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2021 Ford F-150: 6 Things We Like, 3 We Don’t

2021 Ford F-150 off-road driving 2021 Ford F-150 | Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

Slow and steady wins the race. With this in mind, the 2021 Ford F-150 isn’t about to do anything rash in its decades-old battle against pickup truck rivals like the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra. Recent updates to America’s bestselling truck are substantial, though you’d need to be a diehard Ford fan to spot them based on looks alone.

Related: 2021 Ford F-150 Review: Keeping the Champion in Top Condition

The most noticeable changes to the 2021 F-150 hide beneath the truck’s sheet metal, inside the cabin and under the hood. A hybrid motor joins five other engine choices this year, and Ford has also invested in upgrading its interior trim. Other changes include new and extremely handy features related to towing, powering tools at a worksite or taking time for a well-earned nap.

We recently spent time with several variations of the 2021 F-150. After all, with six engine choices, three cabin sizes and three cargo bed lengths, there are plenty of ways to create an F-150 to match your needs and budget. Follow the link above to read our complete review of the updated F-150 — and if you’d like a sneak peek at what stood out most during our truck test, keeping reading right here.

Things We Like

1. Familiar Face

2021 Ford F-150 2021 Ford F-150 | Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

From the outside, you might not realize you’re looking at a significantly different F-150. Each of the six main trim levels now has its own front grille design. Ford also lowered the hood, tweaked the front LED running lights, added wheel arch flares, and redesigned the taillights and available tailgates … but the result is awfully familiar to the previous F-150. That’s not a wholly bad thing in a full-size truck market that values steady and useful improvements versus faddish designs and trendy add-ons.

2.  Upgraded Interior Quality

When talking about full-size truck cabins, for the past couple of years, the leader of the pack has been the Ram 1500. In range-topping models, the Ram features an opulent cabin filled with quality leather, metal and real wood trim. The 2021 Ford F-150 has moved a number of steps closer to its rival; in fact, during our test drive, we noted the cabin materials have been “considerably upgraded,” and complemented the optional 12-inch touchscreen and digital gauge cluster.

3. Useful Gadgets Galore

2021 Ford F-150 center console 2021 Ford F-150 | Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

Gadgets can be fun when they actually serve a function. Thankfully, the gadgets on the new F-150 make a good truck even better. An optional electronically folding shifter stows into the center console, creating room for a built-in worktable between the front seats. The front seats can also fold nearly flat to serve as an optional impromptu bed (which is handy, if not especially comfy). Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist allows you to maneuver both the truck and the trailer it’s hauling with the twist of a dash-mounted knob. And available onboard generators can keep multiple electric tools running strong at a worksite.

4. Power Meets Hybrid Economy

The 2021 F-150 offers six engine choices, ranging from the standard 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 to a torque-rich turbo-diesel on up to a 400-hp, 5.0-liter V-8. A new addition is a 430-hp, turbo 3.5-liter V-6 gas-electric hybrid. During our time behind the wheel, this powertrain returned a stout 24.2 mpg. Equally impressive is that this engine has a maximum towing capacity of approximately 12,000 pounds.

5. Added Safety Features

2021 Ford F-150 backup camera 2021 Ford F-150 | Manufacturer image

Truck buyers aren’t only interested in towing or hauling. Modern safety features are equally important, which is why Ford has added more standard active safety items to the 2021 F-150. These include adaptive cruise control, automatic lane-centering, automatic evasive steering assist, automatic emergency braking with precollision and intersection assist, and more.

6. A Truck for Every Job

An entry-level 2021 F-150 XL with the regular cab and 6.5-foot cargo bed can be yours for a little over $30,000. Scale the heights of the F-150 option sheet, however, and the Limited trim soars past $70,000. With so many ways to mix and match options, there’s a Ford F-150 available for everyone. Depending on how you order it, the F-150 can be a basic work truck, an adventurous off-roader or a luxury-laden road warrior with features like a panoramic moonroof, massaging front seats and power-operated running boards.

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Things We Don’t

1. Ram 1500 Is Still Cabin King

2021 Ford F-150 front row 2021 Ford F-150 | Manufacturer image

Remember the nice things we said about the Ford F-150’s new and improved interior? They still hold true, don’t worry. But when compared to the class-leading confines of the Ram 1500, the F-150 doesn’t have the same heft and quality that’s baked into all of the cabin details found in its rival.

2. It Doesn’t Shout That It’s New and Improved

The modest exterior changes are another case of good news meets bad news. We think this is an attractive truck and the freshening should keep F-150 fans happy, sure, but if you want everyone to know you’re driving the latest and greatest version, the 2021 F-150’s subtle exterior modifications won’t bowl you over.

3. Be Careful With the Options

2021 Ford F-150 2021 Ford F-150 | Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

Keep in mind exactly what you want from your truck when going through the F-150’s myriad options. We’ve already pointed out that a fully loaded Limited trim more than doubles the price of this pickup. Knowing what features are most important to you will help you from going overboard with extras.

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