RADICAL RENEWABLE CHANGE: Five years ago there was a revolution in American automaking. For the first time a light truck maker boldly bodied its best selling half-ton pickup truck in weight shaving recyclable aircraft strength aluminum alloy. Though initially met with skepticism, Ford’s F-Series “Built Ford Tough” reputation has since withstood the competition’s soda pop can wisecracks.
BLUE OVAL UNFURLS GREEN SLEEVES: These days the same competition “talks” about an approaching battery or fuel cell electric pickup propulsion future. Yet, once again, Ford is the first to put its money on a gas battery electric hybrid powertrain present. Time for Roadblazing.com editors to climb aboard a re-revolutionary, greener all new 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost 4×4.
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WHAT: 2021 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab XLT PowerBoost 4×4. The fourteenth iteration of America’s best selling vehicle for the past 40 years remains aluminum bodied on a revised steel full boxed in frame. While carrying over its predecessor’s box and cabin frames the 2021 F-150 hosts 92% new components. The DOHC 3.3L, 2.7 and 3.5 turbo ecoboost V-6 and 5.0L V-8 engines carry over with minor refinements while the 10-speed joint GM-Ford developed 10-speed automatic is the sole transmission.
Optional Hybrid Powertrain: intercooled twin-turbocharged 3.5L DOHC 24V DI gas V-6 w/ idle Start/ Stop = 400 hp / 500 lb-ft @3100 rpm + 10-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle + 2-speed part time electronic transfer case 4-wheel drive to an open front & E-limited slip rear differentials.
Supplemented By: 2 x 450 V AC synchronous pole permanent magnet electric motors, located between engine and transmission; MG 2 = 47 hp (35 kW), 221 lb-ft, 1.5 kWh Lithium Ion battery (beneath cargo bed).
NET Hybrid Power Rating = 430 hp / 570 lb-ft @3000 rpm
- = +10 hp, +110 lb-ft vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L OHV V-8;
- = +35 hp, +160 lb-ft; vs. RAM 1500 5.7L OHV V-8 eTorque
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The new 2021 F-150 XLT‘s wide octagonal grille outline and more prominent dual tandem center horizontal bars commenced with the 2018 mid-cycle refresh of its predecessor. However those prominent center bars are now darkened rather than body color matched and are distanced with prominent risers. The headlight assemblies go from swept back grille bar encapsulating “F” shape to vertical boomerang DRL fangs outlining new quad segmented LEDs. The center hood power dome area is boxier, less sloped, with the upper lower front fascia now body colored matched with slimmer upper corner fog light mounts. Lower door cheatline folds are more acutely flared. Fenders are adorned with forward angled dark boomerang accents bearing model designations.
WHY: First full sized pickup truck to make hybrid electrification more than mild.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Spring 2020
WHERE: Ford new consumer truck dealers
WHERE MADE: Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.A.
WHERE TO: High four-wheel drive on the fly is but a twist of the electronic two-speed helical gear transfer case selector knob. Where improved roadway ends, the air-suspension provides about an inch greater wheel articulation while light truck knobby Goodyears grab the dirt.
- +1 Drive modes x 8; ♦ Normal, ♦ Eco,♦ Sport, ♦ Slippery, ♦ Deep Snow/Sand, ♦ Mud/Ruts, ♦ Tow/Haul, ♦ Rock Crawl
HOW STRONG: The PowerBoost powerplant option makes the new F-150 about the fleetest footed full on work duty half-ton pickup that can be had, off-road motorsport models excluded. Two hundred AC electric of the total available 570 lb-ft net hybrid twist are on top at a mere couple hundred rpm. That more than makes up for the extra battery electric motor mass aboard. Off the line snap is devoid of even the F-150 Raptor 3.5T Ecoboost‘s lag. Programming of the Ford-GM 10-speed automatic sometimes blurs the shifts, tending to stay in the fuel saving high gear even at neighborhood speeds, but can readily stand to attention for quick 3 gear drops when the accelerator is pushed hard. Low engine load will automatically trigger pure electric mode.
HOW LIMBER: Prior Roadblazing.com experience with the then newly aluminum paneled 2016 F-150 demonstrated how a lighter body upon a stiff boxed steel frame made for more accurate motion control. The Powerboost option on the 2021 F-150 lowers the center of gravity further with the battery pack beneath the forward bed floor. Sticking by traditional rear leaf springs the latest F-series limits lean and roll better than similarly sprung GM twins, but trails the rear coil lifted RAM in hop free ride compliance. Ford’s calibration of steering rotation remains languid compared to the standard served up by Silverado / Sierra, while the four-wheel brake rotors benefit from a linear, if short traveling, pedal.
HOW FAR: 19 mpg combined fuel economy = 21% less than EPA estimates due to cold weather; 624 miles highway range with standard 26 gallon tank.
