2021 Ford F-150 Redesign Revealed With Hybrid Version, Clever Features

feedback@motor1.com (Brandon Turkus)
2021 Ford F-150

Hybrid power, an onboard generator, and even a sleeper seat make for a more versatile truck.

The 2021 Ford F-150 doesn’t look like a dramatic leap forward. The most obvious sign of a redesign, a widely revised exterior, is absent. Instead, designers took the Porsche 911 approach, applying evolutionary tweaks to the exterior while making vast changes under the nipped and tucked skin.

There’s a hybrid powertrain with up to 700 miles of range, an available onboard generator that can power everything from a cozy outdoor movie night to a full-tilt construction site, a redesigned infotainment suite, an advanced hands-free driver aid, a desk, a sleeper seat, tools hidden in the tailgate, nifty zone lighting, a revised interior design, and smarter towing systems. That’s in addition to all the stuff that made the F-150 so popular in the first place. But that roster of gear only scratches the surface of the improvements Ford made for its bread-and-butter vehicle.

More On F-150:

What's New For 2021

The headlining addition for 2021 is the F-150’s first gas-electric powertrain, which Ford expects 10 percent of its new trucks to carry. This hybrid powertrain, branded PowerBoost, pairs a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with a 35-kilowatt electric motor and a 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. That small battery means limited all-electric range, although the new PowerBoost hybrid should be the most powerful F-150 available by a handy margin. At the very least, it’ll be a respectable tow tool, with Ford promising up to 12,000 pounds of max towing.

But there is some trepidation with this engine. It uses a similar design to the Ford Explorer Hybrid and Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring (a plug-in hybrid), with the electric motor integrated into the transmission. In our experience, the level of refinement, both in Ehe xplorer and Aviator, is lacking.

Too often, the vehicle is unsure whether to reach for its electric motor or gas engine, resulting in unpleasant behavior, including sudden surges of acceleration. The new F-150's hybrid system should solve this problem with a revised transmission and additional calibration work on the part of Ford’s engineers, F-150 Engineering Manager Dawn Piechocki told Motor1.com.

The new PowerBoost hybrid should be the most powerful F-150 available by a handy margin.

Joining PowerBoost is Ford’s new Pro Power Onboard generator, which sounds like a downright nifty piece of technology. Essentially, owners can use their truck to power a variety of electrical appliances via plugs in the bed. Pro Power Onboard is available with up to 2.0 kW of electrical capacity on gas-only F-150s, while the F-150 Hybrid comes with a standard 2.4-kW capacity or an optional 7.2-kW capacity. The two standard setups come with twin 120-volt outlets, while the 7.2-kW arrangement boasts four 120-volt plugs and a single 240-volt outlet.

A Raptor Is Coming:

Even the least powerful setup could serve admirably at a tailgate, with Ford claiming the 2.0-kW Pro Power Onboard system could manage an electric heater, TV, portable speakers, a mini-fridge, and a blender at the same time. On the high side, the 7.2-kW setup could power all the tools a construction crew might need to frame a house.

Joining the available Pro Power Onboard system in the bed is a fully lit box and a tailgate with a number of tricks up its proverbial sleeve. The available Tailgate Work Surface turns an open tailgate into a platform for cutting lumber, making measurements, or even a stand for your phone. Ford spokespeople told Motor1.com it added dedicated points for C-clamps on the tailgate after it noticed owners were damaging their trucks with the tools.

2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150

For towing, Ford’s excellent Pro Trailer Backup Assist returns, although it’s now joined by a more advanced suite of cameras and towing-focused telematics. Owners can engage a camera mounted in the CHMSL to monitor the bed, and can check a trailer’s lights via the instrument cluster or FordPass smartphone app.

The cabin is more usable too. The optional Interior Work Surface does a pretty fair impression of a desk or table, which is a valuable feature for owners who regularly work or eat in their vehicle. While there’s a simplified setup for trucks with a bench, the captain’s chairs boast the neatest system, with a folding gear shifter and a clamshell center console that can create a completely flat working surface. And if you’d rather get some sleep, the available Max Recline Seats fold to nearly 180 degrees, making the F-150 a valid place to catch a few winks.

Ford hasn’t released power outputs on any of the F-150's engines yet.

While the F-150 seems ideally suited for both work and recreation, getting to any destination will (eventually) be easier, too, thanks to Ford’s recently announced Active Driving Assistant. The system, initially announced for the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, uses various sensors and a driver-facing camera to facilitate hands-free driving. It’s a late-availability item, though, requiring drivers to first select a hardware package when ordering their truck and then paying for an over-the-air update. Speaking of, aside from the Active Driving Assistant upgrade, all F-150s will offer free over-the-air updates for the life of the truck.

The F-150’s most obvious refinements are in the cabin, though, where drivers will find a revised infotainment system that works through either a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen or an available 12.0-inch display. Those touchscreens run the latest version of Ford’s Sync system, now developed fully in-house for its fourth-generation. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is also available, featuring some of the same flashy animations introduced on the current Explorer.

As you may have guessed based on that list, there’s a lot that’s new here. But Ford hasn’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater. The new hybrid powertrain joins carryover engines that include the 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6s, a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, and the base 3.3-liter V6.

Ford hasn’t released power outputs on any of these engines yet, although we’d suspect only tiny changes (if any) in horsepower or torque compared to the 2020 F-150. Working alongside every powertrain, from hybrid to diesel to turbo to V8, is a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-drive remains standard, while four-wheel drive is available.

