Did you know that more millionaires in America buy pickup trucks than anything else? This statistic alone helps make sense of the meteoric rise of premium touches, and downright luxury amenities in this blue collar segment with humble, hardworking beginnings. The greatest example of this trend so far is the 2021 Ford F-150 Limited. A $74,000+ truck that stands a full head above even the most opulent pickup trucks from its rivals.
This one, in particular, also happens to feature the PowerBoost Hybrid propulsion system. And as such, is the most powerful 2021 F-150 so far announced.
A formidable 430 horsepower and a robust 570 lb-ft of torque is the total output of this hybrid powertrain. This comes by way of a 44-hp, 221-lb-ft battery/electric motor setup, married to a 394 hp, 492 lb-ft 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. That’s more torque than the outgoing F-150 Raptor. It makes sense, then, that it encroaches on the Raptor’s quickness, too, with a low 5-second 0-60 sprint. As for the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Being that this 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid was also the range-topping Limited model, we might as well have been in a Lincoln Navigator. This machine in particular carried an MSRP just shy of $80,000 – actually more than a base Navigator. But from where we were sitting, the interior was just as posh. All of the switchgear was dead quiet to the touch. Just about every surface was wrapped in leather, be it traditionally stitched or quilted. The 10-way power seats could replace high-end office furniture, and all of the digital displays are high-resolution, detailed, and crisp on both the 12-inch center screen and digital IP. Then there’s the Bang & Olufsen audio, 4G LTE WiFi, heated front and rear seats, vented front seats, intelligent adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering, and on, and on. And on.
Luxury vehicles are going to have to innovate in just as many ways as Ford did with the F-150, otherwise this premium pickup is going to eat their lunch. Which can be conveniently consumed on the flat surface provided by the optional work station center console. And then take a nap from the food coma thanks to the Max Recline seats.
You may be asking yourself what, if anything, could this high-end power tool be missing? For us, it’s the Heads Up Display (HUD). Ford passed on integrating this feature on the new F-150 (at least right now), because of their bet that the digital instrument cluster is the more comprehensive feature of the two. But if there’s enough demand for a HUD, this could change.
On the road, 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque in the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Limited really comes alive. A wave of instantaneous electrified force surges the luxury truck forward, while the 3.5L EcoBoost gasoline V6 engine eventually carries the football to the goal line that is highway speed. There’s no other truck on the road that is quite like this one. 430 horsepower, 570 lb-ft, 12,700 pounds towing, and… a rather impressive 24 mpg combined. That’s according to the EPA anyway. But what do they know?
To benchmark the road manners of the PowerBoost hybrid system, we were able to do a quick loop with a 2021 Ford F-150 Lariat with a 5.0L Coyote V8 engine. The quick comparison revealed something interesting. The F-150 PowerBoost is indeed the winner in output and fuel economy, but an F-150 with the 5.0L engine has an edge that has to be experienced first hand. It’s simply the smoother powertrain option. That’s not to say that the PowerBoost is coarse; it’s actually the smoothest hybrid system we’ve ever experienced. There’s just little getting around the (subtle) NVH from the back-and-forth of two power units working together to send power to the wheels. It’s hard to beat a standalone, naturally aspirated DOHC V8 when it comes to smoothness in any case. Yet the F-150 Limited does not currently offer the Coyote. It’s 3.5L EcoBoost, and PowerBoost Hybrid only.
Being that this F-150 Limited also features the hybrid powertrain, it comes standard with a 7.2 kW generator. That’s enough, according to Ford engineers, to power three average American homes at the same time. So it’s more than just a convenience feature on the job site, or when camping, or tailgating. It could be a damn lifesaver during a soupy summer day when the block loses power from a storm. It could save the food in the fridge, and the freezer, while running the electric stove as if there was never an outage in the first place. And it runs near silently when comparing it to the unmuffled noise machines that are called generators found at the local hardware store. There are plenty of reasons why the 2021 F-150 PowerBoost would appeal to somebody. But for us, it’s the added insurance of that inverter generator, should SHTF. We’re sure Ram and GM are going to take a good look at this feature, but for now, the killer app in the segment belongs to the 2021 F-150.