Behind the Wheel

2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Review: Loads of customer-focused innovation and potential

The F-150 has gotten an available hybrid power plant for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Don't get so focused on similarity of the headlights and bed of the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 that you miss the significant new details that make the truck one of the best you can buy. Consider that its revisions are a response to consumer demands and the F-150 really begins to shine.

One of the shiniest spots of the F-150 PowerBoost comes from its hybrid powertrain. Its also one of its sorest points. Each F-150 hybrid is equipped with a 3.5-liter hybrid V6 engine. Unlike some engines that are calibrated for fuel economy ahead of power availability, the Ford engine allows for both delivering 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque upon request.

2021 Ford F-150 interior featuresThe interior of the F-150 is quite well-appointed, but not as luxurious as the Ram 1500. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It never really feels like the truck wants for power, but switching from all-electric power off the line to a traditional hybrid power combination while getting up to speed makes the truck shutter to life. Playing it easier on the accelerator does help, not that you need to be a lead foot to make the shutter happen.

Through it all, the transmission doesn't question what is happening. It's smooth as silk, with the same gear ratios with the hybrid engine as it has with all other available F-150 engines.

Buyers can get their PowerBoost powertrain with either two- or four-wheel drive. The 2WD version is more efficient, but just barely, putting up 25 mpg combined to the 4x4's 24. The other F-150 engines fall between 19 and 21 mpg combined. Towing and hauling will significantly impact those numbers (it has a 12,000-pound towing capacity).

As tested in the mid grade Lariat trim, the Ford F-150 felt just right. It wasn't as fancy as the Platinum or King Ranch versions of the truck, but comfortable enough to be lived in with the right blend of refinement and tech. It's a truck you can use every day, not worry about getting dirty, and take your date out in on a Friday night.

2021 Ford F-150Lockable rear under-seat storage is a major plus when it comes to grocery shopping. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

With the SuperCrew box, the F-150 Lariat starts at $47,055. For the average customer the truck's equipment list is going to make it feel pretty loaded: 12-inch driver information screen, 12-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hot spot, leather-trimmed seats, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a Class IV trailer hitch, and Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0.

Plus, it has most of the features that Ford has included as part of its generational revision like the tailgate work surface, lockable rear under-seat storage, flat fold-out work surface in the center console, and foldable shifter.

It all works well, almost too well, as a matter of fact. The features of the interior of the truck are almost nice enough to get you to forget how well the Ram 1500 is appointed for a similar price tag. But, the Ram 1500 doesn't have a full hybrid system, on-board generator, or a host of other technologies that the Ford has.

2021 Ford F-150 interior featuresThe center console folds out to a flat surface that can be used for work or as a table. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford is better than the Chevrolet 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and Ram at all but one thing. Fix the shutter from a stop and the F-150 PowerBoost will quickly become the best choice for pickup truck buyers.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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First-year Ford F-150 Lightning production numbers doubled
Ford

Ford has begun serial production of the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, marking what could be one of the most important days in recent automotive history. The first trucks rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan today, so America's best-selling truck has finally gone electric. Ford wants to sell two million EVs per year by 2026 and have half of its global sales volume to be electric by 2030.

Ford F-150 LightningPast meets future: Ford's new electric pickup will be the F-150 Lightningautomotivemap.com

Ford has seen extreme demand for the trucks, with 200,000 reservations since the books opened. To deliver, the automaker plans to increase production to an annual rate of 150,000 units by next year, which involved huge investments in the Rouge Center and created hundreds of jobs. Ford's total investment for the F-150 Lightning crests $1 billion across Michigan alone, and has created 1,700 jobs across various facilities in the state.

Ford F-150 LightningThe first production trucks left the factory today.
Ford Motor Company

Though the Lightning starts around $40,000, the most mainstream models will cost much more than that. The F-150 Lightning Pro, while affordable, is a stripped-down truck intended for commercial buyers. It's still a forward-looking electric truck with amazing capabilities, but it lacks much of the creature comforts and features that everyday drivers expect. Higher trims get the latest driver assistance features, including BlueCruise, which is Ford's semi-autonomous hands-free driving assistant. A 12-inch touchscreen is standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.

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