Ford F-150 Lightning — Electric version of America’s favorite truck

By Jim Prueter

(October 4, 2022) The Ford F-150 is not only been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for most of its 45-year history, but also the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. and has been for decades. But just over a year ago Ford announced it would build an all-electric F-150 named the Lightning and shortly thereafter put it into production.

The initial response 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. Lightning is offered in two versions based on battery size, the standard range with 240 miles up from 230 in the 2022 model and the extended-range model with 320 miles.

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.

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 more than the 2022 model. Ford says the increase is due to significant material cost increases and other factors however, those who already hold reservations and awaiting delivery will not be impacted by the price increase.

The standard range 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 (pounds) is 2,235 for the standard-range battery and 1,952 for the extended-range. Maximum towing is 5,000 lbs. for the standard-range and 7,700 lbs. for the extended-range. The XLT and Lariat trim levels with the extended-range option increases towing to 10,000 lbs. and 8,500 lbs. on the Platinum when opting for the optional Max Trailer Tow Package.

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, 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.

Regardless of which of the four trim levels you select (Pro, XLT, Lariat, Platinum), all Lightning will be the full 4-door Super Crew body style and are powered by dual motor at each wheel and standard four-wheel-drive. The Pro trim is basically a commercial model with a starting price of $46,974, and the XLT which is the more consumer oriented base model starts at $59,474 all the way up to $96,874 for the top-shelf Platinum. All prices are for the standard 240-mile range and exclude shipping and delivery charges. The Pro is only offered in standard-range and Platinum only in extended-range. Extended-range can be added to both the XLT and Lariat for an additional $21,000 that raises the base XLT to $80,974 and the Lariat to $85,974.

We priced a similarly equipped 4-wheel drive, V6-engine gas-only powered XLT and it was nearly $30,000 less than the Lightning with extended range.

Despite the significant premium cost for the Lightning over the gas-only powered XLT along with the hassles of mile degradation when towing a trailer, there is still a lot to like about the vehicle along with some pretty cool features too. There’s a 14-cubic foot front trunk called a frunk. Because there isn’t a combustion engine up front to take up all that space there’s a power operated trunk mechanism that opens automatically from a button on the key fob or a rubber button beneath the grille that reveals cargo space with room for two sets of golf clubs or a cooler, camping gear, luggage or cargo.

The frunk also has lights, a charge point with four plug-in outlets and USB ports. This is super convenient since the beds of pickup trucks are usually open and exposed to rain and other elements.

Lightning also comes with what Ford calls BlueCruise, their advanced driver assistance feature that allows you to take your hands off the steering wheel on certain, preordained stretches of limited access, divided highways. It’s standard on top trim Platinum, and available as an option in the Lariat. Since our test Lightning was the XLT we were unable to test the feature.

Unlike Tesla, Ford doesn’t have access to a dedicated national charging network so they put a series of charging networks together in the form of a smartphone app called FordPass. It isn’t quite as ideal as the Tesla network, but it has a vast number of features for like locking and/or unlocking the vehicle, scheduling service, remote starting capability, vehicle information and more. With Ford EVs, FordPass includes “Intelligent Range” that collects data from both your vehicle and the world around you providing quick and easy battery range estimates, charging locations, and more.

At your home you can recharge your lightning with a standard 240 volt at about 14 miles per hour of charging or about 20 hours to charge the extended-range battery. You can also install an 80-amp Charge Station Pro at your home. It’s optional ($1,310) on the standard-range Lightning, standard on extended-range, and that will recharge the truck in eight hours. And what’s really cool is if there’s a power outage you can actually take power from the truck’s battery where the power is stored and put it back into your house where it has enough juice to power your entire home for at least a few days depending on your power usage. But to do that getting your home set up properly takes roughly $10,000 making us question how many people would really to that.

Design wise, the exterior of the truck other than its front grille, looks identical to a basic F-150. No quirky or unusual design here like we find in so many other electric vehicles. On either front fender is what appears to be a designed air vent. On the driver’s side the vent us actually a door that opens to expose where the vehicle plugs in to recharge. The vent on the other front fender is for symmetry and is nonfunctional. There’s “lightning” badging on either side of the cargo bed at the rear and a small lightning bolt on the rear tailgate.

Up front is a light beam that spans the entire top of the grille and drops to the side of each headlamp. The look is repeated at the rear of the vehicle with a red-light beam that spans the entire rear of the truck, tail lamp to tail lamp.

There’s a number of changes from the standard F-150 beginning with an all-new chassis with independent rear suspension that significantly improves ride quality. Ford engineers also did a lot of repositioning of things underneath to accommodate the battery packs. There’s also a full-size spare tire located under the rear cargo bed.

Inside, the first thing you notice is the huge screen that occupies the entire vertical center of the instrument panel. That’s where the vehicle’s functions like navigation, your phone, the infotainment system, vehicle settings, climate controls, 360∞ exterior cameras where you can get a full view around the truck, your apps and more. We found it amazingly intuitive and easy to use with immediate response to finger touches. It even has games you can play and a setting for faux a propulsion sound as you accelerate the Lightning that mimics  a gas-powered engine.

There are some drawbacks however starting with the interior which doesn’t look or feel like what we would expect in a vehicle priced at $75,000. Seats are upholstered in a rather plain fabric, the dash and door trim panels are replete with hard plastics and the leather on the steering wheel seems cheap.

On the road, the first thing you notice is just how fast the truck is. Our test F-150 Lightning was the XLT with the extended-range battery and when set on sport mode one can smoke the tires with pedal-to-the-metal acceleration. It’s that fast. We did an unscientific 0-60 mph test, and reached it in 4 seconds while chirping the tires at the start. Ford says it will make its way through the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds. While some are quicker than others, all electric vehicles are fast, and the Lightning will literally push you back in your seat under full acceleration. But know that while it accelerates like a sports car it doesn’t handle like one, so it does take some getting used to when cornering or driving on twisty roads.

Overall Ford’s first all-electric pickup is a commendable accomplishment. It abounds with clever engineering and unique features. But there’s still issues with range on the standard trim levels and the cost to move up to the extended-range is super expensive. Further with electricity costs rapidly on the rise recharging the Lightning is getting close to the cost of filling a regular F-150 with gasoline. We also commented on the range degradation when towing. It really renders the Lightning a deal breaker for many. Still, our compliments to the folks at Ford with its excellent execution of the all-electric F-150. Well done.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $48,769 to $98,669
Price as Tested: $75,814 – 2022 XLT Lightning with extended-range option
What Makes It Go: 580 horsepower dual electric motor with extended-range 131.0 kWh liquid-cooled lithium -ion battery pack and single-speed automatic transmission.
Driving Range: 240 or 320 miles
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: The F-150 Lightning has not been crash tested for safety by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Where Built: Dearborn, Michigan

Competes With:
Chevrolet Silverado EV
Rivian R1T

It has a frunk
Excellent suspension – rides like a car
Electrical plug-in ports everywhere
Instant acceleration

Massive drop in driving range when towing