More popular than Ford's historically iconic Model T, the F-150 accounts for nearly one percent of all new light-duty vehicle sales; it's so versatile. And for 2021, Ford has endowed it with upgrades sure to tempt even the most jaded truck buyer. 

What's New?

 

For 2021, there are more configurations than ever, due to the launch of the all-new F-150 Hybrid. More than mere basic transportation, today's F-150 can fill your need for a family vehicle, work truck, mobile office, off-road Nevertheless, the model lineup is familiar with XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited trim levels and its ground-breaking use of a fully boxed high-strength steel frame with a military-grade, aluminum alloy body.

While the high-performance Raptor disappears for the time being, and a fully-electric F-150 appears to be on the horizon, there's still plenty that's fresh for 2021, like the F-150's all-new wardrobe with revised LED lighting, and a power tailgate with a tailgate step and an integral work surface with tablet holder, clamp pockets, integral imperial/metric measurements and tiedown points that double as bottle openers. Even more helpfully, an innovative zone lighting feature allows you to customize lighting on the exterior of the truck while parked, so you can turn on the lights on one side only, or all four. Running boards have been redesigned to reach back beneath the cargo box for easier access to the front of the bed. It deploys remotely or with the touch of your foot on a hidden switch. Best of all, a new built-in generator allows you to host the ultimate tailgate party.

And there's a revised interior as well, but before we get to that, a few basics.

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Time to Move

 Once you decide on your F-150's cab style and bed length, it's time to pick a powertrain.

As you no doubt know, the F-150 legendary towing and hauling capacity varies depending on the vehicle's axle ratio, wheelbase, and whether you choose rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. And all deliver admirable fuel economy.

With that in mind, it's hard to ignore the PowerBoost Full Hybrid V6 with its twin-turbocharged and intercooled 3.5-liter overhead-cam V6 mated to an electric motor. Available on all trim levels, it produces 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful F-150 engine offered. It's most fuel-efficient, returning a combined EPA-rating of 24 mpg with all-wheel drive. And its 11,000-12,700 pounds of towing capacity seals the deal, although it's only available on SuperCrews.

At the other extreme is the entry-level 3.3-liter V-6 rated at 290 horsepower and 265 foot-pounds of torque. Now mated to a ten-speed automatic, rather than the six-speed used last year, it's standard on shorter wheelbase 122.8-inch, 145.4-inch XL and XLTs with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and 157.2-inch or 163.7-inch wheelbase Lariats with rear-wheel drive. Payload capacity is rated at 1,765-1,985 pounds; towing is rated at 5,000-8,200 pounds. Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 21 mpg in combined city/highway driving with rear-wheel drive, 20 mpg with four-wheel drive.

While smaller, the twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine packs more brawn, surprisingly more. How does 325 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque sound? Not bad, right? It's standard on longer wheelbase 157.2-inch or 163.7-inch XL, XLTs and Lariats with rear-wheel drive, and 145.4-inch wheelbase Lariats. Payload capacity is up this year at 1,705-2,480 pounds; towing is stronger as well at 7,600-10,100 pounds. Combined fuel economy is very commendable at 22 mpg with rear-wheel drive, 21 mpg with all-wheel drive.

If you've got to have a V8, Ford's legendary 5.0-liter V-8 is now rated at 400 horsepower and 410 foot-pounds of torque - an increase of 5 horsepower and 10 pound-feet of torque compared to 2020. Payload capacity increases to 1,835-3,325 pounds, although its 8,300-13,000 pounds is similar to last year's. It's standard on 157.2-inch or 163.7-inch wheelbase XL, XLTs and Lariats with four-wheel drive, and all King Ranch and Platinum models. It returns 20 mpg in combined driving with rear-wheel drive, and 19 mpg with four-wheel drive.

Next comes the muscular and extremely capable twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which sees its horsepower increase 25 to 400 horsepower with torque rising 30 to 500 foot-pounds of torque. It boasts 2,050-3,250 pounds of payload capacity and 11,000-14,000 pounds of towing capacity. It's standard on the Limited and optional other models. The EPA rates this engine at 20 mpg with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive - an improvement from last year.

The former fuel economy and torque champ, the Power Stroke 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel engine, rated at 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque won't be available until later in the 2021 model year. As a result, the EPA has not released this model's fuel economy. Nevertheless, Ford rates its payload at 1,805-1,840 pounds, with a towing capacity of 10,400-12,100 pounds. It's optional on the XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trims.

All F-150s except the Power Stroke turbodiesel run on regular unleaded gasoline, although the 3.3-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 are E85 compatible. Regular Cab and SuperCab models get a 23-gallon fuel tank; SuperCrew trims get a 26-gallon tank. An extended range 36-gallon fuel tank is optional. The Power Stroke diesel receives a 26-gallon tank, while the PowerBoost Hybrid holds 30.6 gallons.

A ten-speed automatic gearbox is standard and includes selectable Normal, Tow-Haul, Snow-Wet, EcoSelect, and Sport drive modes.

Finally buyers of the PowerBoost V6 Hybrid, regardless of trim level, get their F-150s fitted with a 2.4 kw Pro Power Onboard generator; a 7.2 kw generator is optional. Other models can be optioned with a 2 kw generator.

