Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan breaks down the new and innovative features on the new 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck.
Detroit Free Press
Ford Motor Co. is fueling the truck war with glee.
The all-new 2021 Ford F-150 has more power than all five of its top competitors, the company claimed Tuesday.
The redesigned vehicle, revealed to the public June 25, “delivers best-in-class towing and payload and the most F-150 torque ever,” Ford said in a release.
Towing is, of course, weight hauling capacity.
Payload is how much a pickup can carry in its cab and bed.
Torque is directly related to the ability to tow heavy loads.
So, this is a gearhead fantasy moment. Or perhaps an at-home learning math problem that could be perfect for these pandemic times.
2021 Ford F-150 (Photo: Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press)
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Bottom line: The redesigned “F-150 out-tows and out-hauls any other light-duty, full-size pickup,” the automaker said.
Ford provided to the Free Press this comparison of the most capable version of the 2021 F-150 vs. its competitors in areas of power and capability pickup owners want most:
- 2021 Ford F-150 towing capacity is 14,000 pounds and payload 3,325 pounds
- 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 towing capacity is 13,400 and payload is 2,250 pounds
- 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 towing capacity is 12,100 and payload is 2,240 pounds
- 2020 Ram 1500 towing capacity is 12,750 and payload is 2,300 pounds
- 2021 Nissan Titan towing capacity is 9,310 and payload is 1,690 pounds
- 2021 Toyota Tundra towing capacity is 10,200 and payload is 1,730 pounds
Ford highlighted its 3.5-liter PowerBoost full hybrid powertrain for the 2021 F-150, “which produces 430 hp and 570 lb.-ft. of torque, the most torque ever in an F-150 with available Pro Power Onboard providing up to 18 times more exportable power than the nearest competitor.”
A sketch of the 2021 Ford F-150 drawn by Josh Henry, Ford’s senior designer. This image, drawn in 2017, is the final design. (Photo: Josh Henry)
Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, said in a news release, “F-150 is the flagship of Ford’s dedication to building the best trucks and represents our commitment to not just meeting customer needs, but exceeding them.”
When Ford debuted the new F-150, the company did not provide the performance figures. The price starts at $28,940 plus a $1,595 destination charge.
“Chevy owners, Ford owners and Ram owners brag that their trucks are the best,” said John McElroy, “Autoline” host and longtime industry observer. “Torque, towing — that’s what’s truck buyers care about. When you’re talking pickup truck smack, you’ve got to back up what you’re saying with specific facts.”
The F-Series trucks are the company jewels and Ford has been “spectacular” about protecting the jewelry box, he said. “The all-new F-150 will continue that tradition.”
Market economist Jon Gabrielsen is among the many analysts who monitor the lucrative truck segment, which drives revenue for the Detroit Three.
“The Ford F-150 is No. 1 in market share in full-sized pickup trucks, the most profitable vehicle segment in North America,” he said. “While it is ahead by a considerable margin, it is vital for Ford to continuously innovate, like with it’s newest generation, in order to protect its leading position.”
Ford’s competitors aren’t planning to cede market share anytime soon.
“The half-ton pickup segment is comprised of a super-complex product mix, meeting hundreds, if not thousands, of buyer needs. Family car? Work hauler? Toy tow-er? America’s top-three-selling vehicles are pickups because they can do it all,” said Ram Truck spokesman David Elshoff.
“In Michigan, most folks just want to load the family, luggage and ski boat up, and head to the lake in comfort. There’s not another truck that offers the comfort of a Ram 1500,” he said.
Megan Soule, a Chevrolet spokeswoman, pointed to key features that can’t be overlooked in the Silverado.
“Chevrolet has long been one of the leaders in trailering, providing the power and technology to instill customer confidence while towing. For the 2021 model year, both our 2.7L Turbo and 3.0L Duramax turbo-diesel increased conventional trailering capability to meet or exceed most customers’ trailering needs,” she said.
“Paired with our class-leading trailer technology and available 15 unique camera views, trailering is simpler than ever with a Silverado,” Soule said.
While Ford is making impressive claims as the segment leader, 96% of light-duty pickup owners tow fewer than 10,000 pounds, according to recent data from MaritzCX, a market research company.
Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, a car listing and data site, said the latest F-150 numbers move the goalposts.
“The truck war is a central component of the American auto industry, and performance claims are a central component of the truck war,” he said. “As a domestic automaker, you’re essentially not allowed to redesign your light-duty truck without claiming the segment’s best tow, haul and payload ratings ahead of launch.”
While the F-150 numbers are impressive, they may not impact market share.
“Like so many vehicle performance claims, this level of towing, hauling and payload is well beyond what most truck owners will ever need,” Brauer said. “It’s a great talking point between truck fans defending their brand. Few will ever have first-hand experience using their truck at that level.”
The 2021 Ford F-150 is scheduled to arrive in dealerships this fall. It’s built at the Dearborn Truck Plant and Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri.
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