Ford unveils three new technologies for the 2021 Ford F-150. Two of the features have to do with the truck estimating its own weight to let the driver know the current cargo (‘Onboard Scales’) and/or trailer tongue weight (‘Smart Hitch’) that is added to the truck. The third features is the addition of new continuously controlled shocks that adjust damping in real time. Does it mean that new F-150 truck that are equipped with these new dampers will have the same ride control as a Raptor? Let’s dig in!
Truck enthusiasts have only dreamed about a feature like this – being able to closely estimate the current load of your truck at any time. Maybe it’s just me who has dreamed of this while making another round-trip to the truck stop just to figure out the trailer’s tongue weight and how the weight is distributed across the trailer and the truck. Ford aims to make this task a lot easier with the introduction of the ‘Onboard Scales’ feature. This is a new F-150 package that combines additional hardware and software to estimate the current load of your truck. The additional hardware includes at least one suspension height sensor to tell the truck’s computer how much squat the truck is seeing. It also includes new tail lights with four red indicator bulbs that provide a quick feedback on the state of truck’s current load. One little red light represents about 25% of payload capacity, two lights is 50%, and so on. If the truck is overloaded, the top little red light begins to flash.
This new system will not do everything for you. The operator may need to enter the total weight of all passengers in the truck before having the system estimate the load inside the bed or on the hitch. This may be a bit awkward if you need to ask your mother-in-law how much she weighs. There is still a lot to learn about this new system. We will do a very detailed video as soon as we can get our hands on a truck with this system.
The system allows freedom to disable the rear light payload indicator lights if you don’t want other to see how much weight you are loading. You can also tell the system the reset the onboard scales to zero. The weight display can also be monitored via your FordPass application on your mobile device.
The Smart Hitch feature works much like the Onboard Scales, but it focuses on the hitch weight estimation (or the amount of trailer tongue weight that is pushing down onto the truck). The system will help you check the trailer tongue weight of a conventional trailer, a conventional trailer with a weight distribution hitch, a gooseneck trailer, or a 5th-wheel trailer. The system needs you to enter the weight of your trailer, it does not magically know how heavy your trailer is. Next, the system will recommend how much tongue weight is appropriate for the trailer that you are connecting. A proper load distribution for a conventional trailer means there is 10-15% of total trailer weight that is pushing down on the truck’s hitch.
These features provide the driver with the additional information and allow for a more safe and controlled cargo hauling or trailer towing experience. This optional package will retail at $650 and it will be available on F-150 XL truck with a premium (101A) package and above. So XL work trucks, XLT, Lariat, and the rest can take advantage of these features. These features cannot be retroactively installed on current 2021 Ford F-150 trucks since it requires additional hardware and software component. Ford says this feature cannot be simply added via an Over The Air update.
This option can be ordered starting in June, and it is expected to reach customer in the late summer 2021.
Continuously Controlled Dampers
New F-150 Lariat trucks and trim levels above it will offer an optional Continuously Controlled Damper suspension system. This is an optional system that can actively control the shock valving to quickly make the shock soft or stiff. Ford says this will enhance the driving characteristics of the truck. The company says, it will be able detect pot holes or rough pavement and stiffen up as to not allow the wheel to drop too far into the hole. The damper characteristics will change depending on the driving mode the driver selects. Ford says that these new shocks can make heavy hauling or towing experience more confident and relaxing for the driver.
This optional damper system will retail at $695. It should also reach customers in the later summer 2021.