup which is the 7.2-kW can power all the tools a construction might use to frame a house.
A fully lit box and a tailgate packed with a bunch of tricks join the Pro Power Onboard system in the bed. This Tailgate Work Surface converts an open tailgate into a platform you can use to cut lumber, a stand for your phone or for making measurements.
For towing, Ford’s impressive Pro Trailer Backup Assist is making a comeback and it is now combined with a more advanced suite of cameras and towing-focused telematics. The new feature allows you to engage a camera in the CHMSL to monitor the bed and check a trailer’s lights through FordPass smartphone app or the instrument cluster.
The cabin has more functionality too. You now have the option to have the Interior Work Surface which allows you to have a desk or table where you can work or eat inside your truck. There is a simplified setup for trucks that has a bench but the captain’s chairs have the neatest system. There’s a folding gear shifter plus a clamshell center console that creates an entirely flat working surface. Then there’s the available Max Recline Seats that can fold to almost 180 degrees so you can get some sleep in your vehicle. The F-150 is definitely suitable for work and recreation.
The new Ford F-150 will also have an Active Driving Assistant which will use different sensors and a driver-facing camera to allow hands-free driving. But it’s going to be available later on which means you need to first choose a hardware package when you order your truck and then pay for an over-the-air update. Other than the Active Driving Assistant upgrade, all F-150s will have over-the-air updates for free for the entire life of the vehicle.
The most apparent refinements that the F-150 has are in the cabin which we will get into later. The new hybrid powertrain will join carryover engines: the base 3.3-liter V6, the 2.7-L and 3.5-L EcoBoost V6, a 3.0-L turbodiesel and an aspirated 5.0-L V8 engine. A 10-speed automatic transmission is paired with every powertrain from hybrid to turbo to diesel. Rear-drive comes standard, while four-wheel drive is an available option.
2021 F-150 INTERIOR
The inside of the F-150 is impressive. It has three available digital instrument clusters, two new touchscreens, and for the first time, Ford’s entire Co-Pilot 360 safety suite, is available as an option. The F-150’s interior is definitely a place you would want to be with its unique colors and patterns, a few subtle Easter eggs and new materials.
On the outside the new Ford F-150 only has subtle changes, but it is totally new on the inside. Ford highlights a unique combination of colors, patterns, and fresh materials designed to make the cabin look luxurious and modern at the same time. That upscale look is pretty apparent when you check the center stack. The 2021 F-150 comes with two new touch screens up top and each adorned with a nice silver surround. Both have user-friendly buttons and dials beneath them.
The door panels, center console and dash of the new F-150 is adorned with premium materials. You’ll get leather or soft-touch plastic which will depend on the trim you select. Leather seating comes standard on Lariat and upper trims, and there are three color palettes for that trim level, two color combos for Platinum and King Ranch trim, and one for Limited. All available leather and palette options are yet to be released, but what the public know is the Lariat Sport trim will have a unique burgundy interior finish which is all new for 2021.
Ford did not hold back in packing the new F-150 with plenty of features in its cabin. The new Ford truck has the “Max Recline” seats which is one of the most-talked about options. This feature allows you to fold the two front seats flat to almost 180 degrees. The bottom cushion rises up to meet the back cushion then the upper back support rotates forward up to 10 degrees, allowing you to have a temporary sleeper inside your truck. Another unique and new feature is the gear shift lever itself. This lever folds flat to allow space for a collapsible table dubbed as Work Surface extending out from the center console.
A few Easter eggs are also present in the new truck. This includes an American flag emblem on the outer air vent which is near each door. A new badge on the center console with VIN number can be found on the Limited model.
As already mentioned, the new truck has a ProPower Onboard generator allowing owners to power plenty of electrical appliances.
