What Is It?
All new for the 2021 model year, the Ford F-150 offers a wide range of innovations — the most interesting being the first hybrid powertrain for the popular truck line. And this new hybrid delivers more than mere fuel efficiency — an onboard power generator in the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid brings a whole new level of utility to the competitive light-duty pickup segment.
Ford provided us with a 2021 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4 x 4 Platinum PowerBoost painted in Antimatter Blue. As the second-highest trim level in the F-150 lineup, the Platinum comes well equipped with a wide array of standard features. The test truck also featured Active Park Assist, a twin-panel moonroof, an interior work surface, max-recline front seats, a power tailgate and an upgraded B&O audio system for a total MSRP of $72,105. Competitors to the F-150 include the Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra.
As important as the new hybrid powertrain is to the F-150 lineup, surprisingly there’s nothing obvious on the truck that trumpets its hybrid status. When Chevrolet introduced the mild-hybrid Tahoe, the SUV had no less than 17 stickers and badges calling it out as a hybrid — not the case with the F-150. The only clues that this truck is a hybrid? Small PowerBoost badges on the front doors.
Under the Hood
Powering the first hybrid version of the F-150 is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 gas engine paired with a 35 kW electric motor integrated into the 10-speed transmission. The setup delivers 430 horsepower and a massive 570 lb-ft of torque — the most ever in a production F-150 and enough to tow up to 12,700 pounds. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries are located beneath the truck, so no compromises were made regarding cargo volume or passenger room.
With the F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds — power and efficiency. Giving nothing up in capability, the F-150 PowerBoost 4WD is rated at 24 mpg for both city and highway according to the U.S. EPA — not bad for a full-size pickup truck.
Adding a whole new level of utility, the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid is equipped with an integrated generator to provide power at the jobsite, campground or anywhere else this truck might go. As a mobile generator, this truck can be used in emergency situations where power has been lost, or even to rescue an electric vehicle in need of a charge. Our F-150 test vehicle was equipped with the standard 2.4 kW unit; however, Ford also offers a 7.2 kW generator that provides four 120-volt outlets and one 240-volt outlet in the bed of the truck.
What Can It Do?
According to Ford, the standard 2.4 kW generator in then F-150 PowerBoost can run up to 85 hours on a full tank of fuel, operating items such as power tools at a jobsite or even a portable drive-in movie setup with projector and loudspeakers. Bump up to the optional 7.2 kW generator and it’s possible to power an entire jobsite for up to 32 hours, or camp in the middle of nowhere with power to spare. The possibilities are endless.
The centerpiece of the 2021 Ford F-150’s dashboard is a well-integrated 12-inch touchscreen display that can be split so it provides access to multiple functions at once. These functions include navigation, communication, entertainment and truck features. The system makes excellent use of available real estate — we are especially impressed with the way it presents Android Auto in one section while still showing what’s playing on Satellite Radio. An added bonus: users in the truck can have wireless connections to both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Still offering plenty of utility, the interior of the 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum is more akin to a luxury car than a typical pickup truck. The attractive leather-trimmed front seats feature heating, cooling and even massage functions.
The test truck we drove has the max-recline seating option, which cleverly reclines the front seats almost 180 degrees while raising the seat bottom to create a comfortable space for rest between jobs or chores.
Cargo Space, Inside
Rear-seat passengers have plenty of room in the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid, although at times users might need to carry cargo that might not ride well in the bed of the truck. Seat bottoms can be folded up and out of the way, making room for a surprising amount of rear interior cargo space. We loaded cargo that had filled the back of an SUV into the rear seat space of the F-150.
After a max-recline-induced nap, it might be time for F-150 dwellers to catch up on paperwork or crunch some numbers. Pushing a button next to the gearshift lowers it into the console, creating space so the top of the center storage bin can be unfolded to form a large, flat work surface — or lunch surface. And with the onboard generator no laptops will run low on power.
Pickup owners with open-bed trucks always have a fear that rear-area cargo might shift or come loose, even if tied down well. The 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid provides a camera view of the bed so that it can be quickly checked without having to stop and inspect the load.
On the Road
Ford has done a wonderful job in refining the new F-150 to the point that it doesn’t even feel like driving a truck. Cruising at freeway speeds, the F-150 feels solid and comfortable, and the big truck remains stable and predictable even on favorite winding backroads. The hybrid system is seamless, and it is certainly a unique feeling to drive an F-150 when it switches into EV mode.
The Ford F-150 has been sales royalty in America for almost 40 years, and the truck line has held onto that position thanks to constant innovation. With its onboard generator system, the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid brings a new level of utility and versatility to this already impressive pickup truck. Boasting improved fuel economy with no compromise in regard to power or capability, the hybrid F-150 PowerBoost could be one of the most useful pickups on the market.