2021 Ford F-150 Review

The 2021 Ford F-150 is completely redesigned and loaded with new, innovative features.

3 months ago
Brian Armstead
Contributor

The 2021 Ford F-150 is a complete redesign of Ford’s full-size truck, with a long list of new innovations that includes a compelling new hybrid drivetrain. Ford’s success with the F-150 is marked by 43 years as the best-selling truck in the U.S., and despite relatively subtle exterior updates, the breadth of new features and technology should ensure a 44th year at the top of the sales chart. The starting price for the 2021 Ford F-150 is $29,000, with top-end versions edging close to $80,000.

F-Series Exterior

For 2021, Ford continues to utilize a fully-boxed high-strength steel frame surrounded by a high strength aluminum alloy body for the F-150. Depending on your choice of six available trim levels, the F-150 is rated for up to 14,000 pounds towing capability, an increase of more than 800 lbs over 2020 models. Eleven grille and fifteen wheel options are available, depending on trim, along with LED headlamps and taillamps. Full-length extended power running boards are available, providing better truck-side cargo box accessibility.

2021 Ford F-150 Off Road Puddle

The 2021 F-150 also features new active grille shutters for improved aerodynamic efficiency, a new automatically deploying active air dam, and new cab and tailgate geometry, all designed to reduce drag and decrease fuel consumption. Wheel diameters increased this year. These combine with a wider track and flared fenders to give the F-150 a more aggressive appearance.

2021 Ford F150 Side Profile

Fifteen exterior colors are available, with our hybrid test model finished in Rapid Red Metallic with Tinted Clearcoat. The finish of the metallic paint, along with the F-150’s tight, consistent gap between body panels, imparts a sense of quality and precision.

If you want a better look around the exterior, you can find a 360 viewer and a color picker on the official Ford F-150 website.

2021 Ford F-150 Interior

F-150 Interior

Ford calls the new F-150 “the most connected F-150 ever,” and for good reason. The standard SYNC 4, featuring an 8-inch touchscreen and a processor with twice the computing power of the previous generation, bolsters the truck’s high-tech pedigree. Standard over-the-air updates means new features can be added, post purchase. and some maintenance items can be accomplished without ever visiting a dealer. Real-time traffic reports, wireless connectivity to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and compatibility with apps like Waze are just a click or two away. 

2021 Ford F-150 Interior King Ranch Materials

In the driver’s gauge cluster on Lariat and above trims, a standard 12-inch productivity screen delivers navigation guidance, adaptive cruise control info, selectable drive modes, audio settings, and more. 

2021 Ford-F-150 Interior King Ranch

A Bang & Olufsen (B&O) eight-speaker sound system ($610) is available on XLT and above trims, while the 18-speaker “B&O Unleashed” system, with speakers in the headliner and front seat headrests, is a superb system offered at a modest price ($695).

To better understand all the interior options and inclusions download the official Ford F-150 brochure to see a side by side comparison of what’s offered between the different trim levels.

2021 Ford F-150 Towing

F-150 Powertrain

Several engines are offered in the 2021 F-150. The base drivetrain is a 3.3-liter V6 delivering 290-horsepower and 265-pound-feet of torque. A 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 (400 lb-ft), a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 (410 lb-ft), and a 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 diesel (440 lb-ft) are also available.

2021 Ford F-150-Profile-Driving

The big news in the new F-Series is the availability of the only full hybrid drivetrain in the segment, offered in each of the F-150’s trim levels. When combined with the twin-turbocharged and intercooled 400-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, the PowerBoost Hybrid system generates 430 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque (500 lb-ft in the non-hybrid 3.5 EcoBoost trim). EPA mileage ratings for the PowerBoost Hybrid 4×2 are 25 mpg city/26 mpg highway with an estimated range of 750 miles. Finally, this hybrid is capable of towing 12,700 pounds with a maximum payload rating of 2120 pounds.

