2021 Ford F-150 Review
Anytime there's a redesigned Ford F-150, it's kind of a big deal. After all, the F-150 has dominated vehicle sales in the United States for decades. So here we are with the redesigned 2021 F-150. There's no revolutionary shift in construction this year, unlike in 2015 when Ford debuted aluminum body panels on the F-150. Instead, Ford has focused on enhancing the truck's capability in other ways. Examples include a new hybrid powertrain, a robust onboard generator, and an updated interior with a new infotainment system.
Ford calls that hybrid powertrain PowerBoost. It consists of the optional turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 paired to a hybrid system to produce an impressive combination of strong power and high fuel economy. Also new for the 2021 F-150 is the Pro Power Onboard system. It's an onboard electric generator that allows you to power tools and appliances whether you're stationary or driving. You can pair it to one of the F-150's regular gasoline engines, but it gets really cranking with the hybrid powertrain, where it can generate up to 7,200 watts.
As always, a lot of the F-150's appeal comes from its seemingly endless range of configurations. Whether you're looking for a basic work truck, a fully loaded luxury cruiser or a go-anywhere off-roader, there's a version of the F-150 to meet your needs and budget. It's true that Chevrolet, GMC and Ram have all overhauled their pickups over the last couple of years, offering further refinements and trick new features. But this new F-150 has taken the lead and is our Edmunds Top Rated Truck for 2021. Check out the in-depth evaluation categories of our F-150 Expert Rating to learn more.
While not radically redesigned, the 2021 Ford F-150's updated interior and features further enhance the best attributes of a modern pickup: power, efficiency, comfort and capability. Add to that a huge range of configurations and options, and you've got a highly appealing light-duty pickup.
How does the F-150 drive?
Ford offers a wide range of engines and configurations. We tested a 4WD crew cab in the Platinum trim with the new hybrid powertrain. In Edmunds testing, it reached 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which is significantly quicker than any similarly equipped pickup. Alas, the sensation of the gas engine kicking on and off means this powertrain lacks smoothness at low speeds that you'll find in the 5.0-liter V8 and non-hybrid turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engines. The 10-speed automatic provides smooth and quick shifts across all powertrains.
The F-150 has direct and quick steering. That makes the truck feel smaller and more nimble in parking lots plus more stable on the freeway. The brakes are powerful and give you confidence in their stopping power, even when they're recuperating power with the hybrid powertrain. Considering its high towing and payload capabilities, the F-150 is overall a pleasing truck to operate.
How comfortable is the F-150?
The F-150 can be a massively comfortable truck depending on the options you choose and the ones you skip. The front seats are supportive and can be equipped with heating, ventilation, three-level lumbar adjustment and even a massaging function. The available Max Recline front seats can recline to give you a nearly flat seat to rest or take a nap, but they lack the side bolstering and overall comfort of the standard seats.
While the F-150 rides pretty comfortably, the Ram's unique coil-spring rear suspension still provides a slightly better ride. Road, tire and wind noise is kept to low volumes. Most of the F-150's available engines sound pretty cool and aren't overly loud. The exception is the optional Power Boost hybrid, which sounds and vibrates like a portable gas generator when it's charging the battery.
The climate control system is effective and powerful, requiring little adjustment to maintain your desired temperature.
How’s the interior?
Depending on configuration, the F-150 can present a bewildering number of options and controls. Fortunately, the interior layout is intuitive, so you never have to second-guess what you're reaching for. You can adjust most of the truck's big knobs and controls even when you're wearing gloves.
A wide range of seat, steering wheel and pedal adjustments ensure a fit for drivers of all shapes and sizes. The crew cab's spaciousness means you won't be short on room either. Ample exterior visibility is afforded in part by large windows and a scalloped section in the front door that clears a view around the side mirrors. The optional surround-view camera system provides visibility all the way around too.
How’s the tech?
The F-150 offers many impressive tech features. The available 12-inch center touchscreen and digital gauge cluster are attractive and easy to use. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is standard as are some basic advanced driver safety aids. And plenty more features are available as options.
The most impressive bit is Pro Power Onboard, an option that essentially turns the F-150 into a generator. Available in three power output levels depending on powertrain (2.0 kW, 2.4 kW and 7.2 kW), this feature adds power outlets in the bed that transform the tailgate party/camping/construction/off-the-grid experience.
How’s the storage?
The F-150 is now the top light-duty pickup truck when it comes to towing and hauling. With the right equipment and configuration, the 2021 F-150 is rated to tow as much as 14,000 pounds. The PowerBoost powertrain is just a little lower, at a maximum of 12,700 pounds. For comparison, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is capable of towing 13,400 pounds, while the Ram 1500 can tow as much as 12,750 pounds.
In terms of the payload capacity, the F-150 now tops out at an incredible 3,325 pounds — that's nearly 1,000 pounds more than the nearest competitor, the Silverado, which checks in at 2,250 pounds. The bed isn't the biggest, and the tailgate doesn't do any origami-style folding, like those on the Ram and GM trucks. But the available power up-down feature and tailgate step remain useful.
How economical is the F-150?
EPA-estimated fuel economy is a strong point for the F-150. With rear-wheel drive and either the V8 or the 3.5-liter V6, the F-150 gets an estimated 20 mpg combined for city/highway driving. That's a bit better than a V8-equipped Silverado or Ram. The new F-150 hybrid gets an estimated 24 mpg combined.
All gas engines are recommended to run 87 octane, and fuel tank sizes range from 23 to 36 gallons. But we will note that in our years of testing, Ford's turbocharged engines have underperformed relative to the EPA estimates.
Is the F-150 a good value?
This is a solidly built and well-appointed truck that provides luxury touches at the upper trim levels. On top of the F-150's stout standard offerings that line up confidently against competitors, its true value rests in its wide range of configurations and options that allow buyers to tailor their truck to their needs.
Unlike GM trucks, you can opt for the most desirable engine at the base trim level, and unlike Ram trucks, you have more engine, cab and bed options to pick from. The only place the Ford doesn't pull ahead of its GM and Ram competitors is in warranty and ownership perks — it offers similar coverage.
If you care about bragging rights, the F-150 delivers. It's available with the most torque and quickest acceleration (excluding the niche Ram 1500 TRX), as well as the highest non-diesel fuel economy estimate and greatest towing and payload ratings. Those give you top-tier bragging rights to friends and neighbors. Beyond that, the F-150 is available with some paint colors that are just plain cool, like Leadfoot and Smoked Quartz. The colors do well to highlight the exterior design, with the front grille styled after the one on Ford's Super Duty. Alas, the interior lacks the warmth and presence we enjoy from Ram, its closest competitor.
Which F-150 does Edmunds recommend?
With a long list of standard features, the midlevel Lariat is our recommendation in the F-150 lineup. The Lariat comes with Ford's new 12-inch infotainment screen as well as several safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and rear automatic braking. Plus, the Lariat has access to many of the F-150's high-end creature comforts, so you can pick and choose the options you want.
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Ford F-150 models
The 2021 Ford F-150 is offered in six trim levels: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited. There are three cab styles — regular, SuperCab (extended) and SuperCrew (crew cab) — and three bed lengths, depending on cab style. Along with the many trim levels and cab styles, the F-150 offers six available powertrains. All are paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission with either rear- or four-wheel drive.