ONE FAST TRUCK: 2022 FORD F-150 LIGHTNING
Having been behind the wheel of the all-new 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning all of two hours of it being dropped off, I got approached by a Ford fanatic driving a 2008 F-150 Harley Davidson Edition in a grocery store parking lot who barked my ear off for almost an hour about on how much Ford ruined the Lightning. If only I had the courage to voice my own opinion and note I was not consumer affairs and he should consult a therapist.
The reality is most of the Ford fanatics out there aren’t upset that Ford turned the Lightning into an all-electric pickup. They are more upset that it didn’t follow the heritage of the Lightning concept – single cab, rear-wheel drive, insane performance and ridiculously expensive. Well, at least Ford managed to keep two things from its history.
As much as the Ford fans disapprove of Ford’s direction with the Lightning, its heritage only runs skin deep having only two generational variants under its badging with its first run between 1992 to 1995 and a second generation run between 1999 and 2004. And the fact of the matter is, Ford isn’t targeting the general pickup population.
Starting at $41,769, the Lightning sounds like a pretty good electric bargain; however, if you prefer the basic necessities from a fleet truck motto, the entry-level Pro with 230-miles of standard range, might be right up your alley. To get the most of the Lightning however, you will want the extended range battery pack with 320-miles of range which is only available on the XLT, Lariat and Platinum. But here is the kicker, it adds a hefty price increase of $19,500. So, when our near entry-level Lightning XLT arrived with a $74,000 price tag, I was in a bit of a sticker shock.
There is no doubting the F-150 Lightning is a powerful thing – even with the smaller 98-kW battery pack, it packs 452-horsepower, upgrade to the larger extended range battery and you’ll get a power hungry 580-horsepower and an insane 775lbs-ft of torque distribution. Despite its lack of aerodynamics changes, the Lightning’s power band is fierce, lighting up the tires and sending the traction control into overtime as it will haul from 0-60mph in just over 4-seconds. Trust me when I say, both hands need to be on the wheel because this is one fast truck.
The best part of the Lightning is the fact it looks like a normal F-150 with the only styling modifications really being made to the front grille being closed off and a unique running light bar connecting the headlights. With our sample arriving as the XLT version, it has a very-truckish, ready to take a beating kind of interior – cloth seats, hard plastics, but enough technology to satisfy any consumer. Most of the interior matches the current gas-powered F-150; however, with one simple $9500 upgrade to the XLT 312A Equipment Group, the interior can be elevated with the next generation of Ford Co-Polit360 Assist with a vertical screen, a completely different styled dash layout and a series of other upgrades.
But we need get real for a moment… On paper, the Lighting sounds awesome, I will admit. Quick power, off-road capability and can even tow upwards of 10,000lbs – all sounds about right for a truck. Even considering it can go 320 miles on a single charge is outstanding. But we must face the cold hard reality – the Lightning showed up in the heart of Summer, and here in Phoenix, Arizona, when its over 110-degrees outside, you need air conditioning, and with the air-con running, for every mile we drive, we lost about 3-miles of range per. After driving 40-miles on the highway, we lost over 100-miles of range just because of the air conditioning alone.
So then you’d think, okay, I can just recharge at my destination – if there is a charging station. Most charging stations are a Level 2 with 240v-power that can take upwards of 6-8-hours to charge from 50%. In our Phoenix area, there are Level 3 quick charging stations that can reduce that time significantly but those are so far and few in between, you would have to plan your day around them.
So, then there is the party piece of the truck, towing – and as mere as it makes no difference, the Lightning can tow upwards of 10,000lbs, which is great, again in theory. Once adding the additional tow load, it can eat almost half of your range, so unless there is a charging station at the campsite or lake or whatever your destination is, better plan to make it less than a 120-miles round trip.
Aside from the charging and electrified nonsense – the Lightning is a fun truck to drive. It has been tuned to not feel so heavy but more so like its always dancing on its tippy toes. The steering feels light but provides a sense of connectivity. The ride quality feels very truck-like with most of the roughness ironed out but hit a hard enough bump and it gives you a subtle reminder that there is no weight really holding down the back end. The Lightning even offers one-pedal driving to where the gas is both the braking and accelerating pedal. Sounds funky at first, but using pressurized sensors within the pedal, it can determine how much braking force you would want. And of course, there is still the standard brake pedal in the event you want to drive normal.
When the newest generation of the F-150 first came out a couple of years ago, it was full of gimmicks like the power folding gear lever and fold out work station, and onboard generator that can practically repower up an entire house when the power goes out. The Lightning features all these same gimmicks, as well as a few more tricks up it sleeves with its onboard generator that can charge another electric car. It also has a huge front trunk since there is no engine and there are enough 110v power outlets on board that can power up an entire campsite with modern day technology – thank goodness I was worried I was going to have to choose being my Keurig, laptop, and Wi-Fi booster.
Now, I will be one to admit up front, I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to electric vehicles. And I firmly believe that the only way an electric vehicle works to anyone’s advantage is if your home is equipped with at least a Level 2 charging station – and that requires a large stack of cash to get one installed. The Ford F-150 Lightning is surely a powerful pickup truck – if you are planning on purchasing one, just be warned it likes to eat through its own electric range about as quick as a puppy in a carboard box.