Posted by Jason Locke on 6/26/2020 to Informative Articles
Our dear Ford Overlords have revealed the 2021 Ford F150, and there's a lot to be excited about with the 14th generation of Ford's 1/2-ton pickup. The new 2021 F150 comes loaded down with features (at least in the higher trim levels that Ford was eager to show off), and they look great. We know this is going to be the 11th berjillion 2021 F150 overview that you've come across, and we're going to take a look at some of the smaller details that Ford touched on that could be good news for folks like us that are probably going to rip the truck apart and throw a bunch of aftermarket parts on it anyway. While all the new technology, options, styling, and whatever else are pretty exciting, the bigger questions are "Will it mod?" "Will it mod well?" and "Will it break when we throw it around?" We're going to take a look at those questions based on the information so far.
2021 Ford F150 Engine OptionsThe current engine lineup from the 2018-2020 F150s essentially carry over to the 2021 F150s with some minor changes and one big addition. The 3.3L V6, 2.7L EcoBoost, 3.5L EcoBoost, 5.0L V8, and 3.0L Powerstrokes all return for 2021 along with Ford's 10R80 10-speed transmission. The standard 3.5L EcoBoost is getting a slight power bump, and the 5.0L is getting cylinder deactivation to try to squeak out some extra fuel economy during highway cruising (though I foresee this system being disabled with tuning for most folks). The new kid on the block adding to the already too-many engine options for the F150s is the new 3.5L PowerBoost V6, which pairs a 3.5L EcoBoost with a 35kw electric motor and a lithium-ion battery that adds up to 47 more horsepower and provides a potential range of 700 miles with a 30-gallon tank and a towing capacity of up to 12,000lbs. More power and huge range sounds great to us, especially in an off-road/overland application so that you don't have to bring a ton of fuel along. Unfortunately, it looks like the PowerBoost option will only be available on Limited Models, which means that you're going to pay a pretty penny for the privilege. Regardless, even the more "base" engine options make for a hell of a truck already, and with some of the other optional features available on the 2021 F150s, even the carryover engines will help you get the job done.
The Changes that We're Actually Pumped AboutWhile some more obvious changes were made to the 2021 F150s (i.e. headlights, grille, bumper, hood, etc.), the thing we're most excited about is the front suspension. According to Ford, the 2021 F150s have a wider track width and a taller wheel well. While the rationale is improved towing and a "muscular" look, we're giddy over the fact that this may mean the ability to fit bigger tires than the current generation and possibly just more travel than general. Needless to say, bigger tires and longer suspension travel are always good in our books, especially if the travel allows for a bit more leveling without needing to jump to a UCA or complete crossmember lift kit. The built-in generator option and the new utility tailgate options are also both excellent, though their cost-effectiveness is still a big question at the moment. But, being able to turn your truck into a one-stop workshop sounds pretty awesome for the job site or overland crowd. That all being said, there may be some issues with fitting big tires with some of the features that I'm personally much less excited about...
Features That are a Bit IffyWhile the 2021 F150s are coming with a lot of new features, some of them are likely going to be a lot more trouble than they're worth or are just head-scratching from inception. The big one is the powered front air dam. Just...why? It can't add that much fuel economy, and feels like something that's either going to get broken and just outright removed to avoid future problems. That is, assuming, that the truck won't throw a CEL or a wrench light when that thing gets disconnected. On the off-chance that our future 2021 project truck ends up with a powered air dam, that thing will be coming off right away to make room for a set of skid plates, bumper, or both.
Personally, I find some of the new interior features somewhat questionable. The fold-down powered laptop surface on trucks with center consoles seems to be of real dubious value. The vast majority of work trucks are either XLs or XLTs with front bench seats, and on the chance that you're using your more expensive column shift truck for job site use, this system, again seems like something that's destined to get broken during actual use on the job site. Folks that use their F150s down at the job (or have a company fleet truck) tend not to treat them kid gloves, and it feels like this is another thing that's just asking to get broken and be an expensive fix down at the dealership. The Max Recline seats that can fold back 180° are pretty nice, but the fact they're only available on a King Ranch, Limited, or Platinum, they too, will be out of reach from a lot of the overland/camping ground that would actually use those features. Now, I'm not trying to bag on folks with higher-tier submodels, and if you're using your King Ranch out there in the world, then all the power to you.
Some Things We've NoticedHere's a few other things that we noticed with the new 2021 F150s that caught our eye:
- The new headlight design looks pretty cool. More importantly, it looks like they're easier to access to than the 2018-2020 F150s
- The 8" touchscreen coming standard on even the XL models is REALLY nice. My 2011 F150 XL didn't even come with a CD player
- The taillights of the 2021 F150 are very reminiscent of the 2009-2014 F150's styling, and personally, I think they look a bit cleaner than the 2018-2020 trucks
- There's some photos floating around of a base XL interior, and it looks like the front bench/column shift has survived another model year
- Ford went to a Super-Duty Style fender emblem, though it looks a little less ostentatious then the bigger trucks
- Guard is back, but our much-beloved Magnetic is now gone. Luckily, "Carbonized Gray Metallic" looks close
- The "12,000lb" towing capacity seems nice, but if it's only in the guise of a standard cab RWD truck, then it'll only be so useful
- Those front-end changes we're excited about may mean redesigned coilovers, UCAs, tie rods, etc. so keep an eye out for that
- I'm not a huge fan of the semi-autonomous driving stuff, but we'll see how it works in practice
- The trailer backup systems are pretty nice, so it's great to see them implemented on the 1/2 trucks
- Ford's been eager to show off their higher-tier submodels (per usual), and I'm curious about the base truck's lighting and options