Last year we had the opportunity to drive loads of F-150’s. During the lockdown we were helping my brother-in-law, who works as the sales manager at the local Ford dealership, move trucks to/from other dealerships, so we’ve got plenty of experience with them. We’ve driven the entire range and have our favourite versions with the options we would pick if we were buying one. We also got to experience real-world fuel economy with all the different configurations – except the hybrid – it wasn’t available then. Well, now it’s available in the press fleet and we just had to spend a week behind the wheel. The “PowerBoost” full-hybrid version comes with the 3.5L twin-turbo V6 and a 10-speed transmission – it is a $4,850 option. Logic dictates that the hybrid will improve the fuel economy substantially, but will it? We were getting a very impressive 10.3 L/100 km on our jaunts around Ontario driving at about 120km/h in the 2.7L and around 12.5 L/100 in the 3.5L EcoBoost gas engine – THAT’S impressive. The hybrid is rated at 9.8 L/100 kms combined. Will the hybrid justify its premium price? Let’s see….
What Is It?
- Full size 4×4 pickup truck
- We’re driving the twin-turbo 3.5L Powerboost Full-Hybrid version
- HEV 10-speed automatic transmission
- (The F-150 is soon to be available as a Plug In Hybrid (PHEV) and the full-electric,F-150 Lightning)
- The hybrid adds30 hp and 70 lb-ft more torque than the NON-hybrid EcoBoost 3.5-liter gas counterpart
How Does It Look?
- Test vehicle comes with the blinged-out Chrome Package
- To be honest I’m not a big chrome fan, but I really like it on the F-150 Lariat – not so much on the higher-end versions
- It looks black, but it’s actually a very dark metallic navy blue that Ford calls Antimatter Blue
- This thing is HUGE, but after driving it for a while you get used to it
What’s It Like Inside?
- The Baja Tan leather trim is very nice – gives it a very classy look
- The black/dark grey denim look on the doors are really unique – and actually look like denim!
- Interior layout is nice, with big buttons – perfect for winter when wearing gloves
- Everything is logically laid out and easy to understand and use at just a quick glance
- The 12-inch “Productivity Screen”/ infotainment touchscreen comes with SYNC 4 and AppLink
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto + FordPass Connect (Wi-Fi Hotspot)
- The driver gets a very useful 12” digital instrument cluster that is customisable and offers a ton of information
- Leather bucket seats with console comes standard on Lariat
- Heated, and cooled front seats are power operated and also get power lumbar adjustment (only in and out – why can’t they copy VW and have them adjustable up and down as well?!)
- The 3-person memory for the driver’s seat includes the steering wheel, electric pedals and outside mirrors
- Front passenger seat is also powered with lumbar adjustment
- Heated steering wheel
- FordPass Connect – download the app onto your phone and turn it into a key or an information centre – very cool.
- The B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen comes standard (8 speakers), but the test truck had the optional “Unleashed” version +$800, where you get 1080 watts – and an additional 10 speakers, including the front headrests!
- Voice-activated touchscreen navigation system with pinch-to-zoom capability comes in the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package
- Panoramic Vista Roof (optional) is great for making the interior bright, but it also has a power shade – worth every penny
- There’s an abundance of knee and legroom for rear passengers
- With a virtually flat rear floor, interior cargo space is very useful. The test truck had the very useful and optional storage space under the seat that can be stowed flat if it’s not neededSo How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?
- The regular 3.5L EcoBoost F-150 is fast off the line – it FEELS almost like a sports car. This is a very tame version of it
- The hybrid is geared for maximum fuel economy – and that’s not necessarily a good thing, depending on your driving style
- One thing that stood out immediately – you can’t be gentle with the throttle. If you just squeeze the throttle when leaving a set of lights or stop sign – it stutters and shifts to get to 4th gear as soon as possible. So what you get is the truck shifting from first to second to third to fourth all in the space of one small intersection – it’s jarring and very noticeable, not very comfortable.
- However, if you give the gas pedal just a tiny bit of aggression – not flooring it – it’s quite smooth while shifting to third, right away. We surmised it is shifting from the hybrid/electric into the engine almost immediately and that’s why it’s so choppy. Allowing the battery to get you up to 30 or 40 km/h before switching on the engine would probably resolve this issue entirely .If you’re in the city and the stop signs and intersections are numerous, it’s not a pleasant stop-go journey .It does it’s best to get to 10th gear as soon as possible. Driving in the town/city at 40 km/h it’s in 5th gear and by 50 km/h and it’s already in 7th or 8th gear.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Having talked with others about this strange phenomenon, it sounds like our experience with the test vehicle may have been a fluke, because others are describing their F150 Hybrid PowerBoost experience as a seamless driving experience.
- Steering is well-balanced and predictable
- On the highway its very quiet and the hushed interior makes long boring drives quite pleasant
- Braking is superb, especially for something this big and heavy – it’s very easy to balance and doesn’t feel anything like the hybrids of old
- Maximum Towing Capacity: 12,700 lbs
Horsepower: 430 @ 5,570 rpm
Torque: 570 @ 4, 500 rpm
Top Speed: 172 km/h
0-60 mph (sec): 5.4
What Does It Cost? For up-to-date pricing and options visit: www.Ford.ca
Base Price: $61,845
As Tested: $81,765
Options Included On Test Vehicle ($19, 920)
- 3.5L Powerboost Full-Hybrid – $4,850
- 275/60R-20 All-Terrain Owl Tires – $1,000
- Power Deployable Running Boards – 1,300
- FORD Co-Pilot360 Actv2.0 + Active Park Assist 2.0 – $1,350
- Panoramic Vista Roof – $1,750
- Pro Power Onboard – 7.2Kw – $1,000 – gives you the ability to use the truck as a mobile generator with 7.2kW of power – the regular F-150 gets 2.0kW
- Interior Work Surface – $200
- FX4 Off Road Package – $950
- B&O Sound System Unleashed – $800
- Partitioned Fold-Flat Storage – $225
- Power Tailgate + Tailgate Step – $800
- 360 Degree Camera – $850
- Spray-In Bedliner – $600
- Rated at (L/100 km): City – 9.8 / Highway – 9.7 / Combined – 9.8
- I kept careful track of each journey – We averaged 11.5-11.8 on a regular basis on the highway at 100-110 km/h. It wasn’t even stop and go traffic, so that is not very impressive at all. The very best we got was 10.7 on one journey of 27 kilometres. On another 64 kilometre trip I got 10.7 L/100 on a full tank – but the total range only dropped by 10 kms, so it was like driving 54 kms for free!
- Annual cost to operate (Transport Canada – 20,000 kms @ $1.25 litre): $2,450
- Basic: 3 years/60,000 km
- Powertrain: 5 years/100,000 km
- Roadside Assistance: 5 years /100,000 km
Chevrolet/GMC 1500 Pickups, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
- The Good: Luxurious and easy to drive. Tons of safety features
- The Bad: The fuel economy we experienced wasn’t worth writing home about
- The Bad #2: Major blind spot issues (see below – BLIS)
- The Ugly: Shift points after coming to a stop are annoying and noticeable
What’s The Verdict?
Fabulous truck that is very comfortable to drive, despite its bulk. Our big issue was the shifting pattern – it felt like you’d dropped the truck into gear while having your foot on the accelerator pedal whenever you started from a standstill – it was very annoying and noticeable. The hybrid didn’t return any noticeable benefit in fuel economy to justify it’s added cost, and to be perfectly honest, if I were in the market for an F-150 I’d go with the 2.7L [325 hp / 400 lb.ft torque / 0-60: 5.9 secs] and 3.55 rear axle and stick the savings in my pocket.
BLIS is fine for warning you about the car in the next lane (although they still get lost between the end of the truck and your door), but it does nothing to let you know about the car in the lane after that. I’ve got after-market convex mirrors on my truck and it’s a lifesaver because I can see someone in the far lane, and see if they are moving over at the same time I’m changing lanes. Ford has the convex mirrors on lesser trucks without BLIS…so why can’t they also be on trucks with BLIS? I was constantly doing a shoulder check before and during lane changes on the highway and in the city.
Copyright © 2021 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland
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