What stands out a lot more than the new exterior is the brand new interior in the F-150.
Ford F-Series trucks are, by a good margin, the most popular vehicles in Canada – period. The F-150 is the bestselling of the bunch, so the revised 2021 model, which marks a new generation of the truck is huge news. Yet, in all the recent hype surrounding Ford’s exciting new full electric vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E or the upcoming Lightning EV pickup truck; this new 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost has been downplayed a bit.
The thing is, Ford will sell many multiples of the F-150 for every EV they sell, and an incredibly large percentage of the Canadian population will end up connected to one in some way. Whether it’s a new purchase, an assigned work truck, borrowed from a family member, rented, or whatever the reason, a staggering number of Canadians will drive, ride in, and work with one of these trucks. To give it its due time in the spotlight, and check-in to make sure Ford hasn’t dropped the ball, we spent a week with a brand new 2021 F-150 SuperCrew Platinum.
When Ford says the 2021 F-150 is all new, that claim isn’t exactly true when you get under the F-150’s skin. While each and every body panel has been restyled, the truck rides on the same frame as the previous model and does share a large amount of other mechanical components as well. That said, those new body panels do look good, moreso evolutionary than revolutionary, but it’s a handsome update.
What stands out a lot more than the new exterior however, is the brand new interior in the F-150. When the latest Ram 1500 entered the scene it blew the competition out of the park in terms of interior comfort and refinement; so Ford needed to respond and they’ve made a big effort here. Keeping in mind that our tester is a Platinum, so it comes equipped with one of the fanciest interiors in the F-150 lineup, it is a very nice place to spend time.
Materials and overall fit and finish are vastly improved over the previous generation. Dashboard and controls have been totally revised, there’s an available 12-inch touchscreen, convenient real buttons to control climate and seat heaters/coolers, big storage bins everywhere possible, and large diameter cupholders with spring loaded adjusters to fit just about any cup size.
The center console itself is nearly wide enough to social distance with your passenger, and the console mounted gearshift folds flat at the push of a button allowing clearance for the top of the console lid to flip out forming a perfectly flat work surface. However, it requires that the center console cupholders and storage bins have nothing in them protruding, and I can’t recall that last time I saw a real working truck without the center console jammed with drinks, tools and whatever else makes its way into a mobile office.
As expected, the SuperCrew cab is simply massive, and I continue to credit Ford for having not only the most family friendly rear seats, but the fact that the seats flip up to reveal a totally flat loading floor with great access from the wide opening doors is probably one of my favorite features of the truck.
Even the bed has received some nice practical upgrades including the ability to use the truck as a mobile generator thanks to a power center in the bed that can supply up to 7.4-kW in the hybrid model, or 2.0-kW in the gas engine models. There’s also a power tailgate and tailgate work surface which is built with handy features like pockets to install work clamps, drink holder, rulers, etc. This all makes the F-150’s tailgate a perfect place to work from, and you can even run your power tools right off the truck.
Practically aside, our Platinum trim tester also came with some pretty luxurious trimmings, enough to keep most luxury car buyers satisfied. This includes a dual pane panoramic sunroof, cushy leather heated and cooled bucket seats, heated steering wheel, and am impressive Bang & Olufsen sound system including headrest and headliner mounted speakers.
The B&O system is the best sound I’ve experienced in a pickup truck. It also gets full LED lighting all the way around, including in the bed, power retracting side steps, polished 20-inch wheels and more. If you think the Platinum is over the top luxury for a pickup truck, don’t bother with the Limited which takes it even further.
So, did Ford achieve their mission in displacing the Ram 1500 as the pickup truck interior to beat? Maybe. The F-150’s rear seat space is much better managed and practical, but up front I am still in love with the Ram’s dashboard treatment, choice of materials and overall character that the F-150 falls just a little shy on.
Enough about interiors though, it’s a pickup truck after all, and it has to work for a living. For that, you’ll need some power under the hood and the F-150 offers more choices than ever before. Many of the available engines being carry overs from the previous generation, including the 3.3-liter V6 or 5.0 V8; 3.0L V6 turbodiesel; or 2.7L or 3.5L V6 with EcoBoost turbocharging. All of these engines are mated to the familiar 10-speed automatic.
The big news though is the new PowerBoost full hybrid powertrain, which builds on the 3.5L V6 to create the only hybrid powertrain available in a pickup truck today that is able to run the truck entirely on electricity (in the right conditions). It’s an interesting option, and while the cost to opt-in to the hybrid varies depending on the truck’s trim level, it’s a fairly affordable option and likely worth considering, even if just for the 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft. of torque it puts out.
Our tester however, came with the familiar turbocharged 3.5L V6 EcoBoost, which is the more traditional powerhouse in the set producing 400 horsepower and 500 lb-ft. of torque. As expected, it pulls hard resulting in a truck that feels really quick when you drop the hammer and passes on the highway with absolute ease. It’s also proven itself over the years a very capable workhorse, but yet, I just can’t get used to the way a turbocharged powerplant feels in a pickup truck.
Thanks to turbo lag, torque off the line, especially at low speeds in the city, is limited and makes it feel like the engine is working harder than it really is. My personal preference remains with the tried and true 5.0-liter V8, which puts out less peak torque, but has more usable torque at really low RPMs and feels more natural in a truck.
The 3.5L EcoBoost is rated for 13.5L/100km in combined driving, and after a week of fairly well mixed driving I observed a consumption average of 14.3L/100km. This is on par with my expectations as I’ve never had much luck getting the rated economy numbers from Ford’s EcoBoost engines, but in relative terms the number isn’t out of line from its competitors in this space.
I did come away with one big letdown from this new F-150, and it’s the ride quality. Previous F-150s rode harsher than their closest competitors, and I suspect either Ford attempted to address this by softening up the front end, or adjustments made to accommodate the weight of the newly available hybrid system have had a detrimental affect, but either way the ride quality falls below the GM twins and well short of the Ram 1500.
The front end of the F-150 is unusually bouncy, small bumps at highway speeds result in significant secondary motions, which often require steering input to keep the truck tracking right. In the city, sharper bumps like expansion japs or potholes leave the truck shuddering with a rubbery motion that lasts long after the initial impact. The front end is also prone to heavy nosedive under braking or corning, which makes the truck feel wallowy. The ride quality issue is an utter shame, because the cabin is dead silent while cruising, making the F-150 a favorite long-haul vehicle if it weren’t for the ride.
F-150 pricing, like its competitors, covers a huge range to cater to the extremely wide variety of customers the truck must cater to. Everyone from the thrifty fleet manager, the independent roofer, the white-collar commuter, and the executive towing the family boat. As a result you can get into a 2021 F-150 for as low as $34,079, or you can option out an F-150 enough to nearly touch six-figures.
Our Platinum trim tester with over $6,000 in optional equipment came to $89,750, which is a ton of money to own one of the most common vehicles on the road. It is however, a lot of truck, fills a of roles, and can be configured a seemingly endless number of ways. The good news is that there’s an F-150 for just about every desire and budget.
The 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost brings a lot of game to the table. The new interior challenges the Ram 1500 head-on, it offers innovative equipment galore and the impressive range of powertrains and new hybrid option set it apart from the herd. If Ford gets the ride quality corrected they’d really have a truck that’s tough to contend with. That said, it’s still a great truck, it’s going to sell in hoards, and it’s going to keep Canadians moving, working and enjoying the road.