2021 Ford F-250 Review

2021 Ford F-250 - Work Truck or Play Truck? You decide!


The Ford F-Series Super Duty truck line up is available with a total of eighteen variations starting with the base F-250 XL starting at $34,230 and the F-450 Limited at the other end of the spectrum starting at $91,125. Variations can be broken out by series and trim level. Ford offers the Super Duty as a F-250, F-350, or F-450 and then further by trim levels, XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited. Additional option packages such as the Tremor off-road package will give buyers the option to truly build a truck to suit their needs. The lineup received a significant refresh for 2020 that carries over into 2021. New for 2021 are three new colors; Antimatter Blue, Carbonized Gray and Lithium Gray.  Competition includes the Chevrolet Silverado HD, GMC Sierra HD, Ram 2500 HD, and Nissan Titan XD.

My test model for this review was a 2021 F-250 SRW 4x4 Crew Cab Platinum with the 160" wheelbase that had a base price of $65,515, but was equipped with several options that brought the final MSRP to $73,825. Under the hood was the new 7.3L V8 that produces 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. Two other powertrains are available, the base engine is a 6.2L V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The other option is a Power Stroke turbodiesel 6.7L V8 that generates 475 horsepower and 1,050 lb.-ft. of torque.

Acceleration was decent for a truck of this size and it shifted into gears smoothly. The ride on the highway is bouncy (as expected), especially when equipped with the 35" off-road tires that add a fair amount of road noise. The steering and handling were surprisingly impressive for a truck with a 160" wheel base. Whether on the highway or around town, the truck was easily controlled and never felt too loose which is likely a benefit of the electronically assisted steering. The 360-degree cameras, park assist and the truck's steering capabilities all work very well together. Driving this truck downtown Chicago and in heavy highway traffic required a little more effort and awareness than a Ford Escape, but nonetheless it was still easy maneuver.

The Super Duty runs on regular grade gas which is good considering that the truck doesn't even get an EPA rating like all other heavy-duty trucks. The fuel tank fills at 34 gallons and will generally offer just under 400 miles per tank depending on how you drive when full. After a week of suburban driving mixed with a fair amount of traffic going into Chicago and I averaged 11.2 MPG.

My test truck also came equipped with the Tremor Off-Road Package which not only looks great on this truck, but it adds off-road goodies such as 35" off-road tires (LT285/75R18), 18" low-gloss black painted wheels, lane-keep assist, rear electronic locking differential, front limited slip differential and performance front & rear shock absorbers. Features also included selectable drive modes to apply to various road conditions which included normal, tow/haul, eco (a valiant attempt to make you feel better about those MPGs), slippery, and deep snow/sand.  A rock-crawl mode is also unique to the Tremor package and combined with the factory 2" lift assures that there's not much this truck can't get through including water fording of 33 inches.

The F-250 Super Duty line of trucks are built specifically to do more than your average pickup with better than average capabilities.  Payload varies based on trim, cab, and box size and falls within the range of 3,040 up to 4,350 lbs on the F-250 SRW 4x4 I had. The F-250's minimum tow rating is 12,500 lbs on a Crew Cab 4x4 with a 6.2 L V8 and it only gets better from there.  The highest rated F-250 is the 6.7L Power Stroke Diesel V8 in a regular cab that tops out at 20,000 lbs. Step up to the F-450 for a maximum conventional rating of 24,200 lbs. If these numbers are of high importance to your job or weekend hobby, be sure to check out www.Ford.com to ensure the truck you're considering offers what you need.  

If you are utilizing your truck for towing, Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature is a great add-on.  The package makes maneuvering a trailer a simple task. The system takes over the steering of the trailer via a knob in the center stack.  Utilizing the truck's cameras, the trailer is fully controlled via the dial knob while the driver's hands are off the steering wheel.

