You’re ready to buy a new pickup. And as you browse dealer inventory, you think you’re sold on the world’s best-selling truck, the Ford F-150. Though ads tout the latest F-150, you might be wondering if the outgoing 2020 model offers the better buy. You need to know the key differences between these two model years. Well, we’ve done that for you.
2020 and 2021 Ford F-150 appearance and trims
The Ford F-150 got beefier and boasts a few other subtle refreshes to its appearance for 2021. This year’s model offers the same body, bed, and cab configurations as the 2020 model. And the new model still provides the same six trim levels as the 2020 version.
But expect new body panels, c-shaped headlights, and various grille styles for each 2021 trim. The grilles now have shutters that close at higher speeds, too. The wheel stance is a little wider, allowing for a 22-inch wheel option. There are also 13 new wheel designs and power running boards that kick out upon your approach, Top Speed reports.
2020 and 2021 Ford F-150 powertrains
Ford still offers six engine options, plus a slight variation for the Raptor. The Ford F-150 Raptor will get a hybrid powertrain in 2021. The carryover engines include the 3.3-liter V6, 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost, 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost, 3.5-liter PowerBoost V6 Hybrid, Turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6, and 5.0-liter V8, MotorTrend reports. The most significant change is an upgraded 10-speed automatic transmission over the former six-speed automatic.
Perhaps more important are the differences between the 2020 and 2021 F-150. Ford bumped up the towing capacity in nearly every engine option for 2021. Payload, however, is about the same.
Cabin improvements are significant this year and include new color selections, more storage compartments, and better work truck options. New for 2021 is the Interior Work Surface, designed to accommodate folks who work in their pickups.
And the 2021 Ford F-150 takes seat comfort to a new level. This year’s model offers Max Recline seats, allowing for 180-degree flat-folding. This feature is available on the King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited trims.
Expect infotainment improvements, too. The base-model 2020 F-150 comes with a 4.2-inch touchscreen, while the 2021 version gets an eight-inch screen, U.S. News reports. And the higher trims for this year get an even larger 12-inch screen.
The 2020 Ford F-150 offers several advanced driver aids. But the 2021 model introduces several new ones. They include the class-exclusive Active Drive Assist, Ford’s take on hands-free driving technology.
Which truck is the better buy?
As with any recommendation, when it comes to deciding which Ford F-150 is better, it comes down to your personal preferences and budget. There’s nothing wrong with the 2020 F-150. Ford didn’t reinvent the wheel for 2021, though it hit all the sweet spots for improvements. The 2021 pickup brings extras you maybe didn’t know you wanted. And if you need a more productive truck with a more intuitive interior and beefier design, the 2021 F-150 is the better pick.
If you’re still undecided, driving both pickups is a great first step. You’ll see deeper discounts and rebates available for the outgoing model year. But Ford is clearly putting its best pedal forward with the 2021 F-150.