Dedicated over-the-top autocamping enthusiasts – often referred to as overlanding – spend a lot of time and money modifying their vehicles to make them more practical to live and work. With its all-new F-150, however, Ford offers many of these popular camping features.
The 2021 Ford F-150 was released in a live video stream on Thursday evening and is a conservative evolution of the most popular American vehicle. The smoother, more aerodynamic all-aluminum body is strongly reminiscent of the truck it replaced in 2015. However, these familiar looks hide a number of thorough improvements that should be combined to make the truck stronger, faster, more luxurious, and more practical, and yes, more economical.
Ford has not yet announced a sales date, price list or performance and fuel consumption information. However, the company explained the truck's new fully-packed steel frame, the semi-autonomous driving technology that enables true hands-free operation, an impressive array of touchscreen infotainment functions, and an optional petrol-electric hybrid drive called "Powerboost".
Full-size pickups – a category that the F-150 defines – are often classified as wasteful by people who don't understand them. For many drivers, however, such large trucks are necessary tools with which they can carry out work, drive through remote areas and work independently under a variety of conditions and challenges. In this role, practical functions, as I explain them in detail, become more than just convenience.
I just installed a lighting system on my Ford Ranger that can illuminate my truck bed, the small camp table that I owned for two days, and my campsites. These lights cost $ 400 and I still need to clean up the wiring so it won't get caught by cargo or dogs.
F-150 drivers do not have to do this because the truck has zoned lighting controls that allow it to operate the truck's exterior lighting individually using the large touchscreen on the dashboard or the Ford smartphone app. Ford has even built special work lights into the bed that illuminate the open tailgate.
I wear must-haves like tools, salvage equipment, things I need for my dogs, and storage items that are all strapped to my bed in nested plastic boxes. Other Overlanders rely on expensive, heavy drawer systems to organize their needs. Both approaches cost money and take up space on board that could be better used to pull loads.
The F-150 has a better solution. Under the rear seat there is a gear that can be folded to its full width. It uses otherwise unused space to provide all the space you should need for important items. However, if you want to carry larger items in the cabin, the rear seat swings up and the loading crate folds up to reveal a completely flat loading floor.
Long fuel ranges
With a rear bumper for the aftermarket and a swing-out load carrier, I can mount two 2.5-gallon Rotopax fuel tanks on the back of my Ford Ranger and reach a range of up to 400 miles. I'm about to add a $ 2,400 (12.5 gallon) auxiliary tank to my wife's Land Cruiser, which gives her a range of about 500 miles.
The F-150? Hybrid versions equipped with the optional 36-gallon tank have a range of 700 miles. No messy jerry cans and no expensive, complicated auxiliary tank necessary. This is a blessing for long off-road trips, so the driver can plan distant routes. It also helps with towing and facilitates camping trips through more remote areas while fewer items are carried.
To power my portable fridge / freezer, operate these storage lights, and charge my devices, I strap a $ 850 lithium-ion battery into my cargo area. It works for my needs, but would not be enough to operate power tools or charge electric bikes. I also have to pull it out if I have to bring some things back there.
The new F-150 can work as a real generator with three available power levels: a 2.0 kilowatt system with two three-pin plugs with 120 volts and 20 amps; a 2.4-kilowatt version that is standard on hybrid models; and a 7.2 kilowatt monster with a NEMA L6-20 240 volt 30 amp socket.
The basic version is sufficient to charge devices, operate an air compressor or even drive an 8-inch miter saw. The 7.2-kilowatt generator has enough juice to supply an entire construction site with electricity. It can simultaneously operate a 120 volt plasma cutter, a TiG welder, a 12 inch chop saw, a 1.5 hp air compressor, an angle grinder and work lights. With a full tank of fuel you can do this for 32 hours in a row.
This large generator also provides enough power to run the air conditioner and other equipment in a large caravan and can charge electric motorbikes quickly. The intelligent power monitoring automatically switches between battery and motor power and at the same time prevents short circuits, overcharging and other safety risks. The generators can run while the truck is moving, so you can charge tool batteries or bicycles on the go.
Two types of work tables
A popular addition to pickups is a tailgate reinforcement that not only offers a flat work surface, but also reinforces it the tailgate so that you can really push on it when you need work that requires violence.
The new F-150 optionally offers such a worktop tailgate. It contains channels for C-clamps, a built-in ruler, holders for pens, pencils and a tablet as well as lashing points that also serve as bottle openers. And again the built-in zone lighting is designed to illuminate them.
However, this is not the only work table of the F-150. If you want a place to lay out documents or a laptop in the cabin, the shift lever mounted on the center console can be folded away and a table top can be folded out of the lid of the storage container.
And a place to sleep
Many of us tried to sleep in a truck at some point. So we know that the rear benches are not long enough to expand and that the front seats never lean back enough to actually lie down.
The F-150 fixes this with an optional threshold arrangement for the front passenger seat. It works like the premium seats on long-haul flights by collapsing into a completely flat, full-length sleeping area. It may not be an ideal solution for camping trips, but if you just need to take a short nap or be forced into the truck by a night storm, you will actually find a place to lie down.
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Main photo: Ford
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