SAN ANTONIO – The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has already proved successful before we even got a chance to run the thing. Order books are already off for its first model year, so for at least 2022, this review is primarily for those who are already getting one. And it’s easy to see why they jumped at the chance to stand in line. The formula includes the best-selling vehicle in the United States – the F-Series pickup – and an all-electric powertrain. If that’s not enough, Ford accelerates it to the most powerful F-150 and faster, and packs it with unique features like a front trunk and a way to power your entire home in the event of a breakdown. The question is, then, does that formula translate into an electric truck that sounds good? Ford invites us to the heart of Truck Country, San Antonio, Texas to find us.
The F-150 Lightning has two powertrain options, but whichever you choose, you’ll get two electric motors – one front and one rear – providing all-wheel drive. The standard range version has a 98-kilowatt-hour battery for a 230-mile driving range on charge. This powertrain delivers 452 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. Ford claims it will sprint 0-60 in 5 seconds.
A 131-kWh Extended Range Battery Pro Trim is optional in the Fleet version, the consumer version of the XLT and Lariat, and the Range-topping Platinum standard. It offers 320 miles on Pro, XLT and Loria and 300 miles on Platinum. Choosing this battery increases the output from the electric motor to 580 hp, maintaining the same 775 pound-feet of torque. It compresses the time range from 0-60 to the mid-range of 4-seconds.
All trim levels have some common features. The only lightning configuration is a super crew cab with a 5.5-foot bed, 4×4 powertrain and an electronic locking rear differential borrowed from the regular F-150. There are at least eight 120-volt outlets spread across each truck, a 12-inch digital instrument panel and a 20-foot mobile charging cable capable of both levels 1 (120 volts). And Level 2 (240 volts, 30 amps using NEMA 14-50 plugs). There’s also a lot of shared standard equipment, including the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver assistance technology, but in the end there’s a lot to tell you about the different trim levels, we thought it best to break it down into a separate article. Here.
Our first driving stunt in the F-150 Lightning took place in and around San Antonio on a public road with an extended range battery in platinum trim. Since our first ride on the lighting prototype last September, Autoblog Road test editor Jack Palmer noted that “any F-150 owner can go into a thunderstorm and immediately feel at home.” When he was talking about the experience as a passenger, it is also true from the driver’s seat of the production truck. The 15.5-inch infotainment screen shared with the Mustang Mach-E is the interior title feature (and we usually like it), but the rest of the interior is very common with other F-150s. These include a fold-down shifter borrowed from a regular F-150 and adjustable workspace that is perfect for stopping to take some notes inside your truck (or enjoy a tasty meal).
Shooting it, we headed out of downtown San Antonio, walking silently down the street. There, driving felt like any other electric vehicle – instantaneous, smooth acceleration and extremely quiet operation – but, just, Large. On the expressway, Lightning’s powertrain has really begun to distinguish itself from the F-150s we’re used to. Despite the size and weight, this pickup can be rushed. It increases the speed of feeling like an instant, making it easier for you to assemble as you just pick your gaps and seemingly teleport to it. The motors are so powerful that there was no situation during our drive when we actually needed to keep the pedals on the floor.
Although the electric motor is not the only revolutionary thing about this F-150. It is the only full-size truck equipped with an independent rear suspension instead of the usual solid rear axle. It also has coil springs, whatever. This packaging, Ford says, was to better accommodate the battery, as well as the full-size extra tires under the bed. That said, the lightning still felt like going down any other F-150 road. It still displays a truck-like ride, albeit a premium one. It will overcome imperfections with a smooth rebound, more of a soft bounce than a shattered shake. We didn’t notice too much vibration through the frame structure, probably thanks to the high-strength steel frame that surrounds the rigid battery pack, a suspension designed to handle its extra weight.
After dozens of miles of highway driving and safe, unexpected bluecruising (see our separate review of the upcoming semi-autonomous driving system soon), we’ve made our way to some more rugged rural highways, where the steering wheel will do some exercise. Steering felt directly, but electronic and artificial. There wasn’t much play in the center and the heavy feeling is quickly created when you dial in more angles. It is able to rush through the corners, creating a lateral G-force without excessive amounts of leech, although we are still pulling along the wide platinum seats. We later found that the softer seats in the lower trims held us in a better position, but did not miss the ability to massage the Fancier Thrones.
