Wards’ top 10 UX winners in 2021 will be announced once a day in random, non-alphabetical order until November 3rd. This is the ninth winning profile. The winning teams will receive their trophies on November 17th during Automotive TechWeek in Novi, Michigan, where winning vehicles are exhibited.
The words “Pickup Truck” and “Great UX” were seldom spoken in the same sentence.
Until recently, pickups were more functional than high-tech luxury vehicles with blinding ambient lighting and flashy screens.
While other expensive vehicles have switched to touchscreens and haptic switchgear, until recently even high-quality pickups were equipped with tiny, old-fashioned digital alarm clock displays.
This is no longer the case, as demonstrated by the new Ford F-150, which won the Wards 10 Best User Experiences Award in 2021.
The $ 74,000 F-150 Limited class we tested gives you a great welcome as you approach the vehicle. Press the trailer’s unlock button and headlights and taillights will illuminate, electric running boards extend and mirrors unfold, while a puddle lamp illuminates the floor.
Getting into the driver’s seat of the F-150 feels like getting behind the wheel of an airplane or settling down for a great home theater experience.
The start-up and shutdown graphics are stunning, as are active adaptive cruise control and lane keeping – with vibrant and vibrant greens and blues.
An animation on the instrument cluster screen shows an F-150 from different angles during start-up and shutdown. In the latter sequence, the headlights are turned off and the screen goes black to dramatically say goodbye.
The generous 12-in. (30 cm) digital cluster (pictured above) is one of the brightest and clearest we have met.
Also surprising and appealing: a foldable switch lever that makes space for the fold-out work table (Picture below) in the center console – ideal for a laptop, spreading bread or signing documents. When the tailgate is closed, a built-in pen holder and a yardstick come in handy on the construction site.
There are still plenty of physical switching devices in the F-150, all of which are backlit in a calm turquoise blue. The same shade of blue is used for the ambient lighting, illuminating the footwell and door pockets on the front and rear seats, as well as for the cup holder rings, the lower rear center console and an open container at the lower end of the center console.
The infotainment experience is excellent. Ford says the new SYNC 4 platform has twice the processing power of the previous generation system.
This enables a wireless smartphone connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as apps such as Waze and Ford + Alexa. It also helps provide quick responses to voice commands and touchscreen input.
On the voice recognition front, we find it steadfast with audio commands. We go from the script with a complex assignment – ask the on-board assistant to “tune in FM 104.3 HD Radio 2” – and our request is fulfilled immediately.
The touchscreen and combo on-screen menus are well organized and easy to access, while the volume, melody, and HVAC buttons are nice and large – accessible even with gloves on.
Like many of our 10 best UX winners in 2021, you are never far from a USB port or socket in this vehicle. There are four USB ports and two 120 V sockets on the front; Second row passengers get two USB ports as well as a 12 V and 120 V socket.
The F-150 Limited checks all the boxes with advanced driver assistance systems. Virtually all help is on this truck, including a prep kit with a front-facing camera and radar that prepares it for an over-the-air update of the new Blue Cruise hands-free system.
With adaptive cruise control and activated lane keeping, we are impressed by how precisely the combination display shows the exact position of our truck in a lane. Move a little to the left and the vehicle icon will do the same – helpful feedback while driving.
Animations and blurbs in the settings menu, which inform owners about ADAS functions, are also helpful.
Judge Tom Murphy says, “The all-new Ford F-150 is sensational for many reasons. With three available onboard generators, the latest infotainment platform from Ford, the smoothly folding gear lever and a 12-inch. The fully digital instrument cluster and tailgate functions offer an excellent user experience that can be tailored to the construction site or a night on the town. “