2021 Ford F-150 Revealed: A Smarter, Stronger Half-Ton Truck
The fourteenth generation of America’s best-selling vehicle is new from the ground up—and it’s got the tech tricks to prove it.
It's here. The next generation of America's best-selling vehicle, the 2021 Ford F-150, has been officially unveiled—and though it might look pretty similar to the 2020 truck, there's a ton of new technology and capabilities packed under that aluminum skin. We already knew that the newest half-ton truck would be more capable than its predecessor, but the Blue Oval focused on more than just payload and towing capacity.
While those are key areas for the F-150, without a doubt, the real news comes with how said performance is delivered to and maximized by the driver. Think of innovative tools that have never been available on a pickup before, top-tier gadgets that wouldn't look out of place in a foreign luxury car.
And finally, think of an hybrid powertrain that provides more grunt than any other truck in its segment. If you've been watching the livestream reveal, you can continue to do so below, and keep reading for all the details. This is everything you need to know about the 2021 F-150.
With this being a new generation, the 2021 model year F-150 is freshly redesigned with even more truck-ish attributes in mind. Its front fascia is bolder than in years prior thanks to its angular signature brows that feature LED lighting in higher trims. Each headlight's main element is bisected by a horizontal line with projectors below and atop it and, unlike the outgoing generation, the grille doesn't protrude into the headlamp design.
Speaking of the grille—there are 11 different design options that vary from trim to trim. It doesn't get much more customizable than that, at least on pickups.
The F-150's beltline has been tucked in while the wheels have been pulled out three-quarters of an inch, giving a stance that's wider and, inherently, more aggressive. This is compounded by tires that are larger in diameter than previous generations. In case you were curious, this isn't the year that trucks start shrinking.
These design updates carry on to the interior where a swath of noticeable reworking has taken place. An 8.0-inch infotainment screen is standard—so long, tiny 4.2-inch—as is Ford's new SYNC4 operating system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Customers who want an even bigger screen can tick the box for a 12.0-inch display that's actually standard on high-level XLT series and up, which nicely complements the digital dashboard that's capable of showing essentially any info you can dream of.
As we spotted back in April, the F-150—like its Ram counterpart—has gone all-in on screens, though it has retained a host of physical buttons as well. Alas, not all is lost.
There are plenty of interior features that stand out on the 2021 F-150, all of which are geared to make the cabin an even more livable and, of course, workable space. The stowaway shifter we spotted earlier in the year has indeed reached production, allowing for the center console to fold out and create a totally flat work surface. If you're having a hard time picturing it, imagine a mobile desk that easily accommodates a laptop, clipboard, or blueprint.
Or, it can act as a nightstand for King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited models spec'd with the new Max Recline Seats that lean back nearly 180 degrees—they're adjustable sleeper seats, in other words.
Leading the charge for the F-150's 14th generation is the PowerBoost hybrid variant that's available from the bottom of the half-ton lineup all the way to the top. It utilizes the familiar 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine, albeit with a 35-kilowatt electric motor that conjures up an additional 47 horsepower.
There's no plug-in option available as Ford will skip that step in favor of a fully electric F-150 in due time; instead, the PowerBoost utilizes regenerative braking to recover power to its 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The electric power source is nestled in between the frame rails and beneath the load floor so as to not compromise in-cabin space.
Ford hasn't announced performance specs for the 2021 F-150 PowerBoost, though it claims to target at least 12,000 pounds of towing capacity with best-in-class horsepower and torque. For reference, the non-hybrid 3.5-liter EcoBoost currently makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque in its standard form.
The PowerBoost model is also projected to travel 700 miles on a single tank of fuel, totaling approximately 23 mpg combined given the tank's 30.6-gallon capacity.
The familiar EcoBoost options will also be available with the 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter turbo V6s returning for the next generation. Also sticking around is the 5.0-liter V8, with the 3.0-liter PowerStroke diesel V6 rounding out the list of optional engines. XL-trim F-150s will come standard with a naturally aspirated, 3.3-liter V6 while each power plant is paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Work Tech
Productivity is at the forefront of the F-150's ethos, and that's clear in virtually every facet. The truck's SYNC4 operating system is capable of over-the-air (OTA) updates that can be performed when it's most convenient for the driver, keeping navigation data current and even adding new features without ever visiting a dealer. Likewise, the infotainment display can monitor everything on the truck from towing intel to individual zone lighting controls and more. Perhaps the niftiest functionality of the center stack screen is its ability to keep tabs on the Pro Power Onboard generator.
The previously rumored piece of work equipment comes in three tiers of power: 2.0-kilowatt for optional gas engines, 2.4-kilowatt as standard on PowerBoost hybrid models and a 7.2-kilowatt system that's exclusively available on PowerBoost F-150s. In its most modest form, the Pro Power Onboard system can host the perfect tailgate setup with enough juice for an electric heater, TV, portable speakers, mini-fridge, and a blender. The most powerful version, on the other hand, can supply enough electricity for a 120-volt plasma cutter, 120V TiG welder, chop saw, 1.5-hp air compressor, angle grinder, and a work light all at the same time.
Owners can simply plug into the provided 120V outlets situated at the back of the bed, where you'll also find the all-new tailgate workbench. It hosts an assortment of features like tie-down locations, C-clamp pockets, and an available flat Tailgate Work Surface with rulers, a mobile device holder, pencil holder and cupholder.
The Safety Features
Last but not least, the 2021 F-150 will allegedly be the safest F-Series ever with 10 new driver-assist features. There's more tech baked into every model available, as the base XL receives Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection, rearview camera with dynamic hitch assist, auto high-beam headlights and auto on/off headlights.
Higher trims, meanwhile, can be optioned with Active Driver Assist—a feature that enables hands-free driving on over 100,000 miles of roads throughout the United States and Canada. The F-150 is the only truck on the market to offer such a package, and it utilizes driver-facing cameras to monitor head position and eye gaze, ensuring that whoever's behind the wheel keeps their attention on the road ahead.
Active Driver Assist will be available in the summer of 2021, though trucks bought before then can receive an OTA update that installs the tech via the internet.
The Bottom Line
Ford has yet to announce pricing for the 2021 F-150, and it's anyone's guess how much the take-home cost will swell for the new generation. Expect an uptick across the board regardless, with the top trims commanding an even more astronomical dollar amount than the outgoing models. This might be the first time we see an $80,000 half-ton pickup from the factory, but only time will tell if the new F-150 Limited reaches that new territory.
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