The most popular vehicle in America is getting a full makeover. Here's what we know so far.
We are continually updating this story with the latest information on the upcoming Ford F-150.
Redesigning a popular vehicle is always a daunting task for an automaker. When it’s the Ford F-150 – the best-selling vehicle in America for decades now – you know that designers must be especially nervous. It’s a delicate balancing act of updating the truck and keeping it modern while maintaining some level of familiarity and connection to existing Blue Oval buyers.
With new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500 already established and selling well, Ford needs to take a big step forward with its forthcoming F-150. The Coronavirus pandemic makes that mission even harder, but we have a few details to ponder before the truck's reveal later this year. Here’s everything we know about it so far.
What is it?
Yeah, you know what this is. In 2019, Ford sold 896,526 full-size F-Series trucks and it’s been the best-selling truck in America for no less than 43 years. The updated model isn’t expected to rock the boat too much with its enduring body-on-frame construction and a wide range of available engines. Similarly, there will be a plethora of trim levels and body styles which should include regular cab, SuperCab, and four-door SuperCrew models. We say should because Ram no longer offers a single-cab model, and there’s some question as to just how many two-seat trucks buyers want these days.
Expect to see traditional truck mechanicals underneath with beefy axles and transfer cases. Suspension setups should be traditional as well, with various options covering everything from street use to heavy-duty towing. The Raptor with its off-road trail-skimming suspension should return as well. Of course, the big news is that Ford will infuse the next-gen F-150 with electricity for the first time. Hybrid and fully electric models are on the docket.
Combining with those traditional and non-traditional components should be a heavy infusion of technology in the form of driver-assist systems, cameras, and digital displays galore. Plenty of convenience features will be accessible through a large infotainment screen rumored to be 15.5 inches in size. Leaked photos show there’s still familiarity in the greenhouse, however, with manual buttons and controls prevalent throughout the interior.
What Will It Look Like?
We’ve had some very revealing F-150 prototype sightings of trucks wearing just minimal camouflage wrap. It appears designers are staying extremely conservative with this new model, choosing to focus primarily on the F-150’s face. New headlights take on an unbroken vertical design, outlined with LED daytime lamp on the outer and upper edges. In the middle will be a variety of grille designs depending on the trim level but the general look is similar to the current truck.
Overall, the face appears cleaner and more symmetrical, a theme that extends to the taillights which should grow slightly while adopting a smooth, simple vertical-tapering shape. The up-kink on the F-150’s front doors – a distinctive design feature on the F-150 since the 11th generation truck’s debut in 2004 – will remain.
When spy photos first appeared showing these details, there was no small amount of criticism for the truck’s lack of change. It’s decidedly an evolutionary update to the F-Series, and in fact, many people see the revamped face as a combination of the current GMC Sierra and Ram 1500.
What’s Under The Hood?
Perhaps a better question here is, what isn’t under the hood? Like the present-day model, the new F-150 will be offered with pretty much every engine in the Ford parts, bin, save for four-cylinders or the big 7.3-liter pushrod V8. A leaked document suggests the entry-level mill will be a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 good for 290 horsepower. From there, boost enters the scene with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 making 325 hp, followed by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost good for 375 hp. V8 fans can breathe easy, as the 5.0-liter engine appears to return as well, still pumping out 395 hp.
The leaked document mentions two other engines but doesn’t offer power ratings. Diesel fans will reportedly get the 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6, and then there’s the hybrid powertrain. It looks like Ford will connect its 3.5-liter engine to an electric motor, but no other details are available thus far. The only thing we do know is Ford has no plans to offer a plug-in hybrid version.
Gallery: Ford F-150 EV Spy Shots
The final power option will be fully electric. Ford told us way back in 2019 that an F-150 EV was coming, and powertrain mules wearing current-generation bodies have been spotted on occasion. There was also Ford’s infamous teaser showing an EV F-150 towing a row of train cars, but thus far no details regarding power or range have been unearthed. We have seen a patent application that suggests it could have battery packs mounted between the frame rails, with dual electric motors front and rear.
If Ford hopes to compete in the EV realm with the Tesla Cybertruck, it would need a range over 400 miles with quick-charge capability and the choice of single, dual, or possibly even triple electric motors for two-wheel or all-wheel drive.
How Much Will It Cost?
If Ford hopes to keep the F-150 a best-seller, it must continue offering the truck in an extremely broad price range. As such, we expect to see minimal price increases across the board compared to current models. That would mean a base-model F-150 should start around $30,000, with volume vehicles like the XLT still in the $45,000 to $50,000 range. Fully-optioned models could exceed $75,000, but the hybrid and EV versions are wildcards at this point. Based on early reports from Tesla, the Cybertruck should start just under $40,000 for single-motor motor models, with range-topping tri-motor versions hitting $70,000. If Ford offers multiple configurations for the F-150 EV, a similar pricing structure isn't out of the question.
What's At Stake For Ford?
There's absolutely no denying that the F-Series is the bread and butter for Ford. Presently, it's also the oldest full-size truck from Detroit automakers, and frankly, it shows in sales statistics. GMC with its fresh Sierra saw a 5.5 percent increase in sales last year, and while the Chevrolet Silverado with its controversial face got off to a slow start, first-quarter Bow Tie sales for light and HD models are up a whopping 21 percent. Ram’s handsome redesign is also a hit among buyers, with sales jumping 18 percent in 2019.
Meanwhile, Ford’s F-Series ended 2019 down 1.4 percent, and first-quarter sales in 2020 are down 13 percent. Coronavirus is only going to make things worse, so Ford has to score a big win with its new F-150 if the company hopes to recoup losses.
When Will It Arrive?
The 2021 Ford F-150 was expected to debut in the spring of 2020, possibly around the end of April with production starting in late summer. The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed schedules not just for Ford, but for every automaker on the planet. As of early May, Ford hasn’t mentioned an official debut date but a recent report suggests production will begin on November 9 at Ford’s Dearborn assembly plant, followed by the F-Series plant in Kansas City on October 26. Provided those dates are accurate, a debut for the new truck should happen by late spring or early summer.