REVIEW BY: RICK WALKER
The Ford F-150 Hybrid is carrying us a little closer to an all electric world with an option called Powerboost. The name is appropriate because this F-150 packs a lot of punch. In fact, other than the high performance Raptor the Hybrid with Powerboost is the most powerful F-150 you can buy.
The Hybrid is equipped with a twin turbo V-6 engine, and a 47-horsepower electric motor. The electric motor sits between the engine and the standard 10-speed automatic transmission, and it draws its power from a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery located under the bed. The battery is small but by going small Ford saves weight and that preserves the truck's towing and payload capacity. Combined you get 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque, which is 30 horsepower, and 70 pound-feet more torque than the updated nonhybrid EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6.
Our test F-150 Lariat came with the FX4-four-wheel-drive package Lariat. As equipped it was very fast for a truck. It is capable of hitting 60-miles-per-hour in about 5.5 seconds. With leaf springs in the back, maximum payload is rated at 2120 pounds, and it can tow up to 12,700 pounds.
The specifications are impressive but that isn't the only thing that sets the F-150 Hybrid apart from the competition. It's the attention to detail and ergonomics that count. Ford's engineers and designers have built convenience into every part of this truck. The power liftgate opens smoothly, and once down the pull out step with extension hand rail makes it easy to step up into the truck bed. The optional fold out center console creates a convenient work area. To use it you will need to push a button to lower the gear shift lever into a recessed compartment which allows the work console platform to fold out flat. AC power outlets in the front and rear of the cabin let you power computers, tools and even small appliances allowing you to bring the comforts of home on the road with you, which is perfect for people who work from their vehicles, or people who love to go camping. Fold down the front seat and you can actually take a nap.
The optional 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster is easy to use. The standard 8.0-inch center touchscreen can be upgraded to a 12.0-inch unit. Both run Ford's Sync 4 infotainment software, which offers wireless connectivity and over-the-air updates.
Ford has reworked the interior of the F-150 and it is goregous. The fit and finish inside the cabin was very high end, The leather used for the steering wheel and seats is high quality and comparable to the materials found in cars offerd by many upscale luxury brands.
In the truck bed Ford even offers not just 120-volt ac power, but 240 as well. The power comes from a new on board generator feature. You can go fot the 2.0-kilowatt version which can power a small refirigerator or electrick heater, or upgrade to an impressive 7.2-kilowatt generator, which would be useful on a contruction site and packs enough punch to power several tools at one time or even a welder.
The F-150 is a flagship vehicle for Ford, which is no doubt why the company offers so many options. There are far too many options to list here. Fortunately you can build you own verions of the F-150 virtually on the Ford website.
On the outside the F-150 is an attractive truck, and the only thing that signals to the world that our test vehicle is a hyrbid is the "Powerboost" emblem on the side. The front of the F-150 is very attractive with squared off design accents, and big bold headlights. The front grille has active shutters, and there is also an active lower air damn, that helps to improve aerodynamics and improve fuel economy. The headlights and taillights are LED. Ford offers 11-different Grille options.
Anchor cleats in the truck bed provide convenient tie down points. There are also "clamp pockets" which allow you to hold things down while you work on them. There is a ruler stamped into the tailgate so you can measure lumber without the need to search for a tape measure, and the indents on the tailgate are there to hold pencils and small tools so they don't roll away on you. In short the truck bed is designed to make life on the job site a whole lot easier and the featrues offered a truly useful.
According to Ford's specifications, the Hybrid F-150 has a range of 700-miles when fully fueled and charged.
The F-150 Powerboost is also a pleasure to drive. It may be a full size pickup, but the ride is smooth. A variety of drive modes change the truck's characteristics. Choose from slippery, deep snow, eco, sand, mud and ruts, sport and rock crawling, and if you have the FX4 package you get addtional drive mode options for four-wheel-drive. The "Normal" drive mode is where we left the truck the majority of the time and it worked well in the city and on the highway.
I can't say enough good things about the 10-speed automatic transmission. It shifts smooth and it is one of the reasons the truck is able to deliver a high level of fuel efficiency.
Fuel economy is rated at 24-mpg ( 9.8 l / 100 km ), which is impressive given that this is a true full size-crew-cab truck. There is a lot truck to move around here, but the powertrain does it with incredible efficiency. Keep in mind that this is a "full hybrid" meaning it can for short distances drive on its battery alone, even in four wheel drive mode. You do not plug this truck in. The Powerboost system relies on self charging through regenerative braking and engine power. There is an on board braking "coach" that displays on the instrument cluster, and it tells you how much energy you a returning to the battery when you are coming to a stop. The system is actually fun to use and I found it had a direct impact on my driving behaviour, because I kept adjusting my braking to maximize power regeneration, It was like playing a video game in the real world with the real reward being a more economical trip.
The "Powerboost" option is available on crew cab models only, but is available on every trim level. Trucks are not cheap though, so it won't take long to get into the $70-thousand dollar price range. The good news is you can get into a "Powerboost" for much less, depending on how you option out your F-150. You can also spend a lot more. The truth is the Powerboost Hybrid version of the F-150 will appeal to very specific type of consumer. The type of F-150 you choose will depend entirely on how you plan to use it, and it's the wide range of options that is the beauty of the F-150.