When we got our first look at the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost, the truck’s all-new full hybrid powertrain, we didn’t have much information.
Ford had said it would be the most-powerful truck in the series but didn’t originally give any stats to back this up. But last week, Ford announced the PowerBoost model would deliver 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque – which is 30 more horsepower and 70 more pound-feet than the gasoline-only 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine.
However, though PowerBoost more power, it’s worth noting the hybrid doesn’t best its gasoline siblings in towing and payload, bringing in a maximum tow rating of 12,700 pounds and a maximum payload of 2,120 pounds.
But to prove capability, Ford put the F-150 PowerBoost through a “torture test” – or rather some of the most rigorous tests with extreme conditions.
So, in addition to viewing the torture test video, here are the main lessons learned:
Because adding a 1.5-kWh battery is new, Ford needed to make sure it wouldn’t get rattled – or rattle itself for that matter. So, it built a custom testing machine to shake the bejesus out of the truck, simulating harsh potholes and washboard roads.
In addition to making sure nothing shakes loose, this machine also simulates 10 years of abuse in just 82 hours.
“This thing is like a mechanical bull on steroids,” said Jack Parnoutsoukian, high-voltage application engineer.
Automakers do all kinds of extreme weather testing, and Ford is no exception, pushing the F-150 PowerBoost through deserts, frozen tundra, salt baths and high-humidity chambers – and we’re not talking about a day at the spa.
One specific test Ford used was the 11.4-mile slope at Davis Dam in the Mojave Desert. It has an average 6% grade and harsh heat, yet Ford repeatedly shoved the PowerBoost up and down the grade hauling 12,700 pounds (ICYMI earlier, that’s the max tow rating). In addition to testing the durability of the engine, this tested the hybrid transmission, cooling systems and towing tech.
This test is part of the J2807 towing standard which all automakers are now adhering to providing a consistent measurement for all customers on maximum towing.
We’ve recently seen some non-Ford trucks with bent frames — even though owners have claimed to stay at or under payload. Some of these issues were created by issues the manufacturer didn’t test, and thus weren’t covered by warranty.
But Ford appears to cover all bases, taking the trucks to its proving grounds in Michigan, pushing it through the Silver Creek course, which is too punishing for human drivers. So, with a robot at the wheel and 2,120 pounds of payload on board, Ford said the F-150 PowerBoost went through the course successfully hundreds of times.
Though many people will never take their trucks off road, Ford knows some will. So, the automaker took its PowerBoost-equipped trucks to the Anza-Borrego Desert, subjecting them to sand dunes, rocks, high-speed trails and mud walls.
The Ford F-150 PowerBoost, when it comes out, will be the only full hybrid pickup truck. So, Ford definitely doesn’t want any missteps here – especially considering the $4,495 premium over the base gasoline engine option.
While the F-150 PowerBoost won’t best its brothers in towing or payload, it will perform just as well off road, have more power and interesting electrical capabilities (Pro Power Onboard generator). Oh, and way better fuel economy.
Stay tuned for more information soon as we’ll get our first in-person look next week.