2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Interior

Ford has made some substantial changes in the cabin, although the overall impact on design is relatively minor. The biggest news is the appearance of an available 12.0-inch touchscreen that, along with the optional digital instrument cluster, gives the new F-150’s dash a much more modern touch. Below that display, Ford freshened the layout of the climate controls, adding dedicated display knobs for temperature. Overall, the entire center stack looks and feels noticeably more premium.

Beyond those changes, Ford paid closer attention to the cabin’s details. There are tiny touches that highlight angles in the cabin and interesting material choices. The Limited has a neat mesh-like dashboard material while there’s an attractive brushed finish to some of the metal in the King Ranch. Leather quality on the two trucks we’ve seen in person is impressive, although the new F-150 still lacks the detailing found in high-end Ram models. That said, the gap between Ford and its rival from Auburn Hills is far closer than it’s ever been, and Ram should be nervous.

Read more about the 2021 Ford F-150 interior redesign and upgrades here.

2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Exterior

Yeah, the exterior changes don’t look that huge. But while Ford hewed closely to the design of the current F-Series, the reality is that most of this truck’s body panels are new. In particular, there’s a redesigned hood and flashy new doors that adopt chamfered edges at the top and bottom. The result of these touches is a more refined design – the doors in particular make a huge difference, capturing light in a far different way than the current trucks. Other changes are even milder, like the tweaked headlights and taillights. 

Ford is offering up to 11 different grille options and numerous wheel choices across the F-150’s six trims. There are also two-tone paint options that take further advantage of the lower chamfer on the doors.

2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Price & Trims

Ford will continue to offer the F-150 with six trims (for now). At this stage, though, it’s too early to tell what trims will get what equipment as standard. Here’s what we do know, though, ahead of the truck's Fall 2020 release.

The F-150 XL will continue to serve as the base model. It comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and a wider range of active safety equipment than the 2020 model. Ford hasn’t released an engine roster for any of its trims yet, but the Power Boost hybrid will be available on every version of the F-150. Beyond that, we expect this truck to retain the engine roster of the current F-150 XL, which includes every option but the 3.0-liter turbodiesel. Prices will likely start between $30,000 and $36,000, depending on body style.

The F-150 XLT will retain its position as the volume trim. It comes standard with the 8.0-inch display, but the larger 12.0-inch touchscreen is available as an option. It should continue to offer every available powertrain, as the current XLT does. As with the 2020 model, the 2021 XLT will offer a number of aesthetic changes to separate it from the workman-focused XL model. Prices should start between $36,000 and $41,000, depending on body style.

The F-150 Lariat is where owners start to get into more luxurious options. The Lariat model will remain the most versatile trim, with the most upholstery options and exterior trim choices. Prices will likely kick off between $43,000 and $46,000, and like today’s Lariat, the next-gen trim will only be available in SuperCab or SuperCrew body styles.

Ford will continue to offer the F-150 with six trims (for now)

The F-150 King Ranch is what happens when you ask for a truck with all the leather. Possibly the most impressive cabin finish, every possible surface seems to feature cowhide, with more than a few references to the truck’s eponymous ranch in Texas. Expect prices to sit around $54,000 for this truck.

2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150

The F-150 Platinum elevates the Lariat with a great emphasis on luxury and comfort. It’s also the stage at which the F-Series really starts to shake off its rugged look in favor of a smarter, more polished style. As with the current Platinum, the new model will only be available with the SuperCrew body and its four full-size doors. Prices should kick off around $56,000 to $58,000.

The king of the hill is, of course, the F-150 Limited. As with the King Ranch and Platinum, it’s only available with the largest cab, the SuperCrew, and it features just about every possible piece of equipment Ford can think to offer. You won’t find one of these trucks with an MSRP less than $69,000.

  • Ford F-150 XL: $30,000 - $36,000
  • Ford F-150 XLT: $36,000 - $41,000
  • Ford F-150 Lariat: $43,000 - $46,000
  • Ford F-150 King Ranch: $53,000 - $54,000
  • Ford F-150 Platinum: $56,000 - $58,000
  • Ford F-150 Limited: $68,000 - $69,000
  • Ford F-150 Hybrid: $35,000 - $73,000

Every trim and powertrain option should be available when the 2021 F-150 launches in the fall of 2020.

2021 Ford F-150 Pictures

FAQs

When can I order a 2021 F-150?
Ford hasn’t revealed when orders on the 2021 F-150 will open. Sales are expected to start in the fall of 2020, though, which means that this truck should be relatively common on dealer lots by the end of the year.

Will there be a 2021 Ford Raptor?
Yes, eventually. Ford is being coy about its high-performance Baja truck, but the company is almost certainly crafting the next-generation of this critical and commercial darling. As for what the Raptor will bring, it’s hard to say. Adding the PowerBoost hybrid would be interesting, but it’s unclear how a battery pack and electric motors would like jumping sand dunes.

What is the towing capacity of the 2021 Ford F-150?

Ford hasn’t announced detailed towing capacities for the 2021 F-150 yet, but the company is aiming to maintain its role as the leader in half-ton towing. The current F-150 leads the class with a maximum tow rating of 13,200 pounds. For the 2021 model, the only nugget the company passed along is that the F-150 Hybrid would be capable of up to 12,000 pounds of max towing.

What is the best engine for Ford F-150? 

It depends entirely on how you’ll use the truck. For everyday livability, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost will satisfy the vast majority of customers. The available 5.0-liter V8 is the most characterful engine and is both potent and efficient enough to challenge the turbocharged models. At least until we know specifics on the PowerBoost hybrid, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost is the engine of choice if you’re planning on towing regularly.