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6 Things you should be most hyped about in the 2021 Ford F-150

The redesigned Ford F-150 has a lot to like.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When the Ford F-150 received a generational update for the 2015 model year, the truck's engineers and designers promised that there'd be faster refreshes and newer technology coming. As part of the upgrades, not only did Ford switch to an aluminum F-150 body, which was the big story, but it focused on creating an architecture that would help it stay ahead of the competition.

Since that update in 2015, the F-150 received incremental updates each year, and some body changes in 2018. Now for 2021, the F-150 is receiving another generational update.

The 2021 Ford F-150 updates take what's already great about the truck and adds to it. It's clear that Ford talks to their customers and pays attention to how customers use the truck. To the untrained eye, some features may seem gimmicky, but nearly every addition and change Ford has made has been to make the life of the truck owner easier, safer, and more productive.

There are some things to really get excited about in the new F-150. Here's a sampling of what I'm looking the most forward to.

​On-board generator

2021 Ford F-150

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Getting power to a job site isn't as difficult as it used to be, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. Ford is integrating a new generator – they call it Pro Power Onboard – that can provide up to 7.2 kilowatts of power anywhere you can take the truck.

How much is 7.2 kilowatts? It's similar to the amount of power a Level 2 electric vehicle charger disseminates. That's enough to power 28 average refrigerators at once or charge a bed full of electric dirt bikes, according to Ford. It could even power your entire jobsite. The system has a NEMA L14-30R plug for 240 volts at 30 amps.

Hybrid availability

2021 Ford F-150

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The F-150's hybrid powertrain option takes Ford's potent 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and adds a 35-kilowatt electric motor. Adding more capability to a high-performance motor is always welcomed. Ford isn't providing final numbers yet, but they indicated that it will be the hybrid that achieves the truck's maximum towing and payload numbers.

What's really exciting about the hybrid powertrain is the availability across the lineup. It's not limited to King Ranch or Platinum or Limited. If a buyer of an XL work truck wants the hybrid, they can get the hybrid.

Hands-free driving

The first pickup truck to offer SAE Level 2 ADAS with driver monitoring for hands-off operation isn't Tesla. It's not General Motors (even though their SuperCruise technology does this and has been around for a while, it's not available on the Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra). It's the 2021 Ford F-150.

Called Active Drive Assist, a camera monitors the driver's attention, and on roads that are mapped properly will allow the driver to remove their hands from the wheel. The driver still, obviously, has to pay attention, but this system is more advanced than what any other truck maker currently offers. This is the same technology that was announced for the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E.

It won't be available right at launch, and at this point it doesn't support trailering, but an over-the-air update next year will enable a feature that should make road trips a lot easier.

New workspace

2021 Ford F-150

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Working with a laptop in a pickup truck can be surprisingly difficult. Some owners will even buy aftermarket setups, similar to what you'll find in police and emergency vehicles, to hold the computer so they can work on the job site more comfortably. However well the mounts work, they generally aren't the most aesthetically appealing.

Ford created a new workspace in the center console by creating a mechanism for flipping over the lid of the console storage to a flat workspace. Since the gear shifter is in the way, Ford made it so the shifter can just fold away.

According to Ford, truck owners don't want to have a rotary dial or push button transmission. So, their solution is unique and effective. Maybe not as effective as just having a column-mounted shifter like in Super Duty, but effective, nonetheless.

The tailgate also has workplace tools to help. In addition to the optional tailgate step, the rear tailgate can become a work bench. It has a ruler, and can be used as a saw horse for a do-it-yourselfers and contractors alike.

Nap time

2021 Ford F-150

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Maybe you want to stretch out and relax for a few minutes. Maybe you're on a road trip and need to catch a few winks of sleep. There are many reasons why you might want to have a seat that folds nearly completely flat, some of which we won't discuss here, but the new 2021 Ford F-150 can accommodate.

The front seats recline back farther than any other pickup truck seat, maximizing comfort and taking advantage of all the space afforded by the massive SuperCrew cab.

