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2021 Ford F-150 – How Good Is It?

Without Driving It, An Assessment

Ford has revealed the new 2021 Ford F-150 pickup.  As is the case these days, the reveal was an internet presentation.  We are looking at a very impressive new truck.

Ford had to pull out the stops for the 2021 iteration of its full size pickup.  Competition is getting better and closing the gap with the F-150.  The Ram pickup has overtaken the Chevrolet Silverado pickup as the second best-seller in the full size pickup market.  Ram has done it with a new pickup that looks good, rides better and has an impressively upscale interior.  Of course, the new Ram does not account for all its sales.  FCA continues to sell the last generation Ram pickup to fill in the lower priced models.    In the meantime, Silverado lags even with an all new pickup added for the 2020 model year.

The new 2021 Ford F-150 is positioned as an “all new” truck, and for the most part it is.  All the body panels are new, but the truck looks pretty much the same.  For those who care about such things, there are eleven different grill textures and thirteen different wheel styles.  This allows for a tremendous number of combinations to be built.  And Ford needs that many combinations to satisfy the tremendously wide buyer base for the truck.  This level of complexity allows Ford to provide a range from the basic work truck to the super-luxe Platinum and King Ranch editions.  The Ford F-150 probably accounts for over 600,000 of the 900,000 plus F-Series sold each year.  The remainder are Super Duty F-250s, F-350s and higher.

Comprehensive Complexity Keeps Japanese Brand Full Size Pickups Un-Competitive  The introduction of the 2021 Ford F-150 clearly demonstrates why the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan full size pickups stand no chance in the face of the Detroit 3 entries.  Domestic pickups have so much complexity and sell in such high volumes that the Japanese brands cannot comprehend, much less keep up.  To compete in the American full size pickup market, you have to understand the nuances of many different types of buyers.  Toyota and Nissan took a very rational approach when entering the market decades ago.  They determined what the high volume sweet spots were and went for that.  They did not realize the importance of being able to essentially customize a pickup to appeal to every buyer type.


The interior is substantially upgraded and now is available with a 12-iinch center screen.  Ford’s objective is to provide more comfort, more technology and more functionality for the driver and passengers.

Sync 4 Plus Ford Co-Pilot 360 and Active Drive Assist  The amount of safety and driver assistance technology is comprehensive.  The 2021 Ford F-150 comes with Ford’s Sync 4 system.  This system allows over-the-air updates to selected vehicle systems.  If you look at the “available” list below, you will see “Active Drive Assist Prep Kit”.  At launch Active Drive Assist will not be available, but will be downloaded (for an extra fee) to the vehicle with the up-market Co-Pilot 360 Plus package in Quarter 3, 2021.

Here’s how Ford describes Active Drive Assist:  Active Drive Assist allows hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada. Its advanced driver-facing camera tracks head position and driver eye gaze to enable hands-free driving when available. It allows owners on certain sections of pre-mapped, divided highways to drive with their hands off the steering wheel – if they continue to pay attention to the road ahead – granting them an additional level of comfort during long drives

Standard Ford Co-Pilot 360 Driver Assistance Technology  Auto Hold, Auto On/Off Headlamps, AutoBeam Headlamps, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support,
Hill Start Assist, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (with Pedestrian Detection), Rear View Camera with Dynamic Hitch Support

Available Ford Co-Pilot 360 Plus Driver Assistance Technology Active Drive Assist Prep Kit, Active Park Assist 2.0, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage, Distance Alert/Distance Indication, Evasive Steering Assist, Forward and Reverse Sensing Systems, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition), Intersection Assist, Lane Keeping System, Post-Collision Braking, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, Trailer Reverse Guidance, Reverse Brake Assist

PowerBoost Hybrid Added to the Lineup  The V6, V8 and Diesel powertrains are largely carryover.  But there is big powertrain news.  An all new 3.5L twin-turbo V6 hybrid – PowerBoost – has been added to the lineup.  Ford claims the PowerBoost will have best in class horsepower and towing capability.

A lot of the wow-factor in the new Ford F-150 comes from detail additions:

Pro Power On-Board Integral Generator  A huge feature for work crews, campers, and tailgaters is an integral generator with 2.0kwh, 2.4kwh or 7.2kwh outputs.  This expands the active lifestyle chops the F-150 already has.

Flat Work Space for Laptops on the Center Console  Ford’s research discovered that people often use laptops in the cab.  With a shifter taking up valuable space on the console, there is no handy place to put a laptop.  In upper range models, the shifter can fold away providing a flat work surface.

Tailgate as a Workbench  The D3 automakers are engaged in a tailgate war and  have been for the past several years.  There are several different designs that stand out.  Ford started the contest a generation or so ago when they put a fold-down step on their tailgate.  Then GMC followed with a tailgate that has a fold out step to make getting up into the cargo bed easier.  Ram has an available tailgate that opens in the center like dutch doors.  Ford’s new Tailgate Work Surface is like a workbench.  There are rulers.  There are slots to prop up an iPad.  Very innovative.

Max Recline Front Seats Fold Into a Bed  Front seats are available on the King Ranch, Platinum and Limited models that can be reclined almost flat like in a first class cabin on an international airliner.  For those of us who don’t really like to camp (thank you US Army), these may be more comfortable than sleeping in a sleeping bag on the hard ground.

Storage Under Rear Seats  Very handy, lockable storage is available under the rear seat of the SuperCrew models.  There are dividers to separate sections of the storage bin.


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