America’s favourite car has been given a high-tech overhaul.
The 2021 Ford F-150 might look evolutionary on the outside, but it’s packing hybrid power for the first time.
It’s also the most aerodynamic F-150 ever, and has a more upmarket interior with a 12-inch infotainment system and fully digital instrument binnacle.
Utes are big business in Australia, but our addiction pales in comparison North America’s truck habit. Ford sold more than 896,500 examples of the F-150 in the USA last year, making it the best-selling vehicle in the country.
That’s not all that far from the 1,062,867 cars (of any kind) sold in Australia last year. The second-best selling vehicle line in America was the Ram ute range, while the Chevrolet Silverado rounded out the podium places.
These trucks are huge business, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear Ford has thrown the kitchen sink at the F-150.
“Since 1948, our hardworking F-Series customers have trusted Ford to help them get the job done,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s chief operating officer.
“F-150 is our flagship, it’s 100 per cent assembled in America, 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.”
The exterior of the F-150 hasn’t changed all that much for 2020. It’s still a bluff, bold, and distinctly American truck, with lashings of chrome and an endless array of customisation options.
There are 11 different grille options and a range of tailgate finishes, along with countless alloy wheel, exterior trim, paint, and badging options.
The new look is smarter than ever before. The bold grille has active shutters hiding behind it to improve aerodynamics when the engine doesn’t need cooling air, and there’s an auto-deploying air dam for better aero at highway speeds.
Although hardworking XL and XLT variants are offered – with “more soil-resistant two-tone seats”, no less – the biggest changes have been wrought at the top of the F-150 range.
Where the XL and XLT feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, higher-end models pack a 12-inch display. It’s landscape oriented, unlike the portrait display in the Mustang Mach-E SUV, but runs the same Sync 4.0 software.
The larger screen can be split to show mapping and entertainment side-by-side, for example, and a more useful range of camera displays for parking, or hooking up a trailer.
A 12-inch digital instrument binnacle is also available, with graphics specific to the F-150.
With the Interior Work Surface option selected, the transmission tunnel can be used to sign documents or house a 15-inch laptop.
Even without it, the transmission selector folds into the transmission tunnel to create a more useful space, and there are enough cupholders and storage spaces to keep even the thirstiest, messiest tradies happy.
The (magnificently-named) F-150 King Ranch, along with (less-magnificently named) Platinum and Limited models are available with Max Recline Seats that fold like Business Class beds.
The backrest swings almost flat, and the seat cushion raises to create a space fit for a sleepy king. Buyers can also option a lockable storage bin beneath the rear seats designed for fishing rods, blueprints, or cases of moonshine to be smuggled across state lines.
The tray on the F-150 can be optioned with a rear door featuring a ruler, pencil holders, and a smartphone slot. There are holders for clamps integrated into every F-150 tailgate, too.
It can also be home to something called Power Pro Onboard, which allows owners to power their tools or devices from a bank of outlets in the tray, or using the plugs in the cabin.
When added to the PowerBoost hybrid (more on that in a moment) it can output up to 7.2kW of power, and feature a 240V/30A connector.
The biggest news in the new F-150 is the PowerBoost hybrid, which combines a 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine with a 35kW electric motor and 1.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It’ll be available across the entire F-150 range.
Ford hasn’t yet revealed power outputs, but says the hybrid will do 700mi (1125km) on a full tank of fuel and tow 12,000lb (5450kg).
Energy is fed into the compact battery pack when the driver lifts off the throttle through regenerative braking, and Ford says the car’s electric hardware will operate in extreme temperatures, and with an extreme load on board.
The following engines will be available, all mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission:
- 3.3-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V6
- 2.7-litre EcoBoost petrol V6
- 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V8
- 3.5-litre EcoBoost petrol V6
- 3.0-litre Power Stroke turbo-diesel V6
- 3.5-litre PowerBoost petrol V6 hybrid
Regardless of trim, the new F-150 will feature automatic headlamps, autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning, and a reversing camera.
Higher-end models will be available with adaptive cruise control, semi-autonomous park assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, evasive steering assist, lane-keeping assist, and a range of trailer reversing, hitching, and braking assists.