The 2021 F-150: A mobile office, home and even a truck

June 30, 2020
New features include an onboard generator and expanded standard connectivity and driver-assist functions, along with an available hybrid powertrain that gets 700 miles per tank, and an interior that configures into a storage closet, office or even a bed.

On June 25, Ford let the public peek behind the curtain and under the hood of the redesigned F-150, which has been the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the past 43 years. The company teased that the 2021 Ford F-150 will be “the most powerful light-duty full-size pickup truck on the market” in terms of towing, payload, torque and horsepower.

Not much was released as to the specifics of those bold claims, but the early reports indicate that power is at the forefront of this model, balanced with a healthy dose of efficiency.

The biggest addition is the 3.5-liter PowerBoost full hybrid V6 powertrain, available from the XL to the Limited models, which provides an EPA-estimated 700 miles per tank of gas, just about enough to get from Chicago to Atlanta. The PowerBoost, based off the EcoBoost engine, leverages the 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and 35-kW electric motor to help tow upwards of 12,000 lb. as well.

The 2021 version received plenty of other updates, including redesigned panels and additional aerodynamic improvements such as active grille shutters and an automatically deploying active air dam. The headlamps now have a C-clamp design, power dome hood and wrap around bumpers, with 11 grilles from which to choose. The front fender was also raised and the tires extended out ¾ of an inch.

That’s just the outside.

“It's packed with a lot of features and technologies that enhance usability and comfort,” said Craig Schmatz, Ford F-150 chief engineer.

Tech Upgrades

For fleets, the biggest benefit may be the safety enhancements, engineered into nearly every piece of the vehicle. These range from an extended running board that descends automatically based on the key-holder’s proximity or with a firm kick, to 10 new driver-assistance features delivered through Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0. Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection are now standard on the XL, and options include Intersection Assist and Active Park Assist 2.0.

Hardware was also embedded for Active Drive Assist, which will allow the truck to operate on certain North American highways with the driver’s hands off the wheel—though the vehicle requires the driver to stay engaged on the road. Over-the-air updates delivered through the SYNC 4 interface will allow this feature to work in Q3 of 2021.

“We see it as our duty to deliver not just what our customers want and need, but what they might have never thought possible,” Schmatz said. “The F-150 will be tougher than ever, and with fully connected over-the-air updates, it opens up a much wider range of potential enhancementsfrom system upgrades to feature offerings.”

The onboard computer doubles the previous system’s processing power and the standard SYNC 4 provides voice control, mapping, and wireless connectivity to apps. Half the available models also come standard with the bigger 12-inch display.

Those with FordPass mobile app will also be able to control lighting and get power and security alerts via their smart device.

Office Space

Workers required to pull double duty with digital and power tools might appreciate the expanded flat workspace in the cab and at the business end, or the tailgate. The shifter on higher end models is still on the console and retracts when not in use to provide some much-needed desk space, while the Tailgate Work Surface includes construction-ready amenities such as integrated rulers, a mobile device holder, cupholder and pencil holder.

At the back end, easily accessible outlets supply ample power, up to 7.2 kW, for a range of power tools or appliances. Called Pro Power Onboard, which Schmatz referred to as a “generator on wheels,” the feature comes with a 2 kW for optional gas engines and 2.4 kW standard for the PowerBoost. Those who choose the 7.2 kW version will be able to run a chop saw, circular saw, power drill, jigsaw and air compressor all at once. There are four 120V 20A outlets and one NEMA L14-30R 240V 30A plug-in. A built-in breaker will trip to protect the system if the load is too much.

“Generators are expensive and heavy,” Schmatz said. “You have to worry about how to transport gas to them. Instead of figuring out a way to get a generator there, you can drive your F-150 right onto the site.”

On the King Ranch, Platinum and Limited models, the Max Recline Seat backs bend to nearly 180 degrees, while the seat rises up, to allow the driver and front passenger to comfortably lie back. The backseat also lifts to access enough storage to get through a day’s work or for a weekend (or longer) getaway.

“We’re just making it easier for those who spend those long hours in the vehicle,” said Scmatz, referring to the customers who often spend up to 12 hours per day in and around these “mobile workstations.”

More details will be available closer to launch. Watch the unveiling below or click the slideshow for a closer look.

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