Posted by Noah Silk on 4/16/2021 to Before you Buy
Considering our love for F-150’s here at Stage 3, it’ll come as no surprise that we put an order in for a brand new 2021 model as soon as we possibly could. The truck we optioned out is an Iconic Silver 2021 F-150 STX 4x4 with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6, SuperCrew cab and a 5.5ft bed. While we don’t do reviews on every single project truck that joins our fleet, we figured it would be worth the effort for this F-150 seeing as it’s been completely redesigned for 2021. In order to properly test this newest iteration of Ford’s best-selling truck, we opted to take it on a 1,100-mile-long road trip that would start just outside of Waco, TX and end at our headquarters in Phoenix, AZ. If you want to hear our thoughts and get the full review check out our 2021 F150 Road Trip Review video, but If you’re not strapped for time or simply have a pension for reading blogs, then here’s an in-depth look a the new 2021 F150.After a day of casual off-roading around a plot of farmland in Texas, we found the new F150 to be far more capable off-road than anticipated. Even though our truck was equipped with 4-wheel drive and a 3.55 electronic locking rear end, we were worried that its highway focused tires and a lack of ground clearance would be an issue. To our surprise, the F150 made quick work of every slippery incline and muddy trench we steered into as long as we dropped into 4-Low or engaged the locker when things got tricky. It's worth noting that some of the F-150’s successes came at the cost of bent and broken plastic underneath, as well as scuffs on the wheels, so avid off-roaders will still want to consider a lift and a more capable set of tires.
One of the most notable changes in the new F-150 is the updated interior design. The overall style of the interior feels modern, and the refinements to the steering wheel layout, dashboard design, finishes, and seats make the cab a delightful place to be even in a lower-tier submodel like our STX. The addition of some extra storage cubbies and more cupholders are also a welcome change. Our 2021 F150 STX is equipped with SYNC 4 which functions smoothly and allowed us to reap the benefits of Apple Car Play and Android Auto during our 1,100 mile trek back to the home office. We were also pleased to find that climate control still has physical buttons and dials on the dash instead of everything being integrated into one massive screen.
In terms of on-road performance and ride quality, we feel that this newest F-150 is an improvement over the previous generations. The stock suspension is soft and comfortable when cruising around town or logging miles on the freeway, and it does a nice job of soaking up vibrations and larger bumps. At times, the suspension can feel slightly too plush, and the truck’s nose will take a moment to settle after rolling over bigger obstacles and body roll is also certainly noticeable in the corners. Regardless, neither of these faults were enough to keep us from enjoying the ride.
Ford carried over most of their previous powertrain options to this next generation, but the one we grabbed is the 3.5L EcoBoost twin turbo V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic. 2021 sees a slight increase in power for this V6 now cranking out 400 hp and 500 lb-ft. of torque. For our purposes, this is more than enough power and the truck feels downright fast even with a cab full of people and gear. We thoroughly enjoy the rapid acceleration and ability to easily pass slower traffic on the highway, but at times this motor lacks some "fun factor" due to a nearly non-existent exhaust note.
As a whole, the 2021 F-150 feels like an improvement over the trucks that came before it, and we struggled to find any glaring problems. Exceptional power, comfortable interior and solid off-road performance are all positives for this truck. Perhaps the biggest criticism that could be levied against it is that most of the updates and changes Ford made are not game changers. Ford played it safe, and while the familiar nature of this F-150 will be loved by some, others are going to wish it did more to stand out. Either way, we’re excited to finally have our hands on one and we can’t wait to get our hands dirty building it.