The 2021 Ford F-150 stands as Exhibit A in the case explaining why pickup truck prices are climbing faster than kudzu, using evidence provided by early dealer order guides seen by CarsDirect (here is an order guide without prices). When the automaker launched the top Limited trim in 2016, an F-150 Limited SuperCrew 4x2 started at $60,080 after a $1,195 destination charge. In 2021, the same truck in the same trim starts at $72,520 after paying $1,695 for destination. Minus the shipping fee, that's a difference of $11,940 in five years, as well as being at least $12,000 more than the base MSRPs of the top-trim 1500-series pickups sold by Chevrolet, GMC, and Ram. Compared to the 2020 model, next year's F-150 Limited is $3,090 more expensive. Sending power to the front axle adds $3,425, taking the price up to $75,945. The $2,500 upcharge for the optional PowerBoost Hybrid 3.5-liter V6 and its included onboard generator gets the bottom line to $78,445.
The new version of America's favorite pickup can be had for $30,635, but the kingpin class will have no problem pushing their trucks well into five-figure numbers that start with an 8. As hinted at when CarsDirect came across entry-level pricing, gaps elsewhere at the upper end of the range are similarly high. Starting price for the 2021 F-150 Lariat SuperCab increases $1,945 to $46,890, the King Ranch SuperCrew goes up $3,340 to $58,025, and the Platinum trim makes the biggest jump, rising $3,590 to $60,805.
You won't need to spend that much to get access to marquee new features like the 2-kW Pro Power Onboard generator, a $995 option on any non-hybrid trim with a gas engine. Paying extra for the PowerBoost Hybrid drivetrain gets a 2.4-kW onboard generator said to be good for 85 hours of run-time on a full tank of gas. The electrified drivetrain opens the door to the 7.2-kW generator that can run tools plugged into four 120-volt outlets and one 240-volt outlet in the bed, and can go for 32 hours on a full tank.
However, you will need to spend luxury money to get the Active Drive Assist technology that rolls out as part of an over-the-air update late next year. Active Drive Assist is promised to deliver hands-free driving "on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada." The standalone option costs $995; however, Active Drive Assist takes a page out of the Cadillac book, in that it can't be had before spending thousands on bundled packages. Ford starts offering the option on the Lariat trim, that Lariat buyer needing a separate package costing $6,920 to acquire the Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package, then needing to buy either the 360-degree camera for $765 or the Tow Technology Package for $880. At minimum, then, it costs $55,570 to get the chance to buy Active Drive Assist. We write "get the chance to buy" because actually downloading Active Drive Assist in the third quarter of 2021 will incur another cost, though Ford hasn't revealed how much. For a $17,000 premium over the aforementioned Lariat, the 2021 F-150 Limited comes with all the features necessary to activate Active Drive Assist.