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2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid: What's It Like to Live With?

With 430 horsepower on tap, how often will we really hit 24 mpg in our new F-150 Hybrid?

Ford F-150 2021
Miles DrivenAverage MPG

Latest Highlights (updated 05/20/22)

  • Our best fuel fill so far is 24.4 mpg, exactly what the EPA promised
  • But our average overall is still below 20 mpg
  • This truck has 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque
  • We have a new range record: 624.7 miles on a single tank

What We Bought And Why

by Mike Schmidt, , Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

Our test vehicle: 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid 4x4 SuperCrew XLT
Base MSRP: $44,155
MSRP as tested: $62,285
What we paid: $66,285

The Ford F-Series has been the best-selling truck (and vehicle) in the United States for more than 40 years. There's little reason to doubt that this trend will continue with the latest generation F-150 that debuted for the 2021 model year. New for this generation, the F-150 notably gets an available hybrid V6 powertrain. Ford calls it PowerBoost and thinks it can upend the truck segment by delivering more power and better fuel economy than any regular, gas-only engine. So can it? We've bought a 2021 F-150 with the PowerBoost powertrain to find out over the course of a year and hopefully 20,000 miles.

What Did We Get?

When it comes to full-size pickups, the configurations are nearly limitless. The F-150 offers six engines (3.3-liter V6, 2.7-liter turbo V6, 5.0-liter V8, 3.0-liter turbodiesel, 3.5-liter turbo V6 and 3.5-liter hybrid), six trim levels (XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited), three bed lengths, three cab styles (Regular, SuperCab, SuperCrew), rear-wheel and four-wheel drive. This doesn't even consider the interior trim and technology options available. We had a few key features in mind as we shopped for our F-150.

On paper, we bought a mouthful: a 2021 Ford F-150 XLT 4x4 SuperCrew with the 5.5-foot bed, 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.

Our primary target was the engine and we paid a $4,495 premium for it. This V6 connects to an electric motor and battery pack to produce 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque. And according to the EPA, this combo is good for an impressive 24 mpg combined (24 city/24 highway).

Our secondary target was the onboard generator ($750), or if you're reading the spec sheet, the 7.2-kW Pro Power Onboard. We were eager to utilize this feature well before the stories about F-150s powering home appliances in Texas during the North American ice storm of 2021. We look forward to testing the capabilities of this innovative technology.

We otherwise shopped for an F-150 as we'd recommend to a friend. While we'd normally lean toward the Lariat trim, a local Ford dealership had a special-order XLT. The customer backed out so we moved in. The base version of this truck, with an MSRP of $44,155, is well equipped with numerous standard comfort and tech features including as a wireless hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and a catalog of driver assist and safety alert systems. The total list of optional equipment totaled $18,435 with the PowerBoost the big-ticket add-on. Other notable items are connected navigation, a tow package, a 360-degree camera package, a spray-in bedliner and 20-inch dark alloy wheels.

The dealer wasn't going to budge on its $4,000 markup over MSRP, but we accepted this given the wild car market these days and considering it was very near the truck we'd have built ourselves. After a $2,000 Sport package credit, we walked away with a truck for $66,285.

Why Did We Get It?

The F-150 wasn't the only updated truck in 2021. But at the end of the day, it stands out more than its peers and defends its place atop the class. Each F-150 we've owned (2010 F-150 Raptor, the first aluminum 2015 F-150 EcoBoost V6 and a 2018 F-150 EcoBoost) brought its own flair to the F-150 formula. This new F-150 brings a battery pack to the formerly non-hybrid realm of full-size trucks. This F-150 is the new truck to beat and we are excited to spend more time behind the wheel.

2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid: Real-World Fuel Economy

This is all about the PowerBoost 3.5-liter hybrid V6. Will it perform as well as its EPA fuel economy estimates suggest? We can't wait to find out.

Average lifetime mpg: 19.1
EPA mpg rating: 24 combined (24 city/24 highway)
Best fill mpg: 24.4
Best range (miles): 624.7
Current odometer: 5,917

You're only getting 18 mpg — isn't this thing a hybrid?

You are not the only one disappointed with the mpg of our F-150 hybrid (thus far, it' still early days). Here are the thoughts of one Edmunds staffer before we tackle the question in full.

"I recall that when I was in Edmunds' previous F-150 EcoBoost I got amazing mpg — especially when compared to the RAM 1500. In fact, I drove it to Palm Springs and was able to average between 23-24 mpg, which was amazing. I planned the same drive when I got into the F-150 and couldn't wait to see how the hybrid engine would do. I was excited to beat the 24 mpg listed on the monroney.

