Why hasn’t there been a hybrid pickup truck until now? Good question. But Ford will finally bring a hybrid F-150 to the market in 2021, and it will likely crush its competition.
I’m a pickup guy. I’ve owned a pickup for the last 20 or so years and don’t expect to stop driving one any time soon. I love the versatility, off-road capability, power, and capacity. Pickups fit my lifestyle to a T.
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But I’ve often wondered: Where the hell are the hybrids? Frankly, pickups have piss-poor gas mileage. And whether you’re a tree-hugging hippie or an ammosexual country boy, you have to agree that paying $100 to fill up your tank sucks. And while General Motors and Fiat Chrysler offer mild hybrid systems to increase efficiency, no pickup company has leaned into a full hybrid.
So when Ford finally announced it is building a hybrid F-150 (24 years after the first hybrid Prius rolled off the assembly line), I was stoked. Why? Well, many reasons. It has power (430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque, the most torque ever in an F-150), versatility (its standard Pro Power Onboard brings unmatched exportable power, 2.4 kW of standard power, and an available 7.2 kW — enough to power 28 average refrigerators), and, maybe most importantly, courage?
A Hybrid Pickup Makes Sense
Why haven’t we seen a hybrid pickup in the U.S. yet? For some reason, pickup trucks have been relegated to the world of bigger engines and horrible mpg. Ford finally gave us an excellent turbo in the EcoBoost engine in 2011. That engine has proven itself to be reliable, powerful, and moderately efficient (giving up to 26 mpg highway).
But why, for the past 10 years, did Ford have to stop there? Hybrid technology is now well-proven. And as much as a lot of pickup drivers love to scoff at the Prius, that’s the car that sits next to my F-150 in the driveway. I drove one loaded with gear, my dog, and my wife from Colorado to northern Minnesota and back this summer, and loved the fact that we made the entire 36-hour journey for under $100 in gas.
Of course, Ford has not yet given us mpg ratings for the hybrid just yet. And the fact is, they may or may not be great. It still runs a large, powerful 3.5L turbo as its base engine, so it’s tough to guess how many mpg it’ll ultimately turn out. Ford claims the hybrid will do 700 miles on a 30.6-gallon tank of gas. That averages out to 23 mpg, but at this point, it’s pure conjecture.
But regardless, it’s a step in a positive direction. And while the rest of the pickup world is chasing pure-electric dreams (we’ll see a bunch of them around 2022, including Ford’s electric F-150), a powerful, efficient hybrid seems like such a logical step in a more ecological, efficient direction.
2021 F-150 Hybrid: What We Know
Ford still hasn’t released the pricing for the 2021 F-150. But the “all-new” model year brings a slew of changes.
Of course, Ford will still give us a burly V8 option, which adds 5 horsepower and 10 pound-feet of torque, to 400 horsepower and 410 pound-feet. The proven 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is now rated at 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet — a jump of 25 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque.
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Camping, Towing, Overlanding
OK, OK, OK — so what does that mean for the GearJunkies? While we don’t know mpg numbers just yet, we do know the power means you’ll be able to load, haul, and tow everything you could with a traditional F-150. All six engine options pair with the Ford-designed and assembled 10-speed automatic transmission.
The V8 model gives the 2021 F-150 a maximum tow rating of 14,000 pounds and an available maximum payload of 3,325 pounds. Ford claims this F-150 out-tows and out-hauls any other light-duty, full-size pickup. So yes, you can pull your teardrop, camper, and load all the goodies you want.
PowerBoost full-hybrid trucks are rated at a maximum of 12,700 pounds of conventional towing — the most towing ever offered by any full hybrid pickup. Maximum payload increases to 3,325 pounds, which is more than 1,000 pounds over F-150’s closest full-size light-duty competitor, with gains across most trim levels and configurations. PowerBoost-equipped trucks debut with a maximum payload of 2,120 pounds for the Crew Cab 4×2 model with a 6.5-foot box.
There are a few other pretty cool technology stories in the 2021 F-150. Primarily, the 2021 model year gives an optional hands-free driving mode. Ford calls it Active Drive Assist, and it only works on divided highways that Ford has mapped.
And it has a few other caveats: Customers will have to buy a specific hardware package that enables the feature. This includes a driver monitoring system that makes sure drivers are watching the road with an infrared camera. It also costs more thanks to Active Drive Assist software.
Beyond that pretty slick road-trip technology, the 2021 F-150 will also be capable of receiving over-the-air software updates and come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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Ford packed a lot into the 2021 F-150. It’s sure to cost a small fortune, with the 2020 F-150 starting at just under $30,000 and quickly ramping up well over $60,000 for a tricked out 4×4. It’s likely the 2021 hybrid system will go for even more.
But for those who love pickups, the F-150 hybrid is a breath of fresher air. It should help remove the stigma of an electric drivetrain and pave the way for more efficient models in the future.