The news coming from major machinery brands in recent months has centred around more power and better connectivity. Taking a look at what Ford has to say about its 2021 F150, the news is almost exactly the same — more power (from several engine options), higher tow ratings (up to 14,000 pounds or 6,350 kilograms) and even better digital access.
“With capability and functionality foundational to (the) F-series, the all-new F-150 not only tows more and hauls more than other light-duty, full-size pickups, it’s built to surpass customer expectations with smart innovations that will make them even more productive every day,” said Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, in a press release.
Ford refers to the 2021 F-150 as “all new.” That’s a pretty standard automotive industry phrase, but for this model year the trucks actually do bring a bit of “new” to the table, including features like available Pro Power Onboard, a new interior work surface, and a tailgate work surface. There are also advanced driver-assist features and, of course, better connectivity.
As a part of that digital enhancement, the trucks come with standard capability to download wireless updates to keep the truck’s computer up to date.
Under the hood
The 2021 F-150 is built on an “all-new,” (there’s that phrase again) fully boxed high-strength, steel frame with a high-strength aluminum alloy body and box. When equipped with the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine and Max trailer tow package, Ford claims the F-150 can boast more conventional towing muscle than any other light-duty, full-size pickup — a maximum 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms), which is a jump of 800 pounds (362 kilograms) over the 2020 model. Achieving that rating, though, depends on which engine you opt to put under the hood and what vehicle configuration it’s in.
Speaking of under the hood, buyers can opt for one of six different engine options — the 3.3-litre Ti-VCT, 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6, 5.0-litre V8, 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost gas power plants or the 3.0-litre PowerStroke V6 diesel. All F-150 engines are mated with Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.
For 2021, the 5.0-litre V8 gets five more horsepower and 10 more pound-feet of torque. The 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine output grows by 25 horsepower and torque rises by another 30 foot-pounds.
In addition to those more conventional power plants is the new 3.5-litre PowerBoost V6 hybrid gas-electric drivetrain. It’s what’s really new and remarkable on the 2021 F-150 option list.
And don’t think this new drivetrain option turns an F-150 into some wimpy grocery getter. The hybrid puts out 430 horsepower with 570 pound-feet of torque. That is the highest torque rating Ford has ever stuffed into an F-150. The trailer tow rating for this engine is 12,700 pounds (5,760 kilograms) and it can carry 2,120 pounds (961 kilograms) of payload, which, Ford claims, gives the F-150 the highest tow rating of any hybrid pickup on the market — so far, at least.
And the hybrid offers 2.4 kilowatts of exportable power and an available 7.2 kilowatts, apparently enough to power 28 average-sized refrigerators. That kind of power source would be handy for using electric tools in the field.
And more features
The new Trailer Reverse Guidance feature uses the truck’s high-resolution cameras to provide multiple views along with graphics that tell drivers which way to turn the steering wheel when backing up with a trailer. The Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature Ford introduced a few years ago includes a separate dial to use when backing up a trailer to make it simpler for those who have trouble with that manoeuvre.
When it comes to connectivity, the 2021 F-150 does more than just accept wireless vehicle updates from Ford. It offers a standard 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi hotspot.
If you’re wondering what the PowerBoost Hybrid does for fuel economy, published Transport Canada ratings show a combined 9.3 litres per 100 kilometres for a two-wheel drive pickup and 9.8 for the 4X4. The other engines range from 10.8 to 13.1. That 13.1 litres per 100 kilometres comes from the 5.0-litre V8 4X4, the least fuel-efficient of all the models. But it’s also the largest engine — and if you’re a believer in the idea there’s no replacement for displacement, that’s the price you’ll pay in an F-150.
Ford has Tremors
Ford added some serious off-road chops to its F-150 with the introduction of the very capable Raptor model a few years ago. For 2021, though, another model designed for improved performance on the trail — or maybe just those rural Saskatchewan roads — joins the F-150 family: the Tremor. It provides a level of capability above that offered by the FX4 off-road package.
“The all-new F-150 Tremor is a direct response to seeing how customers use our trucks to enable their outdoor lifestyles,” said Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager. “F-150 Tremor provides the additional off-road capability they’re looking for with our latest off-road technologies.”
This model comes in SuperCrew configuration with a 5.5-foot box, 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission plus standard four-wheel drive. It’s available in standard, mid and high equipment group trim levels.
From the factory, Tremors ride on 33-inch, all-terrain tires mounted on 18-inch rims. These tires help provide more ground clearance and provide a one-inch-wider track width than a typical F-150. Suspension travel is increased and “Raptor-style” skid plates protect the undercarriage. A locking rear differential and the ability to upgrade to limited slip front axle provide maximum traction in slippery conditions.
Ratings for the Tremor come in at 10,900 pounds (4,944 kilograms) for towing and a 1,885-pound (855-kilogram) payload. There are some high-tech, off-road features as well that make Tremors pretty capable in the dirt, like avail- able Trail Turn Assist, which reduces the steering radius in tight off-road terrain situations by applying brakes to the inside rear wheel in low-speed manoeuvres.
To cap it off, there are several unique exterior and interior style cues as well, which give the Tremor a bit of the macho look you’d expect to find in an off-road rig.