2021 Ford F-150 introduces Onboard Scales, Smart Hitch and adaptive damper tech to lineup

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The 2021 Ford F-150 gets a new trick with new trailer / transport technology, plus adding Ford’s continuously controlled damping suspension as an option.

We start with the lingering news. The first part of the equation is something Ford calls ‘Onboard Scales’. When you load items into the back of the truck, your F-150 will now display the estimated weight of those items on the central touchscreen and your FordPass app. If you already have items in bed and you want to weigh new items individually, you can do that too by setting the weight to zero and then adding your new items. Ford calls it “scale mode”.

In addition to checking the weight on one of your screens, Ford has also implemented a system called ‘smart tail lights’ to measure how much weight is in the bed. There are four individual LED bars in the rear lights that light up vertically as you add more weight. They work like the battery percentage bar in your phone or laptop. The more LEDs you light up, the closer your bed is. When all four lights are on, your bed is fully loaded. As you keep adding more, the lights will blink if you overload the device. Each F-150 has its specific payload, so you don’t have to think for yourself.

The next is something called Smart Hitch. This new system measures the tongue weight of a trailer being hitched, then provides guidance for hitch overload and weight distribution using the same three methods as the built-in scales. This means that you can see the weight in the central infotainment screen, your smartphone app and in the Smart Taillamps. If the weight is too high, the truck provides on-screen advice and guides you through the correct tensioning of a weight-redistributing towbar.

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The latest from F-150 today is the introduction of Ford’s continuously controlled damping technology to the line-up. The Expedition and Navigator currently feature this driving and handling-enhancing technology, and we’re excited to have it coming to Ford’s pickup. The dampers work the same here as elsewhere. A computer in the F-150 analyzes signals from high-resolution sensors and then continuously adjusts the vehicle’s response by changing the valve in the dampers. For example, when the edge of a pothole is detected, the shock absorbers become harder to prevent the tires from falling as deep into the hole as they would otherwise. We expect improvements to the F-150’s bounce, pitch and roll performance when fitted.

To keep the drag / drag theme going, these dampers have a special mode they go into when the drag / pull mode is selected. Ford says it has designed a program that helps make trailer towing and towing run smoother than before by facilitating truck and trailer response to poor road conditions. Other riding modes also have their own preset damper settings.

Ford says all three new technologies debuting today (Onboard Scales, Smart Hitch and the adaptive dampers) will be available to order on the F-150 in early June, with deliveries starting in late summer. Prices were not detailed in Ford’s initial announcement.

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