With six trim levels available and additional packages beyond that, the overall exterior look will vary. My Platinum edition showed up looking sophisticated and rugged. It came in one of the new colors for 2021, Antimatter Blue. The LED C-clamp styled daytime running light look mean and menacing on such a big truck. The combination of chrome side mirrors, grill, door handles, and front tow hooks with the black wheels from the Tremor package really gave this a contemporary rugged look.  Across the back tailgate of Platinum models is a chrome strip that spells out both P-L-A-T-I-N-U-M and Super Duty. It gives this work truck some class and sophistication. The tail gate is also functional with a pull-out step and grab handle that comes in useful when loading the bed if the truck.

After last year's overhaul, the interior also carries over with minor adjustments in some packaging. Drivers will face a traditional cluster with a digital center screen that is host to a variety of information ranging from fuel levels, speedometer, drive modes, fuel economy, and much more.  The size of the digital cluster screen will vary based on trim level but can be as large as 8-inches starting with the Lariat models. The gear selector is in the steering column and four-wheel drive controls are controlled via a dial knob adjacent to the push-button start.

All Super Duty's feature Ford's SYNC infotainment system which is one of the most user-friendly systems available. XL models get a 4.2-inch LCD screen with basic SYNC technology while all XLT and above trims utilize an 8-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen using SYNC 3 that integrates with Apple Car Play, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. All three systems can operate via voice activation, the touchscreen or the steering wheel controls. The overall feel of the inside will greatly depend on the chosen trim level. Base models will have more hard plastics and smaller screens while the top tier Limited models will have materials and features that are near luxury car levels. The Platinum model had a very upscale feel with above average materials, ambient lighting, soft arm rests, brushed silver accents, platinum badging and more. The layout was simple and functional with an 8-inch touchscreen at the top of the center screen, climate controls below that and plenty of center console storage large enough to hide a laptop. It also came with a wireless charging pad for mobile devices located in the center console along with four adjustable cup holders.

The available heated/ventilated leather front seats were very comfortable and supportive. 10-way, power-adjustable seating is available ensuring all drivers can find a comfortable position. Additionally, the gas/brake pedal are also power-adjustable to accommodate various driver needs. The rear seats of the crew cab offered plenty of room for three passengers that was more comfortable that some crossover vehicles, and even came with heated seats on the Platinum model. A power rear sliding glass also adds some fresh air in back. Large door openings and flip up rear seats make the space more functional for hauling cargo.

Safety features will vary in the Super Duty lineup with each trim level through its Co-Pilot 360 Technology. Base models get AutoLamp functioning for the lights, hill start assist, rear view cameras, and a variety of other general safety features. Stepping up to the XLT and up will add features such as pre-collision assist with auto emergency braking, BLIS (blind spot information system) with cross traffic alert and trailer tow, forward collision warning, telescoping mirrors, and more. Other available driver assists features include adaptive cruise control, ultimate trailer tow camera system, reverse sensing system, and adaptive steering.

If there's a segment that Ford knows, its trucks and the F-250 Super Duty is no exception. The updates made last year were all very thoughtful and aided in making this truck so much more than a heavy-duty work truck. It's massive size and fuel economy aside, this could be a suitable truck for a family with plenty of space inside the crew cab. It was surprisingly easy to handle (even in an urban environment) and besides keeping an eye on height clearances, I was able to navigate the city of Chicago quite well. For someone who is in need of a work horse that can pull double duty as a family hauler or just a more sophisticated truck to take out on the weekend, the F-250 Super Duty will likely have a model that checks all of the boxes.

First Impression Summary:

Test Vehicle: 2021 Ford F250 Super Duty SRW 4x4 Crew Cab Platinum

Exterior Color: Antimatter Blue
Interior Color: Black Leather
Notable Options: 7.3L V8 Engine ($2,045), Tremor Off-Road Package ($3,975), and Tough Bed Spray in Liner ($595)
MSRP as tested: $73,825 (with destination & delivery)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.