F-150 Raptor

Ford didn't announce a new Raptor. But that doesn't mean there isn't an updated Raptor in the pipeline. While getting a Ford representative to talk about future product is about as difficult as launching a pebble into space with a centuries-old catapult, Ford has said that Raptor isn't going away. Ford reminded me, when asked, that Raptor has always come after the rest of the line updates, and that this time won't be any different.

Yes. Give me a Raptor with the on-board generator, Active Drive Assist, Fox LiveValve and the supercharged 5.2-liter V8 from the GT500, please.

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GMC has a winner with its new Yukon Denali.

Photo courtesy of GMC

The 2021 GMC Yukon isn't just a new SUV. It's a maturation of the brand, continuing the growth ushered in by the Sierra truck redesign two years ago.

GMC, a division of General Motors, didn't just make the SUV more luxe than the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, or a more rugged choice than the Cadillac Escalade. The Yukon is its own beast. And make no mistake, it is a beast in proportions though on the road it proves impressively maneuverable.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Each Yukon Denali comes with the Denali trim level's new grl Photo courtesy of GMC

The three-row full-size SUV is solid and capable. It's also the most elegant model in the GMC lineup, especially as tested in the Denali trim level. From the unique grille with satin chrome surround to the dual exhaust system with dual steel tips, the Yukon Denali stands out.

Riding on 20-inch wheels and powered by GM's 6.2-liter V8 engine, the Yukon Denali makes a proficient 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The engine is connected to a GM's 10-speed automatic transmission, which cannot be smoother in its operation.

The four-corner air suspension ensures that the ride is stable whether on smooth pavement or dirt, rounding corners at speed, or turning into a parking lot. It also raises and lowers the vehicle to an optimal height depending on the vehicle's current driving or resting function.

Pulling into that parking lot and getting properly into the space is easy thanks to accurate steering and the Yukon Denali's class-leading nine camera views.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali The rear of the Yukon Denali is a new look for the model. Photo courtesy of GMC

Shifting of the Yukon Denali is done via a new lever and button configuration that is placed on the dashboard near the steering wheel. In a world of stick, column, push-button, and rotary shifters, this new take is easy to use and intuitive. It's certainly head and shoulders ahead of the push-button shifter featured in the current generation Traverse's center stack when it debuted a few years ago.

GMC has equipped the Yukon Denali with a four-wheel drive system that allows proper traction in a variety of weather conditions. Only sunshine graced the SUV during its 36-hour test drive so there was no opportunity to truly put the system through its paces.

The Yukon Denali's cabin is more premium than ever before. It truly feels luxurious, even despite its parts bin center console controls, which are shared with the Sierra. Leather and soft-touch surfaces abound. The cabin is appointed in authentic materials in the areas where your eyes traditionally rest while being a passenger.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Fine materials are on display throughout the cabin. Photo courtesy of GMC

It has a unique moving center console that allows front row passengers to have more space while making the center console more accessible to second-row occupants.

Speaking of the second row, its captains chairs are made for comfort. In front of the passengers are twin 12.6-inch entertainment screens. The screen system no longer supports DVDs. The shift is in favor of USB- and Bluetooth-connected devices as well as streaming content. It can now accommodate Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Playstation, Apple TV, Roku, and Sling devices.

Access to the third row is easy through the center of the second row and adults can more comfortably sit back there thanks to the Yukon's elongated body style for the 2021 model year.

