SAN DIEGO — The Ford F-Series is the best-selling vehicle in America, ish. Sort of. OK, we’ll get to all the is-it-or-isn’t-it best-selling caveats in a minute, but Ford sells a ton of F-150 pickups and there’s a brand new one for 2021 and it has lots of cool gadgetry and wizardry and I really want one and you probably will too by the end of this review.
First though, we have to do some housekeeping. Ford says that the “F-Series” of trucks is the best-selling lineup of trucks in the world. This is technically true. Ford sells more F-Series trucks — that includes the F-150, F-250, F-350, and F-450 — than any other single brand sells their trucks. Except other brands don’t lump all their trucks together like Ford does. GM, for example, breaks out its trucks into Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra variants, and further breaks those down into light-duty and heavy-duty segments.
If you combine all the trucks GM sells through its various brands, it means General Motors sells the most trucks, but Ford has the best-selling truck models. Maybe. There’s a lot of discussion about this and if you bring this up to GM truck PR people, they might get rather grumpy about the whole thing.
What’s not in question is that Ford sells many hundreds of thousands of F-150’s each year and issues a yearly press release reiterating how the F-Series has been America’s best-selling pickup for more than four decades. And, I suspect, the new 2021 F-150 is going to help them continue that streak.
If you read Ford’s 1800-word press release introduction to the new F-150, the words “all-new” are used 25 different times. It’s also repeatedly the “most [something] ever.” It’s the most productive, the most aerodynamic, and it has the most towing and payload of any light-duty, full-size pickup.
On XLT trims and above (I had the mid-tier Lariat, which is a bit of a sweet spot for the F-150 though it priced out to an eye-watering $67,575), there’s a massive 12-inch center screen. It’s literally like Ford glued an iPad to the dash and it’s fantastic. It supports wireless CarPlay which takes over half the screen, while the other half displays useful information about navigation or music or truck features. It’s fast and responsive and gorgeous. It will make your friends ooh and aah, if they haven’t been in a brand new truck for a while — though RAM beat Ford to the punch with the giant-screen-in-a-truck gimmick a couple years ago.
There’s another 12-inch digital screen behind the steering wheel, displaying all kinds of graphics and animations to show you what the engine is doing or how fast you’re going or which drive mode you’re in or about a million other things. And when you change drive modes you’re in for a treat because there are nifty animations to show how Ford Tough your truck is, should you need a reminder. I wish the truck on the display would color match to the color of your vehicle, but whatever.
There’s a sweet workspace available inside the cab too. When parked, the center gear lever can retract into the console, while a completely flat work surface can unfold giving you plenty of room to work on a laptop or enjoy a meal. On top of that, on King Ranch, Platinum and Limited Trims, the seats are cleverly designed to fold flat to nearly 180 degrees to turn into a bed for on-the-go naps.
There are a bunch of cameras as well, which help make parking and trailering easy — and a feature called “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” makes reversing in a trailer as easy as turning a knob, which is way cooler than it sounds.
My test unit had the 5-liter V8 powertrain, but there are a bunch of engine choices including a hybrid option that should deliver close to 700 miles on a tank of fuel. Oh, and the truck has something called Pro Power Onboard that turns the truck into a mobile electrical generator to send up to 2 kilowatts of power-to-power outlets at the rear of the bed, so you can set up a tailgate or a work site with ease.
I’m barely getting into the details here, including Ford Co-Pilot 360 which brings automatic emergency braking and auto lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control, auto high beams, and all kinds of other things. It’ll even park itself.
No wonder the F-150 is America’s best-selling truck. I’m ready to buy one right now.