- EPA fuel economy = + 50% vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L OHV V-8 ; = + 41%. RAM 1500 5.7L OHV V-8 eTorque
- observed combined fuel economy = + 19% vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L OHV V-8 ; = + 12%. RAM 1500 5.7L OHV V-8 eTorque
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ Almost as large as boats it will tow; √ Holds five big grown-ups wearing their Carharrt and steel toed Timberlands;
HOW USEFUL: √ Power sliding backlight window; √ Box Link J-Channel sliding cleats; √ Crinkle finish sprayed-in bed liner; √ Wide full cab length running boards; √ Folding extendable tow, lower convex wing mirrors; √ Easy action tailgate hinges; √ White LED overhead bed & under-rail lights ; √ 60:40 split 2nd Row bench w/ fold-up cushions, fold-down backs; √ 2nd Row sub-bench storage locker; √ 1st Row full fore center console deep storage management & saddle pockets; √ 1st & 2nd Row door pocket management. OPTIONAL: ♦ Locking bed cargo divider
+1 Available & Especially Useful:
- Pro Power OnBoard, 240 V / 110 V AC 7200 watt bed power supply = 240 V AC, 30 Amp x 1 , 120 V AC, 20 Amp x 2
- Extending tail gate step
- Ford F-150 SuperCrew XLT PowerBoost 4×4: √ Tow Rating (at tongue) = 12,400 lbs. (3.73:1 rear axle ratio, Max towing pkg.) ; √ Payload Rating = 1830 lbs.
- towing = + 500 lbs. vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L OHV V-8 ; = + 1110 lbs.; vs. RAM 1500 5.7L OHV V-8
- payload = – 290 lbs. vs. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L OHV V-8 ; = -10 lbs.; vs. RAM 1500 5.7L OHV V-8
HOW SAFE: IIHS 2021 MY Top Safety Pick; STANDARD: √ 10 airbags; √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Audible rear park assist; √ Roll mitigation; √ MyKey restrictive access; Ford Co-Pilot360: √ Blind Spot, rear cross traffic Warning; √ Post collision S.O.S. alert; Lane Departure Warning & Steer Prevention; √ Forward collision, pedestrian detection warning w/ avoidance braking; √ 2nd Row occupant minder; -1 Dim headlights
AVAILABLE Safety Features (included in test vehicle):
- Surround View camera w/ sonar proximity warning
- Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist Plus: Full adaptive cruise control; Emergency evasive steering, Lane center steering.
- Active Park Assist: -1 perpendicular parking struggled.
- Automatic high beam headlamps, rain sensing interval wipers
HOW FRIENDLY: As a completely redesigned model the 2021 F-150 has had a year to match or better the new standard for pickup truck cabins, the RAM 1500. This latest F-150 has cohesive modernized conveniences and work doo-dads covered. Embossed American Flag on either dash board end cap fulfill the “easter eggs,” quota. A glossy new MyFord Sync 4.0 infotaiment with streamlined user interface comes aboard along with a modern steering wheel with switches reduced in number and fully integrated into the horizontal spokes. Yet after time spent inside the latest RAM 1500 or even Ford’s own last sampled 2018 Expedition it’s increasingly difficult not to take issue with some of the coarse materials and fit gaps or the thin leathers and industrial switches in the latest F-Series.
√ Ballistic cloth seats, heated front, driver: 8-way power w/ 2 setting memory, front pax: 4-way power; √ Power folding side mirrors; √ 4 Pillar grab handles; √ Dual analog gauge cluster flanking colorized multi-function LCD display; √ Heated power tilt/ telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel w/ horizontal spoke ventral side MFI & driver assist controls & dorsal side audio switches; √ Power adjusting pedals; √ 2-zone auto climate control; √ Tandem contrast stitched soft-touch upper dash-top & door elbow panels; √ Panorama moonroof, power sliding front pane.
+1 Cool Gizmo(s): Power folding center console transmission shift lever w/ fold-out laptop accommodating flat interior work surface;
- +1 Little road noise in cabin
- +1 Power fold-away traditional center console shifter lever
- +1 Work related controls work glove handed operational
- -1 Hard dark large grain plastics dominate below the belt
- -1 Industrial looking and feeling switchgear
- -1 Some interior rattles, some wind noise at speed
HOW CONNECTED: √ MyFord Sync4 center dash embedded 12.0″-inch landscape oriented, capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen; √ Bluetooth & voice command hands-free communications; √ GPS HDD Navigation w/ 3-D map, voice guidance; √ SMS messaging; √ USB-A x 4, USB-C x 4, 12V x 2 (dashtop, cargo), 115V AC x 2 (1st, 2nd Rows)
- +1 New Sync4 infotainment user interface = sharper resolution, simplified menus, horizontal & vertical swiping dual panes
- -1 Non-concealed forward center console wireless device storage
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection; √ 14-speaker, 980 watt B&O Play audio shrills the highs; √ MyFord Sync4 Apps
- +1 Extensive MyFord Sync4 voice commands for climate, audio, voice to text SMS and navigation inputs
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM Traffic, Metro Weather radio & TravelLink apps (5 yrs. included); √ Wi-Fi hot spot (by Verizon Wireless)
HOW MUCH: $65,256 for a 2021 Ford F-150 SuperCrew XLT PowerBoost 4×4 Hybrid
WHAT’S MISSING: The fit and finish of that Ford is capable of and the RAM 1500 possesses.
ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Silverado 6.2L: +1 steering accuracy; RAM 1500 5.7 eTorque: +1 cabin worthy of a three pointed star.
FINAL SAY-SO: First to market full size battery electric hybrid pickup happens to be first to market pickup that can power a home.
(Contributing Editor: T. Paluch)