The Takeaway: Ford’s F-150 Lightning is one of its most important vehicles to date since the F-Series pickup. Compared to the other electric trucks that are on sale right now—GMC’s Hummer EV and the Rivian R1T—the Blue Oval’s offering is much more affordable and just about as capable.
- With 775 pound-feet of torque on tap, the truck is shockingly fast, with an impressive payload of up to 2,000 pounds and tow rating of up to 10,000.
- Ford’s Blue Cruise system allows for easy hands-free driving on select sections of highway.
- All-wheel drive comes standard in all trim levels of the F-150 Lightning.
- Base Price: $41,769 ($69,296 as tested)
- Powertrain: Dual fixed magnet AC motors (one at each axle)
- Horsepower: 426 (standard battery), 563 (extended battery)
- Torque: 775 lb-ft (same for both battery configurations)
- Range: 230 miles (standard battery), 300 miles (extended battery)
- Max Payload: 2,000 lb (standard battery), 1,800 lb (extended battery)
- Max Towing Capacity: 7,700 lb (standard battery), 10,000 lb (extended battery)
Lightning: How It Started vs. How It’s Going
If you were a Ford enthusiast that had just woken up from an extended coma, you’d probably be quite confused with the company’s current lineup. There’s now an all-electric Mustang (the Mach-E), and the battery-powered F-150 Lightning; of which, the original was quite a skunkworks project that kicked off Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) in 1991. It rolled out of the factory packing a 351 cubic-inch Windsor V8 engine with new headers and pistons.
Enter 2022, and the F-150 Lightning is one of the first all-electric trucks built by a well-established automaker. Sure, Rivian was first to strike with its R1T pickup, and GMC followed suit. However, instead of re-inventing the wheel, Ford simply electrified the already great F-150.
Unlike the R1T and GMC’s Hummer EV, the F-150 isn’t based on a completely new and unproven architecture. Rather it’s based on largely the same underpinnings as America’s favorite (and best-selling) pickup truck—the F-150. It isn’t much of a surprise that Ford wouldn’t stray too far from the internal-combustion version, as it has over 100 years of experience building damn good trucks. The brand’s first attempt (the Model TT) was built in 1917, with the first F-Series coming shortly after in 1948.
See below for a quick price breakdown. Repeat F-150 customers will see that the price structure looks quite familiar; the Lightning brings an extended-range battery option for XLT and Lariat trims, which gives adds an extra 70 miles of range on top of the standard 230.
- Pro: $39,974
- XLT: $52,974
- XLT (Extended-Range Battery): $72,474
- Lariat: $67,474
- Lariat (Extended-Range Battery): $77,474
- Platinum: $90,874
Driving Impressions: Refined but Blisteringly Fast
Is the F-150 Lightning fast? Of course it is. Ford gave it all of the ingredients to blow your mind when you put your foot down: all-wheel drive, 426 or 563 horsepower (you get more with the extended-range battery), and 775 lb-ft of torque. This potent collection of numbers can catapult the F-150 to 60 mph in just 4 seconds—meaning that yes, it’s faster than the 6-second F-150 Raptor. Even with such neck-snapping acceleration, the go pedal feels very linear, meaning it gets progressively more responsive the farther you put your foot down.
This leads to a drive that doesn’t always feel like you’re riding a bull at the rodeo. Around town, the electric F-150 is much more like a Clydesdale—with tons of low-down grunt—but it can still gallop like a Mustang when you need to shoot gaps in the city or merge onto the highway. Based on largely the same architecture as a standard F-150, the all-electric variant is equally well mannered and composed. This is because the battery pack is mounted low down in the chassis, which drops the center of gravity.
After taking the silent-but-deadly machine for a 200-mile highway journey up to Mahwah, New Jersey, I was thoroughly impressed with Ford’s Blue Cruise semi-autonomous driving system. Unlike other vehicles that will shout at you if you take your hands off the wheel for a split second, Blue Cruise keeps track of your eyes and is therefore more relaxed; when activated, it allows you to take your hands off the wheel—only when it deems it safe to do so.
The system’s real party piece is that it doesn’t cut out when you come to a complete standstill—something that not all automakers have mastered quite yet. The 100 miles back to our office in Easton, Pennsylvania, involved some stop-and-go traffic where Blue Cruise stayed active for just over an hour. This made the journey back much less mentally taxing and more enjoyable, with me only having to cover the brake a couple of times.
An Intuitive, Versatile Interior
The F-150 Lightning’s cockpit is a fantastic mishmash of Mustang Mach-E and F-150. The 15.5-inch infotainment screen—which looks like a direct carryover from Mach-E—was very easy to get the hang of. Ford’s Sync 4 operating system is just as good as I remembered, with a place for everything and everything in its place. The touch screen itself is easy to read and super responsive; the physical volume knob at the bottom that almost seamlessly blends with the display is a blessing. The detent between each click was satisfying to feel and hear while cranking up my favorite music on the optional Bang and Olufsen stereo.
Just below the screen, Ford included the same foldable shift knob from the existing F-Series. Once the vehicle is in park, the gear selector can fold flushed with the transmission tunnel at the push of a button. Once flat, there’s also a plastic worktop that you can deploy to plop down a laptop or even eat a meal—if you’re so inclined to eat in your automobile. If you’re more the laptop kind of person, I’m pleased to report that there are plenty of outlets on board to keep your device(s) juiced up for extended work sessions.
The second row shares the same 60-40 split-folding seats as the gas-powered F-150; in their upright position, there’s plenty of room inside the cab for bigger items that you might not want to throw in the bed. You’ll also notice a foldable storage box underneath the rear seats for things that you might want to keep out of sight.
It’s A Mobile Generator. Yes, Seriously.
Regardless of whether you’re working from inside your truck, staked out at a job site, or simply having a family camping trip, power is always nice to have. When the F-150 Lightning’s battery pack isn’t turning the wheels, it can be used as a massive power bank. In both the standard-range (96-kWh battery) and extended-range (131-kWh battery), there are tons of three-prong outlets inside the frunk, cab, and bed to power any device, tool, or appliance you desire. We did an in-depth test to make sure that the charging capabilities aren’t all just hype, and are happy to report that they’re not.
I have a confession to make. I initially assumed that the F-150 Lightning would feel completely different from every F-Series pickup I’ve driven. But for the most part, it just doesn’t. It’s an absolute joy to drive—especially hands-free on the highway with Blue Cruise enabled—and will be approachable for anybody wanting to jump the internal-combustion ship.
If you ever doubted that Americans would even entertain the idea of an all-electric pickup, think again. Ford has already accepted nearly 200,000 reservations, and there’s a three-year backlog if you want to get in line. Good problem to have, if you ask me.
Matt CrisaraMatt Crisara is a native Texan who has an unbridled passion for cars and motorsports, both foreign and domestic, and as the Autos Editor for Popular Mechanics, he writes the majority of automotive coverage across digital and print.
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