The real deal: 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost Hybrid

2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost

2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost at a glance

Seating Five or Six
Engine 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 and 35 kW electric motor
Horsepower/Torque 430/570 (combined)
GVWR 7,350 pounds
GCWR (Max trailer + truck weight) 18,000 pounds max (16,300 as tested)
Tech highlights B&O Play surround-system, Adaptive cruise control with lane-centering, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 7.2 kW generator.
Price as tested (estimated Canadian) $73,890

Ford Canada provided a 2021 Ford F150 and tank of fuel for this review

It’s not often that a vehicle comes along and shakes up the whole industry, but the 2022 F150 PowerBoost Hybrid does just that. In 2014, Ford made industry eyes roll, and competitors laughed when introducing the all-aluminum 2014 F150. Instead, they’ve proven again how focusing on everyday usefulness is a great way to introduce new technology. After spending the week with the latest Ford F150 and their new hybrid powertrain, it’s hard to put into words just how good this truck is. It goes beyond being a fan of the brand. The 2021 Ford F150 Hybrid may be the best truck anyone outside of farming can buy until the F150 Lightning shows up.

The Good

For starters, the 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost gets built on a familiar truck. The F150 has been a segment sales leader for decades. While that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always been the best truck money can buy, Ford seems to have hit a winning stride in the last few years. As a result, the F150 leads the pack in things like payload, towing, and torque numbers – depending on the engine. Our tester was the upper-mid Lariat trim, packing the twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine and ten-speed automatic transmission. It included a full complement of towing tech, including trailer-adaptive blind-spot monitoring, pro-backup assist and surround cameras.

While it may be a new iteration, Ford hasn’t done away with some of the valuable touches from previous years. For example, the tailgate step is still there and still makes for the most accessible beds in the segment. As the Crew cab, we only had access to a 5.5-foot box. But, for the weekend warrior, urban truck owner, and RV tower, that’s more than enough. At just under 1,300 pounds, the payload of our tester wasn’t much higher than a midsized truck like the 2021 Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel we tested earlier. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the weight of accessories, namely the batteries and generator equipped on our test truck. Even still, we had no problem using it for around-town loads, and that still lets you trailer something sizable with a cab full of passengers.

A Hybrid Pickup Truck

Here is where the 2021 F150 PowerBoost sets itself apart, not just from other F150s but from trucks on the whole. The technology that Ford made available isn’t just innovative; it’s useful. Our test truck came equipped with the optional 7.2 kW generator, which, in our opinion, is a must-buy. There’s ample evidence from online anecdotes about how useful this generator is. The use cases easily dwarf the cost of entry. Campers are going to love being able to tow and power their trailer on the 30-amp 240V plug, opening up authentic off-grid experiences. A functional work surface on the back of the tailgate combines with the generator to turn the 2021 F150 PowerBoost into a mobile workshop. People have powered homes during outages, recharged their Teslas, and much more. Ford claims up to 32 hours of generator power on the 7.2K kW system from a full tank.

But where the 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost shines is where most hybrids shine; around-town driving. So Ford went to the next step and gave the F150 PowerBoost a 1.5 kW battery alongside the 35 kW electric motor. Then, Ford programmed the F150 PowerBoost to use the electric motor for low and medium-load driving, shutting down the gas engine. What that technical jargon means in real life is a pickup truck that gets better fuel economy around town than on the highway. In addition, the 2021 F150 PowerBoost uses electric and gas motors during acceleration. That combination all but eliminates any turbo lag you get in the twin-turbocharged F150 EcoBoost cousin.

But driving around town is where the PowerBoost comes into its own. Once you’re up to speed, the gas engine shuts off completely, leaving the electric motor to keep the F150 in motion. That motor has more than enough oomph to keep pace and perform gentle acceleration. A 1.5 kW battery gets charged quickly by the engine (at least in our 7.2 kW-equipped tester) or regenerative braking. As a result, it behaves like a plug-in hybrid that you never have to remember to plug in.

2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost: More Than Just a Gimmick

While not a redesign, the 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost is still a refresh that adds a list of nifty tricks. On the surface, they look like gimmicky pseudo-practical items that serve little purpose in real life. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. Folding the gear shifter flat to enable a front cab work surface made several contractors quite excited. You can do paperwork or review plans in a meaningful way. The 7.2 kW with its 30-amp 240V plug and four 120v 15-amp plugs provide consistent, solid power. A ruler, pen holder, and even portholes for wood clamps seem simple yet make this the most functional tailgate on the market. A beautiful-sounding B&O Play audio system and intuitive controls round out a modern interior that brings the 2021 F150 PowerBoost in line with the segment-leading Ram 1500.

Let’s cut to the chase; the 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost is the best truck we have that straddles both the new and old world. Until the F150 Lightning is here in full force, the PowerBoost gives the world a pickup that tackles functional and environmental problems. It tows, hauls, and works harder than any F150 yet, while coming in with the lowest emissions rating any truck has had, ever. Many hybrid pickups have come and gone before it. However, they seemed more like a passing thought than an intentional integration of function and technology. Finally, Ford saw what hybrid technology offers the truck world, and it dove in headfirst. To put it in the famous words of Mary Poppins, the 2021 Ford F150 PowerBoost is “practically perfect in every way.”

Dan Croutch
the authorDan Croutch
Dan is a freelance automotive and technology writer. He enjoys all things pickup trucks, classic cars, and minivans (really). The intersection of vehicles and technology fascinate him.

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