Ford F-150 Lightning Review: Ford's Best Pickup Yet?
Will America's best selling pickup continue to be as successful as an all-electric truck? We think so...
Coming from a long line of F-150s, Ford’s first all-electric pickup has a lot to live up to. Generations of this truck have been powered by huge oily engines and tuning houses like Hennessey and Roush have turned the trucks up to the max.
There’s certainly no lack of power and influence in the F-150’s history. As the best selling vehicle in America for four decades, any green version needs to match the F-150’s practicality without sacrificing its workhorse performance. Ford’s F-Series trucks are a pillar of the American truck market, so the next generation is not only an environmental step to keep with the times, it’s a key economic decision that will ripple throughout Ford and America.
There’s plenty of competition in this new electric truck market including the Rivian R1T, Chevrolet Silverado EV and the Hummer EV. Backed by Ford’s pickup heritage and being one of the first new electric pickups launched, stands the F-150 Lightning in good stead to be as successful as its forefathers.
Can An EV Compare?
Like most of us, I was dubious about how an electric powertrain would perform. But as soon as you put your foot down all those worries disappear. It’s arguably the most practical drag racing truck you’ll ever come across. And for everyday use, it’s potentially even more useful than the traditionally powered F-150.
In terms of price, electric alternatives tend to be far more expensive so instead of offering the same eight trim levels available on the standard F-150, the Lightning has four options. The range starts with Pro from $59,974 up to Platinum from $98,074. But the EV still comes at a premium, Lariat trim, the one below Platinum, is around $19,500 more expensive than an equivalent gas or diesel powered truck, starting from $76,974.
XLT and Lariat get the choice of standard range or extended range batteries, whilst Platinum gets the extended range package as standard. The standard version gets a 98kWh battery with 462hp or extended has a huge 131kWh battery with 580hp. Both get 775lb-ft of torque, giving the most powerful option a 0-60mph time around the 4.0 second mark. The entry-level battery has a 230-mile range and the extended version goes for 320 miles in XLT and Lariat or 300 miles in Platinum.
What’s Different About The Lightning?
Asides from the obvious, it’s electric nature makes the ride near silent, unless you’re going quite fast on the freeway when you’ll hear some wind noise. The F-150 Lightning gets a new frunk storage area, which I’m pleased to inform you is big enough for a person and if you manage to get yourself stuck, there’s a handy glow-in-the-dark button to open it from the inside.
Moving to the rear, there’s on-board scales to tell you how much is in the bed. The system also uses this information to recalculate the vehicle’s anticipated range. If you’re towing, a trailer’s size and weight can be inputted to give a more accurate range estimation. Multiple trailers can be added and named so you don’t need to input the details every time. The system will just ask you to confirm the trailer weight is correct.
At home, if there’s a black out, the Lightning can keep the electricity on. With Ford’s Charging Station Pro, the vehicle can charge, or if the power goes out, the flow can be switched to use the truck as a source of electricity for the house. The extended range battery should be capable of powering a home for three days or up to 10 days if you ration the usage.
It’s unlikely the Lightning will primarily be used for this but unfortunately, power outages are a regular occurrence in some parts of the US. At work, it can be used as a mobile power source for tools, chargers and lights, it’s like taking an electric generator with you. It can also charge other vehicles, so if another electric car is out of charge or gets stranded somewhere without access to charging, the Lightning can come to the rescue.
An Office On Wheels
The central arm rest folds out to make a desk, so there’s a button to move the gear shifter out of the way. The desk is big enough to work on a laptop, eat lunch or make notes. It’s more like a living room on wheels. The seats are comfy like armchairs and watching the miles drift away feels more like settling down to watch a good movie than getting from A to B.
In the back, the seats fold up to make more room inside the cab or gives you extra storage underneath the seats. There’s also a small window in the rear glass for any extra-long cargo. The frunk or tailgate are perfect work benches as they both have plug points and at the back there’s spaces to attach wood clamps to the bed without scratching the paintwork.
See also: Ford F-150 Raptor R Gets Hennessey VelociRaptoR 6x6 Makeover
What’s The Ford F-150 Lightning Like On The Road?
Whilst it’s undoubtedly a drag race king, it’s quite relaxed on the road and cruises nicely. It doesn’t feel sluggish despite its size and weight and even at speed there’s still plenty of power available when you put your foot down. It’s not very often you drive something that puts a smile on your face the way the F-150 Lightning does. As a massive pickup fan, it exceeded all my expectations and I’d say the electric powertrain makes it even more engaging to drive.
The lack of engine noise is a welcome change in standstill traffic but if the silence is too much, there’s fake engine noises that are somewhat convincing. The central screen has countless menus to control trailers, vehicle modes and infotainment but once you work out what you use the most, it’s easy to navigate on the move.
The standard range battery can tow up to 5,000lbs (2,268kg), extended range ups that to 7,700lbs (3,493kg) and the Platinum version can tow 8,500lbs (3,855kg). An optional max tow package can be specified to unlock a 10,000lbs (4,536kg) towing capacity. Payload ranges from 1,656lbs (751kg) to 2,235lbs (1014kg).
PROS & CONS
+Hugely practical in every way
+Drag race performance and every day driveability
+Living room on wheels
–Pricier than the standard F150
–Range is reduced when towing
–EV charging is slower than using a gas station
Price: $99,519 (£78,800) – as tested
Battery/motor: 131kWh/dual e-motor
Transmission: automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Top speed: 110mph
Range: 300 miles