I feared a dud with this test. I thought they’d turn my favorite truck into a namby-pamby, tame, neutered shadow of itself. Maybe a flower holder next to the steering wheel. Perhaps an espresso machine. The sound system permanently tuned to Dan Folgeberg’s “Longer.”
None of the above.
The 2021 Ford F-150 Limited 4×4 Hybrid’s every bit the macho machine we all know and love, except without the roar. It’s weird to start it up and there’s no sound, sure. But you get used to that in about 5 minutes, and then you’re gold.
I’ve had 22 test F-150s. Which one is my favorite? Well, I’m partial to the King Ranch I drove from Brooklyn to Dayton and back to pick up some furniture that time, in the snowstorm on the way home, where I saw my U-Haul skidding back and forth at one point in my rear view mirror. I somehow straightened ‘er out and made it back to Kings County with zero damage to truck, U-Haul, furniture or passengers.
But as of now, this Hybrid is my favorite F-150.
And why is that? It only achieves 4 more miles to the gallon over its guzzling brother. But! That’s 20 percent more than what you’ll get with the gas-powered trim. The power configuration goes this way: Ford’s V6, 3.5 litre Powerboost engine’s paired with a 47-hp electric motor, with the surprising result that you’ve now got the highest output powertrain in the F-150 fleet (second only to the notorious Raptor.) They squeeze this configuration between engine and transmission with the battery located under the bed. (It’s a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion, in case you were wondering.)
Your combined horsepower is thus a healthy 430, with 570 pound-feet of torque. The little electric motor of course does not add to the might needed when hauling or towing. The benefit comes from cruising at low speeds which, if you’re a suburbanite, you’ll be doing plenty of around town on your daily errands. And you won’t want a smaller vehicle on those errands – the Ford F-150 Hybrid is a delight to throw around little spaces, so tight, so effortless, and easy no matter your upper body strength or lack thereof.
When needed, you can tow a mighty mighty 12,700 pounds, nothing to sneeze at. You also won’t even notice the switch from engine to motor and back, nor the regenerative braking.
The interior, happily, is all high-quality, and inventive. Put the vehicle in park and the shift stows flat in the center console, giving you a flat surface for working or having a meal. An (optional) 12.0 inch digital gauge cluster is simple to understand, and see. A standard 8.0 inch center touchscreen can be kicked up to 12.0 inches, and Ford’s infotainment center did everything I asked of it with no head-scratching or manual-consulting.
What the F-150 sells, aside from work tasks and getting from here to there and back again, is a feeling, and the feeling here is the same as you get from any F-150, minus the roar. You’re ridin’ high, large and in charge.