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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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Off-road performance truck

Shelby American announces new Ford F-150 Raptor

Shelby just announced the new truck, which has a starting price of more than $124,000.

Shelby American

The third-generation Ford F-150 Raptor is a true off-road menace, with a strong turbocharged V6, beefy tires and shocks, and a luxury-level interior. Most people would consider the truck overkill for all but the hardest-core off-road enthusiasts, but the wizards at Shelby American have other ideas. As it has done with Ford vehicles for years, Shelby gave the new Raptor a performance makeover, and the finished product is quite impressive.

Shelby F-150 Raptor There's no mistaking a Shelby-tuned Raptor. Shelby American

The F-150 Raptor is already a capable beast, but Shelby turns things up a few notches. Performance upgrades include a performance intake and high-flow filter, an aluminum intercooler, a tune that pushes power to more than 525 ponies and 610 pound-feet of torque, a Shelby exhaust, and a BDS lift kit. The Shelby Raptor rides on 18-inch wheels with 37-inch BFG KM3 Mud Terrain tires.

If you’re thinking Shelby slaps a few go-fast parts on the Raptor and calls it good, think again. The truck’s interior features embroidered custom leather upholstery and exclusive floor mats. A unique serial number plate is mounted in the dash. Shelby also fits billet racing pedals, carbon fiber accents, and deep tinted windows.

Outside, the Raptor gest several touches to let everyone know it’s not a standard Ford. A special Shelby hood with intake and extraction vents is standard, along with power side steps with rock sliders. A bevy of Shelby logos and badging grace the truck’s body, and both bumpers have been replaced with steel units to accommodate light bars and additional tow points.

Shelby F-150 Raptor Shelby fits performance parts and gives the truck a tune.Shelby American

If you’re hoping to be one of the insane few to own a Shelby Raptor, get your wallet ready. The truck’s base price starts at $124,820, which includes the MSRP of the truck itself. That said, it’s unclear how extreme demand and supply chain issues will impact Shelby’s ability to get new trucks to modify.

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