Tow Review: 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid
Ford impresses with numbers, disappoints with plastics
A storm is brewing in the half-ton towing game. Triggering Cummins enthusiasts left and right, a hybrid Ford is matching payloads while under-sipping the entire segment. The Ford F-150 PowerBoost is an impressive truck, but beneath all the gimmicks, it isn’t an out-and-out winner.
The F-150 Powerboost is a powertrain option available across the F-150 lineup. Taking the place of the Power Stroke diesel, the $4,850 PowerBoost upgrade augments Ford’s established 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6 with a 47 hp electric motor integrated into the 10-speed transmission. Fed through a 3.73 rear end, the result is an ample 570 lb-ft of torque, 430 hp, and a maximum configurable tow rating of 12,700 lbs. That’s a payload of 900 pounds more than the top Sierra 1500, 700 over the new Tundra, and just 50 shy of the most determined Ram 1500.
Equipped to a $61,845 Supercrew 4×4, a PowerBoost setup will start you from $66,695 before freight and fees. My tester came with a further $15,070 in options including the $4,245 Lariat upgrade, an $850 360-degree parking camera, $1,350 Ford Co-Pilot Active 2.0 Prep, $800 audio, $800 power tailgate with step, and $950 FX4 off-road package for a grand total of $83,715.
Towing, the F-150 Powerboost is smooth and modern. Hybrid torque rounds the power band and reduces the need for screaming RPMs, in turn keeping fuel economy even below diesel numbers. I recorded 10.9 L/100km in mixed commuter driving (without tonneau), and 16.9 when towing a ~6,500 lb (gross) load. Compare this to my recorded figures of 13.6 mixed and 20.5 towing a similar load in the Sierra 1500 6.2 EcoTec or 14.1 / 22.1 in the Ram 1500 eTorque, and the F-150 PowerBoost almost starts to look like an uncontroversial commuter vehicle as well.
Road manners are largely as one would expect of a conventionally-sprung independent-front, solid-rear half-ton pickup. Where the F-150 really shines, however, is with Ford’s strong lane-keeping and driver assistance tech. Having graduated from gimmick to prime feature, this technology entirely displaces the anxiety often felt when weaving a wide trailer through tight construction zones. Switch this on with Adaptive Cruise Control, and long highway miles become an absolute breeze. It’s just as welcome on the commute as well, significantly reducing driver fatigue. Some reviewers instinctively disable these systems the moment they climb in, but I have found that the good ones significantly increase my bandwidth for road-tripping enjoyment. Ford’s assistance suite well surpasses those in both the Ram and Sierra Denali, and is a must-try for those anticipating long highway journeys.
Also easing the driving experience are the automatic LED headlamps, which illuminate ditches effectively and bring extra peace of mind on those animal-rich rural routes. When parked, the optional flat-folding Interior Work Surface ($200) makes a convenient lunch table — assuming you haven’t blocked the area with coffee cups or filled the shifter pocket with change. And when locked at the motel after a long haul, a Trailer Theft Alert system affords some peace of mind by sounding the alarm if someone unplugs your trailer light connector.