Chicago Auto Show Blog

America's Best-Selling Truck Has New Tricks Up Its Sleeves

Posted by: Jim OBrill

The Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle on the road in 39 out of 50 states, including Illinois. With a history that dates back to 1948 and thirteen previous generations, Ford has introduced an all-new fourteenth generation of the 2021 Ford F-150. Like many vehicles launching this year, the 2021 F-150 was first introduced via a live-streaming event earlier this summer. Ford recently gave journalists and dealers the opportunity to see the all-new truck in person to better understand and see how this new truck is 92% all-new from the outgoing model. The only carry over from 2020 is its cab and pickup box structure. 


The F-series has been the bestselling truck in America for 43 years and also the bestselling truck in the world for the past 10 years. With a history like that, Ford had to get this makeover right as competition in the truck segment continues to heat up. The 2021 Ford F-150 represents the future of 'Built Ford Tough', building on the F-150 legacy as Ford's toughest, most productive, most connected F-150 ever. The 2021 F-150 introduces all-new features and innovations like over-the-air updates, flexible workspaces and Pro Power Onboard, and a first-ever built-in generator capable of powering tools or tailgates. It also marks a first for Ford: the first hybrid powertrain on an F-Series. The 3.5L PowerBoost full hybrid V6 engine delivers the best torque and horsepower in the F-150 lineup and a max towing capacity of at least 12,000 pounds. The new F-150 also adds ten new driver-assist features and is currently the only pickup to offer Active Driver Assist, which allows for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada.


At first glance, the new Ford F-150 may not look drastically different from the previous models, however, upon close inspection consumers will recognize the changes. The new F-150 is built on the proven steel frame and military-grade aluminum alloy body making this one of the most durable and capable frames ever utilized. Perhaps most notable is a new front-end appearance that includes a new signature lighting C-clamp design that extends from the traditional headlight location into the bumper fog light area. While the lighting signature will carryover across the line-up, customers can choose from 11 available grilles which align with various F-series trim levels. The hood is raised at the A-pillar and on the side profile you'll notice new sculpted doors, fenders and box sides. The windows appear larger with a lower base which provides better visibility from inside the cabin. Wheel openings have been reduced, but are still large enough to accommodate a wide variety of wheel/tire combinations that stretch from the smaller street tires found on the Hybrid to the meatier tires on the King Ranch. Ford has also added new wheel designs to coincide with the new truck. Around back, the F-150 features a new tailgate and applique that draws from the front-end design cues. Like the headlights, the tail lights are also updated with incandescent lights and an LED signature.


Speaking of that tailgate, the new F-150 truck bed now transforms into its own workshop. The tailgate doubles as a work surface with built-in ruler, mobile device holder and new clamp pockets to hold down materials for precise work. The fold out step system is also still available in the F-150 tailgate. And consumers can work into the night with available zone lighting that allow you to light up sections of the exterior lighting. And perhaps one of the most beneficial features in the truck bed is the Pro Power Onboard generator system which includes power outlets in the bed that can provide power for all those tools. Ford listened to its target consumers who often carry around mobile generators for this purpose and now has eliminated that need by including it in the new F-150. The power features 2.0-kilowatt output on the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8, while PowerBoost-equipped F-150 comes standard with 2.4 kilowatts of output or an optional 7.2 kilowatts of output. Power is accessible through in-cabin outlets and up to four cargo bed-mounted 120-volt 20-amp outlets, with a 240-volt 30-amp outlet on the 7.2-kilowatt version. The system even provides power on the move to charge tool batteries in between jobs.


Inside the new F-150 are upgraded surfaces and finishes to compliment the new instrument panel and huge center stack screen. Standard is an 8" touchscreen for the XL-XLT models and a 12.1" landscape screen is optional on the XLT+ models. All models feature Ford's SYNC4 technology standard which is one of the most intuitive and easiest systems (in my opinion) available. SYNC4 includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an enhanced voice recognition/navigation package is optional. Ford has also added over-the-air updates to the technology much like consumers are used to with their mobile devices. 

In today's world, many consumers are using their vehicles as mobile offices which is something Ford has also taken into consideration when designing the cabin area. A new gear shift can stow into the center console and allow for the lid of the storage bin to open into a flat workspace. While many manufacturers have opted for push button shifters, Ford polled its owners which communicated their preference for an actual shift knob. Many drivers (myself included) prefer to rest one of their hands on that shift knob and the feeling of at least shifting it into a gear versus the buttons that many manufactures are adding now. Ford listened and came up with a creative alternative that I think works very nicely in the new F-150. Also, inside the F-150 is plenty of storage with a dual glovebox, center console storage, and rear undersea locking storage. As an added bonus the front seats fully recline back for maximum relaxation. The overall fit and finish of the inside of the 2021 F-150 will depend greatly on the chosen trim level as Ford continues to offer the most basic XL version which will strip it down to basic needs and the top trims will have you feeling like you never left home. 


All these new features are enticing, but at the end of the day truck owners need to know what's under the hood and how capable the new F-150 will be. F-150 buyers will have the choice of five traditional engines and for the first time ever, a hybrid powertrain. Those engine options can be seen in the chart below:

  • 3.3 Liter Ti-VCT V6: 290 Horsepower, 265 lb-ft Torque
  • 2.7 Liter EcoBoost V6: 325 Horsepower, 400 lb-ft Torque
  • 5.0 Liter Ti-VCT V8: 400 Horsepower, 410 lb-ft Torque
  • 3.0 Liter Power Stroke V6: 250 Horsepower, 440 lb-ft Torque
  • 3.5 Liter EcoBoost V6: 400 Horsepower, 500 lb-ft Torque
  • 3.5 Liter Power Boost Full Hybrid V6: 430 Horsepower, 570 lb-ft Torque

The all-new hybrid model makes the F-150 the only light-duty full-size pickup to offer a full hybrid and is available on every trim level from XL to Limited. For those questioning a F-150 Hybrid, it is actually the most powerful engine in the lineup. The PowerBoost system adds instant electric torque and targets an EPA range of approximately 700 miles on a single tank of gas while still delivering up to 12,000 lbs. of maximum towing capability.

The 2021 Ford F-150 seems to check all of the boxes including safety features. Now available is a laundry list of safety technology that kickstarts a new decade for this nearly 75 year-old nameplate. Available features include Ford Co-Pilot 360 2.0 technology, intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane centering, evasive steering assist, pro trailer backup assist with trailer reverse guidance, and more. Other new available features include Intersection Assist, which detects oncoming traffic while the driver is attempting a left turn. If there is risk of a collision with an oncoming vehicle, F-150 will apply the brakes to mitigate or avoid it. F-150 is the only light-duty full-size pickup with available Active Park Assist 2.0, which handles all steering, shifting, braking and accelerator controls during a parallel or perpendicular parking maneuver while the driver holds down a button.


According to Ford, the F-150 is the most American made truck. Production has started at both the Dearborn and Kansas City assembly plants. Look for the new F-150 to start arriving on dealership lots this fall. Prices start at $28,940 for the base XL and can climb as high as $78,490 for the top Platinum SuperCrew Hybrid model. With so many configurations available and a $50,000 price range, visit for updates and configurators to build one that checks all of your boxes.

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