Is the 14th generation of the truck better than the model it replaces?

Ford was preparing for the 2021 F-150’s launch for quite some time. The hype surrounding the world’s best-selling truck was immense, but the pandemic threw a spanner in the works and Ford had to settle for a rather subdued launch.

Still, people had their eyes glued to the screens to watch the live steam of the truck’s debut and to see what’s new this time around. The 14th generation needed to be a step up in all the aspects given how Ram and Chevy have upped the ante in the last few years. There are improvements in most of the departments, however, there are also a few things that we would’ve liked better. So, here’s a guide that compares the 2021 F-150 to its predecessor in terms of exterior, interior, tech features, engine options, towing capabilities, and price.

2020 F-150 vs 2021 F-150: Drivetrain

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923486
Ford still has six different engine options as the previous model, but the Raptor-iteration of the 3.5-liter, EcoBoost is replaced with an all-new hybrid engine.

The three base mills are carried over to the 2021 F-150 without any change in the power outputs.

The 3.3-liter, V-6 engine still makes 290 horses and 265 pound-feet of torque. The 2.7-liter, V-6 EcoBoost mill is also carried over with the same power figures of 325 ponies and 400 pound-feet of torque, and so is the 3.0-liter, V-6, Turbodiesel, PowerStroke mill that continues to generate 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque.

The biggest change here, however, is that the six-speed automatic gearbox is dropped and all the engines come with a ten-speed automatic transmission as standard. There is no other transmission option to choose from.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923494

The 3.5-liter, V-6 EcoBoost engine was available in two iterations in the 2020 Ford F-150. One made 375 ponies and 470 pound-feet of twist, and the other, seen in the Raptor, churned out 450 horses and 510 pound-feet of torque. For the 2021 model, Ford has kept just one version of this engine that strikes a balance between the two. It dishes out 400 ponies and 500 pound-feet of twist.

The mighty 5.0-liter, Coyote engine is still the only V-8 in the 2021 F-150’s lineup.

In the 2020 F-150, the engine produced 395 horses and 400 pound-feet of torque, but this time around, it sees a bump of five horses and 10 pound-feet of torque, now dishing out 400 horses and 410 pound-feet of twist.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior
- image 700456

Finally, there’s the much-anticipated hybrid engine. This is a 3.5-liter, V-6 PowerBoost engine that doles out 430 ponies and 570 pound-feet of twist. Power is sent to the wheels via a 10-speed auto gearbox, but Ford says it’s a modular hybrid transmission that is designed, engineered, and assembled for this hybrid setup.

This system includes a 35-kilowatt electric motor (47 horsepower) in the transmission housing. This electric motor works together with the engine, utilizes regenerative braking, and also supports the Pro Power Onboard generator. It is powered by a liquid-cooled, 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Ford has said that it has equipped a belt-driven starter for the water pump and belt-starter motor. This isn’t a plug-in hybrid system, so the batteries recuperate on the move.

The company has also claimed that the engine will offer a range of up to 700 miles on a full tank of fuel, which means this hybrid engine will be quite an efficient one. It is a 30.6-gallon fuel tank, but the company has not revealed the official fuel economy figures. Time to do some math for yourself.

2020 F-150 vs 2021 F-150: Towing and Payload Capabilities

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 700453

This is one thing that will sway most of the potential owners’ decision whether or not to buy the 2021 Ford F-150.

The towing capacity has gotten better on every single engine option, but the payload, not so much.

The 3.3-liter, V-6 engine-powered 2021 F-150 can now tow up to 8,200 pounds as opposed to 7,700 pounds in the 2020 model. The payload capacity, however, is reduced by a negligible five pounds and is now rated at 1,985 pounds. The 2.7-liter, V-6 EcoBoost engine sees a massive increase of 1,600 pounds over its predecessor and can now tow up to 10,100 pounds. The payload capacity is ten pounds more than before and is now rated at 2,480 pounds.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923487

The 3.0-liter, diesel V-6 engine’s towing is rated at 12,100 pounds and payload at 1,840 pounds. This is an increase of 600 pounds over the 2020 F-150’s towing capacity, but 100 pounds lesser in the payload department. The 5.0-liter, V-8 Coyote engine was rated to tow and haul up to 10,600- and 3,270 pounds in the 2020 F-150. The 2021 model can tow and haul impressively higher now, with the ratings standing at 13,000- and 3,325 pounds, an increase of 2,400 pounds and 55 pounds, respectively.