The 2021 F-150 has plenty of updates but the passenger and cargo spaces are virtually the same as previous models. The headroom, legroom, hip room, shoulder room, and cargo capacities stay unchanged from last year. The only numbers that have been upgraded is the width between wheelhouses with the 2021 model having 51.1 inches from the 50.6 inches of the 2020 model. And most of those figures remain unchanged since the F-150 really hasn’t gone larger on the outside as it is only marginally larger (or in certain cases, smaller) than the previous model.
An 8.0-inch central touchscreen and a 4.0-inch digital instrument cluster come standard to the new F-150. The 2021 standard touchscreen is now twice bigger than the one found in the 2020 model and supports the latest SYNC 4 Infotainment including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and over-the-air updates. Another standard feature is the downloadable FordPass Connect app allowing users to do the following from their smartphone: lock and unlock their vehicle, check their vehicle’s status as well as schedule remote start times.
A 12.0-inch touchscreen and the choice of two bigger digital instrument clusters (one having the size of 8.0 inches and the other having 12.3 inches) are available options. The analog gauges are entirely replaced by this digital cluster. That huge new touchscreen comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sync 4 pinch-and-zoom navigation and a 4G LTE wifi hotspot.
You can also choose between two optional speaker setups: an 8-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen with HD radio or the 18-speaker B&O Sound System with HD Radio. Both options come at extra cost.
The 2021 F-150 standard features include: a rearview camera with dynamic hitch support, forward collision warning, automatic high-beam assist and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Ford's entire Co-Pilot360 safety suite and Active Driving Assistant are available at additional cost. Co-Pilot is packed with the following features: trailer backup assist, parking assist, trailer reverse guidance, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and trailer coverage, distance alert, lane keep assist, lane centering, speed sign recognition, evasive steering assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, post-collision braking, and reverse braking assist.
The updates on the exterior may only be subtle as Ford chose to have the 2021 closely similar in terms of design with the current F-Series but in actuality most of the new truck’s body panels are new. Specifically, the hood and the flashy new doors are products of redesign. These make the truck have a more refined look. The doors, particularly, make a big difference, as they capture light very differently than the current trucks. Other subtle changes are the tweaked taillights and tweaked headlights.
Ford will be offering up to 11 different grille choices plus several wheel options across the new F-150’s six trims. Two-tone options are also available, taking more advantage of the door’s lower chamfer.
2021 F-150 TRIMS
It is yet to be revealed what standard equipment comes with each trim but here’s what we know so far:
The F-150 XL will stay as the base trim. An 8.0 inch touchscreen and a wider range of active safety equipment than the previous year model come standard with the 2021 F-150. We still do not know the engine roster across trims but for sure the Power Boost hybrid will be available on each trim. Expected Price Range: $30,000 to 36,000 (will depend on body style).
The F-150 XLT will stay its position being the volume trim. An 8.0-inch display is standard, but you have the option to have the larger 12.0-inch touchscreen. It is expected to continue to have all available powertrains as the 2020 model does. The 2021 XLT will have aesthetic updates which will differentiate it from the workman-focused XL trim. Expected Price Range: $36,000 to $41,000 (will depend on body style).
The F-150 Lariat is where more luxurious options are made available. This trim will remain the most versatile of all, having the most options for upholstery and exterior trim. Like the current Lariat, the 2021 trim will only come in SuperCab or SuperCrew body styles. Expected Price range: $43,000 to $46,000.
The F-150 King Ranch has the most grand cabin finish with every possible surface featuring cowhide. It has all the leather you would want in a truck. Expected Price: $54,000.
The F-150 Platinum is an upgrade of the Lariat focusing more on luxury and comfort. It is the trim level where the rugged look is abandoned for a smarter, more sophisticated style. It will only be available with the SuperCrew body and its 4 full-size doors just like the 2020 Platinum. Expected Price Range: $56,000 to $58,000.
The top-of-the-line, F-150 Limited, will be available with the largest cab, the SuperCrew and features all pieces of equipment Ford can offer. Expected Price Range: Not less than $69,000.