2021 Ford F150 Drive Modes Explained

The 2021 Ford F150 comes with eight drive modes, ranging from normal or eco mode to mud, dirt, sand, and rock crawling modes.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Whether you’re driving in mud, sand, rain, or paved roads, having the option for different drive modes is helpful—and the
2021 Ford F150
comes with eight to choose from, including eco mode, snow and sand mode, rock crawl mode, and more.
Drive modes are designed to enhance vehicle handling and allow the driver to switch between settings depending on driving conditions. Millions of accidents happen each year due to poor driving conditions—but switching drive modes can prevent you from being involved in one of them. Luckily, the 2021 Ford F-150 comes standard with various drive modes that adjust vehicle settings to improve driving. 
Here, the
car insurance
super app
has compiled a list of all the F150 drive modes and the best time to engage them.

What are drive modes?

If you’ve noticed several small symbols on the dash screen—or sometimes a small knob to the left of the steering wheel in older F150s—you’ve probably asked yourself what they are. These tiny symbols are your vehicle's drive modes—selectable settings on your F150 designed to improve the driving experience and handling in certain road conditions.
Once you choose the drive mode that’s appropriate for your road or weather conditions, your F150 will adjust settings like traction control, steering, pedal response, and all-wheel drive (AWD) to optimize driving and performance. Essentially, drive modes adjust the steering system and traction control to help your vehicle perform in less-than-ideal conditions or during high-performance driving.
When these modes are enabled, several changes happen:
  • Powertrain response is enhanced
  • Transmission controls are optimized with shift schedules
  • Four-wheel drive settings engage or disengage to maximize traction
  • Electronic locking differentials are engaged or disengaged
On the Ford F150, there are driving modes catered to all types of terrain. These engage various features to allow you to plow through just about anything with ease and grace. 
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What drive modes does the 2021 Ford F150 have?

Normal Mode

  • What is it: The default mode for your F150 that offers regular, everyday driving performance. Normal mode doesn’t alter driving dynamics but allows all four-wheel drive modes to be selected.
  • When to use it: Perfect for everyday driving on paved roads with ideal driving conditions. 

Eco Mode

  • What is it: Switching on Eco mode helps to maximize fuel efficiency. In this mode, the vehicle monitors changes in shifting and speed, then adjusts the engine and transmission performance to extend the range on your F150. In Eco mode, four-wheel drive is unavailable, and the car will remain in two-wheel drive high. 
  • When to use it: When gas prices are climbing through the roof, switching on Eco mode is a great way to reduce fuel costs. But since Eco mode affects your F150’s performance, don’t use it when you need your vehicle to perform, like on highways or busy roads.

Tow/Haul Mode

  • What is it: Tow or haul mode improves transmission performance when towing heavy loads. When tow/haul mode is activated, your F150 upshifts to higher engine speeds to reduce the frequency of transmission shifting. It also provides engine braking to assist vehicle control on a descending grade. In this mode, you can engage all four-wheel-drive modes.
  • When to use it: Whenever you’re towing or hauling a load (regardless of the size), tow/haul mode helps to improve driving dynamics to help you control your vehicle.

Sport Mode

  • What is it: Sport mode increases accelerator response and makes the throttle more sensitive to offer a more thrilling and sportier steering feel. You will increase your vehicle’s acceleration rate by maintaining lower gears longer. Four-wheel-drive auto is the default four-wheel-drive mode when sport mode is activated.
  • When to use it: If you’re driving on a road where performance is key, engage sport mode. It tightens up steering, enhances driver feedback, and increases responsiveness to steering wheel inputs to give you a feistier and more fiery drive. 

Slippery Mode

  • What is it: Slippery mode is the best drive mode for unideal road conditions like snow, ice, or even rain. This mode reduces the throttle response, adjusts transmission shift points, and optimizes the vehicle’s stability controls to prevent wheel spin and maintain optimal control in slippery road conditions.
  • When to use it: When the roads are wet from rain, snow, or ice, engage slippery mode. Or, if you’re crossing uneven terrain where the surface is littered with loose, wet, or slick material, slippery mode helps maintain traction.

Deep Snow/Sand Mode

  • What is it: This mode is ideal for off-road driving in deep snow or soft dry sand. If you get stuck in deep snow or sand, this mode can improve traction to get you out of your rut. Engaging deep snow/sand mode optimizes accelerator response, traction control, and stability to maintain forward momentum.
  • When to use it: This mode is perfect if you’re venturing off-road in the winter or are planning to slide down dunes in the Arizona desert. But remember that this mode should not be used when driving on paved roads or packed snow. If activated in these conditions, it can cause the driveline to bind and may damage the system relying on four-wheel-drive mode selection. It also may cause excessive tire wear. 

Mud & Ruts Mode

  • What is it: Another off-road driving mode designed to enhance your F150’s performance when trekking through muddy, rutted, or uneven ground. This mode holds lower gears longer to maintain momentum in soft terrain and engages the four-wheel-drive lock. Mud/Ruts mode also adjusts braking to optimize it for off-road conditions, allowing faster path corrections and reduced stopping distance. You’ll notice a louder engine sound when this mode is engaged.
  • When to use it: If you’re heading into the bush and expect to hit some muddy areas, engage in this mode to optimize driving and pull you through soft ground easily.

Rock Crawl Mode

  • What is it: New for the 2021 lineup, rock crawl mode is designed to optimize your vehicle’s performance for crawling over rocks. It engages the electronic locking differential on your F150 and optimizes the throttle and transmission response to maximize vehicle control. It provides maximum traction and slow-speed performance by holding lower gears for longer to minimize shifting when traversing large obstacles. This mode dampens the accelerator pedal to enhance throttle control and minimize speed change when driving through rough terrains. Steering enhances for less kickback, and braking optimizes to allow for quick path corrections and reduced stopping distance.
  • When to use it: Whether bouldering or scouting rocky beaches, engage rock crawl mode to enhance traction and performance when driving on rocky surfaces.

How to select drive modes on the 2021 Ford F150

Navigating your vehicle’s dash can be confusing, but enabling drive modes on your F150 is simple—press or shift your column or console shifter. The Drive Mode Selection menu will appear on the instrument cluster. Then, navigate through the modes and select the one you’d like.
Once you activate the appropriate drive mode, your F150 will adjust for optimal driving performance under any conditions. Remember that to change drive modes, your vehicle must be on—drive modes are unavailable when the ignition is off.

How to find cheap insurance for your Ford F150 

Engaging drive modes on your Ford F150 is a great way to maximize driving performance in less-than-ideal conditions. But on the off chance that something happens when you are on the road, having a solid insurance policy to protect your vehicle means you’re covered—regardless of the road conditions. 
Using a comparison app like
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All you have to do is download the Jerry app, enter your driving details, and scroll the quotes until you find the right one. But the best part isn’t how easy it is—you could save over $800 a year on car insurance by shopping with Jerry! 
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The type of insurance you have will dictate if you’re covered in the case of a weather-related accident. If you have
liability insurance
and are involved in an accident with another vehicle, your policy will cover damages to the other party, not you. But if you invest in
collision coverage
, you’ll be protected against damage from colliding with another vehicle or stationary object—and Jerry can help find you the best rate!
The Drive Mode Selection feature was added to the Ford F150 for the 2020 models. Trucks before this do not come with the drive mode option.
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