2021 Ford F-150 Gets New Smart Hitch, Onboard Scale, and Enhanced Suspension

Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn is adding several new technologies to the 2021 Ford F-150, including a gauge that shows how much a given truck is hauling, a smart hitch to assist with pulling a trailer, and a smarter suspension package.
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2021 Ford F-150
Ford is adding new technologies to the 2021 Ford F-150 including a gauge that shows how much the truck is hauling, a smart hitch, and a smarter suspension package. // Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn is adding several new technologies to the 2021 Ford F-150, including a gauge that shows how much a given truck is hauling, a smart hitch to assist with pulling a trailer, and a smarter suspension package.

The new gauge, called Onboard Scales, measures and displays the approximate weight of the payload in the truck. Load information is displayed on dashboards via a center touch screen with a graphic representation of the truck, on a mobile phone through the FordPass app, or in graphics within the truck’s smart taillamps.

Smart taillamps operate like the battery charge indicator on a mobile phone, displaying the percentage of payload capacity by illuminating LEDs arranged in a built-in vertical bar. As the truck is loaded, all four lights illuminate, showing it’s fully loaded.

If the truck is overloaded, the top lights blink. The maximum payload based on the pickup’s configuration is programmed into the system. Additionally, the truck can be set on scale mode, which zeroes out the current load and allows for approximate weighing of additional items loaded into the bed.

In another innovation, the Smart Hitch is designed to help customers easily load trailers and better practice safe towing. Smart Hitch measures the tongue weight of a trailer being connected, to help the customer distribute trailer weight correctly.

After the trailer is set up in the center touch screen, Smart Hitch calculates its tongue weight and provides guidance on weight distribution or hitch overloading on the screen, on the FordPass app, or within the smart taillamps. The truck also will indicate if the hitch weight is too high or low and can even guide owners through properly tensioning a weight redistributing hitch.

The all-new 2021 F-150 also offers available continuously controlled damping for enhanced ride and handling characteristics, especially when towing or hauling heavy loads. A computer within the F-150 analyzes multiple signals collected from high-resolution sensors — adjusting vehicle response to each situation by controlling valves in the shocks.

Damping force is used to control unwanted motions such as bounce, pitch, and roll reducing the severity the truck — and its passengers — will feel from traveling through, for example, a pothole. When the edge of a pothole is detected, the dampers firm up, preventing the tires from dropping as deep into the hole. Tuning can be adjusted by selecting any of the available drive modes.

In Tow/Haul mode, continuously controlled damping is specifically tuned to provide a smooth driving experience, easing truck and trailer responses to road conditions while providing connected, precise, and linear steering despite a heavy trailer or load, helping reduce stress on the driver while towing.

“We’re constantly working to deliver a continuous history of capable, strong and smart trucks designed to make the F-150 customer even more productive,” says Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager. “This summer we’re delivering three new features all about enhancing the F-150 customer experience while delivering even greater confidence when towing and hauling.”

Available Onboard Scales, Smart Hitch, and Continuously Controlled Damping can be ordered in early June, with deliveries beginning in late summer. They add to the catalog of available technology for F-150 like PowerBoost full-hybrid powertrain, Pro Power Onboard, Trailer Reverse Guidance and Pro Trailer Backup Assist, Active Park Assist 2.0, and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection.

Ford employs approximately 186,000 people worldwide.

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