The Ford F-150 Powerboost is the first true hybrid pickup truck on the market. A long time ago, there was the GMC Sierra Hybrid but it basically had a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. This F-150 Powerboost is the real deal. But it no longer has the market to itself with Toyota introducing their first hybrid pickup truck last year.
Engine – The hybrid powertrain in this Ford F-150 is only available with one engine; a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6. However, while it may not be a V8, the total system output is quite a bit at 430 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque (320 kW / 773 Nm). The next most powerful engine in the lineup is the V6 that you’d find in the F150 Raptor. Thanks to the instant response of the 35 kW (47 hp) electric motor, engine response is immediate. The motor gets the truck moving until a few seconds later the turbochargers and engine get up to their optimal speeds and provide the bulk of the power.
When you don’t need the power, the F-150 Powerboost behaves like a normal hybrid vehicle. It will primarily use the engine to get the 2,502 kg (5,517 lbs), as equipped, weight of the truck moving from a stop. Once it’s up to speed, the electric motor takes over to maintain that speed or to slightly increase it. If you need to accelerate a bit more quickly, the engine fires up right away to provide more power. With a nearly fully charged battery, the motor even has enough grunt to get the truck going on its own. Yes, the truck will need to be unladen & the acceleration will be slow but it is possible.
Fuel Economy – With this hybrid powertrain, the F-150 is an extremely fuel efficient truck. It’s no Corolla hybrid but among other trucks, it is mighty impressive. This 4×4 Powerboost is rated for 10.5 L/100km (22.4 MPG) in a city and 10.4 L/100km (22.6 MPG) on a highway. Best of all, if you’re gentle on the throttle, stick to the speed limits, and don’t carry any cargo, this 2023 F-150 Powerboost can return better than advertised fuel economy numbers. On some trips, I averaged as little as 9.5 L/100km (24.7 MPG). But overall during my week with the truck, I averaged a very impressive 10.1 L/100km (23.3 MPG).
Transmission – Like many other F-150 trucks, this Powerboost utilizes a 10-speed automatic. Generally, this is a smooth and decently responsive transmission. However, it has one odd characteristic.Under normal driving conditions, this transmission likes to skip 2nd gear. Whether it’s during acceleration or slowing down, it will go from 1st to 3rd and then onwards or vice versa. I don’t know why it was programmed this way because the skip from 1st to 3rd is noticeable but the gear changes afterwards are seamless. But if you’re more aggressive with your right foot or if the truck is in Sport mode or Tow/haul mode, it will use 2nd gear.
Braking – Some of the battery’s energy comes from braking. The brake pedal has quite a bit of travel which makes it very easy to modulate for smooth stops. It also doesn’t have any discernible characteristic changes between regen braking and normal, friction braking with the brake discs. But the soft suspension allows for quite a lot of nose dive under emergency situations.
Handling – Dynamics wise, the 2023 Ford F-150 Powerboost Hybrid is just like any other truck. The steering is light for easy maneuverability, the suspension walks a fine line between comfort & payload resistance, and overall it’s an easy truck to drive. The turning circle is a bit wide but that depends on how long the bed & wheelbase is. Like other trim levels, there are different drive modes to choose from including Eco, Tow/Haul, Sport, Slippery among many others and the F-150 Hybrid is equipped with a locking rear differential. The hybrid powertrain can also be equipped with just 4×2 instead of 4×4 like this demo vehicle.
Capability – The Hybrid engine is available with both 5.5’ & 6.5’ bed configurations. This demo vehicle is the former with the rated payload rating being 830 kg (1,830 lbs). The tow rating of this specific truck is 5,625 kg (12,400 lbs) with the 3.73 rear differential & max tow trailer package. The bed can be equipped with a spray-on bedliner, a drop-in bedliner, or no bedliner at all. There are tie down points in each corner with more being made available through the accessories catalog. There are bed lights on either side and on the left side of the bed, you’ll find the ProPower on board. This provides you with up to 7.2 kW of power and multiple power outlets including a 240-Volt outlet. The tailgate can be power operated, for both up & down functionality, and can be equipped with the tailgate step. There are also ruler marks in the tailgate, cup holder indentations, and even bottle openers. But don’t drink and drive.
Ride Comfort – This 2023 Ford F-150 Powerboost hybrid does not use any electronically adjustable suspension but it strikes a good balance between payload resistance & ride comfort when unloaded. Adaptive suspension is available at an extra cost. The seats further aid in providing a comfortable ride with plenty of cushioning but not too much support when tossing the truck through corners.
