The 2021 Ford F-150 is going high-tech in a big way, adding the first full hybrid system in a half-ton pickup. That isn’t the only impressive piece, though. Ford included all kinds of tech to make life at home, on vacation or on the worksite much easier on every new F-150.
From a robust tailgate that opens with the press of the remote to over-the-air updates that promise to upgrade and add features, there’s plenty to be excited about. Here’s the highlight reel of all the clever, high-tech features in Ford’s bread-and-butter truck.
SYNC4: Over-the-Air Updates and More
The F-150 is the first Ford after the Mach-E to get the marque’s next-generation infotainment system, SYNC4. Regardless of whether you opt for the standard eight-inch touchscreen or the embiggened 12-inch version, SYNC4 is standard on all new F-150s. The 12-inch screen comes standard on the upper-level XLT and higher trims while allowing occupants to control two features at once using a split-screen interface.
The most exciting part of SYNC4 is the truck’s ability to receive over-the-air updates. These will offer both system upgrades and new features over time, thus reducing the need to take the truck into a shop. Your maps system (which you can pinch to zoom in and out using SYNC4’s touchscreen, by the way) will never look too old, and you’ll have all the correct streets. Most updates will happen in under two minutes without any interruption in use. If there’s a longer update, though, the owner can schedule it for a convenient time.
Through SYNC4, you can access a digital owner’s manual complete with how-to videos. There’s also hands-free voice and music controls and a host of the usual features you’d expect from a modern infotainment system, such as wifi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and available SiriusXM satellite radio. An 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen Unleashed sound system is available on the Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trucks, which integrates speakers in the front headrests and headliner.
If you need to drive into a tight spot, the truck’s five high-resolution cameras positioned around the truck and the overhead 360-degree display have your back.
Also available is a customizable 12-inch digital gauge cluster, where you can find information related to the F-150’s different drive modes, off-roading data and another navigation view.
100,000 Miles of Hands-Free Driving
Ford’s second-generation Co-Pilot360 system includes the first hands-free driving system in a pickup to-date: Active Drive Assist.
Approximately 100,000 miles of pre-mapped divided highways in the United States and Canada are available in the Active Drive Assist system. Instead of forcing the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel, Ford’s system monitors head position and eye gaze to ensure the driver is paying attention.
Trucks will be available with the Active Drive Assist hardware when they go on sale, but the software is expected to become available for an extra fee in the third quarter of 2021. That software will be available as an over-the-air update or through a visit to the dealership.
In addition to the usual safety systems for most 2021 models such as pre-collision detection with automatic braking, pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams, Ford added a couple of other upgrades to its latest iteration of Co-Pilot360. Active Park Assist 2.0 will take care of everything involved in parallel or perpendicular parking while the driver holds down the button that controls it. Intersection Assist detects oncoming traffic in left-hand turns and will brake to lessen impact or avoid a potential collision.
Your Truck Is the Mobile Generator
Ford’s Pro Power Onboard system is everything we needed to haul track toys, like, yesterday. Instead of having to bring a separate generator to power the lights and power tools you’ll want to use when said track car inevitably breaks, your truck is the generator.
In addition to interior power outlets, the Pro Power Onboard system includes up to four 120-volt, 20-amp outlets in the bed. Conventionally powered Fords get a 2.0-kilowatt output, whereas the hybrid drivetrain ups that figure to 2.4-kilowatts or an optional 7.2 kilowatt-system. With the 7.2-kilowatt system, you can also get a 240-volt, 30-amp outlet to use for even bigger tools.
Those can power a lot, as Ford explained in some handy graphics: