By: Eric Charron
Editor’s Note: TFLtruck fan bad current F-150 owner, Eric, went to a consumer 2021 F-150 first drive event and submitted this review. See it in its entirety below.
I test drove a 2021 Ford F-150 Powerboost Platinum FX4 (with a 7.2kw inverter). I currently have a 2018 F-150 Lariat 502a FX4 (3.5 EcoBoost). A few weeks ago, I got an email from Ford about upcoming dates to experience and drive the new 2021 trucks. Luckily, the event was on an off day for me and nearby. My wife tagged along, so by me driving it and her riding along, we each got a $10 Dicks Sporting Goods gift cards.
The employees were very nice and there was hardly anyone there at the time I was there. I got about 20-25 minutes of total time with the truck including driving.
The power tailgate up and down was nice. There is also a button to the lower left of the steering wheel that can drop and raise the tailgate. I wish my current truck had at least a button to drop the tailgate rather than having to hit it on the key fob. I made a comment about that and the employee seemed to know about that. Ford must have been listening. The power steps have a kick feature where the bed and cab meet, so you can lower the steps without having to open the doors. It is mainly for stepping up and accessing the bed from the side. The tailgate was nice and seemed like a practical work surface. I popped the hood and it looked very similar to mine, except between the battery and the engine was the large silver box with red wiring for the hybrid system.
The inside was very nice. We spent about 5-10 minutes going over the inside. The employee stated the truck was a pre-production model. When he opened the glove box, there was a silver box with different ports to plug into for analytics and data. He stated they are driving the trucks across the country to each event and not trailering them. This truck had about 2,300 miles on it. I hit the engine start button and everything powered up except the engine. It was weird, but not in a bad way. The A/C blew cold and the engine never kicked on untill we later left the parking lot. The new Sync 4 12-inch screen was impressive. It was very responsive and quick. The employee’s phone immediately connected to Apple Car Play wirelessly. The system appeared very configurable. It was nice you can now use the in-car navigation and Apple Car Play at the same time (unlike Sync 3). I really liked the horizontal screen approach rather than Ram’s vertical approach. It seemed more natural to use.
I hit the button to have the gear selector fold down, so you can open up the flat center console work surface. I noticed the electric motor to put down the gear shifter made a loud grainy motor sound. The digital dash had good resolution, still not sold on the numbers for the tach and speedo. Some instruments still look good when analog. The employee demonstrated the fold-flat sleep front seats. Pretty cool, but takes a minute to get into and out of position. If you have a 13th-gen F150, you will be very familiar with where everything is, minus getting used to the new 12″ Sync 4.
The drive was a lap around the mall on the main roads. As I pulled away from the parking spot and coasted through the parking lot, it stayed in electric only. The employee talked about the extra hp/torque and said to get on it to feel it. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I hammered down to 60 mph. It was quick, but honestly, it did not feel any faster than my current truck, heck maybe even a tick slower. You definitely feel the extra weight of the hybrid system while driving. The steering feels the same as mine.
The one thing I immediately noticed was the brake pedal feel. The brake pedal feel was very stiff, like when you pump your brake pedal while the truck is off and the pedal stiffens up is the best way I can describe it. The truck did stop good, I think its the regen braking feeling. I was surprised by how smooth the hybrid system worked with the engine. Coming to stop, the engine shut off is not noticeable. The hybrid electric motor appeared to give you that little boost forward starting before the engine kicked in. It was a very smooth transition. Much better/smoother than the current auto start/stop. I made a comment about how I hated my auto start/stop and I got rid of it with the Autostop eliminator. He just chuckled and stated he’s heard it before.
Being a pre-production model FX4 off-road truck, it had street Hankook Dynapro tires. The “tour” is heading to Dallas next. I asked about the gas mileage he’s been getting with it since he’s been driving it everywhere. He said about 21 mpg on the highway. Hybrid’s shine more in city driving, but no numbers on this yet.
I have no intention of buying a 14th-gen F-150 anytime soon, I just wanted to experience all the hype without going to a dealership. I wish I had more time with it. I will say the future looks good for the new F150s.