Ford rolls out class-leading hybrid powertrain for clever new F150
America's biggest-selling pickup is back for 2021 with a new update focused on practicality, comfort and power. More interestingly, the new F150's top engine option will be a PowerBoost full hybrid system, offering "best in class" power and torque, as well as 12,000-pound (5,440-kg) towing capability and a fuel range around 700 miles (1,126 km).
As "the toughest F150 ever," the 2021 model is based on a high-strength steel frame with a "military grade" aluminum alloy body. Every panel has had a modest redesign, with highlights including new headlights, a "power dome" hood, wraparound bumpers, higher front fenders and larger diameter tires pulled out 3/4 of an inch to give it a bit more presence.
The look is still very much F150; the recipe hasn't changed too much, which is unsurprising since the F150 has been America's best selling vehicle overall for an astonishing 38 years and counting, creeping up toward a million units a year. But the focus for 2021 is on making this thing even more useful for the kinds of folk that buy it.
Neat touches include things like an optional Interior Work Surface – the gearshift lever folds down and a nice flat bench pops out across the center console, big enough for a laptop or your lunch. Then there's the "Max Recline Seats," available on certain models, which fold nearly right back to 180 degrees so you can sleep comfortably in the cab. Another interior option is a fold-flat rear storage area under the back seats, as wide as the cabin and lockable for security. Super handy.
The tailgate has now got tie-down cleats in it, as well as clamp pockets for holding stuff down and using the tailgate as a workbench. Taking this to the next level is an optional Tailgate Work Surface, complete with rulers, device holders, cupholder and pencil holder.
The pièce de résistance is the optional Pro Power Onboard system, which effectively puts a small generator and power outlets in the side of the tray, with a minimum of 2 kW and a max of 7 kW available if you go for the PowerBoost hybrid engine. Inspired by the Cybertruck, maybe? Perish the thought.
Connectivity takes a step forward with Ford's SYNC 4 hands-free voice command system, complete with cord-free CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver assist gear now includes pre-collision assist, auto emergency braking with pedestrian assist, rear view camera with hitch assist and auto high beams.
Active Drive Assist now allows hands-free highway driving across the United States and Canada, provided its cameras can confirm you're still looking at the road, and this will arrive with a software update late in 2021 for cars with the appropriate hardware installed. Other options include intersection left turn assist, which will hit the brakes if you're accelerating into a potential crash, and second-generation park assist, which handles the pedals as well as the steering wheel for parallel and perpendicular parking spots. That would be a handy feature on a colossus like this.
Engine options will likely be similar to this year's F150, with the addition of the PowerBoost hybrid, which will top the range using a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a 47-horsepower electric motor built into the transmission. No power figures are available, but you can expect well over 400 horses if it's to deliver on its best-in-class promise. The battery only holds 1.5 kWh, but that's big enough to capture plenty of energy in regenerative braking, and Ford is targeting a 700-mile fuel range on this model, as well as a towing capacity the company has chosen to express in uniquely American units: the average weight of 43 NFL linemen.
The truck will go on sale this fall. Knock yourself out with a full launch video below.