By Peter Perrotta
Back in 1974, James Hartzell, a hard-working ad guy, coined the advertising jingle: “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”
That ad campaign earned him high accolades. Car and Driver actually coined it the best automobile commercial of all-time.
But, wait, what about Ford?
If we are talking about iconic American goods, we’d be remiss to leave Ford out of the equation. After all, wasn’t it Henry Ford who revolutionized the mass production of automobiles for Americans in the first place?
Of course it was.
And perhaps the most iconic of the iconic vehicles Ford has produced over the years has to be the F-Series pickup truck – a staple in the Dearborn, Michigan, manufacturer’s lineup for 73 years. Yes, that’s right, 73 years my friends.
Moreover, the F-150, the heavy lifter of F Series pickups, has been the best-selling pickup truck in America for 43 years running now. According to published reports, as of 2018, the F-series generated $41 billion in annual revenue for Ford.
That’s a lot of cabbage, folks.
But, Ford isn’t about to rest on its laurels anytime soon.
In order to keep up with the Elon Musks of the world and to remain relevant, Ford recently opened its high tech Rogue Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn where it made the first electric hybrid F-150 for 2021.
For 2022, Ford plans to produce the first ever all electric F-150 pickup at the Rogue Center.
But, for now, I recently jumped behind the wheel of the 2021 Ford F-150 Limited Hybrid for one week to see what it feels like. This is the only fully electric/gas hybrid pickup currently available on the market.
I must say, I was quite impressed.
Not only did Ford introduce a hybrid F-150 this year, with a groundbreaking engine and transmission, but it also refreshed the design of the truck, inside and out – especially inside – to produce a really outstanding pickup that is sure to give the competitors in this segment a run for their money.
I’m not the only one who thinks Ford hit a home run with this newly refreshed F-150. In December, the folks at Edmunds named the F-150 as the top-rated truck of 2021.
Edmunds’ Editor-In-Chief Alistair Weaver said, “The Ford F-150 has numerous bragging rights with impressive towing, max payload and with an EPA estimated rating of 25 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway.”
Weaver is spot on with those gas mileage numbers.
The F-150 I test drove for one week, was powered by a 3.5-liter PowerBoost V6 full hybrid engine. The rear-wheel drive version of that truck gets 25 mpg city and 26 highway. My tester, which was 4X4, got 24 mpg city and 24 highway.
Moreover, the folks at Car and Driver gave the new F-150 high grades for its “upgraded interior materials and tech, impressive acceleration, seamless hybridization, standard onboard generator.”
I couldn’t agree more.
While Ford refreshed the outside look of the F-150 for 2021 with more a more aggressive and modern looking grill and other exterior trim, it’s with the inside design and the new hybrid technology that it gets the highest marks.
The new 12-inch touch screen center screen – which came standard on the Limited model I tested – is a winner. It is easy to use when controlling temperature, phone, navigation or music and works seamlessly with the voice command system as well.
Moreover, the also new 12-inch digital gauge cluster features a large information on demand area along with truck specific graphics and animations that respond to the new F-150s selectable drive modes and display off-roading data and turn-by-turn navigation.
My overall impression of the newly designed interior was very positive. This is a big truck that you need to step up into – using the side boards – but once you settle down in the ample interior it is a comfortable and very roomy ride.
The 3.5 liter PowerBoost full hybrid engine is married with a hybrid electric 10-speed transmission. The 3.5 liter V-6 gas engine is coupled with a 47-horsepower electric motor.
The electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and the transmission, while a 1.5 kilowatt, lithium-ion battery is tucked under the bed. The combined output for this powertrain is an impressive 230 horsepower.
I found the overall experience of driving this hybrid pickup to be almost seamless. It accelerates and shifts smoothly and there is more than enough power to drive in city driving or aggressively on the interstate if need be.
The model I tested is the 2021 F-150 Limited Hybrid. It is a 4X4 Supercrew with a bottom line price tag of $79,250. The base price of the SuperCrew Limited is $74,250.
Added options on my tester included: $1,900 for the Limited equipment group 900A and the 10-speed electric transmission; $595 for a sprayed in bedliner; $340 for a max recline driver and passenger seat; $165 for an interior work surface; $200 for carpeted mats and $1,695 for destination and delivery.
There are other less expensive F-150 models you can buy or lease. The Limited is near the top of the line offering.
The Limited hybrid I tested was no slouch when it comes to towing capacity as well. The PowerBoost hybrid engine gives this truck the ability to tow up o 12,700 pounds and haul more than 2,000 pounds.
Overall, if you are in the market for a high end, hybrid pickup, you would be remiss not to consider this vehicle as a top contender..
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.