By Mario Cywinski
By Mario Cywinski
August 17, 2020 – In what seems like ages ago, in January, Ford Motor Company held a drive event for its all-new Super Duty pick-up truck in sunny Arizona. Much has changed since that time and, as a result, Ford held a virtual launch event for its most important vehicle: the all-new 2021 F-150 pick-up.
Actor Denis Leary hosted the event, held at the former Willow Run plant in Michigan, which is significant for being the location where Ford—on a mile-long assembly line—built the B-24 Liberator bomber during the Second World War. Ford representatives and select customers also helped launch the vehicle.
The Ford F-Series has been the top-selling pick-up truck in Canada for 54 years and, more recently, the top-selling vehicle *period* for many years in both Canada and the United States. While some would take it easy when being on top, Ford chooses to do the opposite. It introduced the EcoBoost turbocharged engine to the line-up when V-8 powered trucks were the norm; more recently, the automaker introduced an aluminum body on the F-150 at a time when steel was thought to be the only option.
“Since 1948, our hardworking F-Series customers have trusted Ford to help them get the job done,” said Jim Farley, COO. “F-150 is our flagship; it’s 100% 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 2021 model is now taking things a step further, with the F-150 being available with a hybrid powertrain for the first time. Playing off the EcoBoost name, the new hybrid model is named PowerBoost, and combines the 3.5L EcoBoost engine (mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission) with a 47-hp (35 kW) electric motor, and a 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. The new hybrid model is capable of going an estimated 1100 kilometres on one tank of fuel, and can tow at least 12,000 lb (when properly equipped). The hybrid model is available on all trims, XL to Limited.
PowerBoost also comes with Pro Power Onboard, which turns the truck into a mobile generator, eliminating the need for a generator to be placed in the bed of the truck. The integrated on-board generator is available in three levels:
• 2.4-kW system with two 120V 20A outlets (with a run-time of 85 hours on a full tank) is standard on the PowerBoost.
• 7.2-kW system with four 120V 20A outlets and a NEMA L6-20 240V 30A outlet (can run for 32 hours on a full tank) is available on PowerBoost.
• 2.0-kW system with two 120V 20A outlets is available on 2.7L and 3.5L EcoBoost and 5.0L V-8 models.
In addition to the new PowerBoost powertrain, five other engine options are available:
• 3.3L V-6
• 2.7L EcoBoost V-6
• 3.5L EcoBoost V-6
• 3.0L Power Stroke V-6 diesel
• 5.0L V-8
Horsepower and torque number will be released at a later date. All models are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
With the truck being redesigned inside and out, the front end sees a new front fascia, choice of 11 grilles, three headlight options (halogen, LED, LED with bending), 13 wheel options, the addition of active grill shutters and an active air dam. Ford says that every panel on the truck has been redesigned.
Many F-150 owners use their trucks to tow trailers, so Ford introduced new trailer-friendly features, such as trailer theft alert, which sends a message to a mobile device when the trailer is being unhooked and the truck is locked; trailer light check, which can check whether trailer lights are working through the FordPass app; and trailer reverse guidance, which shows various views via five cameras, along with steering wheel graphics of the trailer. Pro trailer backup assist is also available.
Technology is top of mind, and a plethora of new additions to 2021 F-150 highlight this, such as over-the-air updates, which allow for many updates to be done in the background, and larger updates can be scheduled when the owner wants, reducing the amount of downtime. The new SYNC system can connect Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and AppLink apps wirelessly. Two centre stack screen sizes are available for 2021; standard 8-in. and available 12 in. An available 12-in. digital gauge cluster is also added.
“We see it as our duty to deliver not just what our customers want and need, but what they might have never thought possible,” said Craig Schmatz, Ford F-150 chief engineer. “The F-150 will be tougher than ever, and with fully connected over-the-air updates, it opens up a much wider range of potential enhancements—from predictive maintenance to feature upgrades.”
Ford has spent a lot of time speaking with its customers about how they use their trucks, as a result, it has incorporated some unique features into the new F-150. On the inside, you can find lockable fold-flat rear under-seat storage with dividers; available front seats that fold flat 180 degrees; and available flat surface in-centre between seats (as the shifter folds down, a flat cover folds over the centre).
On the outside, zone lighting allows for individual exterior lights to be turned On/Off. Clamp pockets are built into the tailgate, as is a new work surface that includes a ruler, pencil holder, mobile phone holder, and cup-holder. Also, the side of the tailgate now has cleats for tying down long items.
Ten new driver-assist technologies have been added for 2021, including Active Drive Assist, which allows hands-free driving on Canadian and United States divided highways (a camera faces the driver to ensure they are focused on the road). Intersection Assist, meantime, detects oncoming traffic while driver is making a left turn, and will apply the brakes if needed. Active Park Assist 2 is also new.
With all the changes to the Ford F-150 for 2021, the company is poised to continue to be the No. 1 selling pick-up for years to come. The new F-150 models will be available in the fall.
Mario Cywinski is the editor of Machinery & Equipment MRO magazine, and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. He’s been a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge, and has over 16 years of automobile industry experience.