Ford’s F-150 PowerBoost
A Different Kind of Power Wagon
Ford’s big truck talk last year was the Maverick 37-mpg hybrid pickup, all-electric Lightning and F-150 updates, with less emphasis on the diesel F-150’s demise, the theory being buyers towing would prefer the F-150 PowerBoost’s respectable fuel economy with greater power than the diesel.
And this PowerBoost has plenty of power; the 3.5 twin-turbo gas engine is paired with a 47-hp electric motor to deliver 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque, up considerably from the diesel (250/440) and 3.5 EcoBoost (400/500). There’s an additional 7.2 kilowatts in AC power, but we’ll get to that later.
So yes, it has grunt to tow up to 12,400 pounds (the diesel was 12,100), and even nudging 6000 pounds is one of the quickest pickups around—in a drag race it’d send that diesel a postcard and run into its tire-saving top speed limiter a second or two past the quarter-mile. It stops too, though given Ford’s hybrid experience I expected better brake feel among regen and friction retarding, and you can’t blame me with the “brake coach” routinely showing 90-100% efficiency.
You’ll find nary a hybrid badge on this truck, but POWERBOOST emblazoned on the doors, suggesting this is about power more than mileage. The EPA ratings dropped one for 2022, now 23/23/23 (city/hwy/combined) against the non-hybrid 3.5’s 18/23/20; I managed a best of 24 on a 55-70 mph highway route and about 19 in town, two-to-three better than my non-hybrid 3.5 experiences. However, no “boost”—or electricity–can avoid physics where work requires energy, so towing even half the max rating could double fuel consumption.
The departed diesel rated 20/27 and Ram’s diesel is 21/29, which I routinely beat, and a PowerBoost’s highway range of 700 miles won’t compete with a Ram diesel’s 950, but here’s the key thing: Agreeing fuel price variables, inflation and your habits complicate calculations, buying a PowerBoost or diesel for fuel economy will require many miles to pay off, and once the market bottoms you may be money ahead investing the purchase price difference.
Perhaps more beneficial to those on Texas’ power grid, the PowerBoost offers 2.4-kW of 120-volt electric power, optional (at $750, you won’t find a “portable” generator near this price or convenience) to 7.2-kW that includes a 30A 240V outlet. With the correct cables you could “jump charge” your pal’s dead EV, adding about 20 miles’ range in an hour, and ProPower is a no-brainer for remote residents, RV’ers, off-grid contractors and those who demand camping involve a blender, espresso machine and panini grill. If you camp like I do, there’s room for 1350 pounds of people, coolers, firewood and tents.
This truck came with the max tow package, but I’d not bother: The standard rating is 11,000 pounds, tongue weight becomes an issue with high-level trims, it doesn’t include the available towing mirrors and it doesn’t help the ride. The latter isn’t stiff, and you can vary damping firmness with the drive mode adjuster, yet this remains a truck, and I’d rank ride quality behind a Ram 5.7 eTorque and ahead of a Silverado 6.2. The new steering arrangement feels entirely natural and can mind its lane, but if my hands are required on the wheel I still feel the urge to steer; I do appreciate driver-assist on/off switches handy on the wheel rather than buried behind it or in touchscreen sub-menus.
Ford upped the interiors for 2021 and a penultimate-trim Platinum is a very comfortable place – nicely finished, if not to an $80,000 car or Lincoln SUV standard, and some will argue closer but not yet on par with a plush Ram. There’s plenty of mechanical and electronic reconfigurability, excellent sound, abundant room and storage, and a flat floor in back. The wireless connectivity was flawless, and antennae exhibited less arboreal interference than many, while the big-screen infotainment system responded well but may have wanted an over-the-air update—it did not show traffic as requested even while I was stuck in it, and twice decided the 2D view chosen should be 3D. There is a lot of blue on this display and instrumentation, reminding me that green illumination is easiest on the eyes in the long run and deep amber offers the fastest night vision recovery. The work-table center console flip lid was a handy laptop desk sitting in back (my elbows had nowhere to go sitting in front), yet the lid wouldn’t stay open on its own for console access, and a vent position that opened the sunshade just a few inches would be far more useful on sunny days.
Per Ford’s 2022 build-and-price page the PowerBoost is available only on King Ranch or fancier, $1760 above the 3.5 EcoBoost, so minimum hybrid spend is about $64,500. A tarted-up Platinum such as this rings in at $80,000. Five-seat sedans were banished at Ford/Lincoln and a luxury Edge ($50,000) and hybrid Explorer ($60,000) have the same EPA combined rating as this truck, with no cargo bed and less than half the towing capacity. Like most new trucks and crossovers—this isn’t unique to Ford—I find them all overpriced, yet the PowerBoost does more things than most single vehicles, and it does all of them reasonably well.