The 2021 Ford F-150 has a bunch of cool new features. While it didn’t invent most of them, it’s surely one of the most comprehensive pickup packages you’re going to find today. But maybe one of the coolest new features is the folding shifter that disappears into a desk.
Look, I’m a big desk guy. I ruined everyone’s life at Gizmodo for six months because we moved offices and they tried to put me in the corner of a hallway while everyone else got offices with doors. I eventually got a closet, before being moved again anyway. At home, I’ve had a desk in my bedroom since I was about 10 years old. Mostly for Legos.
And while I know Ford isn’t the first to do, seeing the new F-150 combine my love for James Bond-style car gadgets and customised storage with a desk that seemingly comes out of nowhere still made me feel recognised.
The desk surface itself hides in plain site, folded over into the front row’s centre armrest. If you unfold, it sits precariously on top of the gear selector and is absolutely no good as a flat working surface, so Ford had to solve that problem next. The solution is a folding gear lever that rotates forward until it’s flush with the cupholders. With that relic out of the way, the arm rest will unfold flat into a ‘desk’ when the pickup is parked:
Macbook and Macbook operator not included.
There’s a second version available for trucks with a front bench seat, where the table top spins around from the back of the middle seat when it’s folded down. Ford’s release mentions the company didn’t think they could sell a complete removal of the traditional vertical shifter to truck buyers, though a dial or buttons would have been so much easier. That’s ridiculous, but not on Ford’s part. But hey, I guess the people are paying for what they want.
Ford confirmed to Gizmodo that the selector is electronic, and not directly connected to the 10-speed transmission transmission. Moving the selector into gear tells a computer what to do with the transmission, instead. In the video, you can see what appears to be the motor for the shifter unlock with the button push, and lower itself.
But regardless, the desk is included in the optional Interior Work Surface package, which is fortunately available on every trim (I’m not sure how things become standard features if they get this close and don’t make the cut).
But none of the new package is as stylish as the late-1990s factory option Mobile Office Pack available on Australian-market Fords like the 1998 Falcon.
It was a removable attachment that slid over the automatic transmission and cupholders. It was just about the perfect size and shape of one of those desks public schools use to torture you as you balance a stack of paper on something the size of a frozen pizza roll to take the SAT.
That reminds me of the critical issue with Ford’s new desk design, though. It covers up the cupholders. I don’t know about you, but any good workspace is adequately hydrated. There are at least two beverages on my desk at all times. The old Ford Falcon desk came with a cupholder. Even aeroplanes will give you a hopeless little circular impression in your seatback table. Beverages and desks are a universally-bound pair, and the desk does impede on that — though you SHOULD NOT BE MOVING OR DRIVING while using it from the driver’s seat. That’s why the truck’s gotta be in park.
If I bought this truck, I’d open a mobile blackjack casino in my cab and pay off the loan in about a year.