The 2021 F-150 Is Tested So Rigorously by Ford They Can’t Use Human Drivers

Ford sells its trucks on the premise they’re built tough enough to endure even the harshest conditions. That’s why the company has remained competitive since its founder changed the automobile industry forever. However, is “Built Ford tough” just a slogan? According to the automaker, it’s a promise.

To fulfill that promise, Ford has shown it goes above and beyond to ensure it delivers everything it advertises. That includes the new F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid’s rigorous testing.

The 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid

The 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid is the company’s first hybrid truck with gas-powered toughness, Car and Driver reports. To do so, the automaker started from scratch to ensure everything fit the highest standards. Regardless of cab configuration, bed length, or bells and whistles, consumers expect performance in addition to looks.  

Hybrids offer many benefits, but power isn’t usually one of them. Without a full reliance on gasoline, trucks can’t normally manage 14,000 pounds. But the automaker pulled it off.

According to Ford, the new F-150 boasts “a 3.5-liter PowerBoost V6 — the only full hybrid powertrain available in a pickup.” Plus, it “has the best combined fuel economy for gas-powered light-duty full-size pickups with an EPA-estimated rating of 25 mpg on 4×2 models.” The 400-hp hybrid powertrain also has a 35 kW electric motor and a 10-speed automatic transmission.

But to get to that point, Ford put the truck through its paces.

Driver safety (without the driver)

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Ford wanted to ensure consumers were as safe in various driving conditions, from school pick-up to off-roading. This meant tasking trained drivers with rigorous road tests. But for the most intense testing, Ford removed humans from the equation.  

Engineers designed test dummies that could take more punishment than the average person without the risk of injury or death. In a recent video, they explained how this truck, despite its hybrid status, is still one of the toughest on the road.  

“We engineered the truck to be exactly the same as a gas powertrain,” they say in a video posted to the Ford Motor Company YouTube channel. “So our hybrid will go through the exact same paces as our gas powertrains have through the decades. It’s our first electrified powertrain in F-150. It’s a win-win for everyone.” 

The human drivers put themselves at risk to test the truck’s power, but some tests were too dangerous for them.

“Michigan proving grounds is the core of our tough-truck durability. Some of the portions of these tests are so punishing we don’t have human drivers test. They’re automated. We know that when a vehicle passes at Michigan proving ground, it’s going to be Built Ford tough,” the video states.

The new hybrid is ‘built Ford tough’

Consumers’ reasons for choosing an F-150 vary, and it seems Ford wants to cater to every type of driver.

“Maybe you won’t tow the 12,000 pounds up Davis Dam, go rock crawling, or high speed in the desert,” the video continues. “Maybe you’re just using the vehicle for going camping or go to work. You may never take your vehicle to the extreme, but at least you know it’s capable of going there.” 

And in a world where combustion-engine vehicles are slowly becoming obsolete, Ford is trying to stay ahead of the curve by offering alternatives such as the hybrid F-150. It’ll be interesting to see what the automaker produces in an all-EV future.