Interior Space – This being the biggest type of cab you can get with the Ford F-150, interior space is plentiful. Front and rear occupants have loads of space even if they are as tall as Shaquille O’Neal.
There’s also plenty of small item storage spaces throughout the cabin. The biggest of which being underneath the rear seats. The clever design allows for either a flat floor or a box that can be locked with a key. Another common storage spot is in the center console. Just like most other trucks, it’s quite cavernous. But this one has a trick up its sleeve.
When in Park, you can push a button next to the gear selector that will fold it down and allow you to flip over the lid of the center console, turning it into a flat table. Great idea but why go through all the trouble of making the folding gear selector. I can’t help thinking that over a few years, that mechanism could break. They could have incorporated a rotary dial or a column shifter and left that area flat for the table.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – When the 2023 Ford F-150 PowerBoost is driving on electricity in a city setting, it’s as quiet as a luxury sedan on the inside. Very little outside noises intrude. On highways, you do notice more wind noise and a bit of tire noise but it’s not overly intrusive. When the engine kicks in, the transition is very smooth. It’s also a quiet engine under normal operation. Only when you put your foot down does it sound loud and unfortunately it doesn’t have the great rumble of a V8.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – Unlike in the past, the Powerboost hybrid engine option is no longer available in the base XL trim of the 2023 F-150, at least for the Canadian market. In the United States it still is. Back here in Canada, you have to move up to the Supercrew XLT trim in order to get it. This trim in 4×2 configuration starts at $63,270 CAD. In the United States, the XL 4×2 hybrid starts at $45,135 USD. However, with packages and options, the F-150 Powerboost can become a very expensive pickup truck. For example, this Lariat Supercrew with the shorter bed is priced at $94,730 CAD ($78,985 USD). Additionally, the hybrid engine is not available on the off-road trims of the F-150 like the Tremor & Raptor.
Gadgets – For the base price of almost $65,000 CAD, the F-150 hybrid is just that. A truck with a hybrid engine. It doesn’t really have that many features on it. But at the other end of the spectrum, the Ford F-150 can be equipped with everything one could ever want in a pickup truck. Surround view cameras, large panoramic sunroof, built-in navigation system with wireless Android Auto or Apple carPlay connectivity, digital driver display, and even Blue Cruise which allows for hands-free driving on certain highways throughout Canada & the United States. The only thing that it is missing is a head-up display.
This truck also has a few unique gadgets to help the driver while towing or loading. Firstly, there’s zone lighting which can turn on lights in certain sections of the truck for better visibility at night. To know how much load there is in the bed, the car uses on-board scales to provide a general weight to the load in the bed or the trailer hitch. And finally there’s built-in pages in the infotainment system that can help you run through a checklist of attaching a trailer.
Interior Design – The Ford F-150’s interior has a perfect blend of physical controls & touchscreen real estate. It’s not like the F-150 Lightning where commonly used functions require you to use the touchscreen which can be distracting. Climate temperature, fan speed, heated or ventilated seats controls, and so on all have their own dedicated buttons. The rest of the interior is a blend of different plastics and some leather pieces. This truck is a mid-range trim so if you want more luxury, you can move up to the Limited & Platinum trim levels. Those have a lot more leather and soft touch materials.
Exterior Design – Apart from the Powerboost badge on both front doors, it’s hard to tell that this F-150 has a hybrid engine because it looks just like any other non-hybrid variant. Overall, it still looks like an F-150 and it’ll be instantly recognizable as one from a distance.
Safety – As standard, the 2023 Ford F-150 is equipped with Ford Co-Pilot 360 which includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic forward emergency braking, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high-beam headlights, and a reversing camera. For more features such as blind spot assist, Blue Cruise, intelligent adaptive cruise control and so on, you have to option them when building or choosing your truck. On the bright note, the IIHS gave the 2023 Ford F-150 a Top Safety Pick award.
Warranty – The new vehicle basic warranty for the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost is 3 years / 60,000 km, whichever comes first. For powertrain components, the warranty is 5 years / 100,000 km. For the hybrid and associated electrical components, the warranty is 8 years / 160,000 km. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – All in all, the 2023 Ford F-150 Powerboost Hybrid is a fabulous pickup truck. Not only does it retain the qualities that makes for a great pickup truck (towing, payload, spaciousness, options) but it is now one of the most powerful & fuel efficient trucks on the market. That’s something that no other pickup truck can say at the moment.
Thank you to Ford Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Ford.ca