In business, as in competitive sports, champions strive to improve to keep competitors at bay. The competition inspired Ford to go all-in with its brand-new 2021 F-150 pickup truck to retain their long-running sales crown. With an impressive list of new standard and optional features, Ford is seeking to once again out-sell the rival pickup trucks from Chevrolet and Dodge Ram
Ford F-150, the company’s flagship, has been the number one best-selling truck in America for 44 years and best-selling vehicle for 40 years, now entering its 14th generation.
The all-new F-150, Ford expects it to deliver the best towing, payload, torque and horsepower of any light-duty full-size pickup.
This new generation Ford also boasts the first Pro Power Onboard integrated generator for nighttime tailgating or illuminating a campsite.
We test-drove the new F-150 4X4 SuperCrew Lariat with a 3.5-liter Powerboost full-hybrid engine with a 35-kilowatt electric motor and 15 options totaling $19,200 – essential for driver customization.
Our big-ticket options on our test ride included a 502A package that heats leather seats and dresses the exterior with chrome and LED lights; the Ecoboost hybrid engine; power deployable running boards; twin panel moonroof; trailer towing, and FX Off Road features.
The hybrid’s towing muscle is 12,700 lbs. with industry exclusive trailering assist options. Mileage range is an estimated 700 miles with the hybrid electric 10-speed transmission.
Features include converting a newly automated tailgate and center spine into flat work surfaces with a gear shifter that descends. Parking aid comes via automation (just hold a button down) as it squeezes into tight spaces.
The newly muscular profile includes higher front fenders, tucked in midsection, wraparound bumpers, a power-dome hood and larger-diameter tires.
Handling was fine for both on and off-road, typical for a nearly 3-ton vehicle. The ride was SUV-like comfortable. Acceleration is quick and the electric motor/gas engine mesh imperceptible.
Ford added many safety features such as pedestrian detection and pre-collision braking assist. With its high-strength military-grade aluminum body, top safety ratings are expected.
Our black themed interior sported a colorful 12-inch digital gauge screen and a new user-friendly but overall bland 12-inch dashboard screen, dual glovebox, and ample storage spaces (including underneath the second row).
Drivers select from seven drive-modes with off-road data and turn-by-turn navigation.
Over-the-air updates – a first for an American-made full-size pick-up – helps with maintenance and performance improvements.
A full-size spare tire is mounted underbody.
At a Glance
LIKES: Looks, power, best-in-industry features, versatility, off-road capability, plethora of options, safety, ride, towing muscle, handling
DISLIKES: Bland dashboard screen, occasional clunky gear shifts, options needed
BOTTOM LINE: F-150 raises the bar higher for Silverado and Ram
Fact File: 2021 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercrew (Lariat)
3.5-liter, V6, powerboost, full hybrid
325-hp at 5,000 rpm
400 ft.-lbs. at 2,700 rpm
Hybrid electric,10-speed automatic w/ manual paddles
19 mpg city/22 mpg hwy
0-60 in 5.4 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.