Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid — A new meaning for hybrid

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(August 29, 2021) General Motors introduced the hybrid Silverado and GMC Sierra during the last decade giving these full-sized pickups a slight edge in gas mileage and a small amount of available slow-speed all-electric driving. But it wasn't until the introduction of the 2021 Ford F-150 Power Boost Hybrid that a wide range of truly electric possibilities was included on a full-sized truck. The new F-150 Hybrid not only increases gas mileage about 20 percent, it adds incredible capability in several other areas.

The PowerBoost hybrid pairs Ford's twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with a 47-hp electric motor, making this the highest-output powertrain in the current F-150 lineup. The motor is sandwiched between the engine and the stand­ard 10-speed automatic, while a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery tucks under the bed. Combined output for this powertrain is a substantial 430 horses and 570 pound-feet of torque — gains of 30 ponies and 70 pound-feet versus the updated non-hybrid EcoBoost 3.5-liter.

This puts the PowerBoost Hybrid  at the top of the F-150's six-engine hierarchy with the muscle to take the truck from 0-to-60 in 5.4 seconds — faster than even the vaunted 5.0-liter V-8.
The electric motor isn't designed to provide meaningful acceleration on its own, but it does allow for short periods of electric cruising at low speeds. Transitions from gas to electric power are almost imperceptible, as is the changeover from regenerative to friction braking.

Performance can also be measured by a maximum 14,000-pound tow rating with a payload 3,325 pounds — rather prodigious for a standard F-150 truck.

But the real beauty of the PowerBoost hybrid comes from within. The hybrid's most transformative feature may be its onboard generator system. It uses the engine to turn the motor, which provides up to a substantial 7.2 kilowatts of electricity to outlets in the bed — enough to power 28 average refrigerators.

Several Houston, Texas, owners discovered just how useful the hybrid truck could be when a winter storm hit the area in February. When Randy Jones of Katy, Texas, who bought his new Ford F-150 pickup truck just a few weeks into winter, said he didn't think he'd be using it to keep the lights on in his house during the historic winter storm that left millions without power.
Jones said that he bought the truck in part because of that feature, adding that he often loses power due to hurricanes and other storms. When he lost power in February, he decided to get out a few extension cords and put the generator to the test.

"Without it I would have been in the dark and cold like everybody else in the neighborhood," the retired refinery worker said, adding that he helped neighbors charge their phones and laptops. "Quite a few of the neighbors said, 'Hey, I'm getting one,' like, 'I'm trading my Dodge or GMC,' because, South Texas, with hurricanes and things like that, we're always having power outages."

During good weather, the F-150 brings features like the available Pro Power Onboard, Interior Work Surface, Pro Trailer Backup Assist and a Tailgate Work Surface, plus advanced driver-assist and connectivity technology. Standard over-the-air updates keep F-150 at the forefront of technology, while its all-new interior is designed to be comfortable, useful and connected.

While the hybrid scores 24 mpg city, 24 highway and 24 combined —  4 mpg more than a regular EcoBoost 3.5 F-150 manages — it seems its biggest attribute is to keep work tools — and houses — powered up.

The cost for this confidence can be measured in its price premium — ranging from $2,500 to $4,495 — depending on trim and options.

Inside the F-150, front seats proved especially roomy and comfortable and our Crew Cab’s rear seats and legroom space is simply enormous. People, cargo or work equipment are all easily accommodated. Also know that backing up or parking takes an effort especially trying to fit It into an average car-sized parking space.

For the most part the cabin is unimpressive with too much hard plastic bits, cheap feeling and cost cutting trim pieces along sliver plastic trim that completely fails to convince as brushed nickel or aluminum metal. Beginning with the Lariat trim level and above seats are leather upholstered. There’s also ambient lighting, heated and cooled front seats, wireless charging, dual zone electronic automatic climate control, tilt/telescopic steering column and 10-way drivers/8-way passengers’ seats.

A huge center console storage bin is convenient, and we liked the center console cup holder with a flip-operated mechanism that cleverly turns room for two cups into room for four when necessary. Rear seat riders have two cup holders that pop out of the center fold-down armrest. All four doors have unlined plastic built-in bottle holders.

Interior functionality is well thought out with knobs and buttons intuitively and conveniently located and easy to use. Ford’s infotainment system Sync 3 is user friendly with a simple interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard with Sync 3. The same system also supports several different optional camera systems, such as a camera mounted near the third-stop lamp on the rear of the cab which displays what's in the cargo bed area and potentially helps when attaching a fifth wheel/goose neck connection.

Ford's top-shelf trailer tow camera system is bundled with 360-degree surround-view camera and adds a trailer reverse guidance capability to let the driver see what's behind the trailer.

Our PowerBoost Hybrid crew cab carried a bottom line of $68,090.

2021 Ford F-150 Powerboost


Base price: $46,350; as driven, $68,090
Engine: 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6, electric motor
Horsepower: combined 430
Torque: 570 pound-feet
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: 4-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 145.4 inches
Length: 231.7 inches
Curb weight: 5,794 pounds
Turning circle: 47.8 feet
Towing capacity: 14,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 24 city, 24 highway, 24 combined
0-60: 5.4 seconds (Car and Driver)

The Good
• Standard onboard generator
• Impressive acceleration
• Seamless hybridization

The Bad
• Only small gain in gas mileage

The Ugly
• Pricey at high end