by Frank A. Aukofer

You could call Ford’s new 100% electric F-150 Lightning the Renaissance Man of pickup trucks. This tantalizing cookie does it all:

  • Quiet and comfortable long-distance highway cruising, hands-free if you wish, for up to five passengers.
  • A front trunk, or “frunk” of 14 cubic feet to carry their luggage and a 53 cubic feet cargo box out back with unlimited air above to carry whatever else.
  • Rapid acceleration. How’s zero to 60 miles an hour in 4.5 seconds?
  • Confident handling on twisting mountain curves.
  • Outstanding towing and load carrying capabilities.
  • Off-road competence that rivals a Jeep or Land Rover.
  • Fully charged, a range of up to 320 miles.

Oh, and should you have a power failure at home, it can supply electricity to your house for three to ten days, depending on how judiciously you use it.

The F-150 Lightning is Ford’s tour de force for the upcoming electric age of motor vehicles. With gasoline prices and consumer interest soaring, electrics are poised to steadily increase in sales. It won’t happen overnight but one analysis estimates that half of the new vehicles sold in 2050 will be electric.

It’s almost certain that the Lightning will be prominent among them. For more than 45 years, the Ford F-Series gasoline and diesel fueled trucks have been the best-selling vehicle brand in the United States. Of course, that includes heavier duty versions. But the F-150 has the distinction of being the most popular motor vehicle of all time. 

Always consult the Owner’s Manual before off-road driving, know your terrain and trail difficulty, and use appropriate safety gear.

Despite its more muscular gasoline brethren, the F-150 Lightning is no lightweight. Standing empty, it weighs 6,171 pounds and, depending on equipment and battery size, can carry loads of 1,952 to 2,235 pounds. It also can tow trailers weighing 5,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds. 

Moreover, it does so with relaxed aplomb. At the recent press introduction in the Texas hill country near San Antonio, the Lightning XLT model driven for this review hauled a 5,000-pound trailer carrying a tractor. It was effortless. From behind the wheel, it did not feel much different from driving empty and without a trailer. The surprise was to look in the rear-view mirror and see a driverless tractor bearing down on the rear bumper.

On the curving hill country roads, the Lightning calmly responded accurately to steering inputs. The handling was enhanced by a new coil spring independent rear suspension system and a superb chassis design that delivered a low center of gravity. The electric motors are installed low down, level with the encased lithium-ion battery pack beneath the passenger cabin.

All-wheel drive is standard, with one surprisingly small electric motor driving the front wheels and the other between the rear wheels. Together they punch out 580 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force. 

Because electric motors deliver instant torque as soon as they are switched on, off-roading with the tested XLT was almost like a ride in the park. There was no need for a low-range transfer case, and a locking differential helped power through tougher stages.

The super cool benefit of the Lightning comes with the Ford Charge Station Pro, included on some higher trim levels and an option on less expensive versions. The home-installed system can swap power, functioning as a charger for the truck and a generator for the house during a power outage. 

With this high-tech stuff, including Ford’s hands-off driving mode with adaptive cruise control, the Lightning doesn’t come cheap. The tested XLT had a base price of $54,669, including the destination charge, and a tested price of $75,814. Other trim levels are the base Pro, at $41,669; Lariat at $60,169, and the luxurious Platinum model at $92,569. 

Anticipation for this exciting new truck has been widespread, with reports that more than 200,000 potential buyers have ordered the Lightning even without knowing much about it. Unfortunately, there have been reports of dealers jacking up the prices to customers before deliveries started. Ford is working to squelch that.

Once the word gets out, it would be no surprise to witness a classic stampede of buyers for their new rides. 

Lightning strikes.

Specifications

  • Model: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT four-door pickup truck.
  • Motors: Dual, front and rear electrics with extended-range battery; 580 hp, 775 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Single speed direct-drive automatic.
  • Overall length: 19 feet 5 inches.
  • Cab height: 6 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/front trunk volume: 136/14 cubic feet.
  • Cargo box volume: 53 cubic feet.
  • Empty weight: 6,171 pounds.
  • Payload: 2,235 pounds with standard battery; 1,952 pounds with extended range battery.
  • Towing capability: 5,000 pounds standard battery, 7,000 pounds extended range battery; 7,700 to 10,000 pounds with max trailer towing package.
  • Ground clearance: 8.4 inches.
  • EPA combined/city/highway equivalent fuel consumption: 70/78/63 MPGe.
  • Range: 230 miles standard battery; 320 miles extended-range. 
  • Base price, including destination charge: $54,669.
  • Price as tested: $75,814.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) Ford