Electrification has made its way to the truck segment and the Ford F-150 Lighting was the first mainstream truck to launch for the 2022 model year. Based on the ICE engine F-150, the Lightning cis most visually differentiated by its LED light bars up front and across the tailgate. Its overall dimensions are otherwise in line with the rest of the F-150 lineup. The Lightning is available in four key trims that include the Pro, XLT, Lariat, and Platinum. XLT and Lariat models are available with both a standard and extended range while the Platinum comes exclusively with the extended range. Prices start at $55,974 for a Pro on the low end and at $96,874 for a Platinum at the top end.
Both the standard- and extended-range battery packs are offered on F-150 Lightning. The extended-range battery pack produces 580 horsepower while the standard-range battery pack delivers 452 horsepower. Both packs can produce 775 lbs.-ft. of torque, more than any other F-150 pickup ever. Standard range models get an EPA-estimated targeted range of 240 miles while the extended range trucks will get up to 320 miles of range.
There has been much anticipation for this truck that's only real electric competition right now is the Rivian R1T which starts at $73,000 with a comparable range of 260-400 miles. The Ford, however, is more readily accessible through the national network of Ford dealerships. I spent a week driving the F-150 Lightning Lariat and here's what stood out...
Exterior Styling (+)
I like that the Lightning looks and feels like every other F-150 out there. It will appeal to traditional truck buyers because of that. While maintaining its tough looking exterior, Ford infuses modern high-tech elements via signature LED lightbars that run across both the front and rear of the truck. Under the lightbar up front are three new grille designs that do a nice job of maintaining this look of a traditional grille and change with the various trims. Other subtle aesthetic changes enhance the aerodynamics with improvements like newly shaped running boards, a sculpted hood to reduce drag, and grilles that replace air intake holes with a smoother, textured surface.
Each trim can be further defined by a variety of wheel designs and sizes. Pro and XLT models come with basic 18" machined wheels with black pockets. Lariat models come standard with 20" dark carbonized gray alloys and Platinum models get even bigger with 22" bright machined wheels with ebony black painted pockets. All wheels come wrapped in all-season tires.
One of the highlights is how quick the Lightning is. The 775 pounds-feet of instant torque is amazing in this truck as it launches from 0-60 in around 4 seconds. It's the type of power that will throw you and your passengers back to your seats for some instant thrills. That power continues when you're already traveling on the highway and need to pass others or merge into traffic. Acceleration is smooth and refined which separates it from traditional gas-powered trucks. Steering is precise and the truck is composed in all driving conditions. The introduction of the independent rear suspension improves the overall ride and handling to make this the best riding F-150 I've ever driven. It's incredibly quiet all around with limited road noise and obviously, no engine noise. The refined road manners make this comfortable for longer commutes and a pleasurable experience for both the driver and passenger, which can't always be said when driving a full-size truck.
Blue Cruise (+)
Introduced in 2021, Ford's Blue Cruise is a hands-free driving technology available on select trims of the F-150 Lightning. This semi-autonomous driving worked phenomenally and is intuitive to use. At the touch of a button on the steering wheel the truck will take over as you set the speed and distance from the vehicle in front of you. A driver-facing camera makes sure you're keeping your eyes on the road while the truck steers and keeps itself centered in the lane. From time to time, it will request hands on the steering wheel, but I generally could spend most of my 20 mile highway commute letting the Lightning do the driving. It operated seamlessly and smoothly as it adjusted speeds to accommodate for traffic changes or vehicles merging in front. This was a very comfortable adaptive cruise control / semi-autonomous driving system.
Range / Charging (+/-)
There's so much to brag about in the new Lightning that it's hard to point out the negative, however, I had a tough experience in the charging department. For the first time in an electric vehicle, I felt "range anxiety." I drove the Lightning during a cold Chicago week in which I was running the heat in the truck and taking advantage of the heated seats/ steering wheel. I paid the price in range though as I struggled to get past 210 miles when it's supposed to reach 240 in a standard range truck. To add to that, it lost range quickly once charged. In a 25-mile drive home, I'd lose as much as 30-40% range and it would take longer to charge back up than other EVs. Plugging into my standard outlet at home only added a few miles over night compared to some PHEV's that would get me all 30-40 miles over 8 hours. 210 miles is still livable for most, but you should be cautious of how cold weather affects electric vehicles. To be fair, this was one of my first experiences with cold (under 30 degree) temperatures and an electric vehicle. Most others I've tested were during warmer months. If you do opt for the F-150 Lightning, it would be worth the investment to add an at-home charger for faster charging as it will charge from 15-100% in 10 hours with a Ford Charge Station Pro.
Extended range models have an EPA-estimated range of 300 miles. They also offer an 80-amp charge station as standard equipment, which help charge an extended-range truck at home. This system takes advantage of the only dual onboard charging system on an electric truck in the industry for even faster home charging. With this, F-150 Lightning adds an average range of 30 miles per charging hour, fully charging an extended-range truck from 15% to 100% percent in about eight hours.
