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Until now, we’ve been given very little from Ford on what to expect for the fourteenth-generation of its top-selling F-series. We’ve seen spy photos with camo hiding what looked like an evolution of the current handsome F-150’s horizontal, two-bar grille. Ford finally pulled the wraps off the 2021 F-150, showing the public the pickup for the first time by way of a streaming event from Michigan’s Willow Run, a former Ford assembly plant.
Mark LeNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service noted that “Electric powertrains are a big part of our future,” and promised that we’d see an all-electric F-150 within two years. In the meantime, here’s the F-150 that we’ll be getting in just a few months.
Now that we finally see the truck, it’s clear that at least as far as the exterior goes, Ford didn’t stray too far from what has proven to be a successful look. Tires are slightly larger, and it rides on a three-quarter-inch wider stance, but it’s still instantly recognizable as an F-150.
There’s nothing controversial here, just a clean grille design that seems to bridge the gap between the current Raptor’s wide octagonal grille opening and every other F-150 that uses a wider center bar that invades into the headlights. The new headlights appear to be more unified, with just a thin light pipe branching off and leading toward the center of the grille. As we’ve come to expect, Ford will offer buyers lots of variety when it comes to the fascia of the F-150, with XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited featuring 11 different variations on the new grille theme, all with active grille shutter that work in concert with an active air dam that teams up with the new sheet metal to make this the most aerodynamic F-150 yet.
If you’re waiting to hear about the next-gen Raptor, you’re gonna have to keep waiting. Ford didn’t give any info on the next-gen variant of the off-road juggernaut. It may not come out until 2022 or even 2023, just like the current-gen Raptor debuted in 2017 following the 2015 model-year release of the 13th-generation F-150. Until then, it’s possible Ford could keep the current F-150 in production and even give it a powerful V-8 sendoff, especially in the wake of Ram’s TRX.
There was no talk of interior space or expanding the truck’s already impressive payload and max towing figures. Instead, Ford only spoke about one powertrain during the launch. PowerBoost takes the familiar 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and pairs it with a 47-horsepower electric motor that’s built into the 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Not only does it work as a hybrid to save fuel, using regenerative braking to charge a 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, but it will also be the most powerful and highest-torque powertrain of any 1/2-ton truck on the market. The PowerBoost powertrain is available on all F-150 trims from XL up to Limited.
Pro Power Onboard is a new feature that allows the F-150’s powertrain to serve as an on-site generator and power 120-volt power to outlets in the bed and in the cab. It’s optional on all gas engines and offers 2.0-kilowatts of juice. Standard on the PowerBoost powertrain is a 2.4-kilowatt version, with a 7.2-kilowatt version available that also brings a 240-volt 30-amp outlet.
Inside, new interior appointments go from work truck simple to King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited options that go head-to-head with Ram’s most upscale models. The base infotainment system will use an 8.0-inch touchscreen, while F-150 models XLT and above will come with a 12-inch touch screen that can display multiple functions simultaneously. A fold-flat center console helps provide a desk-like surface for working on a laptop, and a stow-away console shifter helps make that possible. One of the most interesting new options is the Max Recline Seats available on King Ranch, Platinum and Limited that fold almost totally flat to allow for in-cab napping. Sweet.
Available convenience options include Active Drive Assist that allows optional hands-free during some highway situations and Intersection Assist that will help drivers make left turns in busy intersections. There’s also help when trailering, with Trailer Reverse Guidance and Pro Trailer Backup Assist that use the truck’s high-definition cameras to navigate tight situations.
Much more vital to Ford’s bottom line than the hyped-up Bronco, the F-series lineup is, by far, Ford’s most important product. According to Bloomberg, the 900,000 annual sales of the F-series brought Ford around $42 billion in 2019. With so much on the line, it seems Ford has an F-150 available for just about every need, and happy current F-150 owners won’t have anything to complain about when this improved yet still familiar looking pickup starts showing up on dealer lots this fall.