The Ford F-150 is a mainstay in American culture. It’s been available continuously for nearly a half-century and continues to lead not only the segment but sales for the entire North American market. To say it’s an important vehicle for Ford would be an understatement.
Exterior design renderings by the Ford design team
Design work on the 2021 F-150, codenamed P702, started back in 2018, and Ford’s cross-functional team spent a lot of time in focus groups, talking to current customers to find out what they were looking for in a new truck. After having compiled 1,800 pages of written feedback and over 18,000 photographs, the team determined that the new max recline seat, interior work surface, and internal generator were of primary importance to the F-150’s customer base.
Due to the longevity of the vehicle nameplate, there’s a lot of data available for the design team to access. The target customer has three core values: they want to own a vehicle that’s assertive and commands respect to use as a workhorse but also desire some luxury features, especially at the top end of the range. They want something connected to tradition but also open to progress. As such, the new F-150 needed to be robust but also cossetting and adaptable, able to cater to how customers use their trucks in the work environment but also during the weekends and for leisure activities.
The 2021 Ford F-150 is an all-new design built on a new platform
From the outside, all of the exterior aluminum body panels were revised and the truck’s track was extended by 20mm. This not only improved the stance of the vehicle but also enhanced its aerodynamic attributes. Seen from the profile, the beltline is slightly lower than the outgoing model but still features the familiar drop at the front of the DLO. The wheelarches were emphasized with a chamfer to accentuate the robustness of the bodyside.
The C-clamp headlamps, a defining design trait for F-Series trucks for the last few generations, were also revised, with a headlamp graphic that now runs through the revised bumper. The multitude of personalization options introduced in the 2015 model F-150 were also taken a step further. There are now a total of 11 different grille options available on the F-150, each specific to the chosen trim line, and 13 different wheel options to cater to users’ requests for individuality (each detailed in the gallery at the end of this article).
Ford P702 model ranges and trim levels offer many different personalization options.
At the rear, a revised tailgate was designed to cater to customers who use their vehicles in work scenarios such as carpentry. While the bed of the F-150 features power outlets – which can power anything for an extended period of time thanks to an the integrated generator – storage solutions for tablets, pens and pencils as well as cup holders and measuring marks feature in the tailgate itself. It’s a very product design approach, and one that users would undoubtedly benefit from.
The tailgate has also been revised from the exterior as well. While the previous generation had an undercut within the tailgate surfacing, allowing an assortment of appliques to be swapped out according to trim level, the new truck is a more contemporary solid surface with the F-150 signature embossed within.
Ford P702 F-150 interior design moves upscale
As expected, the interior of the new truck has made the biggest forward strides, both from an aesthetic and a functional perspective. The IP – finished in leather on the higher end King Ranch models – features an aluminum band that runs through the core structure, elevating the perception of quality and robustness within the cab. This neatly ties into the outer registers, repeating the C-clamp gesture of the headlamps.
As Kaoud notes in our interview, the F-150 can be a very expensive proposition at the top end of the range. Many buyers will use the truck as they would a luxury vehicle. Because of that, the number of luxury options – including a new ‘Lasso perforation’ on the King Ranch seats and specific etched appliques developed by the CMF team – were carefully considered. The range of personalization options within the interior complement those of the exterior, and the addition of new technology also elevates perceived value.
Vignettes created by the CMF team for the Ford F-150 King Ranch, Limited and Platinum Edition models (right to left)
Research indicated that many users sit in their trucks to eat lunch and work, so the worktable and folding gear lever – facilitated by new shift-by-wire technology – was developed to cater to their needs. The max recline seat was also developed to make taking naps in the vehicle a more pleasant experience. There are also new, lockable and reconfigurable storage solutions under the rear seat to keep things organized and a lockable second glove box to complement the massive center storage bin.
Input from the many conversations and research sessions informed many of the decisions made by the team. This also included research into new technologies, to gauge not only what customers are using but also what is suitable to include within the vehicle. The addition of a new digital screen within the main gauge pack is a brand new offering for the 2021 model (standard models still use a traditional analog gauge pack), while a larger 12-inch landscape-format touchscreen also features large buttons at the base of the center stack for ease of use.
Overall the new 2021 Ford F-150 brings with is some new updates, new technology and a host of clever storage and usability solutions, which the customers requested. And with a proposed hybrid option for the first time, the appeal of the F-150 will undoubtedly grow as the popular vehicle continues to lead the pickup truck segment into the future.