The 3.5-liter, V-6 PowerBoost hybrid mill can tow up to 12,700 pounds and haul up to 2,120 pounds, which isn’t too bad and is on the higher side when compared to the other ratings. But, it’s the 3.5-liter, V-6 EcoBoost’s ratings that take the cake. The non-Raptor iteration could tow and haul up to 13,200 and 3,230 pounds, respectively. In the 2021 model, these figures go up by 800 pounds and 20 pounds, with the official capacities rated at 14,000 pounds of towing capacity and 3,250 pounds of payload capacity.

2020 F-150 vs 2021 F-150: Exterior Design

left right

The 2021 Ford F-150 looks as butch as ever and doesn’t look drastically different from the 2020 model, but the changes are evident. It features an aluminum alloy body based on a steel frame and Ford says every single body panel on this truck is new. The C-shaped headlamps and DRLs continue, but they are tweaked and there is a visible difference between the two models.

The grille design on the 2020 F-150 was basically two thick horizontal bars finished differently on each trim. Ford decided to change that this time around and is offering not just one per trim, but 11 different grille designs on the 2021 lineup. The grilles also incorporate active shutters that close at higher speeds for better ride dynamics. An automatic air dam is also present that lowers at 40 mph for better aerodynamics and retracts at lower speeds to counter beaten paths, speed breakers, etc. Also, Ford has pulled out the wheels three-quarters of an inch this time and it gives the truck a more planted stance.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923496

The side profile is a little more fluid and the beltline is now more pronounced than before. There are vents on the fenders on the 2021 F-150 unlike the badges on the previous model. The larger wheel arches further enhance the butch looks. Courtesy of these larger arches, Ford now offers bigger wheels up to 22-inches. The automaker is also offering 13 new wheel designs. Also, the 2021 F-150 will come with power running boards that lower as you approach closer to the truck when you have the keys on you. Ford is still offering the same body style and bed sizes, and in the same combinations on the 2021 F-150 as its predecessor.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923475

There isn’t a lot to say about the rear, but there could’ve been had Ford introduced a new, multipurpose tailgate as the rivals have. This is the fly in the ointment for Ford, and for some reason, Ford is continuing with the simple power tailgate. But Ford has tweaked it to offer more versatility. Called the Tailgate Work Surface, it is essentially a work station on the tailgate that can be used for a whole lot of things. It integrates a ruler, clamp mounts, tie-down rings that double as bottle openers, and a tablet holder. Sounds good on paper and will be helpful on sites, but it doesn’t have the same ring as Chevy and GMC’s MultiPro tailgate and Ram’s Multifunction tailgate.

2020 F-150 vs 2021 F-150: Interior Design

The cabin sees a lot of improvement this time around. The redesigned cabin feels fresh and much more modern. There are new color choices for the upholstery, more storage spaces, and thoughtful things like dual-tone, soil-resistant seats for the base trim that will be used as a work truck in most cases. The focus has been to make the interior a better place for folks who use it as a work truck purely. To do so, Ford has introduced something known as ‘Interior Work Surface’ on the 2021 F-150. Ford said that one-third of the owners use their laptop (up to 15-inch systems comfortably) in the truck, but there was no usable, convenient surface to date. So, the company decided to create a gear lever that folds down and provides a flat surface for you to use. If you are someone who uses your laptop or has lunch inside the truck often, you will appreciate this feature. The good thing is that this arrangement can be had on any trim and any seating style.

The seats on the F-150 have always been comfortable, but on the 14th gen of the truck, it is taken up by a notch. Ford is offering ‘Max Recline Seats’ on the 2021 F-150, a new design that folds flat to nearly 180 degrees. The bottom cushion rises to meet the backrest, while the upper back support rotates forward up to 10 degrees for added comfort. This is available on the top-tier trims – King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited. Surprisingly, this feature will be the most useful on work truck trims and the company has said that the XLT – second from bottom – is the most popular trim. So, why not offer it standard on this trim, too? It could push people to stretch their budget and opt for it even if they have their eyes set on the base XL trim.

Other than this, the 2021 F-150 also comes with lockable storage space under the rear seats with a divider to keep the space organized. It is pretty long, and Ford says it can store even fishing rods. So, all-in-all, the 2021 F-150 is a big improvement over the 2020 F-150 in this regard.

2020 F-150 vs 2021 F-150: Tech Features

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923480

There is a huge improvement in the tech department, too. The digital-analog instrument cluster is now replaced by a 12-inch digital instrument cluster that shows drive-related information and also comes with various graphics and animations that change depending on the drive mode selected.

The base trims on the 2020 model came with a 4.2-inch screen, but the 2021 F-150 will feature an eight-inch touchscreen.

The higher models get an even bigger 12-inch touchscreen. It runs on the SYNC4 infotainment system that supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system also comes with the latest maps, gives real-time traffic updates, and features hands-free voice control. Ford won’t be offering the physical owner’s manual anymore, either, and it will be accessible in the system. New Bang & Olufsen audio systems are also present in the range, with the top trim receiving speakers in the headrests, too.

The 2021 Ford F-150's Max Recline Seats Mean You Can Sleep Comfortably Anywhere
- image 949216
The 2020 F-150 came with a few driver assistance features, but the 2021 model witnesses an introduction of 10 new ones.

This also gives us a glimpse of what to expect from the electric F-150 that will arrive in the coming years. These new features include class-exclusive intersection assist and Active Drive Assist, which is essentially hands-free driving. Hands-free driving is a controversial topic and automakers’ are probably tired of telling people to be attentive even if the system is activated.

To counter this, Ford’s system will drive the vehicle on its own as long as you’re vigilant and ready to take control back from it anytime. There will be a camera monitoring your actions, and if the system finds that you’re not paying attention, it will warn you a few times. If you don’t respond, the car will eventually slow down and stop in its lane.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923492

Extending its ‘connected’ truck features, Ford has introduced over-the-air updates for maps, software, and feature updates. Some more stuff includes Ford Pass Connect embedded 4G LTE Modem that provides Wi-Fi access up to 10 devices, Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything, Pro-trailer backup assist, a massive panoramic moonroof, and Trailer Reverse Guidance that’s trickled down from Super Duty series into the 2021 F-150.

Pro Power Onboard Generator

2021 Ford F-150
- image 915549

Ford has introduced the Pro Power Onboard generator on the 2021 F-150, and is offering 2.4 kilowatts of power as standard 7.2 kilowatts of power as optional. It can be used to charge your tools, computers, and can even power stuff like a circular saw, a 12-inch miter saw, a half-horsepower air compressor, a hammer drill, a gang battery charger, and floodlights all at the same time. Or, to give a different perspective, it can power 28 average refrigerators. The truck also comes with a series of ports, like a 120-volt, 20-amp outlets, with a single 240-volt, 30-amp outlet for big equipment. Ford had earlier mentioned that a two-kW Pro Power Onboard generator will be available on the other engines, too. This is good enough to run an electric heater, a TV, a mini-fridge, a blender, and portable speakers. That is why the F-150 is turning out to be a great work truck.

2020 F-150 vs 2021 F-150: Price

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923503

The spread of the F-150 is huge, with the price difference between the base and comparatively barebones trim of the F-150 and the fully-loaded and accessorized top-trim being more than $50,000 in the 2021 model. Fortunately, there are no new trims or eliminations and the F-150 continues to be offered in the same six trims as before. Here’s a comparison of the starting prices of the trims between the 2020 and the 2021 F-150:

2021 vs 2020 Ford F-150
2020 F-150 2021 F-150
XL $28,745 $28,940
XLT $34,760 $35,050
Lariat $42,750 $44,695
King Ranch $52,990 $56,330
Platinum $55,520 $59,110
Limited $67,735 $70,825

Final Thoughts

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2020 Ford F-150
- image 923514

As I mentioned earlier, the 2021 F-150 is a big improvement over the 2020 F-150 in most departments. Ram and Chevy with the 1500 and the Silverado 1500, respectively, have been catching up to the Ford F-150 at an alarming rate and Ford had to come up with a product that made sure its apex position in the truck segment wasn’t at risk. The F-150 contributes to a majority of the sales in the F-Series, and Ford had to make sure there’s no chink in its armor. The only biggest vulnerable spot right now is the multipurpose tailgate. People are still warming up to the idea of a multipurpose tailgate, so it isn’t a deal-breaker, but Ford can’t wait for another five years and introduce it in the 15th generation F-150.

The hybrid model is a great addition and a range of 700 miles on a full tank of fuel sounds pretty neat. From a work truck’s point-of-view, there’s no reason not to opt for the F-150, but the top trims are proving to be quite expensive. The changes are worth the extra price, but is $80,000 for an F-150 justified?

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
About the author

Related Articles

2021 Ford F-150

2018 Ford F-150

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: