Trucks like the 2021 Ford F-150 are now form AND function, and they’re jam-packed with features.
It used to be that trucks were simply functional tools. It was all about payload, towing capacity and the size of the truck bed. More than ever, though, truck manufacturers are looking to reach the recreational market. Nissan, Ram, and Toyota have done a stellar job marketing to outdoor enthusiasts. And Ram has dominated the luxury truck segment while still measuring up on the functional side.
The all-new 2021 Ford F-150 is several steps forward from a simple, staid truck design. From the outside, it maintains many of the styling elements customers know and love, like the c-clamp headlights. Under the hood and inside, though, it’s new territory. Among the many updates to this year’s model, these are my five favorites.
1) More power with a built-in generator
The new Pro Power onboard generator solves the problem of having to buy and haul a separate unit for use at work sites or campsites. This feature is available with a 2.0-kilowatt output on the EcoBoost V6 and V8 engines. 2.4 kilowatts of output is standard on the PowerBoost-equipped F-150. With the hybrid engine, you could even bump it up to 7.2-kilowatts.
Power up via in-cabin outlets and up to four 120-volt 20-amp outlets in the cargo bed or a 240-volt 30-amp outlet on the 7.2-kilowatt version. Incredibly, you can even charge up your tools and toys while you’re on the go. Picture yourself at a tailgate party, powering a television in the bed, plus a personal heater, mini-fridge for cold drinks, portable speakers to crank the tune, AND a blender for margaritas al fresco. For hours and hours.
Related: The Ford F-150 is Now an Electric Pickup Truck, Inspiring More F-150 Innovations, More Tech and More Jobs
2) The new hybrid engine option goes a long, long way on one tank
There is a new powertrain option for this F-150 model year: the PowerBoost. Of the six engines Ford offers on their most popular vehicle, this one is the most impressive to me. It’s a hybrid engine that Ford says can carry you for 700 miles before you have to fill up at the tank.
Seven. Hundred. Miles.
Basically, you could leave Indianapolis, Indiana and drive straight through Kentucky and Tennessee down to Atlanta and would still have miles to spare before you need a refill. And it has the most torque in the lineup at 570 lb-ft, which means it accelerates quickly and smoothly from a stop, even while towing. Speaking of towing, I took one of the test vehicles equipped with PowerBoost on the road with a 7,000-pound, 30-foot trailer behind me, and it was super easy. I felt confident driving it.
3) Innovative work surfaces inside
A lot of buzz surrounds the stowaway gear shifter that folds down with the touch of a button. This allows you to unfold your console for a flat work surface that would serve you very well if you have a job that requires you to be in your vehicle a lot. Imagine you’re a sales rep traveling from client to client—you would have a convenient place to squeeze in a little work between meetings. Or you’re a parent with work to do while your kid is at baseball practice, and you don’t want to drive all the way home. What is really cool, I think, is that even in the lowest-level trims, a workspace is available even without the fancy electric-powered gear shifter. Some models give you a flat workspace if you fold down the middle seat of the 40/20/40 split seating in the front row.
4) A place to nap
Sometimes, you just need to lie down for a minute. The new F-150 has max recline front captain’s chairs that not only fold all the way flat, but the seat comes up a tad so that the surface is more comfortable. You can’t do better than that in a first-class airplane seat. With the upgraded B&O audio system, there are speakers in the headrests, so turn on some relaxing music and close your eyes. Not while driving, of course.
5) Towing confidence: boosted
One thing that I love about the GMC Sierra is the sheer number of camera angles it includes, which is very helpful when you’re towing a giant camper or trailer. For 2021, Ford offers pro trailer backup assist and trailer reverse guidance, which uses five high-res cameras to give you multiple views all around you. It even tells you which way to turn the steering wheel when you’re backing up, which could potentially save a few marriages along the way. (“No, not that way, honey! Turn RIGHT.” “I AM turning right!”) You’ll want to add the max trailer tow package for up to 14,000 pounds. That’s much more than most of us will ever need, but it’s good to know that you have that option available.
I found myself singing along with some Charlie Puth, Dua Lipa, and Shawn Mendes while I was driving. Because an all-new truck deserves new music, right? Chime and tell us what kind of road music you’d pair up with the F-150.