I recently spent some time in the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost (you know the hybrid). And there was so much I was looking for in this truck, I had to break down my coverage here at Torque News into smaller, more digestible parts.
I already covered the Pro Onboard Generator in the hybrid F-150 and proclaimed it to be an outstanding new feature.
One thing I was really looking forward to was the new infotainment system known as Sync 4. I had already experienced this new system in the Ford Explorer and fell in love. The previous iteration known as Sync 3 was good and showed a vast improvement from Sync 1 and Sync 2. The latter two were met with much criticism and some serious technological letdowns.
So even Sync 3 was vastly improved. But I had heard so much good about Sync 4, I needed to find out for myself. As someone who loves automotive technology, the PowerBoost F-150 was already chock full of innovation. But I didn’t want to overlook or discount Sync 4.
And it didn’t disappoint either. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite highlights of the Sync 4 system in the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost (Lariat trim).
Faster Touchscreen Response
There’s nothing more maddening than an infotainment system that has lag. I get 60 plus vehicles a year to drive and review and I can tell you this system and slow processing is a problem.
Ford says Sync 4 has twice the computing power of the previous-generation system and it shows.
The faster processing and computing means over-the-air updates are coming for the F-150, as we reported on. I did not experience during my week with the F-150, but imagine being able to avoid trips to the dealer for minor maintenance issues or getting a system update while the truck is parked.
Wireless Apple CarPlay for the win
On my Instagram (@driversside, give a follow will ya), I always praise vehicles that offer wireless charging or wireless connectivity.
So when I hooked up my iPhone to the F-150 I was thrilled to see a wireless connection for Apple CarPlay. No cord needed. Simply pair up the system once and all your phone contacts and all your music from your phone seamlessly flows into the CarPlay format.
I love Apple CarPlay. To me, any vehicle that has this makes paying extra for an advanced navigation absolutely unnecessary. And honestly, we all live and die by our phones, so why not integrate it into our vehicles. The 2021 Ford F-150 does that perfectly.
Going beyond the wireless CarPlay, there’s more driver-friendly, driver-focused tech available through Sync 4. The one area the previous generation of Sync failed was in voice commands. Sync 1 and 2 were lousy with voice recognition and Sync 3 got better.
Sync 4, as tested on the F-150 was outstanding. Clearly saying commands like Play Song XX Jimmy’s iPhone or Play Playlist XX from Jimmy’s iPhone yielded the wanted result every time.
There’s nothing more important than being hands free when you’re driving. And often these infotainment systems are clunky and cumbersome and lack intuition. The Sync 4 system checks all those boxes. Kudos to the Ford engineers for the vast improvement on Sync 4’s voice recognition.
Other notable technology for Sync 4
With regards to the PowerBoost hybrid F-150, the Sync 4 system and large 12-inch touchscreen offers many screens that show how your driving is as far as fuel economy. It also has a screen that shows where power is being generated throughout the hybrid system.
Additionally, as I reported regarding the Pro Onboard Generator, there’s a clear way to show how much life exists on the generator through the screen.
Forget Ford’s navigation system. It’s fine and good, but I once again have a preference. When it comes to navigation I want to use Waze. And thankfully Sync 4 allows for this perfectly. It allows for connection to Pandora if you prefer to stream your music. There are several other apps available all that put convenience and technology at your fingertips.
You can also control the interior lights through the Sync 4 system where you can turn down (or off) one area of the interior lights and turn it up in other places. It’s a small touch, but it shows how much thought was put into it.
Also, many of these features can be fun through the FordPass app which is loaded onto your phone and gives you more accessibility to your vehicle. I did not play around with this app, so I can’t speak to how well it integrated into the 2021 F-150.
I expect to hear some of the naturally cynical comments jump right to, “all of this technology just means more things that can go wrong or break”. I guess if that’s your outlook on life then I can’t help you. Me, I want as much as technology as possible. And the 2021 Ford F-150 is loaded with technology. And it better be for the price tag they’re asking for this pickup truck. All of this technology adds up to one of the reasons that the 2021 F-150 won North American Truck of the Year.
Be sure to check out my full review of the 2021 Ford F-150 Lariat with the PowerBoost hybrid right here. And as always, leave me your comment on this article.
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.