An Architects Truck: 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid
Having worked in architecture nearly 20 years of my personal life, there is one thing for certain; the Architect has the prettiest vehicle in the construction field; unless the developer shows up, in which case it’s usually something that carries a six-figure price tag; ugh, show-offs. Tailoring around what hard working blue collar workers may require, the latest generation of the Ford F-150 just may be more truck than even the “Average-Joe” can handle.
These are troubling times for manufacturers, striving to achieve more performance while sustaining a low “carbon footprint” while being heavy on the MPG’s. With Ford having introduced a new hybrid powertrain system to the new generation F-150, Ford is forging into unchartered territory that no other truck manufacturer has really dared to go – or should we at least say, openly came out as a hybrid, *cough* ‘RAM’. Now, were not here to publicly shame RAM, but unlike RAM’s eTorque system, Ford is maximizing the cleverness behind their system and even calling it a cool name, like PowerBoost.
By finessing some astute engineering, something Architects don’t understand, Ford has created something that is a little special. Taking the standard 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 and cuffing a 35kW electric motor and a 1.5kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack in the back, this hybrid system develops a combined 430-horsepower with 570lb-ft of torque that gets a claimed 24-mpg’s and nearly 700-miles of fuel out of single tank. Adding the fact that it can also tow nearly 8500lbs and scoot as quick as a mid-size sports sedan to 60-mph in just under 5.5-seconds, marks a few impressionable notes in our journal.
While the 35-kilowatt electric motor is large enough to manage the F-150 as a whole, the 47-horsepower electric motor requires a feathery approach when we’re attempting to maintain that EV status. However, what really jars our annoyance levels isn’t the utter smoothness between gas and electric interchanges, but is the unflattering jerking from the 10-speed automatic transmission at low rates of speed. In heavy traffic, the shifts are hard and clunky that feels unnatural. As time presses on it starts to become more forgiving to a point of almost forgetting it even happens, but hopefully an over-the-air update can solve this misfortune.
Tiding up on the chassis, Ford has improved much of the little things under the framework with a better ride quality and enriched handling. Connecting the driver to the road provides an enhanced feeling with smooth composure while maintaining that masculine truck-like feel we tend to droll over. The steering is lighter but feels more receptive to inputs and handles with ease when shuffling through our narrow Downtown parking garage.
Featuring all the latest tech and gadgets, there is a gauntlet of perks to please all toddlers through any age range. Fords latest Co-Pilot360’s advanced driver assistance hardware was surely impressive through the day-to-day hustle of city life traffic. And the soon to be BlueCruise over-the-air update will add the ability to take your hands off the steering wheel on divided highways – similar to Tesla Auto Pilot and GM’s Super Cruise system.
With our subject arriving at the healthier end of the F-150’s lineup, our Limited was equipped with more cheesy magic tricks than a Craigslist Magician. Granted, they are pretty neat when we use them for anything other than their intended purpose. The Architect in us got all giddy for the fold-out work table built in the center console; so when we’re onsite, we can issue the contractor efficient changes in the field when things don’t quite meet our standards. Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly all that it’s cracked up to be; as an actual work surface it is uncomfortable and awkward, but useful for those parking lot love notes we like to write when someone parks a little to close or a food tray for us to lay out our lunch in the fast food parking lot. Other neat tools of the trade is the tape measure molded into the tailgate for the moments we like to argue with the contractor they built something wrong, because yeah, we won’t look like the biggest, ahhh doofus when we say let’s measure it with my tailgate. #WereNotHereToMeasureOurEgos
Other nifty tools feature an under the rear seat cargo hold that hold our shopping bags after spending more hours in Sprouts than a Vegan at a vegetable farm. It even has a power lift tailgate because we can’t be bothered to lift a finger, more cameras than a bond villain’s hideout, and best of all, a new onboard generator… Available on most of the F-150 lineup there is a 2.0-kilowatt power supply system than can provide upwards of 85-hours of electricity from a full tank. However, standard on the hybrid versions come a beefy 7.2-kilowatt power system that can allow specialty power use with a NEMA outlet and 240-high voltage outlet that can supply power up to 32-hours from a full tank. Designed for the handy tradesmen looking to building something on the fly, all I could think about is how much this would come in handy for my camping trip, I’d have a place to plug in my space heater, laptop, and mobile Wi-Fi booster. #MustAlwaysStayConnected
In typical Ford fashion, there are more engine options than we have fingers. With the base XL’s being equipped with a 3.3-liter V-6 and up from there with the grunt worthy 5.0-liter V-8, 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, and the 3.5-liter High-Output Turbocharged V-6, the hybrid is the second most powerful engine in the lineup. While the hybrid system is available on mostly all the models except the Tremor and Raptor, it requires the SuperCrew four-door cab, starting on the XL at $39,340 – the hybrid system is a $4495 option; however, when paired with the $74,250 Limited 4×4 it is only $2500 more to opt for this system.
Carrying a nearly $80,000 price tag doesn’t quite carry the sticker shock anymore than used to; however, working in the industry I work in, most blue collar contractors and tradesmen would laugh at that price considering it only takes one day in their world to mess up the pretty $510 Smoked Quartz Blue paint our Limited was equipped with. Taking it even further as the F-150 is $20,000 short of a six-figure mouth sore, this semi-luxury lumber mover is missing some annoying little details that we’d come to expect from high-priced vehicles, like automatic up/down windows all around, a quieter motor from the folding shifter option and a more customizable digital cluster display. We are grasping at straws with those pet peeves given that the F-150 is equipped with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, a vastly clear – easy to use – center infotainment display system, heated/cooled & massaging front seats, heated back seats and so much more.
The fact of the matter is, the Ford F-150 may impress all the trades in the industry with its job-site ready capabilities – but the real question is, will it be just for show or will it actually be used for the real deal.
Vehicle: 2021 Ford F-150 Limited 4X4 PowerBoost
Base Price: $74,250
As-Tested Price: $79,655
Engine: 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 Hybrid
Horsepower | Torque: 430-Horsepower | 570lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 10-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Four-Wheel Drive
MPG: 24 | 24| 24 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 21.8-MPG-Combined | 24.4-MPG-Highway (200-Mile Test)
Fuel Range: 600 miles
0-60 MPH: ±5.5 seconds
The price makes my eyes water, but if trucks and suvs are taking over the sedans, I guess this would fill the slot of luxury ‘car’?