Full-size pickup trucks are the meat of the U.S. automotive business; it’s a red-hot category with the Ford F-150 leading the pack in sales and the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram pickups fast followers.
The air at the top is not always thin. Truck coverage often overlooks the fierce competition between automakers to attract discerning customers by offering packaged bundles with standard and optional features. These packaged bundles are heavily dependent on in-car technology now more than ever.
Ford must be the best seller and add value without alienating customers. This effort is evident in the 2021 F-150, which I experienced during a test drive. It also hints at what’s to come with all-electric Lightning pickup trucks.
The 2021 SuperCrew Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew Lariat was tested in suburban Detroit by me. It has a 3.5-liter V6 powerBoost full hybrid engine. I live 20 miles away from the place it was made.
Custom packaging is a skill that car companies need to master in order to get pickup truck details correct. This is one reason why options packages can be so confusing. The F-150 that I tried was no exception. There are six powertrain options for the F-150, including three different bed lengths and three options for cabs. Then there are eight trim options: two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive options.
Ford and other automakers have benefited from this strategy that emphasizes options. These companies are increasing their tech and software offerings, which can lead to confusion for its loyal customers.
The F-150 stands out from the rest of its range because it offers a lot of functional tech to its customers. The dashboard is centered around the 12-inch display housing the standard Sync4 infotainment systems.
Sync4 was first introduced in the Mustang Mach-E as well as the Ford Bronco. Since its introduction in 2007, Sync has steadily improved to provide a more user-friendly experience. Sync4 increases computational power by doubling the number of processors and introduces over-the-air updates to software.
The system sources data from INRIX on traffic, construction (always in a Michigan summer), weather and parking space availability from data in 20,000 cities and 150 countries.
The system used natural language processing to provide more precise responses to voice-based questions and SMS messages. A caveat: The machine learning algorithm was hard to evaluate because the test vehicle had been driven by several drivers over recent weeks.
Apple CarPlay is my preferred option for infotainment. It connects wirelessly to the F-150, and reduces distractions driving. It was obvious that Apple and Google would be the dominant middleware infotainment systems market.
Sync also tees up supported apps Waze and Ford+Alexa.
Tech for driving
Ford’s camera technology makes it easier for a novice to drive a large truck. A split screen makes it easy for timid drivers to navigate tight areas.
The five onboard cameras serve as guide lenses that aid in parking and steering. You can see the entire 360 degree view above and use it to help you find your bearings.
A 12-inch digital cluster is hidden behind the wheel. I have a part of me that longs for the classic gauges on a pickup truck, but this is not Ford’s direction. Ford is striving for future-forward vibes, encapsulated by Mustang Mach-E’s Apple-design-inspired aesthetic.
Ford’s in-car design is a way to prove that it is a technology company first and an automaker 120 years old second. These earnest aesthetic cues may be a bit too on the nose as products age over time.
Blue Cruise will be introduced by Ford, the advanced driver assist system that it used to call Active Drive Assist later in the year. This is done via an automatic software upgrade, but was active on my model of June.
According to Ford, the system can be used for driving hands-free in areas that stretch over 100,000 miles. It will come standard on F-150 Limited cars in the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active2.0 Prep Package. The system will be available as an option for Platinum, King Ranch, and Lariat models. As an answer to GM’s Super Cruise, the system tracks eye position and gaze of drivers using a front-facing camera.
These are the most important doodads
The old-school buttons and knobs that Ford has placed under the screen, which measures approximately a foot in length, show Ford’s appreciation for customers who still prefer a manual cue. The shift lever folds flat to form a 15-inch desk, which I found useful for my laptop work in the car.
The cabin is equipped with numerous charging points and wireless charging. The interior of the F-150 is large, but every square inch is well thought out. For roadside napping or extra cargo, the seats can be folded 180 degrees.
Even though the vehicle was fully loaded, the dark gray leather seat felt less luxurious than utilitarian. Crosstown rival Ram is more successful in interior design aesthetics and driving pleasure than Ford. Both the exterior and interior design are simple and emphasize functionality. Two kayaks were carried in my back, and I found hooks that would connect to the truck bed with my bungee cords.
There are a number of outlets that can supply 240 volts. Two more outlets are located in the cabin. A handy ruler is included in the truck bed’s tailgate. It can be used for both imperial and metric calculations. The standard hybrid model has a 2.4 kilowatt generator, and the optional 7.2kW generator can run for 32 hours with a full gas tank.
Although I haven’t tested the F-150s’s ability to haul, these figures are vital for truckers. The F-150 can carry a payload weight of 2,120 pounds, and can also tow 12,700 pounds. These numbers will vary depending on the length of your bed and how you drive it. The model also has a backup-towing assistance function that aligns the trailer connection. It was $68,095, which is a substantial increase from its base price of $50,980. Ford offers a Limited trim, which is a higher-end F-150, starting at $73,000.
Form in function
Ford’s hybrid powertrain will give it a boost in order to be competitive with Ram or Chevrolet. Customers who don’t want to wait for the fully electric Lightning EV will be able to choose the hybrid option. This is an acceptable compromise that has already attracted 120,000 pre-orders. My average mileage was 24 MPG, which is a significant improvement on all-gasoline. It also ranks among the top in its category for non-diesel. The Lightning is still not sufficient to give Ford a great emissions score card.
Ford needs to appeal to its existing customers who still buy the trucks on the roads today in order for them be interested in EVs. Pickup truck buyers can be divided into two types: those who depend on their pickup trucks for work or pleasure, and those who want the ability to use it in an emergency situation. Both are satisfied by the truck I drove.
Buyers who want to use the F-150 for towing, home improvements and outdoor hobbies have always found it to be a good choice. For laborers who need a sturdy, reliable vehicle, pick-up trucks are able to support them. Ford’s new model is a big deal. It creates excitement and raises the stakes for customers who are interested in making tweaks.
While I was on F-150 loan in June, the buyer seeking security struck me. That’s why I saved the section about the F-150’s driving performance for last. The time I was able to test it out coincided with the summer storm in Michigan that shut down major roads and left cars stranded for several days.
I was able to zoom around the city before the storm. The big loose steering, wide turns, and rhythmic stillness created by the hybrid engine’s regeneration allowed me to adjust.
After the storm passed, I slowed down and shifted to a more steady pace. My hands were at 10 and 2. I was able to maneuver passenger cars as well as less capable crossover SUVs along the Lodge Freeway in just two feet. Unaffected, the F-150 drove through all of it. I experienced no skidding, stalling or other issues. This contrasts with a friend who had to walk her home after her Uber driver became stuck. It feels like an emergency survival kit for those who are facing some kind of environmental disaster. It is a security measure that comes with an additional layer of protection.
The full-size truck’s inherent quality of making a driver feel unstoppable is what makes them so popular. This is also why Ford tough has seen so many people use its “Ford tough”. This delicate balance is achieved by keeping the truck simple at an affordable price that still delivers power, substance, and peace of heart.
Publiated at Wed 11 August 2021, 19:01:38 (+0000).