The 2021 Ford F-150 is perhaps the most important new vehicle to debut in 2020. And from some angles, the new truck looks erringly similar to the outgoing model, which is not exactly a bad thing. True to form, the F-150 is still competing with Ram and GM for class-leading capability and bragging rights. Ford is hoping to edge out the competition with a host of new and innovative features for the 2021 F-150.
“We see it as our duty to deliver not just what our customers want and need, but what they might have never thought possible,” said Craig Schmatz, Ford F-150 Chief Engineer. “The F-150 will be tougher than ever, and with fully connected over-the-air updates, it opens up a much wider range of potential enhancements – from predictive maintenance to feature upgrades.”
Ford sold approximately 900,000 F-Series pickup trucks last year, which generated close to $42 billion in revenue, accounting for almost 30 percent of Ford’s total revenue for 2019. From another perspective, the F-150 ranks among the biggest consumer products in the U.S. and is larger than Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Starbucks combined.
“The F-150 is our flagship, it’s 100 percent assembled in America,” said Jim Farley, Ford Chief Operating Officer. “And we hold ourselves to the highest standard to make sure our customers can get the job done and continue to make a difference in their communities.”
2021 Ford F-150: What’s New?
This summer, the 2021 Ford F-150 will have optional onboard scales to take the guesswork out of measuring the payload in the truck. It’s a nifty feature that displays loading information in the center-mounted infotainment touchscreen display. Additionally, you can view the loading info on your mobile phone or tablet using the FordPass app or by viewing the unique graphics from the truck’s smart taillamps. Cool, right?
Also new for the 2021 Ford F-150 is an available Smart Hitch system that automatically measures the tongue weight of a trailer. This feature allows for easier trailer loading while helping to distribute the trailer weight correctly. As usual, all the info is accessible on the touchscreen, smartphone, or via the uber-cool smart taillights.
Finally, the new F-150 has optional active suspension to reduce pitch, bounce, and roll while improving the overall ride quality, whether loaded with gear, towing, or driving the truck home after a hard day’s work. The suspension will also soften or stiffen up depending on the chosen drive mode.
2021 Ford F-150: Aerodynamics & Styling
The 2021 Ford F-150 is not an all-new model, and this explains its familiar body lines and distinctive silhouette. But then again, Ford claims the new F-150 is the most aerodynamic F-Series to hit the market. It now has active grille shutters and a new active air dam under the front bumper to regulate airflow. Under the military-grade, aluminum alloy skin is a fully-boxed steel frame.
Meanwhile, Ford dropped the shoulder line, resculpted the power dome hood, tucked in the rear doors, raised the front fenders, and bumped out the wheels by three-quarters of an inch (3/4) to give the truck a more purposeful and planted stance.
You’ll also find a new front grille (available in 11 different configurations), new headlights, and an awesome-looking set of C-shaped daytime running lights that now extend downwards to the fog lights. It not only gives the F-150 a modern aura, but the new lighting signature gives the impression of a taller and meaner truck.
2021 Ford F-150. Photo: Ford Motor Company.
Ford took the ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’ approach in penning the 2021 F-150, but still focused on little things that really matter in the daily grind. The new truck has larger indentations on the door handles to accommodate bigger hands and thicker gloves. Also available are power-operated running boards on each side, which makes it easier to access the bed from either side of the truck.
While we’re talking about the bed, the tailgate has built-in cleats to serve as tie-down points when carrying longer items. Ford is offering an optional Tailgate Work Surface package that throws in a flat bench with cupholders, penholders, rulers, and a smartphone holder. Working in the dark? No problem. The new F-150 has bed lights that are powerful enough to illuminate your tailgate office. Choose the optional Zone Lighting package, and you can control the exterior lights using the FordPass app.
The most intriguing feature in the new F-150’s bed is the Pro Power Onboard generator. According to Ford, the feature offers enough energy to run 28 average refrigerators or power tools for the entire job site.
