Obviously the pickup truck has evolved over the years from a crude, basic work truck with no luxury or niceties to the tricked-out, technologically advanced luxury trucks they are today. And sure that comes with a higher price tag.
But, obviously the American consumer doesn’t mind as the Ford F-150 continues to be the best-selling vehicle in the United States. So Ford must continue to innovate to keep the F-150 relevant.
As we all know there is a hybrid version of the F-150 as part of this 14th-generation, called PowerBoost. And while the additional fuel economy you could achieve from this hybrid has its perk, I can say there’s another feature of the hybrid F-150 that is the real star – the 7.2-kW Pro Onboard Generator.
I spent a week recently with the PowerBoost F-150 and I liked a lot about it. I will have an official review here at Torque News coming soon. But before that, I couldn’t help but write about the generator.
I’m not a foreman, nor am I even handy for that matter, so initially seeing a built-in power source would be part of the 14th-generation F-150 I kind of wasn’t that impressed. These kind of things have been done before.
However, never before has a truck had a built-in generator with this much power. For the hybrid F-150 only there’s a 7.2-kW Pro Onboard Generator. With four 120V and one NEMA L14-30R 240V 30A outlet, the bed of the 2021 F-150 PowerBoost is loaded with power. How much power?
Enough to make Tim “The Toolman” Taylor grunt with glee. In fact, according to information provided by Ford this generator has enough power to run 28 refrigerators. Now under no scenario would you ever need that, but it’s still hard to fathom.
In real world testing the 7.2-kW generator can handle a work site like a champ powering simultaneously a miter saw, a circular saw, an air compressor and flood lights. See the graphic below for other scenarios provided by Ford.
I had to test it out for myself during my time with the F-150. I didn’t have 28 refrigerators handy, but I did hook up a couple saws as if I was going to see some serious sawing.
How Ford’s Pro Onboard Generator Works
As I stated I’m not handy. And I’m also not an electrician. So I got questions from people how the generator and worked and where it pulled power from. Some nitpicked that it was technically an inverter and not a true generator. Again, I’m not an electrical engineer, so I can’t get into those semantics.
The Pro Onboard Generator has an inverter that converts direct current from the high-voltage battery to standard alternating current. That current comes out near the tailgate of the truck in the aforementioned outlets and can be used any number of ways to generate power for worksites.
The truck must be running in order to provide the power. Ford says that with a full tank of gas, that the 7.2-kW generator is capable of max power output for 32 hours. And while most trucks have a built-in shut off in place if a vehicle is left to idle for too long. If the generator is being used, with the truck running, a built-in automatic idle shutdown function prevents the truck from turning off.
Also, according to Ford, the system even provides power on the move to charge tool batteries in between jobs. It seems with this, Ford thought of a lot of potential scenarios for their customers.
How Does Ford’s Pro Onboard Generator Work With Sync4?
Another feature on the 2021 F-150 that I loved was the Sync4 system. I will have a complete story on that as well coming up this week for Torque News.
Those who follow my syndicated Driver’s Side review column know I love infotainment systems. And the 2021 F-150’s is outstanding.
It also ties in to the Pro Onboard Generator. When you plug in any device to one of the outlets, a message shows up on the 12-inch screen. You have to hit Yes to acknowledge that you want to use it. Then you can monitor the power consumption in real time on the screen through Sync4.
Ford has also incorporated their FordPass app with features to monitor and even control the Pro Onboard Generator through your phone. I did not try this out, but according to information from Ford you can check the load being used on each circuit, what the consumption is, what power is left and even turn things on or off.
This kind of versatility shows how much thought Ford put into this feature and shows why this is such an asset.
Tailgate Work Surface a Perfect Companion to the Generator
Another new feature of the 2021 F-150, that is standard for all trims and powertrains is the Tailgate Work Surface. In the pickup truck world the tailgate is an area that’s received a lot of attention.
GMC has an entire commercial targeting their tailgate as the most innovative. Well Ford, with the 2021 F-150 has an answer to that and it’s an ideal companion to the Pro Onboard Generator.
As I plugged in the saws to the outlets I needed to cut something to just see how it all worked. Using the new clamp pockets I used a vice to clamp down on a 2x4 in preparation for a cut with the saw that is being powered by the generator.
There are even cleats mounted to the sides of the tailgate to act as tie-downs for longer items. But the clamp pockets were such a nice feature. Additionally as part of the 14th-generation F-150 there’s Ford’s entire Tailgate Work Surface which includes an integrated rule, a notch for a mobile device, a cupholder and even a spot for a pencil. There's the familiar step up that comes out from inside the gate to make accessing the bed easier too.
As I said, it seems Ford really put a lot of thought into this truck and thought of so many scenarios that their customers will enjoy.
I’m not Ford’s typical demographic when it comes to the F-150. I have an appreciation for pickup trucks, but I would not be the average consumer. But even still I remain so impressed with all of the features for the 2021 F-150. And of course for those who camp or for foreman or construction workers, the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid with the 7.2-kW Pro Onboard Generator is perfectly suited for them.
As always, I want to hear your thoughts. I have called some tailgate stuck gimmicky and there’s nothing gimmicky about this technology, but what do you think? Leave me your comments below.
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.