Ford has revealed the 2021 model of the F-150, and many buyers will find the newest version of the automaker’s super popular pickup truck stuffed with technology when it gets released later this year. The new F-150 will have an optional hands-free driving mode, be capable of receiving over-the-air software updates, and come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The company will also start selling a hybrid version of the 2021 F-150 that can travel about 700 miles on a full tank of gas.
The hands-free driving feature — which Ford calls “Active Drive Assist” — is the same that’s coming to the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV next year. That will make the F-150 one of the only vehicles in the US that has hands-free driving when the feature is available, along with Cadillac’s And GM’s Super Cruise-equipped cars and SUVs. Active Drive Assist will only be available on divided highways that Ford has mapped, and customers will have to buy a specific hardware package that enables the feature, which will include a driver monitoring system that uses a driver-facing infrared camera to make sure they’re watching the road. They’ll also have to pay extra for the Active Drive Assist software.
HANDS-FREE DRIVING WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE ON HIGHWAYS THAT FORD HAS MAPPED
Even if buyers don’t opt for Active Drive Assist, the new F-150 will still offer the rest of the features that make up Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver assistance system. Some will come standard, like automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection — which is good news considering the behemoth size of the F-150. Others will cost extra, like adaptive cruise control, lane centering, post-collision braking, trailer backup assist, and more.
The bigger versions of the new F-150 will come with a 12-inch landscape touchscreen in the center of the dashboard (as opposed to the vertical display found in Fiat Chrysler’s competitor, the Dodge Ram), while smaller versions of the truck will have an eight-inch screen. Both will run Sync 4, the newest version of Ford’s infotainment system. It is one of the only vehicles on the road to offer wireless versions of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s a wireless charging pad under the infotainment screen, as well as USB-A and USB-C ports. All models will have a 12-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.
The new F-150 can be updated over the air, too. Ford says that won’t just be for improvements to the infotainment system. Rather, the company says the updates are “bumper-to-bumper,” meaning they can “support preventative maintenance, reduce repair trips, provide improved performance and ultimately result in more vehicle up-time.”
Ford is working on an all-electric version of the F-150 due out in 2022. But in the meantime, it’s now finally going to offer a hybrid version of the truck, following in the footsteps of General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.
FORD’S NOT THE FIRST TO MAKE A HYBRID TRUCK, BUT IT’S TRYING TO LEAPFROG THE OTHERS
But while those other trucks were mild hybrids that used small electric motors and batteries to increase efficiency, Ford’s will be a full hybrid powertrain, utilizing the company’s fourth-generation version of the technology. A 35kW (47 horsepower) electric motor will pull power from a 1.5kWh battery pack, giving the truck a boost during acceleration and allowing it to get around 700 miles on a 30.6-gallon tank of gas, roughly 23 miles per gallon.
Unfortunately, Ford isn’t releasing official fuel economy figures just yet, so it’s hard to say exactly how much more efficient the hybrid version will be compared to its gas-only counterparts. The hybrid F-150 will be sold in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive variants, with each truck marrying the electric components to a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. And the hybrid F-150 does not have a plug, so the onboard battery will be recharged by the energy created when the truck uses the electric motor to help brake.
All told, the new F-150 represents what is likely Ford’s biggest year-to-year jump when it comes to the technology that powers the company’s most popular vehicle segment. Ford says it’s not just cramming in technology for technology’s sake, and that each of the new additions serves a genuine purpose. There are plenty of more straightforward truck feature, and new utility options that should please those who spend the most time inside these vehicles, like an onboard generator and a new center-console “work surface” that can hold a laptop. The new seats even fold back 180 degrees, so owners who really love their trucks can spend some real downtime inside them, too.