By Mario Cywinski
While most models have engine, package, trim, or colour changes, two light-duty pick-up heavyweights have made major changes
By Mario Cywinski
May 1, 2021 – Ford has completely redesigned its F-150 for 2021, and added a hybrid powertrain for the first time. Meantime, Ram has added a new TRX off-road model to compete with the Ford Raptor.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nissan will be pulling the Titan, NV and NV200 from the Canadian marketplace after the 2021 model year, leaving the Frontier, which is set to reveal a completely redesigned model in the near future.
Chevrolet is adding new trailering technology and capacity to its trucks for 2021, while Mercedes-Benz is doing incremental updates to its vans. Toyota is adding new packages to its pick-ups, and the Honda Ridgeline unibody pick-up is still available.
The top-selling vehicle in Canada takes things a step further for 2021, with the F-150 now available with a hybrid powertrain. PowerBoost combines the 3.5L EcoBoost engine (mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission) with a 47-hp electric motor, and a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery.
It can go an estimated 1100 km 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 comes with Pro Power Onboard, which turns the truck into a mobile generator. Three levels are available: 2.4-kW system with two 120V 20A outlets; a 7.2-kW system with four 120V 20A outlets; and a NEMA L6-20 240V 30A outlet.
Meantime, a 2.0-kW system with two 120V 20A outlets is available on 2.7L and 3.5L EcoBoost and 5.0L V-8 models.
The truck has been redesigned inside and out. The front end sees a new front fascia, choice of 11 grilles, three headlight options, 13 wheel options, and the addition of active grill shutters and an active air dam.
Over-the-air updates and new SYNC system that can connect Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and AppLink apps wirelessly, are added. 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. New driver-assist technologies include Active Drive Assist, which allows hands-free driving on Canadian and United States divided highways (an extra camera faces the driver to ensure they are focused on the road. Intersection Assist detects oncoming traffic while performing a left turn, and will apply brakes when needed.
A Tremor package is added for 2021, which has a lifted suspension with FOX 2.0 monotube dampers with rear piggyback reservoirs, tuned front coil-over and rear leaf springs, 32-in. all-terrain tires, frame-mounted steel front bash plate and underbody skid plates, rear locking differential, and six-switch auxilliary power pack.
Ford Super Duty and Transit
Super Duty was all-new for 2020, and sees only minor package, trim, and colour changes for 2021. Transit Connect and Transit vans are carryover models for 2021, with only minor colour changes.
FCA FIAT CHRYSLER OFFERINGS
For 2021, the Ram 1500 gets a new available colour heads-up display, which is customizable, as well as a digital rearview mirror (which can revert to a regular rearview).
The Trailer package now includes trailer reverse steering control (allowing the driver to enter measurements and allows the vehicle to steer while reversing). A new Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary edition is added, offering special badging throughout, and brown interior with unique touches inside.
Ram 1500 TRX
The big news for the Ram 1500 is the addition of the performance-oriented TRX. TRX will have 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V-8, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The TRX has five dynamic drive modes (auto, sport, tow, snow, and custom) that control the 4WD system, throttle response, transmission, paddle shifters, suspension, and electric power steering. Also, three dynamic off-road modes (mud/sand, rock, and baja) can be chosen. A launch control button is standard.
The Uconnect system standard on the TRX is a 12” model, and can be paired to a 900W Harmon Kardon audio system and 19 speakers. An available heads-up display can show up to five items at one time (lane departure, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, navigation, speed, gear and speed limit).
Ram 2500/3500 Heavy Duty
A Limited Night Edition model is added, with 20-in. black wheels (17-in. on dual rear-wheel models), black Ram grille, grille surround and badging; headlights and taillights have black bezels, mirrors have black caps, bumpers are body colour, amd a variety of body colours are available.
The Promaster now comes with crosswind assist (which helps in windy conditions) as standard. Available new options are a digital LCD rearview mirror (replacing the traditional mirror), and new safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with emergency braking, and lighting. The ProMaster City sees wheel and fog light availability changes.
The big news for Gladiator is the addition of a 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 engine with engine Start/Stop. It offers 260-hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Also, all models now have the option of full-time, 4WD.