2021 Ford F-150 Bed Power

All gasoline-powered F-150 engines are designed to operate on regular 87 octane fuel. The electric-only range with the Hybrid is about ten miles, as the unit is not designed to primarily operate on electric power alone. But the hybrid’s benefits go beyond increased torque and fuel efficiency. The “Pro Power Onboard” system, which pairs with the hybrid drivetrain, offers either 2.4 kilowatts or 7.2 kilowatts of output, With available 240-volt, 30-amp outlets in the truck bed, this system can power enough heavy equipment to turn a forest into a log cabin, without any additional power source. Pro Power Onboard can be ordered with non-hybrid drivetrains, but only in the 2.4-kilowatt capacity.

You can view all the various powertrain options and their specifications by downloading the Ford F-150 brochure, or visiting the official Ford F-150 website.

F-150 Driving Experience

On the road, the PowerBoost Hybrid and King Ranch V8 both drove like a tall luxury car. Ride quality is superb for such heavy trucks (around 5500 lbs). We’ve frequently experienced a bouncy ride in pickups with an empty cargo bed. Ford has struck a balance between unloaded and loaded ride quality in the F-150, as both deliver a smooth, well-controlled ride.

2021 Ford F-150 Payload

Additionally, Ford engineers clearly made noise reduction a priority. Even with an optional full-panoramic glass sunroof, the F-150 Hybrid was car-like quiet. The serene cabin made the optional Bang & Olufsen audio system even more enjoyable.

2021 Ford F-150 Off Road Mud

Off-road, the PowerBoost Hybrid handled a variety of terrains with aplomb, including a very muddy trail (thanks to heavy rain the day before our drive). Our hybrid tester was equipped with the $1,005 FX4 Package, which for 2021 sees the addition of a Rock Crawl mode via a driver-selectable mode switch. The FX4 package also includes all-terrain tires, off-road-tuned front shocks, and skid plates to protect the underbody and drivetrain, among other features. 

2021 Ford F-150 Trailer Towing Boat

Ford also set up a towing course with the Hybrid, which included some very steep hills. The Heavy-Duty Payload and Max Trailer Tow Package are worthy options should you need to do serious towing, as the package handled the 12,000-pound trailer with ease. Available Trailer Reverse Guidance uses the truck’s high-resolution cameras to provide multiple angles to assist drivers in which way to turn the steering wheel while backing up, while Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes backing up a trailer easy through the use of a simple dial.

2021 Ford F-150 Front Side

2021 Ford F-150 Trim Levels and Pricing

Ford offers a wide array of available features across the F-150’s six trim levels, including six different engines and multiple cab/box configurations ranging from Regular Cab to SuperCab to SuperCrew models. Standard content grows as the price rises between each trim level: 

  • XL (starts at $28,500) this is the base truck with a regular cab and 6.5-foot box. 
  • XLT (starts at $35,000) adds cruise control, power door locks with keyless entry, power tailgate lock, and a Reverse Sensing System 
  • Lariat (starts at $45,000) adds more convenience and luxury features, including SuperCab with a 6.5-foot box, EcoBoost V6, SYNC 4 with 12-inch touchscreen, and leather seating
  • King Ranch (starts at $56,500) features a SuperCrew cab with a 5.5-foot box, 5.0-liter V8, real wood and special leather interior trim
  • Platinum (starts at $59,000) adds power-deployable running boards, 20-inch wheels, leather bucket front seats with massage 
  • Limited (starts at $70,800) this is the top-of-the-line luxury model with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, 22-inch wheels, and the B&O Unleashed 18 speaker audio system

Add $1,495 to all trims for Destination and Delivery charges. 

The PowerBoost Hybrid system can be added to all trim levels.  Pricing is: 

  • $1,900 when upgrading from the 5.0-liter V8 or 3.5-liter EcoBoost (5.0-liter is standard on King Ranch and Platinum trims, 3.5-liter EcoBoost standard on Limited)
  • $3,300 when upgrading from the 2.7-liter EcoBoost (standard on Lariat)
  • $4,495 when upgrading from the 3.3-liter V6 (standard on XL and XLT trims)

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price an F-150 on Ford’s official web site. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Ford offers page to see if there are any deals on at the moment. Alternatively you can request a quote via the Ford website.

