The 2021 Ford F-150's Coolest (and Weirdest) Features
From a shifter that folds away to a digital dash to bold claims, the new F-150 isn't subtle.
The truck world has once again been rocked, which can only mean one thing: A new full-size pickup from a major player is upon us. Meet the new Ford F-150, which promises to not only be newer than the other trucks out there, but also the most advanced and most capable F-150 that Ford has ever made. Granted, we'd be more surprised if Ford spent years developing a new F-150 only for it to be worse than past models, but still, there is a lot to cover when it comes to the 2021 F-series truck. Nearly everything is new, and Ford has included a ton a new tech and fun, unexpected extras, and we've gathered the most noteworthy, head-scratching, and impressive features for you here. Swipe on for the full roundup:
The F-150 Hybrid Isn't a Prius With a Bed
The new Ford F-150 is the only mid-size pickup that offers a fully hybridized powertrain (Ram has a mild-hybrid setup, eTorque), but it's not simply there to project a warm, fuzzy image of baby polar bears enjoying their not-melting ice floes. This hybrid, dubbed "PowerBoost," can work. Ford claims the pickups can tow up to 12,000 pounds—near today's class-leading 13,000-and-change figure, hybrid or otherwise. When not aiding the 3.5-liter V-6 engine move heaven and earth, the PowerBoost's 47-hp electric motor (built into the transmission) helps deliver up to 700 miles of range on a single tank of fuel while augmenting engine response and low-rpm torque.
Pro Power Isn't for Your Engine
Ford is calling its new hybrid system PowerBoost, but there's also a new feature called Pro Power—they are not the same thing, despite powerful appearances. This optional feature adds a 2.0-kW power outlet that can power accessories such as a TV, a mini fridge, a circular saw, a hair dryer, and other small tools and appliances. Whether you're looking to tailgate or build a gate with the new F-150, Pro Power has you covered.
You Can Give Pro Power a Boost (For, Um, a Pro PowerBoost?)
When it's paired with the PowerBoost powertrain, Pro Power option ups its standard output to 2.4 kW. An optional 7.2 kW output is offered, too. Outlets in the cabin and in the bed allow you to power your accessories—there are up to four 120-volt 20-amp outlets, but if the 7.2 kW option is specified, there will be a 240-volt 30-amp outlet in the bed, too. This gives you the power to run floodlights, angle grinders, an air compressor, and a ton of other accessories and tools that you might need on the job site. Not only that, but the F-150 can power them for up to 32 hours on a full tank.
Front Seats That Fold (Nearly) Flat
Ford builds an F-150 for just about anyone, and that includes those who spend long hours away from home at job sites as much as road warriors who can't be bothered with hotel stays. The newly available Max Recline seat option is a way for F-150 owners to get a little shut eye in between shifts, or before or after a long drive. The Max Recline seats fold almost 180 degrees and create an almost completely flat surface for you to count sheep on.
A Shifter That's Also . . . a Desk?
Yes. Ford has quite literally integrated its own workspace into the F-150's cabin. Available in models that have either a bench seat or a center console, the shifter literally folds out of the way. For those models with the center console (pictured above), the shifter retracts, opening up a large flat work surface that's perfect for paperwork or checking emails on a laptop. We aren't quite sure how the shifter simply "folds" away, but you can bet we're going to try it out when we get our hands on one of these new trucks.
Plenty Of Customization
Any car you own carries a whiff of the personal—after all, you picked it. Ford realizes that some buyers will therefore have a lot of interest in customizing their F-150s, so it has added not one, not two, but eleven different grille options to choose from. There are also a number of new decals you can apply to the tailgate for an even more unique look. The last F-150 had more than 15 color options and at least 8 different wheels to choose from. If that's any indication, the new F-150 can be the perfectly unique-to-you truck, between its myriad grilles, decals, paint colors, wheels, and more.
Occasionally, cars are so tech-laden and feature packed that even we at MotorTrend have to grab the owner's manual and do some reading. Well, with the 2021 Ford F-150, that's a thing of the past. Ford has built "How To" videos and a digital owner's manual right into the F-150's 8.0- and 12-inch infotainment screens. That means no more thumbing through a 1,000-page paper book to figure out how to turn on the lights in the truck bed.
Light Up Your Truck, or Part of It
Speaking of turning on and off the lights in the truck bed, the new F-150 will have an option that Ford calls Zone Lighting. Essentially, it allows you to pick which lights to turn on or off in the Ford's cabin and in its bed, giving you choices between "everything on," and "everything off." You can turn on or off individual sections of lighting, meaning the lights in the bed can be on while cabin is dark.
Active Driver Assist—Coming Soon to a Truck Near You
Ford says the F-150 is the only pickup on the market to offer Active Driver Assist. That means that the big Ford will allow hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of paved roads throughout all 50 United States and Canada. The only problem is, you're going to have to wait a while to use the hands-free system. There's what Ford calls an "Active Drive Assist prep kit" and that contains all the necessary hardware for hands-free driving (similar to Tesla's Full Self Driving option), but the feature itself won't come online until later next year (2021) at the earliest.
The F-150 Is One Secure Truck
There are a ton of safety systems on offer in the new F-150, including lane-keep assist, backup cameras, and some other neat stuff to keep you and your occupants safe. But perhaps the most quirky—and potentially quite handy—safety system on the new F-150 is Trailer Theft Alert. The new F-150 can actually tell when your trailer is being made off with and will alert you. This is handy if you're moving and all of your earthly possessions are sitting in a trailer behind your new truck, or you're on your way to the lake with that fancy new boat . . .
A Dash of the Future, Thanks to the All Digital Dash
Say goodbye to analog dials, they are a thing of the past—as long as you spec the new digital gauge cluster for your 2021 F-150. The new Ford features an available 12-inch digital gauge cluster that, much like Audi's digital cockpit, is fully customizable and will feature whatever info the driver wants front and center. There will also be space for truck specific information like off road data or other pertinent info like turn by turn navigation data.