Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 Ford F-150, Despite New Features and PowerBoost Hybrid, Lost Again to the Ram 1500

The Ford F-150 has reigned as America’s favorite pickup for decades. But staying at the top hasn’t always been easy, especially with competition within the segment growing fiercer each year. Recently, the battle at the top has been tighter than ever, with more brands offering capable, impressive pickups.

Truck lovers held their breath for the 2021 Ford F-150 to debut. And it impresses with serious upgrades and a new hybrid powertrain option. But all of that might not be enough to compete with the F-150’s biggest rivals.

What’s new for the 2021 Ford F-150?

The new model year marks a new generation, and the 2021 Ford F-150 has arrived completely redesigned. According to Car and Driver, “though its styling may suggest otherwise, Ford’s best-selling vehicle is new from grille to tailgate for 2021.”

It features an entirely revamped powertrain lineup, improved capability, and even more standard features. Most impressive is the new, first-time hybrid version. Those are exciting things.

But not so fast.

Ford F-150 features and pricing

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

The new F-150 generation brings plenty to talk about. Its redesign aims to improve stability, ride quality, and interior quality. And it does the job well. The truck offers more than a handful of powertrain options, including the new hybrid engine producing an impressive 430 hp. Although the 290-hp V6 is the base engine, you can also choose from two other V6 engines, a V8, a turbodiesel, and, of course, the hybrid V6.

In addition to the plethora of powertrain options are three cab configurations and short and long bed choices. Starting prices for the Ford F-150 remain among the lowest in the segment, around $30,000. But depending on the trim, powertrain, and options, the MSRP can hover upward of $72,000.

According to MotorTrend, “the unbroken stuff goes unfixed … as engineers instead concentrate on continuing the F-150’s unrelenting march upward in payload and towing capability.” And in true Ford fashion, the newest F-150 is more capable than the last, adding 800 pounds to its maximum towing capacity. The Ford F-150 can now tow up to 14,000 pounds, with a maximum payload capacity of 3,325 pounds.

Standard features on the 2021 Ford F-150 include a new, SYNC-4 infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi hotspot, and Bluetooth/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability. 

All F-150 models also come with advanced safety features such as forward-collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Several other advanced safety features are also available, including adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and a surround-view parking camera system.

How the F-150 stacks up against its biggest rivals

Regardless of the Ford F-150’s bona fides, the only real leap it has made in recent years is its new hybrid powertrain. And in an ultra-competitive truck segment, the F-150 may no longer be America’s “best” truck.

According to MotorTrend‘s list “The Best Full-Size Pickup Trucks to Buy in 2021,” the new F-150 “is at least as competent as its predecessor.” However, it takes second place behind the Ram 1500 yet again on MT’s yearly list.

Indeed, the 2021 Ford F-150 is durable and capable and offers value. But it may need to do more to overtake the Ram 1500, which has improved its luxuriousness, performance, technology, and capability year after year.