The F-150 Lightning can pull up to 10,000 pounds, depending on the trim and options; In particular, the Pro, XLT and Lariat, which are equipped with an extended range of batteries and a maximum trailer tow package, have been rated at that limit. We later hopped on a well-equipped Pro model with a 9,500-pound trailer load and set off for a quick loop. The truck had no problem with that amount of weight. With all this torque and horsepower, we never lagged behind in maintaining traffic and had no problem getting together on the highway. The front tires would slip a bit when almost full throttle was given, but once the traction control adjusted everything, the lightning went off comfortably. Like the best truck for towing, we can almost forget that once upon a time there was something behind us. We were much more concerned with the size of the trailer than the weight, and using the rear camera feed available on that huge infotainment screen we made sure we gave it plenty of space when passing trucks approaching a corner or narrow road.
Next test, off-road course. On a loose dirt trail with a large ditch, we were able to get a wheel in the air – the truck hesitated a bit by closing the locker, but the traction control was finally able to pull us out of the hole. There was no hesitation in locking the def. We later climbed down steep, rocky outcrops, scattered through deep, muddy waters and crossed a rocky creek bed, all with relative comfort and ease.
In the midst of all this, we have truly come to realize how suitable an electric powertrain is for off-roading. Since electric motors generate their maximum torque from zero rpm, a low-range transfer case is not required. Or a transmission, for that matter. So without any gear and deep stock of power to manage, it was just a game of linear throttle modulation and finding the right path. If you want to go, press a little deeper with your right foot and relax when you don’t. It’s almost too easy.
Perhaps the best thing about an electric 4×4 is the cool. Roll through the windows and you’ll hear the world around you – the roar of trees, the birds, the rocks rolling under the tires. In beautiful lands like these mountains outside of San Antonio, it feels good to be able to enjoy it with more sense, free from engine pressure or exhaust jolts.
Of course, the electric pickup package has more advantages than the driving experience. While the front trunk seems a waste of space in electric cars and SUVs, it’s actually a great addition to a truck. The Lightning’s 14.1-cubic-foot franc is comparable in size to a medium-sized sedan trunk. This should be enough to eliminate the need for a locking bed cover (or just keep the material and valuables open for thieves), and keep the back seat open to the whole crowd. Also, with Proper Onboard (more on one moment) there are four 120-volt plugs, as well as USB and USB-C ports, which means you can use that frank space to charge something while driving (like an electric you end up with. Scooters to get miles), or power tools or equipment at your worksheet or tailgate party.
A total of eight 120-volt, three-phase power outlets spread across each Lightning truck can deliver at least 2.4-kilowatt electrical power. The available upgraded propower onboard system adds an additional 7.2-kilowatt of juice for a total of 9.6-kilowatts and four 120-volt plugs in Frank, four in bed and one for each row of seating inside. The bed has a 240-volt outlet for getting bigger tools or charging another EV with a mobile charger and an adapter. Basically, this is our more powerful version Autoblog Technology of the year.
The F-150 Lightning Intelligent can provide power to the home with backup power. Extended range models come with the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro (otherwise it costs $ 1,310). Not only does it charge lightning at 19.2 kilowatts, it can also draw 9.6 kilowatts from the car to your home via the Home Integration System ($ 3,895) provided by Sunrun. In case of power outage, you can use lightning like generator to power your whole house. It has enough energy savings to get an average house (using 30 kWh per day) for three days – or up to 10, Ford says, if you save energy to get really important things. When power is restored, it will automatically start recharging the pickup. In places with variable energy rates, the system will be able to charge the truck if the energy is cheap and use that stored energy to get to your home if the electricity is expensive.
One feature we’ve seen teased before, but we forgot until we dug into some menu screens, is a small suite of video games that you can play while you’re waiting or waiting for a passenger to charge your truck at a public station. To take We played a little with them during the driving sessions, and thought their enjoyable time wasted. Okay, Sudoku has always sucked, but we’ve enjoyed the rest, including games called Blocks, Jigsaw Puzzles, Lane Change, Sketches and Tiles.
For those people who might use their reserved F-150 Lightning to do something while waiting for delivery, rest assured that it will be worth the wait. As doubtful, the truck + electrical equation is a no-brainer. It is familiar, yet full of unique innovation and power. It looks no less than an F-150, and in fact, looks a lot more like that. We expect the order book for the 2023 model to open soon, and Ford can quickly get its expanded product online. And, of course, after this knockout Mustang Mach-E, brilliantly economical Maverick and an absolute powerhouse with an F-150 Lightning, we can’t wait to see what Ford brings next.