Ford continues the rolling reinvention of America’s bestselling vehicle with the 2021 F-150 full-size pickup
The best cars and trucks have always resulted from the intersection of inspired design and advanced technology. That was true when a hand-crank was cutting edge engineering, when tailfins were the height of style, and it’s never been truer than today. The best cars, trucks and SUVs introduced this year demonstrate the peak of modern design and engineering.
Buyers’ traditional desires — dependability, capability, value — were amplified by economic and health concerns in 2020. At the same time, features to make cars safer than ever — for people and the planet — became an attainable reality for more drivers.
The 2021 Free Press vehicles of the year exemplify that.
Ford continues the rolling reinvention of America’s bestselling vehicle with the 2021 F-150 full-size pickup. The last entirely new F-150 revolutionized pickup bodies with the 2015 model year switch from steel to aluminum bodies. For 2021, the big changes are tech under the skin, though a crisp design, creative lighting and can’t miss ‘em grilles ensure nobody will mistake Ford’s new showpiece for last year’s model.
The F-150’s dimensions are nearly unchanged, out of respect for the fact that it’s easier to get a new truck than a bigger garage.
The 2021 F-150 doesn’t skimp on growth in other areas. It’ll be one of the first vehicles — alongside the Mach-E electric SUV — to offer Ford’s new hands-free highway driving system later this year. Standard connectivity for over the air updates will add other new features throughout the F-150’s working life.
The hybrid has three big selling points: It’s the most powerful F-150 with 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque, most fuel-efficient at an a EPA-rated 25 mpg combined city/highway and can power your house or a full work site without the racket of a portable generator. An all-electric F-150 is in the works, but not due to hit the road until 2022.
The interior features a 12-inch, landscape-oriented touch screen. The shifter stows flat in the center console — only when the truck’s in park — creating a flat work surface big enough for laptops, invoices or a large Detroit-style pizza. Front seats can recline flat for naps at the end of the shift or middle of a long drive.
Towing capacity tops out at 14,000 pounds.
The F-150 isn’t just about new tech, though. A few deceptively simple features will have competitors smacking their foreheads for not thinking of them first: running boards that extend slightly behind the cab for easy front-of-bed access, and a work-friendly tailgate with built-in measuring stick, cellphone holder and c-clamp receivers.
The 2021 Ford F-150 also gets my vote for North American Truck of the Year.
2021 Ford F-150 at a glance
- Full-size pickup
- Model range: Rear- and four-wheel-drive; regular, extended and crew cab; 5.5-, 6.0- and 8-foot beds
- Six engines, including hybrid; 2.7l and 3.5L twin-turbo V6; 5.0L V8, 3.3L V6 and 3.0L V6 diesel
- 10-speed automatic transmission
- Price range: $28,940-$74,250
- Hybrid EPA estimated mpg: 25 mg city/26 highway/25 combined (rear-drive)
- Available safety/assist features: Auto brake hold; automatic high beams; forward collision warning and brake support; hill start assist; pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection; active park assist 2.0; blind spot and cross traffic alert and trailer coverage; distance alert/indication; evasive steering assist; forward and reverse sensing; adaptive cruise control with lane centering and speed sign recognition; intersection assist, lane keeping; post collision braking; trailer backup assist; trailer backup guidance; reverse brake assist.