2001 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning Review

2001 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning - Fastest Pickup Truck.


America's continuing deep love affair with trucks has prompted veteran truck producer Ford to come up with the amazing SVT F-150 Lightning pickup truck. The 142-mph Lightning is simply the world's fastest pickup. Although quicker than many sports cars, it's derived from Ford's F-Series full-size pickup, which has been the country's top-selling vehicle for the past 23 years. The $31,745 Lightning was developed by Ford's elite special vehicle team (SVT), which turns Ford production cars and trucks into world-class high-performance vehicles. The first SVT Lightning was introduced in 1993 as a regular cab, rear-drive, limited-production model with a 240-horsepower V-8 that took it to 60 mph in a quick 7.2 seconds. It easily sold out, with 5,276 buyers.

Production continued through 1995, and then vanished until 1999Ñwhen a regular-cab, rear-drive Lightning could be based on Ford's new-generation, more smoothly styled F-150 pickup. The 380-horsepower Lightning has 20 more horsepower than the 2000 model, which grabbed 4,966 buyers. Its new rear-axle gearing (3.73:1) allows faster acceleration and the lowered suspension system has been fine-tuned for better handling with such things as gas-charged shock absorbers. Also, the huge, wide 45-series Goodyear tires have a new compound to improve road grip.

The Lightning is built on the F-Series regular cab short-wheelbase chassis for the lightest weight, best handling and fastest acceleration. It's lavishly equipped, with the only option being a $150 black soft tonneau cover for the pickup box. Exterior items that enhance the $31,745 Lightning's racy look include new upper and lower front grilles with a special horizontal billet-bar design. Rocker sill extensions visually link the front fascia and rear bumper.

And large, twin ceramic-coated exhaust tips with rounded ends tuck under a distinctive scallop in the rocker panel, just ahead of the right-rear wheel. All lights are new, with unique crystalline lenses, and there is a textured leather and cloth trim 40/60 split bench seat. Although big and brawny, the Lightning is reminiscent of a Chevrolet Corvette.
This trucks supercharged 380-horsepower V-8 generates only five less horsepower than the higher-performance Z06 version of the Corvette and produces lots more torque. And a Corvette doesn't have the Lightning's 800-pound payload or its 5,000-pound towing capacity. The Lightning hits 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and 100 in 13.9 seconds. The faster you go, the faster the Lightning wants to go, and its engine loafs at 2,400 rpm at 75 mph.

However, the fairly loud exhaust rumble might have some occupants reaching for ear plugs after an hour on the highway. And the supercharger makes a loud whine when it kicks in hard to increase horsepower during hard acceleration. Otherwise, the Lightning is commendably quiet. The specially developed, quick shifting four-speed automatic transmission helps make the Lightning about as fast as the Ford SVT Mustang Cobra; it has 320 horsepower, but is much smaller and lighter. The Lightning's improved supple suspension delivers a comfortable ride.

And the truck has been modified to steer, handle and stop like a sports car, although it weighs 4,670 pounds. The 5,556-pound turbocharged Bentley Arnage sedan handles much like a sports car, but costs more than $200,000. The Lightning is an EPA-certified low emissions vehicle. Even a regular 260-horsepower Ford F-150 delivers an estimated 15 mpg in the city and 19 on highways, so the Lightning's figures of 13 and 17 highway are respectable. A 25-gallon fuel tank allows a decent highway cruising range.

The Lightning sits fairly low, so little extra effort is needed to get in or out. Occupants sit high and the driver faces stylish gauges. The bench seat should provide more side support, but there's a big center fold-down armrest with a storage bin and cup holders. Most controls are easy to use, but those for the sound system are too small. The glove compartment also should be larger. The only exterior colors are red, black, white and silver. But, no matter what the color, a Lightning owner has the world's highest-performance pickup truck.


Very fast. Racy look. Sports-car handling. Responsive automatic transmission.
Low fuel economy. Average seats. Tiny radio controls. Tiring exhaust sound.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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