Ford F-150 Lightning — Driving a pickup on electricity photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(December 4, 2022) Working from a clean sheet of paper, automakers have for the most part created nothing short of outstanding products with their new electric vehicles. Test drive one at your favorite dealer and you're in danger of falling in love with whatever model you've picked out. Manufacturers have done their part so far in convincing the public that driving gas-free is the new way to go.

Take the much ballyhooed Ford F-150 Lightning for example. Hit the accelerator and instant, massive torque slams you back in your seat. Once you've returned to a sensible speed, you will find the ride incredibly smooth for a big pickup. And it drives and handles as well — and probably better — than any other F-150 before it. Storage is increased over the gas-engine model with a 14-cubic-foot storage space up front where the gas or diesel engine would go. It's called the frunk. And the truck's stored electricity can be put to use powering other equipment — and even your home in times of emergency.

And perhaps best of all, the F-150 Lightning — like all other electric vehicles — bypasses the gas station. You will have to install at least a level 2 charge point in you garage (a 220-plug should allow you to refill the truck overnight.) photo

There are two distinct power ranges — the standard range battery for the 2023 model comes with 452 horsepower, up from 426 on the 2022 model, with the extended-range delivering 580 horsepower up from 563 horsepower. Ford says the maximum payload is 2,235 pounds for the standard-range battery and 1,952 for the extended-range. Peak torque is impressive at 775 pound-feet with either setup.

The Lightning Platinum model we tested has been measured at 4.0 seconds from 0-to-60 and 12.7 seconds at 107 mph in a quarter mile. That's impressive regardless of the type of vehicle, but particularly noteworthy in a truck weighing in at a whopping 6,855 pounds.

Maximum towing is 5,000 pounds for the standard-range and 7,700 pounds for the extended-range. The XLT and Lariat trim levels with the extended-range option increases towing to 10,000 pounds, and 8,500 pounds on the Platinum when opting for the optional Max Trailer Tow Package.

The standard-range battery is available in the Pro, XLT and Lariat trims. The extended-range battery pack is standard on the Platinum trim with 300 miles of range. Ford does offer customers the option to upgrade the XLT and Lariat trim levels with 320 miles of range, but it adds $10,000 to the price.

Like the truck's exterior, the F-150 Lightning's interior is much the same as the gasoline-powered F-150 with a few key differences such as an extra-large infotainment display and a voluminous front-trunk cargo bay. The F-150 Lightning is offered only as a crew cab with a 5.5-foot bed.
Although towing capability is impressive, it comes with a caveat. The September 2022 issue of Car and Driver magazine published a feature on how towing capability affected the driving range when pulling a 29-foot camper weighing 6,199 pounds. That’s the sort of camper a family of four would take on a summer getaway trip. They tested the Rivian R1T EV pickup, the GMC Hummer EV pickup and the F-150 Lightning Platinum extended-range model.

Interestingly, the Lightning made a giant downward leap from an estimated 288 miles of range to a  predicted “96 miles to empty” low-battery warning light that appeared with roughly 50 miles to empty when the battery pack is still nearly half full.

Even if you accept, you’ll be making frequent stops approximately every 90 - 100 miles to pull in and recharge, and most highway-adjacent charging locations don’t allow pull-through access which means you’ll have to park your Lightning and disconnect the trailer before you can pull into the charging slot. Doing this every couple of hours is nothing short of a major hassle and headache.

If towing is a primary goal in a pickup purchase and you use it near your favorite charge point (probably your home), then it's not so much of a problem. But if you pull a trailer long distance, it might be wise to reconsider your EV purchase in favor of gas or diesel.

Another consideration is the climate where you live. Cold weather can play havoc with a battery, and Ford has just issued a press release as to how winter can affect driving the Lightning. Ford says to maximize range in winter, park your Lightning in a garage overnight; keep the Lightning plugged in when parked; use just the heated seats and heated steering as the primary heat source to reduce energy consumed by the HVAC (in other words wear thick socks); keep driving speeds moderate; and when charging turn off the heater.

The initial response to the Lightning was so overwhelming that after taking 160,000 customer orders Ford closed the reservation window last December and increased production to meet the demand. The first customer deliveries began last May. There are approximately 200,000 customers currently in the queue and only time will tell how many actually follow through on their reservation.

For those customers who missed the initial reservation opportunity, Ford reopened the order bank and began taking orders in September for the 2023 Lightning. The bad news for those who didn’t get in on the initial reservation list is the Lightning’s price has increased by $6,000 to as much as $8,500 over the 2022 model. Ford says the increase is due to "ongoing supply-chain constraints, rising material costs, and other market factors."

However, those who already hold reservations and awaiting delivery will not be impacted by the price increase.

Our 2022 Platinum test truck that came lavishly equipped carried an estimated bottom line — Ford did not provided exact pricing — of $92,669. That price as noted above will increase several thousand dollars in 2023 guise.

(Jim Prueter contributed to this review)

2022 Ford Lightning


Base price: $41,769; as driven, $92,669*
Engine: electric
Horsepower: 580
Combined torque: 775 pound-feet
Transmission: one-speed direct drive
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 145.5 inches
Length: 232.7 inches
Curb weight: 6,855 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Cargo capacity: 14 cubic feet (frunk)
Towing capacity: 10,000 pounds
Payload capacity: 1,800 pounds
Range: 230 miles (Platinum), 300 miles (maximum)
EPA rating: 73 MPGe city, 60 highway, 66 combined
0-60: 4 seconds (Car and Diver)
Also consider: Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV SUT
*These are 2022 prices. 2023 model prices have risen considerably. Check your dealer for 2023 MSRP

The Good
• Incredible power
• Large front trunk storage area
• Smooth, comfortable ride

The Bad
• Cost can become prohibitive in upper trim levels

The Ugly
• Towing cuts range by more than 50%