"So, how did it do? Unfortunately, I ended up with a combined 19-20 mpg. Just to let you know, when I drive an electric or hybrid vehicle, my driving behavior changes drastically and instead of stomping on the gas, I find myself trying to optimize the fuel economy. Even with this type of driving, I fell horribly short of the stated mpg. I know that in terms of torque the PowerBoost is impressive, but if you are looking for a full-size truck that gets great mpg, you should look at the EcoBoost. I couldn't help thinking that is why the PowerBoost literally has zero badging or any markings that points to the fact that this is a hybrid engine."

So even driving softly on the highway doesn't hit the EPA number?

No. The F-150 will drive in "electric mode" or "EV mode" at low speeds (below 30 mph) and will also use its battery when well-charged to take a load off its 3.5-liter V6 engine when traveling upwards of 60 mph. The best way to efficiently use the gas in your tank is to drive on city streets (or better yet, school zones) and brake slowly and deliberately to recharge the battery. Don't spend a lot of time on interstate highways. This is a hybrid, not a 2009 Honda Civic, so the way you get efficient use of your gasoline is different. It's also why many find hybrids, well, a little disappointing." — Jake Sundstrom, editorial assistant

How is the fuel range, though?

So far we haven't had much luck establishing an average of 20 mpg per tank, let alone the EPA estimate of 24 mpg. Now consider this truck has a 30.6-gallon fuel tank. We've consistently gone 500 miles between gas station visits and, under the right circumstances, have seen over 600 miles between fill-ups. That is an impressive stat all by itself. And while we applaud this success, we will conveniently overlook the cost of gasoline these days.

2022 Ford F-150 Hybrid: Maintenance

We'll keep our fingers crossed that we don't have to update this section for reasons other than regularly scheduled maintenance. But if there are any issues, we'll report those here, too.

Have there been any issues with the Hybrid?

This week we received our first recall notice for the F-150 (NHTSA recall 21V-986). It states that on the vehicle, "underbody insulators may loosen and contact the aluminum driveshaft, resulting in marking or scoring ... continued contact may result in driveshaft fracture." It looks like about 185,000 are part of the recall, of which Ford anticipates 10% are affected. Vehicles being recalled are 4x4 Crew Cabs with the 145-inch wheelbase and with 302A and above packages. Obviously that wording is enough to get our attention. We'll make an appointment to see the dealer ASAP.

2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid: How Does it Drive?

The big deal with this F-150 is the hybrid powertrain. Not only will that change fuel economy but it will also have an impact on how the truck drives day-to-day. It's not going to accelerate like the typical, non-hybrid, truck but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Here's what we've experienced with ours.

What is so different about the hybrid?

"There are a handful of driving characteristics that separate this truck from its peers.

"The first thing you hear is straight out of a spaceship. Automakers are now required by law to have an audible noise to alert pedestrians of a moving vehicle nearby. When the truck is under battery power, from 1 mph up to about 25 mph, the hum is head-turning loud. But I figure that is the whole point. Not to worry, though, you get used to it.

"Another thing is the electric-smooth acceleration from a stop. And if you ask for it, this thing really moves out. It will go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds under normal conditions, which is just as fast as an F-150 Raptor. Yet at 24 mpg, it's rated as fuel efficient as the 3.0-liter turbo V6 in the F-150 diesel.

"We are still in the engine break-in stage. According to the manual it's 1,000 miles before we're finished. During this time the transmission is still learning our driving habits, so shifts are a little erratic at times and especially during stop-and-go. We'll cut the truck some slack until that milestone appears on the odometer. It may be psychological, but after a couple hundred miles I think it's a little better than it was brand-new at 25 miles." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

We know the hybrid has torque, but what's that like driving up steep grades?

"'The Grapevine' isn't officially part of Edmunds' testing regiment but it's been part of my driving life since long before I got behind the wheel. As a lived-all-over-California kinda guy, I've spent a lot of time traversing the slopiest (?) portion of Interstate 5 in vehicles that weren't pleased with the task.

The F-150, in its full-hybrid configuration, didn't break a sweat. This is not the hybrid Sienna, which sounds like an angry weed whacker driving up and down the hills. No, the F-150 merely handles the job. It hurt the fuel economy on the tank (down to around 18 mpg from Orange County to the Central Valley) but ... in a full-size pickup? That still feels like a miracle." — Jake Sundstrom, Editorial Assistant

2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid: Interior

This is where you'll spend most of your time. Let us tell you all about the spacious cabin, seat versatility and all those little comforts that make the drive go smoother.

The F-150's cabin is versatile when it's moving, and when it's parked

"This is the first time I've used the F-150 for something resembling its god-given purpose: work. I threw the truck in park, popped it into accessory mode and moved into the backseat where I'm more comfortable than any cafe I've ever sat in — a bonus? I get to pick the music in here!" — Jake Sundstrom, Editorial Assistant