2021 Ford F-150 Underseat Storage

Ford F-150 Best Features

The Pro Power Onboard system is unique to the new 2021 Ford F-150. It gives owners the ability to use their F-150 as a mobile generator. Choose from 2.0 kW (available with optional gas engines), 2.4kW (standard with the PowerBoost Hybrid engine), or 7.2kW (available as an optional upgrade with the PowerBoost Hybrid engine only). 

2021 Ford F-150 Pro Power

At a media event at Ford’s proving grounds, Ford had the F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid on display powering a grill, refrigerator, arc welder, 70-inch television, and more. If a transfer switch is professionally installed, your Pro Power Onboard F-150 with the Powerboost Hybrid and 7.2kw generator could actually power many household systems during a power outage. Owners can even monitor the system, remotely, via the FordPass app while keeping the F-150 in keyless idle mode.

2021 Ford F-150 Underseat Storage

Opt for the Interior Work Surface and there’s a fold forward table ready to serve as a work surface or food table. Ford was able to incorporate this option thanks to the addition of a fold-flat gear selector that frees up space on the console.

2021 Ford F-150 Fold Flat Seats

Available Max Recline Seats fold almost completely flat, should passengers need to safely pull off the road to get some rest. Think airline first-class or business class fold-flat seats.

You can find more information on all the standard features and options within the official Ford F-150 brochure.

2021 Ford F-150 Profile Off Road

What is Our Favorite Version of the F-150?

Since King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited trims are all based on Lariat standard content, the middle trim level Lariat is a great choice when considering the F-150 price/value equation. We like the power and fuel savings available with PowerBoost Hybrid engine, and the Pro Power Onboard generator is a highly functional benefit if a worksite, campsite, or regular tailgating is part of your professional or personal lifestyle.

2021 Ford F-150 Pro Trailer Backup Assist

F-150 Notable Safety Features

All 2021 Ford F-150’s come with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 technology. This package of safety tech includes lane-keeping assist, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and automatic high beams. As you climb the trim ladder, Co-Pilot 360 adds additional safety features, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition, Evasive Steering Assist, Intersection Assist, Active Parking Assist (self-parking) and a prep kit for future hands-free driving called Active Drive Assist. The 2021 F-150 Crew Cab earns a “Good” roof strength rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety but has not yet been rated for crash safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2021 Ford F-150 Profile Driving Payload

Who Should Buy a 2021 Ford F-150?

The competitive nature of today’s full-size truck segment means they are all quite good. But within that field, the new F-150 has an advantage in terms of advanced drivetrains, functional innovations, and connected technology. Truck buyers looking for the widest range of engine choices, longest list of truck-friendly features, and future-proof technology will appreciate the 2021 Ford F-150. And customers looking for maximum worksite or campsite flexibility simply won’t find more mobile power options than the new F-150 offers.

If you’re in the market for one a F-150, you can search Ford’s inventory to see if there are any in your desired specification at your local Ford dealer. Alternatively you can request a quote via their website and speak to a Ford representative.

2021 Ford F-150 Trailer Towing Boat

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Ford F-150

The F-150 has been at the heart of Ford’s product line for decades. The 2021 Ford F-150 reflects that automaker’s combination of understanding of what truck buyers want and commitment to delivering it. It’s simply that good. Depending on trim and options, buyers can go lean or max out the F-150 to suit their needs and budget. The variety of engines, body styles, and features means there’s something for everyone.

Add the 2021 Ford F-150 to our recommended list.

2021 Ford F-150 Front Driving Red

F-150 Competitors to Consider

  • RAM 1500
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Toyota Tundra
  • Nissan Titan

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OVERALL RATING8.2
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.2
Ride Comfort 8.3
Safety 8.2
Fit for Purpose 8.8
Handling Dynamics 8.1
Interior Practicality and Space 8.4
Fuel Efficiency 7.2
Value for Money 8.1
Performance 8
Technology Infotainment 8.2