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A Whole New Cabin


As if the F-150's capabilities to tow, haul and transport weren't enough, new F-150 drivers get a totally redesigned cabin for 2021, one that will meet any buyer's expectations.

All F-150s get a touchscreen on the center stack that act like a smartphone or tablet; 8 inches on the XL, 12 inches on other models. Buyers of the Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited also get a customizable 12-inch digital screen in the instrument cluster; other trims get a 4-inch screen. The center screen's new Sync 4 has twice the computing power of the previous-generation system, and includes wireless phone connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, cloud connectivity, 911 Assist and a digital owner's manual. There's a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connects up to 10 devices, as well as two USB charging ports, along with a 12-volt outlet. A wireless charging pad is standard on King Ranch, Platinum and Limited.

But the F-150 is also a great place to work, thanks to the 40/20/40 split front bench seat with armrest and a swivel-out flat surface for working. It's standard on the XL, XLT and Lariat models. You can opt for front bucket seats with a center console. It's standard on the King Ranch Platinum and Limited, and optional on other models. Once you do, you can also choose Max Recline front seats on King Ranch, Platinum and Limited, which fold flat to nearly 180 degrees, not unlike a business class airline seat. Similarly, the console lid on the center console folds forward to provide a large, flat work surface, while the console bin itself is designed to hang file folders. And, there's lockable storage underneath the rear seat. Its long shape is ideal for longer items, such as blueprints, hunting gear or fishing rods.

And it all starts with the XL, an uncomplicated work truck that still supplies basic comforts, like air-conditioning, an outside temperature display, vinyl floor covering, manual air-conditioning, manual door locks, manual side mirrors, roll-up windows, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, selectable driving modes, intermittent wipers, wiper-activated headlights, 17-inch wheels, four-pin wiring and ball mounting provisions in the rear bumper for trailer towing, an AM/FM stereo, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, tailgate lift assist, and Trailer Sway Control.

If you prefer power windows, power door-locks, keyless-entry, power tailgate lock, perimeter alarm, illuminated entry, or manual-folding power glass sideview mirrors, you'll want the XL Power Equipment Group.

In addition, there are free-standing options offered on all F-150s, regardless of trim.

These options include an axle ratio upgrade, Class IV trailer hitch, engine block heater, onboard 400-watt outlet, extended range 36-gallon fuel tank, Snow Plow Prep (4x4 only), in addition to a number of dealer-installed options, like a bed divider, aluminum crossbed toolbox, spray-in or drop-in bedliner, hard or soft tonneau pickup box cover, and storable loading ramps.

If you require something nicer than a stripped work truck, consider the XLT, which adds some comfort and convenience features like standard chrome bumpers, fog lamps, power windows, power locks, power heated mirrors, power tailgate lock, interior carpeting, and illuminated entry.

The options list grows as well, adding such niceties as an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 18-inch aluminum wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats, heated front-seats, pushbutton starter, LED lighting, keyless-entry keypad, an eight-inch instrument cluster screen, a 360-Degree Camera Package, and Trailer Tow Packages.

As you'd expect, the Lariat takes some of the XLT's options, and makes them standard equipment, such as LED lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, and dual zone automatic climate control. But it's here that the F-150 starts to add some real indulgence, adding standard heated and ventilated leather power bucket seats, heated steering wheel, folding power side mirrors, two-speed automatic four-wheel drive (on 4x4s), 12-inch digital instrument cluster, locking front seat storage, rear underseat storage, keyless-entry keypad, and remote starting.

Option packages add a 400-watt outlet, a universal garage door opener, power-folding power side mirrors, leather trimmed heated and ventilated bucket seats with console, an eight-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System with HD Radio and subwoofer, a Chrome Appearance Package, heated steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, second-row heated seats and a power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory.

But if you're looking for more indulgence, head to the King Ranch, which transports you to the wild west every time you get behind the wheel. Beyond its many King Ranch badges, rich tooled-leather interior and real wood trim, with dual row heated seats, ventilated front seats, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel with memory, metallic front scuff plates, 400-watt outlet, LED side-mirror spotlights, integrated trailer brake controller, wireless charging pad, universal garage door opener, and an eight-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System with HD Radio and subwoofer.

An optional equipment package adds a power tailgate, multi-contour seats, power-deployable running boards, an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and 20-inch machined aluminum wheels. But you can also add a twin panel moonroof, Trailer Tow Packages, a Chrome Appearance Package, 360-Degree Camera Package, or a Monochromatic Paint Package.

Of course, if you prefer a truck that will see urban duty, opt for the F-150 Platinum, the King Ranch's city slicker cousin. It has the same stuff, delivered with a cosmopolitan flair. So, you'll get body-color bumpers offset by bright chrome trim and satin chrome-trimmed grille. There are chrome door handles, a high gloss black B-pillar, chrome front tow hooks, LED lighting, and power-deployable running boards. Inside, the look differs from the King Ranch, but offers similar amenities and options.

Or you could just opt for the Limited, where everything is standard aside from the previously mentioned free-standing options.