Gawwwwddd I miss my truck.
Actually, I’ve had two in my lifetime a 1992 Ford Ranger “powered” by an anemic 4-cylinder engine that I bought not long after graduating from college and a 2004 Ford F-150 XLT motivated by the 5.4-liter V-8 engine that so many associate with the company’s full-size pickups.
My F-150 was a slight better than middle of the road model. It was an extended cab with shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive, power windows and locks, air conditioning and a bench set just big enough to haul my three children, who were then a teenager, a four-year-old and a toddler.
No leather. No satellite radio. No wi-fi. Just room for five to be comfortable inside and enough room to haul my son’s invisible motorcycle in the bed. Now that I’m old, er, older. I’ve gained an appreciation for things like … leather recliners, vehicles that are easy to get in and out of and technology that both entertains and makes my life easier.
Enter the 2021 Ford F-150 Limited SuperCrew.
The newest generation of Ford full-size truck is undoubtedly the best yet, especially from my perspective. It offers all of the functionality and capability that young me loved about my 2004 F-150 while catering to old, uh, older me and my admiration for a comfortable leather chair and impressive technology.
The exterior of the 2021 F-150 is clearly an evolution from the one that rests fondly in my memory – but bigger. The new truck with its massive grille and boxy fenders and cab looks like it could take on a tank and win. Instead its taking on the Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 and, in my mind, it wins that battle too – although the Ram should make Ford designers sweat a little.
Despite its brick-on-wheel shape, it’s the most aerodynamic offering ever. The truck employs active grille shutters and automatic air dam to help reduce drag and improve fuel economy. More importantly, it’s big and brawny without looking over the top or gaudy – think Superman instead of Batman.
Climbing inside the new F-150 is easy and it’s almost like entering a different world. While today’s pickups are larger and more fuel efficient that the generations that precede them, it’s the interior cabin where the biggest difference is, and Ford may be the best of the group … and not just for trucks.
Since the first thing you touch when you get in the vehicle is likely the seat, let’s start there. The two-town leather is supple and comfortable. The front seats are both heated and cooled, while the back seats are just heated – talk about a first-world problem. Additionally, they recline nearly flat, in case you need to pull over for a nap. During an extended drive, I found them to be supportive without making you want to, well, pull over for a nap.
“… it’s big and brawny without looking over the top or gaudy – think Superman instead of Batman …”
Once seated, the next order of business is the dashboard, which features large gauges that are manipulated using steering wheel-mounted controls that are simple and intuitive. The eye catcher is the 12-inch touchscreen on the center console. It’s bright and clear, making it very usable without feeling like you need to put on a pair of sunglasses to cut down on the glare. The truck comes with Sync 4 and while I’d like to tell you all about it, it also comes with Apple CarPlay and I use it exclusively. That said it paired nicely and worked as expected.
It also features a massive center console that not only offers cupholders and plenty of storage, it also offers wireless charging. I use an iPhone 12 Pro Max and it charged without problem. It’s not as fast as plugging it in, but it was pretty good.
However, Ford recognizes that while trucks are oftentimes the family vehicle, they are also at the same time someone’s work vehicle. The Limited makes it awfully convenient to get some work done in the vehicle. The center console folds flat while the gear-shift lever folds down flat as well giving the user a space big enough to hold a 15-inch laptop – or fast food for two.
For the 2021 model year, the F-150 can be ordered with one of six engine offerings. The Limited comes with the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6. It puts out 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Towing a boat? No problem. Need to merge with traffic? No problem. Need to merge with traffic while towing a boat? No problem.
Fuel economy isn’t bad considering it’s a nearly 5,000-pound vehicle with a powerful engine that encourages a bit of lead-footed driving. It gets 18 mpg city, 23 highway which is good for a combined 20 mpg. I found that to be a pretty accurate representation for my week in the truck. Overall, it’s pretty good for a full-size pickup and if you can afford to buy or lease an F-150 Limited, you’re likely not counting the change in the cupholder to put gas in it.
Technology and Safety
Again, the Limited plays to “experienced” me with a slew of technology that makes things easier and safer. In this case, the biggest appeal is the 360-degree camera that allows you to see, well, around the truck. I live in small downtown area where there is a consistent mix of vehicle and pedestrian traffic and backing out of my driveway can be a bit of a harrowing experience – for everyone around me. The camera makes it simpler, quicker and safer for me to simply leave my home.
The rest of the driver assistance technologies that come as part of Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0, such as pre-collision assist ensures that if I fail to stop the truck, the truck will stop the truck before it hits another vehicle or a person. And I did put it to the test (on purpose … I swear), it was very effective.
Perhaps the first sentence of this review sums it up. Each time I get into a Ford pickup I miss my previous Ford pickup. I understand the loyalty of truck owners. Trucks continue to get better and better both in terms of capability and compatibility. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost offered all of the performance I could want and more. The ride and handling of the truck was outstanding, complemented by an interior that made the entire experience almost joyful.
It’s easy to see why the F-150 is the top-selling truck in the country year after year after a week in the 2021 Limited model. It’s really a do-it-all vehicle that does it well. However, that kind of performance, comfort and ability comes at a pretty steep price these days: $79,220 for the Limited I drove. If you’ve got the cash (or at least the monthly payment be it loan or lease), go for it. However, it’s a little out of my price range – unfortunately.