In front of the driver is a 15-inch head-up display that offers music information from the 14-speaker Bose sound system, navigation, and speedometer in an unobtrusive way.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali A new push button and lever shifting system is employed in the model. Photo courtesy of GMC

At the center of the dashboard is a sizable 10.2-inch infotainment screen that utilizes GM's standard operating system and graphics. Unlike what's in Genesis and Lincoln models, GMC's parent company hasn't refined the system with different styling for the premium model line. The Yukon Denali has up to eight USB ports, wireless charging, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

GMC has equipped the Yukon Denali with a host of standard safety features - most everything you'd expect. GM's Super Cruise hands-free driving technology hasn't yet made it over to the model, which is a shame.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali The Yukon Denali utilizes switchgear from the Sierra. Photo courtesy of GMC

Despite the complete redesign and impressive enhancements to the Yukon Denali for 2021, GMC has upped the price just $600 from the cost of the 2020 model. Including the destination charge the SUV comes in at just over $75,000. While $75,000 might sound steep to many buyers out there, compared to what you get from luxury automakers and truck sellers for that price, the Yukon Denali's cost is impressively low. That includes three rows of seating, high-end appointments, comfort, style, and a towing capacity of up to 7,900 pounds. The Yukon Denali could be priced at $90,000 and it would hardly elicit a second thought.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Dual entertainment screens are available in the Yukon Denali. Photo courtesy of GMC

From the interior to the exterior it's easy to see that GMC has gotten this one right. Twenty-five percent of GMCs sold are Denali badged and it wouldn't be surprising to see that number creeping up with the freshly enhanced model.

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The Kia Sorento has undergone a bold redo for 2021

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

We already knew what the redesigned 2021 Kia Sorento would look like thanks to its global reveal in March. Now we now what the U.S.-spec will be getting.

The Sorento will be available to U.S. customers in a new X-Line trim. It features a one-inch lift resulting in improved approach and departure angles. The grade also includes all-wheel drive with Snow mode, and a more robust roof rack.

201 Kia Sorento SX The Sorento has a new, sturdier roof rack.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia will offer the Sorento with four engine options in the U.S. The base power plant is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine achieves 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. It achieves 27 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive is standard with this engine and all-wheel drive is available.

Buyers will be able to upgrade the base model Sorento to get a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood that delivers 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed wet-clutch dual-clutch transmission - the same as what is offered in the Hyundai Veloster N - and is expected to achieve 25 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive is standard with this engine and all-wheel drive is available.

The front-wheel drive Sonata Hybrid will feature a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, 44.2 kWh electric motor, and six-speed automatic transmission.. That powertrain produces approximately 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's more powerful than the standard four-cylinder in the 2020 Sorento but less horsepower than buyers would get with the 2020 Sorento with a V6. Kia says the model gets 37 mpg combined.

201 Kia Sorento X-Line The new Sorento X-Line model features black design accents and wheels.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

That same engine powers an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid variant of the model that will be available in 2021 and feature 261 horsepower and 30 miles of all-electric range.

U.S. drivers will be able to configure the model with either 4+2 or 5+2 seating. The three-row SUV offers best-in-class front and rear legroom and overall interior passenger volume.

The fully upgraded interior includes a standard 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen that gets bumped up to a 10.25-inch screen in higher trim levels. An available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is available. There are eight USB charging ports (six in the LX model) and the larger screen allows for dual-phone Bluetooth Capability.

2021 Kia Sorento The interior of the Sorento features a new design for the automaker.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Opting for a system with UVO telematics adds cloud-based connected routing that allows navigation to be adjusted in real time according to evolving traffic and road conditions. There’s also weather information for up to 25,000 cities, voice assistant functionality, keyless entry user profiles, smart speaker integration, and advanced notifications for things like extended idle times and rear occupancy alerts. The system will automatically contact 911 should it sense that an airbag has deployed.

For the first time, Kia offers the model with on-demand Find My Car functionality with surround view technology that captures images of the vehicle’s surroundings then pushes them to the Kia Access Uvo app to aid in location. Additionally, last mile navigation provides walking directions to a final destination if the vehicle is parked between 0.1 and 1.2 miles away from the destination as entered in the navigation system.

A 12-speaker Bose sound system and wireless charging capability is available.

2021 Kia Sorento A 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen is available, Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia has given the Sorento a host of standard safety features including forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and rear occupant alert. Blind spot collision avoidance assist, passenger safe exit, and blind view monitor technologies are available.

The 2021 Sorento is assembled in West Point, Georgia alongside the Telluride and the K5.

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