2021 Ford F-150 A Truck Of The Year Finalist
I am not a voting member of the jury that decides who wins the prestigious North American car of the year, utility of the year and truck of the year (NATOY). But I’ve been pretty accurate at predicting the winner each year.
Of note this year, there are three trucks listed as contenders for 2021 North American Truck of the Year. The nominees are (I sound like an Oscar presenter): 2021 Ford F-150, 2020 Ford Super Duty and 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave. The Jeep Gladiator won NATOY this past year, so it’s interesting to see this niche version of the Gladiator as a finalist again this year.
But, let’s make something clear now, the 2021 Ford F-150 will win truck of the year. I haven’t even seen the truck up close yet and I’ve only seen the digital reveal from earlier this summer, but those other two trucks don’t stand chance. And never mind the Super Duty eating away some of the Ford vote thus giving the award to the Gladiator, that simply won’t happen.
Note: Jury votes begin soon, so this is all conjecture on my part.
Why the 2021 Ford F-150 Will Win Truck of The Year
First of all, the jury voters love new vehicles and the 2021 F-150 is reinvented and enters its 14th generation. Also, the jury seems to reward recognized nameplates and what’s more of a stalwart than the vehicle that’s been the best-selling truck for more than four decades?
If Vegas were putting odds on this contest, the F-150 would be the 2-1 favorite. And for good reason.
Here are some of the highlights of the 2021 F-150:
• On-board built-in generator: This built-in generator has enough energy to power 28 average refrigerators, charge a bed full of electric dirt bikes or run an entire job site worth of tools. Pro Power Onboard is available with a 2.0-kilowatt output on optional gas engines, while PowerBoost-equipped F-150 comes standard with 2.4 kilowatts of output or an optional 7.2 kilowatts of output. Power is accessible through in-cabin outlets and up to four cargo bed-mounted 120-volt 20-amp outlets, with a 240-volt 30-amp outlet on the 7.2-kilowatt version. The system even provides power on the move to charge tool batteries in between jobs.
• A functional tailgate that isn’t a gimmick: The Tailgate Work Surface includes integrated rulers, a mobile device holder, cupholder and pencil holder. It might seem hokey to some, but to me this shows Ford understands its customers. With areas for mobile devices, even pencils and a built-in tape measure, this is a tailgate built for a job site and for the weekend warrior.
• Reclining front seat: And it’s not even a little recline, the Max Recline Seat which are only available on the Limited Trim and King Ranch folds flat to nearly 180 degrees with the bottom cushion rising to meet the back cushion and the upper back support rotating forward up to 10 degrees for maximum comfort.
• Interior work surface: This first of its kind feature is ideal for signing documents, working on a 15-inch laptop or enjoying a meal when parked. It is available in both bench and captain’s chair seating configurations on XL to Limited. Knowing many customers prefer a console shifter, Ford has created a stowable unit for F-150, which easily folds into the center console with the push of a button and allows full access to the large work surface when in park.
• Extender running boards: If I ever get put on the jury, it will be for my unique perspective as someone with a mobility disability but that still enjoys vehicles. So getting in and out of vehicles is a hot button issue for me. And the 2021 F-150 will make that so much easier thanks to extended running boards with kick switch. This should be the easiest to get into F-150 ever.
Hybrid F-150 Could Be Deciding Factor
If all of the above-mentioned best features of the new F-150 doesn’t sway the jury, then they surely will eat up the hybrid powertrain. This is the first time Ford has offered a hybrid in their popular pickup truck. It will surely make some unhappy and grouse, but rest assured, the hybrid F-150 is not going to be Prius-like.
The all-new 3.5-liter PowerBoost full hybrid V6 powertrain is targeted to deliver the most torque and horsepower of any light-duty full-size pickup. And, even better, it’s available on every trim level of the 2021 F-150 from XL to Limited. This is the first full-size pickup to have a full hybrid system.
Showing that it’s no Prius, will deliver at least 12,000 pounds of available maximum towing. Additionally, PowerBoost combines Ford’s proven EcoBoost engine and 10-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission with a 35-kilowatt (47-horsepower) electric motor integrated into the transmission, as well as software calibrated specially for truck use, including drive modes like tow/haul mode to help customers better manage towing heavy trailers.
We are awaiting the fuel economy rating for the hybrid F-150, but I wonder if it will approach or surpass that 30-mpg plateau. Ford says it will have 700 miles of range between electric and gasoline.
Ford’s Utility of the Year Contenders
Making the list this year are two iconic nameplates, but both in different variants. I’ve written plenty about my disdain for using the name Mustang on a crossover, but that’s just what Ford has done with the all-electric Mustang Mach-E.
I have been in the Mach-E and gotten a brief ride in it and it’s everything you’d expect it to be. Torquey and fun. I wrote about my thoughts regarding it. Ford seems to want to make the Mach-E a Tesla competitor and it seems to be that. But I am skeptical it will win utility of the year as there are others on the jury that also feel the name Mustang should not have been put on it.
The other Utility of the Year nominee from Ford is the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. This is what is also called the baby Bronco and is more of a family-oriented crossover aimed at the Jeep Cherokee and Chevy Blazer buyer. It seems rugged enough, and I am neutral on the Bronco Sport as of now, but I was shocked and disappointed to see that the regular Bronco, offered in two-door and four-door iterations did not make the list of finalists. I’ve learned that the because of the late release date of the Bronco that it just missed eligibility. So it could jump onto next year’s list. It’s a shame, because the Bronco would be a top contender this year if it were eligible.
The Bronco’s launch has been an absolute hit for Ford. It holds true to the classic, iconic Bronco heritage while offering cool, modern features. If that’s not Utility of the Year, I don’t know what is.
So, there’s my non-voting take. The car of the year jury members do a great job of representing the industry. And they’re more diverse and more inclusive than ever before, so I have full faith and trust in them to choose the right vehicles. And I’m 100% confident that the 2021 F-150 will win Truck of the Year.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.