2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch Review – Driving A Robot Truck

King of the Road

We have to hand it to the automotive industry. As time marches forward, they make it harder and harder for James Bond movies to add cool gadgets to cars. That’s not easy; we’re talking about a film franchise where .50 caliber machines and passenger ejection seats are OEM. But car makers just keep packing more and more technology into their creations, forcing 007 to get more creative in staying a step ahead. Just look at all of the tech the 2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch has going for it, for example.

The new Ford F-150 aimed to reset the standard for all light-duty trucks. It does this by targeting the most towing and payload of any light-duty full-size pickup, introducing all-new features to increase customer productivity, and featuring new connected vehicle innovations like over-the-air updates to keep F-150 at the forefront of purposeful technology. Oh, and it also sports the all-new 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid powertrain with Pro Power Onboard (an integrated power generator).

ford f-150
The all-new F-150 starts with a durable, proven foundation – a fully boxed high-strength steel frame with a high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy body with 11 grille options available across the series lineup, new tailgate appliqués, functional upgrades throughout including available LED headlamps and taillamps, and available full-length extended power running boards with kick switch that provide better truck-side cargo box accessibility.

And we loved it. When we got a chance to test drive the new F150, we loved all of the bells and whistles Ford worked into the new pickup. This truck came with everything! Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure, Power Everything, heated and cooled seats. It even massages you! It was so comfy that no one wanted to get out; even after the 500 mile one-way trip!

2021 ford f-150
Did we mention the bitchin’ power tailgate and step? This truck did it all.

However, there’s always room for improvement. In this case, that Lane Departure feature needs tweaking. Even with our hand on the steering wheel, the truck yelled at us to apply our hand to the wheel, roughly every 20-30 seconds.

Now don’t get us wrong. In the 40 mph crosswinds, we didn’t have to work hard at all to steer, but the Lane Departure got annoying. It was like a game we couldn’t win. But at the end of it all, our arms weren’t tired in the least, either.

ford f-150
That said, the interior is completely redesigned to elevate truck owners’ experience with style, comfort, utility and technology. Featuring enhanced materials, new color choices and more storage, it is built around the functional needs of truck customers. Every surface has been thoughtfully designed, such as more soil-resistant two-tone seats for XL or the new standard dual glovebox.
F-150 introduces an all-new 12-inch center screen – standard on XLT high series and above – that allows customers to split the screen and control multiple functions simultaneously, including navigation, music or truck features. The landscape design strikes a balance between demands for technology accessibility and the greater convenience of physical buttons. An 8-inch touch screen, standard on XL and XLT standard and mid-series trucks, means every customer gets touch screen functionality and better rearview camera vision. Both screens feature access to the new digital owner’s manual, which can help all customers find the information they need more easily, including how-to videos for additional explanation.

But let’s talk about how fun it was to drive. In a very large nutshell, the big 5.0L V8 rocked.

2021 ford f-150
The all-new 3.5-liter PowerBoost full hybrid V6 powertrain makes F-150 the only light-duty full-size pickup to offer a full hybrid and is available on every trim level from XL to Limited. The full hybrid powertrain is the most powerful engine in the all-new F-150 lineup, delivering 430 horsepower and 570 lb.-ft. of torque. The no-compromise PowerBoost system adds instant electric torque to Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 and is targeting an EPA-estimated range of approximately 700 miles on a single tank of gasᶧ and will deliver a maximum available12,700 pounds towing.
PowerBoost combines Ford’s proven EcoBoost engine and 10-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission with a 35-kilowatt (47-horsepower) electric motor integrated into the transmission, as well as software calibrated specially for truck use, including drive modes like tow/haul mode to help customers better manage towing heavy trailers.

Power isn’t only important under the hood. Available Pro Power Onboard expands F-150’s capability by bringing generator levels of exportable power to work sites, camp sites and everyday life. Pro Power Onboard is available with a 2.0-kilowatt output on the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8, while PowerBoost-equipped F-150 comes standard with 2.4 kilowatts of output or an optional 7.2 kilowatts of output. Power is accessible through in-cabin outlets and up to four cargo bed-mounted 120-volt 20-amp outlets, with a 240-volt 30-amp outlet on the 7.2-kilowatt version. The system even provides power on the move to charge tool batteries in between jobs.

For our review ride, we averaged 17.1 mph over the 1400 mile trip and that included the following.

First off, an average highway speed of 85 mph. Second, a 23-mile off-road adventure at below 2 mph (that would be Schnebly Hill Road, dropping from the Flagstaff forest into the Sedona Red Rock valley). And finally, a scenic drive up 89A up through Oak Creek Canyon out of Sedona, then back to Flagstaff.

2021 ford f-150 offroad test

Oh, and then there’s its towing ability. In a word: Effortless! The truck pulled a 4500lb wakeboard boat like it wasn’t even there. Simply amazing!

The all-new F-150 is the only light-duty full-size pickup to offer available Trailer Reverse Guidance and Pro Trailer Backup Assist. Trailer Reverse Guidance, made popular on Super Duty, uses the truck’s high-resolution cameras to provide multiple views along with helpful graphics that tell drivers which way to turn the steering wheel while backing up. Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which makes backing up a trailer as easy as turning a dial, continues on F-150.

But perhaps the most telling of all this was our tester’s response: “This Ford turned a Chevy guy, who had fallen in love with the New Ram, into a Ford F-150 lover. Where do I sign up?”

Story by Jerrod D. Strauss and Mark Masker. Photography by Jerrod D. Strauss, Benjamin Daniel Strauss, Cassidy Ryane Strauss, and courtesy of Ford Motor Company.


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Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 201,000 employees and 62 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs and electrified vehicles, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. At the same time, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.