Two special edition models are new for 2021. A Willys model starts life as a Sport S trim and adds limited-slip rear differential, rock rails, 32-in. mud tires, and unique exterior appearance. An 80th anniversary edition offers 18-in. wheels, grey metallic exterior accents, 8.4-in. touchscreen, berber floor mats, and special exterior badging.
GENERAL MOTORS OFFERINGS
Chevrolet Silverado and HD
For 2021, Silverado 1500 adds the Multi-Flex tailgate, a version of which debuted on the GMC Sierra, and allows for six functions to help load and unload the truck bed.
Silverado 3.0L turbo-diesel models now offer a max capacity of 9500 lb on 2WD models, while increasing capacity by 1900 lb on most other configurations.
Chevrolet focused on trailering enhancements for 2021; the crew cab short box can now tow 9300 lb (a 2500-lb increase), while the regular cab long box ups its capacity to 9600 lb (and has a payload capacity of 2280 lb in 2WD).
New trailering technologies include trailer length indicator, jack-knife alert, and new cargo bed views (zoom view and bed hitch guidance) to make trailering easier.
The rear trailer view now offers guidelines and a trailer-angle indicator, and rear sideview is enhanced. Other package, trim, and colour changes also occur.
Like the Silverado 1500, the Heavy Duty models get the same trailering technology improvements. The Silverado 3500 HD WT with 6.6L Duramax diesel (mated to 10-speed auto transmission) in regular cab, dual-rear wheels, 2WD, with gooseneck hitch and max tow package can now tow 36,000 ls (a 500-lb increase).
A selection of special edition packages are also added for 2021: Carhartt Edition available on LTZ, while Midnight Edition, Z71 Sport Edition, and Z71 Chrome Sport Edition are available on LT and LTZ.
Other minor package, trim, and colour changes also occur.
The Colorado has an updated lower fascia, front skid plates, centre bars, new logos, embossed tailgate, and unique looks for each trim. The ZR2 will feature lettered Chevrolet front fascia, standard front and rear electronic locking differentials, 2-in. suspension lift, 3.5-in. wider track, off-road rocker protection, cast iron control arms, and multiple skid plates, Multimatic DSSV position-sensitive dampers, and red tow hooks.
The Canyon adds two new trim levels for 2021. An AT4 mode offers a unique exterior with dark chrome finishes, a new larger grille and red hooks. The interior features Kalahari stitching and AT4 headrest embroidery.
Off-road features include 31-in. tires on 17-in. wheels, off-road tuned suspension with hill descent system, 4WD system with automatic locking differential, and transfer case skid plate.
A top-of-the-line Denali grade is also added, with an exterior offering a new grille, chrome assist steps, and 20-in. wheels. The interior has wood trim, aluminum decor, unique stitching, and heated seats and steering wheel.
GMC Savana and Sierra, Chev Express
General Motors offers full-size vans—GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express—which see a new 6.6L gas V8 engine added, with 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque. The Sierra is a carryover for 2021.
For 2021, Metris receives a handful of updates. First is a new 9-speed auto transmission, replacing the 7-speed version. Active Break Assist and Distronic (an adaptive cruise control system) are added to the Metris. A digital interior rearview mirror is added, and uses the rear camera to show what is behind the vehicle.
Other changes include: multifunction steering wheel now standard on cargo vans, instrument cluster with pixel-matrix display and 7-in. touchscreen with smartphone integration are now standard (a version with navigation is available).
The long-running Sprinter sees a few changes for the 2021 model year. The biggest is the return of the 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (offering 161 hp) that is mated to a 9-speed transmission. V-6 diesel and 4-cylinder gas engines are also available.
Standard equipment now includes Active Brake Assist, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, full front floor covering, and power and heated mirrors.
For 2021, Toyota is adding two packages to the Tacoma family: Trail and Nightshade packages both have 5-ft truck beds and double cabs. The Nightshade package offers an auto transmission, premium options, black exterior features and a black leather interior.
The Trail package offers an auto transmission, 16-in. off-road wheels, side-step bars, black badge covers, power driver’s seat, and interior accents.
All other Tacoma models carryover with minor changes, and all now offer dual-zone automatic A/C, and audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Mario Cywinski has over 16 years of automobile industry experience. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and a a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge. He is also editor of EBMag sister magazines Machinery & Equipment MRO and Food & Beverage.