Living with a car lets you learn all sorts of things about it. It’s why we buy our Best Of-winning vehicle every year. Not only does it give us more time to evaluate its pros and cons in exquisite detail, but sometimes there are issues and things break, giving us a chance to better live out a true ownership experience. Such is the case with our long-term 2021 Ford F-150, which has been in our hands for approximately seven months and driven over 7,000 miles.
Related: Owning the 2021 Ford F-150
Well, it’s still kinda rusty. No one — neither Ford nor independent mechanics we checked with — thought the rust will have any long-term impact on reliability or durability, which is nice. We’ll be keeping an eye on that just in case. Our Android Auto connection issues also seem to have been fixed by an update on Android’s end, not Ford’s, so, again: Nice.
No one seems to enjoy the ride quality when unladen, even with allowances for our F-150 being a pickup truck. The ride even turned one of Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s family road trips into a bit of a nightmare as the F-150 Limited — with 22-inch wheels — dashed any hopes of kiddo car naps with huge jolts over bumps. Pouring salt on the wound was Ford’s announcement of a midyear update to the F-150 that included adding an adaptive suspension that could improve its ride quality. The new hardware also brought promising towing and trailering goodies.
We’re also monitoring potential transmission hiccups — specifically, shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear and idling roughness. The power-folding shifter is starting to feel a bit rickety, too. A dealership diagnosis gave the car a clean bill of health despite our observation of the change in drivability, so, again, we’ll continue monitoring. The hands-on lane-centering steering also seems to be having difficulties recognizing when our hands are actually on the wheel, warning us to keep our hands on the wheel when they already are, which can be aggravating on long trips.
Not All Bad News
Despite the complaints and issues, the F-150 remains in demand amongst our staff members, even those who don’t live in Chicago. Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman just completed a lengthy trip in the F-150 — be on the lookout for his story soon — and was full of praise for it.
“The F-150 tows a 25-foot Airstream and three people like a champ,” according to Bragman. “It never lacks for power, never feels unsteady, and all of its electronics aid in making towing just that much easier.”
Bruzek, who objected to the F-150’s ride quality when empty, had more praise when the truck was doing work.
“Like most trucks, the F-150 hybrid’s ride quality became quite livable, and comfortable, once I added 650 pounds of tongue weight while towing my 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am back and forth to the drag strip.”
I would also like to personally thank Ford for updating its massaging seat settings so that it no longer turns off every 20 or 30 minutes. Thank you, Ford.