I am a fan of trucks, but the lack of covered storage is always less than ideal. By making the front a storage area with 14.1 cubic feet of space is brilliant. The space feels massive and was a great option for throwing my gym bag, kids' backpacks, baseball ball equipment and instruments in. With full power operation, it requires little effort to open/close. Valuables are secure and hidden when out and about while leaving more room for passengers inside. It's also a lot of fun to see people's heads turn when you open the hood to reveal storage instead of an engine.
Truck Capability (+)
At its core, this is still an F-150 and built with all the truck toughness you'd expect and more. Along with a high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy body, an all-new frame uses the strongest steel ever put in an F-150 frame and supports a maximum 2,000-pound payload and up to 10,000-pound towing capacity. Ford blends modern technology with its capabilities by adding available onboard scales which use the truck's sensors to estimate payload and tell owners how much their hauling. The Lightning also debuts a new Pro Trailer Hitch Assist which automatically controls steering, throttle, and brake input to make hitching trailers easier. I would no longer need my kids yelling from outside my truck to help align the hitch with our camper. All models come with a 5.5 foot truck bed that features available in-box LED lighting, exterior zone lighting, a tailgate step, power tailgate, work surface, and lockable tie-down points. While the fancy amenities like massaging seats are nice, Ford reminds us that the Lightning is still built to do traditional truck things.
On-Board Generator (+)
To expand on the above capabilities, an enhanced pro power onboard generator allows you to use the Lightning as a source of power for just about anything. Whether it's plugging in a saw or computer at the jobsite or using it as a power source for the house during an outage, the Lightning is ready. It has up to 9.6 kW of available power and offers up to 11 convenient power outlets. There are two 120V outlets in the cab, four in the Mega Power frunk and up to four in the bed along with an available 240V outlet. You could use your Lightning to charge another EV if you really needed.
The available Ford Intelligent Backup Power turns your truck into the ultimate power source for your home. It will keep the lights on during an outage while providing security by powering home appliances, security systems and more. It is enabled by an available 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and home management system Ford can help install, in which the F-150 Lightning automatically kicks in to power your house. Once power is restored, the truck automatically reverts to charging its battery. Based on an average 30kWh of use per day, F-150 Lightning with extended-range battery provides full-home power for up to three days, or as long as 10 days if power is rationed (results varying based on energy usage).
Hopping into the F-150 Lightning drivers will face a 12" digital gauge cluster with crisp graphics. At the center of the dash is a standard 12" horizontal touchscreen or an option 15.5" vertical touchscreen. The layout is functional and modern with above average materials. Ford's SYNC 4A infotainment system wirelessly integrates with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and pumps sound out of either an 8 or 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. The system is easy to use and incorporates some neat graphics. The standard version uses more traditional physical controls while the 15.5" screen is primarily touchscreen except for a large volume knob at the bottom. The touchscreen system is home to a lot of screens which can take some getting used to, but once acclimated, they make sense. Unfortunately, though, you may have to unnecessarily scroll through screens to do things that could otherwise be done at the touch of a button. It is customizable and can be configured with your favorite screens always present such as the ability to turn on heated seats.
The Lightning makes no compromises on space, maintaining the same cab and bed dimensions as its gas counterpart, so it remains capable of accommodating thousands of accessories already available. The available fold-out Interior Work Surface makes working inside the vehicle even easier and more productive. The traditional gear selector folds down to maximize a flat, workable surface for those on the go.
There is seating for five with its crew cab style. Vinyl upholstery and manually adjusted seats are standard on the Pro models. Step up in trim level for options such as cloth, leather, Nirvana leather, multicontour and ventilated front seats, 8 or 10-way power adjustable seats and more. Available max recline seats offer nearly 180 degrees of recline to help drivers recharge as needed. There is plenty of space for five adults with good head, leg, and shoulder room. The seats are comfortable and it's easy to find a good driving position with the power adjustable seats. For those on the shorter side, touch. power-adjustable pedals and power tilt and telescoping steering wheel are a nice touch. Rear seats also provided a lot of room and my kids found the available heated rear seats to be a nice bonus. Rear seats also flip up to reveal additional storage underneath. The available panoramic full glass room brings the outside in with extra light and fresh air from above. It includes a sunshade for those times you want to block the sun.
Standard on all models is Ford Co-Pilot 360 2.0. This suite of driver assist features includes:
* Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking
* Blind-spot Monitoring
* Lane-Keeping Aid and Alert
* Auto High Beams
* Reverse Sensing System
* Cross Traffic Alert
* Curve Control
Other available features include a 360-degree camera system, enhanced lighting, parking sensors, park assist, intersection assist, and Ford BlueCruise.
Final Statement (+)
Ford did exactly what they said they would and took the F-150 and electrified it to create the Lightning without losing the appeal of the F-150. This truck is fun to drive with its quick acceleration and good road manners. It maintains the utility of a truck with its capabilities and style. Technology is current and blends nicely with the utility most truck buyers ought to desire. While there were some range issues in the cold, this is still a remarkable truck from Ford which is why it is winning awards such as the Motor Trend Pick Up Truck of the Year and is a finalist for North American Truck of the Year. I imagine this one will only get better as Ford continues to refine it for future model years.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
Exterior Color: Iced Blue Silver
Interior Color: Black Leather
Notable Options: Max Trailer Tow package ($825), Bedliner ($595)
Price as tested: $80,589 (with destination charge)