The takeaway: Ford’s F-150 Lightning is one of the most significant vehicles to date since the F-series pickup. Compared to the other electric trucks on sale now — GMC’s Hummer EV and the Rivian R1T — the Blue Oval’s offering is much more affordable and about as capable.
- With 775 pound-feet of torque on tap, the truck is: shocking fast, with an impressive payload of up to 2,000 pounds and a towing capacity of up to 10,000.
- Ford’s Blue Cruise system provides convenient hands-free driving on select sections of the highway.
- Four-wheel drive is standard on all trim levels of the F-150 Lightning.
- Base Price: $41,769 ($69,296 as tested)
- Drivetrain: Dual fixed magnet AC motors (one on each shaft)
- HP: 426 (standard battery), 563 (extended battery)
- Torque: 775 lb-ft (same for both battery configurations)
- Range: 230 miles (standard battery), 300 miles (extended battery)
- max. payload: 2,000 lb (standard battery), 1,800 lb (extended battery)
- Max towing capacity: 7,700 lb (standard battery), 10,000 lb (extended battery)
Lightning: how it started vs how it goes
If you were a Ford enthusiast who had just woken up from a prolonged coma, you’d probably be pretty confused with the company’s current lineup. There’s now an all-electric Mustang (the Mach-E) and the battery-powered F-150 Lightning; the original of which was quite a skunkworks project launched by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) in 1991. It rolled out of the factory and picked up a 351 cubic inch Windsor V8 engine with new headers and pistons.
Enter 2022 and the F-150 Lightning is one of the first all-electric trucks built by a renowned automaker. Of course, Rivian was the first to hit with his R1T pickup, and GMC followed. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Ford simply electrified the already great F-150.
Unlike the Hummer EV of the R1T and GMC, the F-150 is not based on a completely new and unproven architecture. Rather, it’s based on much the same underpinnings as America’s favorite (and best-selling) pickup truck: the F-150. It’s not much of a surprise that Ford wouldn’t stray too far from the internal combustion version, given that it has over 100 years of experience building damn good trucks. The brand’s first attempt (the Model TT) was built in 1917, with the first F-series shortly after in 1948.
See below for a quick breakdown of the price. Repeat F-150 customers will find that the pricing structure looks quite familiar; the Lightning brings a longer-range battery option for XLT and Lariat finishes, adding an extra 70 miles of range on top of the standard 230.
- Pro: $39,974
- XLT: $52.974
- XLT (long range battery): $72,474
- Lariat: $67,474
- Lariat (long range battery): $77,474
- Platinum: $90,874
Impressions: refined but lightning fast
Is the F-150 lightning fast? Of course it is. Ford gave it all the ingredients to blow your mind when you put your foot down: four-wheel drive, 426 or 563 horsepower (you get more with the longer-range battery), and 775 lb-ft of torque. This powerful collection of numbers can catapult the F-150 to 60 mph in just 4 seconds, meaning it is indeed faster than the 6-second F-150 Raptor. Even with such neck-breaking acceleration, the go pedal feels very linear, meaning it gets more and more responsive the further you put your foot down.
This leads to a drive that doesn’t always feel like riding a bull at the rodeo. In the city, the electric F-150 looks a lot more like a Clydesdale—with tons of low-down grunt—but it can still gallop like a Mustang when you need to blast holes in town or insert on the highway. Based on much the same architecture as a standard F-150, the all-electric variant is equally well-mannered and composed. This is because the battery pack is mounted low in the chassis, which lowers the center of gravity.
After taking the quiet but deadly machine for a 200-mile highway ride to Mahwah, New Jersey, I was deeply impressed with Ford’s Blue Cruise semi-autonomous driving system. Unlike other vehicles that yell at you when you take your hands off the wheel for a split second, Blue Cruise keeps a close eye on your eyes and is more relaxed as a result; when activated, you can take your hands off the steering wheel – only if it deems it safe to do so.
The real party piece of the system is that it doesn’t fail when you come to a complete stop – something that not all automakers have yet mastered. The 100 miles back to our Easton, Pennsylvania office involved some stop-and-go traffic, where Blue Cruise stayed active for just over an hour. This made the return journey much less taxing and more enjoyable mentally, with only having to cover the brake a few times.
An intuitive, versatile interior
The cockpit of the F-150 Lightning is a fantastic mix of Mustang Mach-E and F-150. The 15.5-inch infotainment screen – which looks like a direct transfer from Mach-E – was very easy to master. Ford’s Sync 4 operating system is as good as I remembered, with a place for everything and everything in its place. The touchscreen itself is easy to read and super responsive; the physical volume rocker on the bottom that transitions almost seamlessly into the display is a boon. The catch between each click was satisfying to feel and hear as I turned on my favorite tunes on the optional Bang and Olufsen stereo.
Just below the screen, Ford incorporated the same folding shift knob as the existing F-series. Once the vehicle is in park, the selector lever can be folded in parallel with the transmission tunnel at the push of a button. Once flat, there’s also a plastic work surface that you can use to plop down a laptop or even eat a meal — if you’re so inclined to eat in your car. If you’re more of a laptop type, I’m happy to report that there are plenty of power outlets on board to power your device(s) for extended work sessions.
The second row shares the same 60-40 folding seats as the gas-powered F-150; in their upright position, there is plenty of room in the cabin for larger items that you may not want to throw in the bed. You’ll also notice a foldable storage box under the rear seat for things you may want to keep out of sight.
It is a mobile generator. Yes, serious.
Whether you’re working from your truck, on a job site or just going camping with the family, electricity is always nice to have. When the F-150 Lightning’s battery pack is not spinning, it can be used as a massive power bank. In both the standard range (96 kWh battery) and the extended range (131 kWh battery), there are tons of three-prong outlets in the frunk, cab and bed to power any piece of equipment, tool or appliance you desire. We’ve done an in-depth test to make sure the charging options aren’t all hype, and we’re happy to report that they aren’t.
I have a confession to make. I initially assumed that the F-150 Lightning would feel completely different from any F-series pickup truck I’ve driven. But for the most part, it just doesn’t. It’s an absolute joy to drive – especially hands-free on the highway with Blue Cruise engaged – and will be accessible to anyone who wants to jump on the combustion ship.
If you ever doubted that Americans would even cherish the idea of an all-electric pickup, think again. Ford has already accepted nearly 200,000 reservations and there is a three-year backlog if you want to queue. Good problem to have, if you ask me.
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