Ford’s F-series pickup trucks have always been the best-selling cars in the United States, and seem to always be the best-selling cars, so there may be a strong temptation not to mess up things that are already working well. But times are changing, and so must pickup trucks.
Ford showed off its new ideas in the form of an all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning last spring, but for those who want green (er) but are not willing to give up burning hydrocarbons, there is another new option: F-150 PowerBoost hybrid car. Although a hybrid car is not a game changer, it provides better mileage and can be used as a 7.2 kW generator-even when the vehicle is in motion.
Let's start under the hood of the F-150 4x4 SuperCrew Lariat we tested. There, you will find Ford's 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine, which is one of the six options in the F-150 lineup. It is the most powerful and torque power system available for trucks, providing 430 horsepower (320 kilowatts) and 530 pound-feet (718 Nm) of torque. Ford combined the V6 with a 47-horsepower (35-kilowatt) electric motor located between the engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission and powered by a 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Although this may seem small for a large pickup truck, it shows Ford's strategy here: pairing electrons with hydrocarbons for a moderate increase in mileage and greater performance improvements. These figures put the F-150 hybrid car at the top of the Ford pickup truck series in terms of pure power and torque.
The F-150 hybrid car is about power. In addition to horsepower and torque, this truck really wants to be your personal power station. Although the hybrid car is not the only F-150 that can act as a generator, it is the only model that provides 240 V, 30 A sockets on the bed. (There are also four 120 V, 20 A sockets on the bed, and a few more in the cab.) This is a complete 7.2 kW generator that can run for up to 32 hours under full gasoline. And it can run in generator mode during exercise, and you can charge the tool on the way to the job site.
You'll see some benefit from the hybrid at the gas pump, too, but not as much. The EPA rates the hybrid at 25 mpg (9.41 L/100 km) combined across city and highway driving. That's better than the rest of the F-150 lineup, which is mostly in the 19-22 mpg range in the city (the 3.0 L V6 is rated for 20 mpg [11.76 L/100 km]), 27 mpg (8.71 L/100 km) on the highway, and 23 mpg (10.23 L/100 km) overall, but it's the wimpiest power plant in the F-150 lineup. We weren't able to get close to those numbers. We averaged 21.4 mpg (10.99 L/100 km) in a week of driving that included a road trip to central Illinois. Whether we were tooling down Interstate 57 or running errands in suburban Chicago, mileage was remarkably consistent. With its 30.6-gallon (115.8 L) gas tank, expect to travel well over 600 miles (965 km) between refueling.
Maximum payload for the F-150 hybrid is 2,120 lbs (961 kg). And the maximum towing weight is 12,700 lbs (5,760 kg)—the combined vehicle weights with a trailer range from 16,700 lb (7,575 kg) up to 18,400 lb (8,346 kg), depending on axle ratio and whether four-wheel drive is engaged. Cargo box volume in the hybrid with its 5.5-foot (1,676 mm) bed comes in at 52.8 cubic feet; a 6.5-foot (1,981 mm) bed is also available.
There are few surprises on the road with the F-150. At the end of the day, you're driving around in a box on a frame, so you're going to get the typical pickup truck ride. My only real niggle is with the 10-speed modular hybrid transmission. The adaptive 10-speed drive cycle sometimes skips gears when upshifting and downshifting, occasionally resulting in a slight lurching when the F-150 went directly from first gear to third. The lighter the touch on the accelerator, the more pronounced the jump. At lower speeds, the engine will shut off, and you can cruise a mile or two on the electric motor. Moving between gas and electric propulsion is all but imperceptible, and the engine shuts off when you put the truck in park.
Another observation is that our test vehicle is equipped with Co-Pilot360, Ford's full set of driver assistance technology. In the past few years, I have become more and more appreciative of this technology, because it can make long highway driving less fatigue. However, as implemented in F-150, the technology can use more modifications. Although stop-and-go adaptive cruise control works well in traffic jams, lane keeping assist systems are more likely to get lost in road markings than other similarly equipped cars I drive. Ford's lane centering feature sometimes makes me feel that it is still studying for a study permit.
Speaking of bells and whistles, Ford knows what customers want, and it won't disappoint. A ruler (imperial and metric) is printed on the tailgate, and there are two clamping holes on the tailgate. The tie-down splint on the side of the tailgate doubles as a bottle opener to meet all your trailing needs. If you want to climb in and out of the bed, you can slide out a step and handle. The power socket is located in the left tailgate.
The spacious and comfortable cab is beautifully designed, and the standard 10-way adjustable and fully tiltable electric seat allows you to easily find the perfect driving (or nap) position.
Ford offers an optional 12-inch landscape display in the middle of the dash (8 inches is standard). It runs Sync 4, a major improvement over Sync 3, and it supports CarPlay and Android Auto. The display really shines when you're navigating tight spaces: the left two-thirds shows the backup camera, while the right has an overhead, 380° view with guidelines showing wheel orientation and direction of travel. Climate control knobs and switches live below the display. Press the button next to the shift lever and it will fold down into the console so you can unfold an interior work surface big enough for a laptop, clipboard, or even a candlelit dinner for two.
The instrument panel has gone all-digital, with the customizable 12-inch display providing feedback on your driving style to maximize gas mileage.
Annual sales figures clearly show the ongoing American obsession with large vehicles, and when it comes to performance, comfort, and features, Ford has given the people what they want with the redesigned F-150. What the people need is more electrification and less fossil fuel consumption. The F-150 PowerBoost hybrid is a step in the right direction, and Ford has positioned the vehicle as the best choice for the performance-obsessed.
While the EPA's 25 mpg rating may not look that impressive by itself, it's up to 25 percent better than the rest of the lineup. The F-150 4X4 SuperCrew Lariat starts at $50,980, and the MSRP of the truck we tested is $70,960. That's more than you'll pay for pure petrol power, but it's a realistic option for those in need of a new truck who either can't wait for the F-150 Lightning or aren't ready for the full BEV experience.
At 29 years old, my favorite compliment is being
told that I look like my mom. Seeing myself in her image, like this
daughter up top, makes me so proud of how far I’ve come, and so thankful
for where I come from.