One-time brokerage firm E.F. Hutton coined a memorable tag
line in its bygone-era, television commercial. "When
E.F. Hutton talks, people listen;" still resonates today with folks of a
certain vintage. Ford Motor Co. could twist and tuck this earworm in its favor
by reconstituting the slogan along the lines of, "When F-150 Revs,
After all, the Blue Oval's F-Series
sets the table for the larger-than-life full-size pickup segment, one that
provides powerful profits for the traditional Big Three automakers.
The F-Series garnered 'Best -selling vehicle in the U.S.' accolades for what
seems like a gazillion years (it's actually a bit less, landing at 44
consecutive annum). In 2020 dealers released 787,422 units with a
majority of those coming from the light duty F-150 variant; the remainder in
the form of Super Duty, Ford's mantra combining heavy-duty F-250, F-350 and
As THE perennial sales leader, F-150 made a
game-changing play during its 13th-generation 2015 redesign by incorporating a
bold outside theme
While F-150's workman-like body-on-frame
underpinnings continued with a fully boxed ladder design structure constructed
from high-strength steel, the outer hull employed high-strength aluminum
alloys, allowing significant weight savings reaching approximately 700 pounds.
Less weight translates into improved fuel economy, no matter what size engine
churns under hood.
Speaking of engines, 2021 welcomes in
all-new 14th-generation redesign with a powertrain first: a gas-electric
hybrid. It's a 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 teaming with a small 35
kilowatt electric motor juiced from a self-charging 1.5 kilowatt-hour,
liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery, (the kind never in need of a nightly wall
socket plug-in). Total horsepower reaches 430. The battery pack stows
out of sight between frame rails near back seat flooring. The hybrid
system is offered with larger, full-sized crew cabs (Super Crew in Ford speak)
teamed with smaller-length beds.
Production of Ford's
hybrid F-150 ramped up slowly at the end of the 2020 calendar year, with
arrival to dealerships picking up in the first quarter of 2021. Hybrid towing
capacity reaches a respectable 12,700 pounds.
under the hood with all engine selections: a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic
transmission replacing a rather pedestrian six-speed, which drivers may
visually monitor via an animated graphic within the instrument panel.
how much does the hybrid engine spank up mileage calculations? Using Ford's
3.5-liter turbo gas engine as the next closest example, fuel economy improves
20 percent, or approximately 4 miles in combined city and highway travel
delivering up to 700 travel miles on a full tank. At the same time, horsepower
jumps by 20 and low-end torque grunt increases 70.
almost endless number of F-150 combinations exist thanks to six engine choices,
six trims, (the very base XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum, King Ranch, Limited) three
bed lengths (five-foot five-inches, six-foot five-inches and eight feet), three
cab sizes and 4 x 2 rear-wheel vs. 4 x 4 four wheel drive. A
cavernous pricing gap between low and high is large enough for a 2021 F-150 to
smash easily through; from $29,000 to $74,000 prior to option content.
cabs include one row of seating while SuperCab and SuperCrew include a back
row. All three include either two buckets up front or three-person
bench seating. Front buckets boast an optional 180-degree bend for hammock-like
resting during down time.
Of the six available 2021 engine
selections, five rate as V-6s with one V-8; most (sans the hybrid) remain
largely carryovers. A 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 generates 250
horsepower and rates as the sole diesel offering. Top horsepower
awards to the 5.0-liter, naturally aspirated (non turbo) V-8 delivering 400
horsepower and 410 lbs.-ft. of low-end torque.
Red' mid-level Lariat 4 x 4 tester with hybrid powertrain and SuperCrew
interior included a $50,980 starting price. After nearly $20,000 of heavily
a-la-carte add-ons along with one equipment group package and full-size $1,695
destination charge, the bottom line reached $70,960.
slice of the $20,000 extras included $3,300 for the hybrid engine and $395 for
premium exterior paint. A $6,920 Equipment Group 502 added radar enhanced
cruise control, connected and built-in navigation/navigation services, speed
sign instrument panel recognition, rain sensing wipers and second-row heated
Rode I-88 towards LeClair, Iowa just west of the
Mighty Mississippi and F-150 provided a smooth experience with an unexpectedly
light steering feel. Adaptive radar-enhanced cruise control and lane
keep assist eased the driving burden. For such a large vehicle, blind spots
were minimal when changing lanes, although a beveled insert into side-view
mirrors would be a great assist.
When driving around town,
the hybrid combination provided quicker acceleration expected from a V-6 under
hood a vehicle this size. Lower side running boards and inside A-Pillar grab
handles are welcome and a great assist when entering. The re-tweaked, bold
exterior continues offering a wide variety of appearance packages and wheel options.
A convenient option introduced in Gen 13 returns in 2021; a
power tailgate retracting down AND up with the push of a dashboard or key fob
button. When positioned down, 2021 now offers an optional work surface with
built-in ruler and pockets for stowing cell phones, pencils and refreshing
beverages. Also new, clamp pockets for holding materials steady if
trimming or cutting. Newly added cleats serve double duty as a bottle opener to
better access said beverages.
Here's an added value gaining
segment popularity. Ford's optional 'Pro Power' system ($750 extra in
the hybrid) utilizes a built-in on-board generator to crank out varying degrees
of kilowatt energy ready and usable when visiting remote locals lacking the
convenience of a conventional wall socket. An assortment of 120 volt and
heavier-duty 240 volt plug-ports built into F-150's bed provides a portable AC
electrical source to power small devices at work sites.
Pro Power is optional in non-hybrid V-6s and solo V-8 engines allowing more
opportunity for portable power without lugging around a bulky generator.
large, all-digital instrument panel feels modern without an off-putting tech
overdo. An eight-inch multi-function flat screen comes standard, but our tester
opted for the super-sized 12-inch square-ish version; it's the most visible
nuance of the re-imagined 14-th generation dashboard. The fourth-generation of
Ford's Sync infotainment system with user-friendly touch icons and layout
enhances the brightly colored screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Smartphone
compatibility come standard with wireless interaction available.
square, center bi-hinged bin folds up from the rear with room enough inside to
swallow a laptop, small poodle or both; an upfront hinge opens into a flat
writing surface. Machine-like grab dials throughout the dashboard
remain large enough to operate even when sporting Chicago-style winter gloves
with the exception being the HVAC's fan speed operating via a rather tiny push
The bench-style CrewCab rear seat accommodates three
adults with ample head and leg room. With no takers present, cushions
manually fold up in a 'V' fashion increasing inside cargo storage in addition
to oodles of outside opportunities.
E.F. Hutton and
old-school brokerage firms faded away long ago, replaced by 21st-Cenutry Wealth
Management Conglomerates. The 2021 F-150, however, remains as
relevant as ever, with sales numbers and functional tech speaking louder than
words. 2021 Ford F-150
as tested: $70,960
Engine: Twin turbo 3.5-liter V-6
Motor: 47 Horsepower
Combined Horsepower: 430
Wheelbase: 145.4 inches
Length: 231.7 inches
Curb Weight: 5,794 pounds
economy: 24 miles per gallon combined