Illustration by Radovan VaricakCar and Driver
- The Ford F-150 pickup truck is getting a redesign for 2021.
- Here’s what we know about the updated truck, including its powertrains, interior details, and styling changes.
- The standard F-150 will arrive first, with electric and Raptor versions to follow.
This story originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Car and Driver, which was produced in February and early March. The information was gathered before the auto industry began feeling major effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As many automakers are now delaying or pausing development programs, the debut and on-sale dates reported here may change.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s Ford’s approach to the 2021 F-150. When you’ve sold more than 4 million F-series in the U.S. since the introduction of the 13th generation for the 2015 model year, why tempt fate?
The switch to an aluminum-intensive body for the last-generation truck was a monumental endeavor, requiring significant retooling of manufacturing facilities and body shops alike. Ford took smaller steps this time. The F-150’s sheetmetal will retain the same shape but carry a revised nose and new headlights. Astute eyes might also notice different taillights, but overall, this redesign looks more like a mid-cycle refresh than a generational transformation.
The changes should be more obvious inside. Attempting to catch up with Ram’s upscale interiors, Ford’s Limited, King Ranch, and Platinum models will include more premium materials and touch points. An 8.0-inch infotainment display comes standard while an optional 15.5-inch screen takes on square proportions in a nod to the Instagram generation. Both run on the brand’s latest software, Sync 4.
Ford will offer a powertrain for every buyer, with five engines carrying over from today’s F-150. Disregard all rumors of a DOHC 4.8-liter V-8. The 5.0-liter lives on and shares more parts with the Mustang’s V-8. The four V-6s include two twin-turbo engines displacing 2.7 and 3.5 liters, a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel, and a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter. All are backed by a 10-speed auto.
Ford also will offer the first plug-in hybrid in the half-ton-truck market, with an electric motor sandwiched between a turbo V-6 and a 10-speed auto. Electric range will probably exceed 10 miles but only when commuting unladen. Do F-150 buyers really want a truck with a plug? Ford is doubling down that they will. Cashing in on its $500 million investment in Rivian, Ford will also introduce an electric truck a few years after this F-150 launches. We anticipate it will roll on Rivian’s multimotor platform featuring an independent rear suspension. With GMC already touting a four-digit power figure for the Hummer EV SUT, we see a new battlefront emerging in Detroit’s unending truck war. And if Ford doesn’t call this one Lightning, something has gone very wrong in Dearborn.
In the world of dirt and gas, the desert-smashing Raptor will switch from leaf to coil springs on its live rear axle. Rumor has it that the 760-hp supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 from the Mustang Shelby GT500 could find its way under the hood, too. With the Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 Rebel TRX on the horizon, we believe it. The F-150 is scheduled to make its debut in June, with the electric and Raptor models following sometime after. With more variants than ever, this F-150 will stretch from as low as $30,000 to nearly $100,000.