Ford is competing with GMC’s CarbonPro bed and MultiPro tailgate and Chevy’s Durabed. At this point in the bed wars, the 2021 F-150 offers more functionality, but truck buyers will likely debate which bed is more durable. Ford stays with aluminum for 2021 (which didn’t hold up well in GM-run drop tests), while GMC provides a carbon fiber option, and Chevy uses higher grades of steel (500 megapascals) for the Durabed.
PowerBoost Hybrid V6
At least for us, the biggest news about the 2021 Ford F-150 is the availability of a hybrid V6 powertrain. While Ram offers a mild hybrid feature (eTorque), the 2021 F-150 will have a full hybrid option. This F-150 variant is motivated by Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a 35 kW electric motor (47 horsepower) integrated into the modular hybrid 10-speed automatic. Electrical power is courtesy of a compact 1.5-kWh lithium-ion and liquid-cooled battery sandwiched between the frame rails.
Related: This new chart details each engine for the 2021 Ford F-150.
Standard models of the new F-150 receive a familiar lineup of gasoline and diesel mills. Base models receive a 3.3-liter V6, but Ford’s 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 are available. The 2021 F-150 is also available with a 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel along with the iconic 5.0-liter V8. All engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive. Of course, you can choose an all-wheel 4×4 drivetrain with either an electronic locking differential or an open differential rear axle.
Ford has yet to reveal any power or fuel economy figures, but claims the F-150 hybrid has a 12,000 lbs. max towing capacity (when properly equipped) while achieving 700 miles of range on a full tank of petrol.
2021 Ford F-150 3.5-liter PowerBoost graphic courtesy of Ford Motor Company.
Innovative Cabin Equipment
Also new in the 2021 Ford F-150 is a reconfigured dashboard and cabin design. The most noticeable change is a larger eight-inch touchscreen in the XL and XLT, while the Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited receive a massive 12-inch touchscreen display powered by Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system. It’s a similar electronic architecture underpinning the new Mustang Mach-E. It comes standard with over-the-air updates, natural language recognition, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
Tunes for the drive are courtesy of a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system while the F-150 Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum receive a more powerful 12-speaker B&O Unleashed audio package.
In terms of cabin storage, the new F-150 has more cubby holes on the door panels and center console. You’ll also find a new dual glovebox and a flat load floor with a large lockable bin under the rear seats. And if you want to use a laptop, Ford’s Interior Work Surface includes a fold-out table in the center console along with a unique folding gearshift lever.
Sleeping On The Job!?
What really struck a chord is the Max Recline Seat option! This new feature allows the front driver and passenger to enjoy some nappy time in the new F-150. The seats can recline a full 180 degrees while the shoulder panel and seat base lifts and tilts up to 10 degrees to offer the ideal sleeping position.
Time for a catnap. Max Recline Seats are available on King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited. Photo: Ford Motor Company.
Ford Active Drive Assist
The 2021 Ford F-150 is brimming with new safety technology. Standard across the board is Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 2.0, which includes automatic emergency braking, pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection, auto on/off headlights, and a reverse camera. Intersection Assist and Active Park Assist 2.0 are also on offer.
More interesting is Active Drive Assist, which provides hands-off driver assistance. According to Ford, the system is usable on 100,000 miles of compatible highways across the U.S. and Canada, which sounds similar to Cadillac’s Super Cruise feature. Ford says Active Drive Assist provides a genuine hands-off driving experience as the system holds the truck in its proper lane while keeping pace with surrounding traffic.
Active Drive Assist is optional on the Mustang Mach-E, and Ford says the feature will be activated on the new F-150 via an over-the-air update next summer.
2021 Ford F-150 interior layout. Photo: Ford Motor Company.
2021 Ford F-150: Pricing & Availability
The 2021 Ford F-150 will arrive this fall. Ford’s latest F-Series is available in Regular Cab, Super Cab, and Super Crew body styles with either a 5.5-foot, 6.5-foot, or eight-foot bed.
Pricing information is forthcoming, but we’re expecting prices to start at $30,000 for the base XL and upwards of $72,000 for the Limited trim. All 2021 F-150s will be built in Dearborn, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.