SAN ANTONIO — The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning had already confirmed to be a hit earlier than we even had an opportunity to drive the factor. The order books already closed for its first mannequin yr, so for 2022 at the least, this evaluate is mainly for all these people who’re already getting one. And it’s straightforward to see why they jumped on the likelihood to face in line. The method consists of taking the best-selling automobile in America — the F-Collection pickup — and giving it an all-electric powertrain. If that weren’t sufficient, Ford additionally made it probably the most highly effective F-150 and the quickest to speed up, and packed it distinctive advantages like a entrance trunk and means to energy your complete home within the occasion of an outage. The query is, then, does that method translate into an electrical truck that’s nearly as good because it sounds? Ford invited us to coronary heart of truck nation, San Antonio, Texas, to seek out out.
The F-150 Lightning has two powertrain choices, however irrespective of which you decide, you get two electrical motors — one entrance, one rear — offering all-wheel drive. The Commonplace Vary model encompasses a 98-kilowatt-hour battery good for 230 miles of driving vary between fees. This powertrain gives 452 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. Ford claims this can do the Zero-60 dash in 5 seconds.
A 131-kWh Prolonged Vary Battery is non-compulsory on the fleet model of the Professional trim, the patron variations of the XLT and Lariat, and normal on the range-topping Platinum. This gives a driving vary of 320 miles in Professional, XLT and Lariat, and 300 miles within the Platinum. Selecting this battery additionally ups the output from the electrical motors to 580 hp, sustaining the identical 775 lb-ft of torque. This shrinks the Zero-60 time to the mid-Four-second vary.
All trim ranges have a couple of normal options in widespread. The one Lightning configuration is a SuperCrew cab with a 5.5-foot mattress, 4×4 powertrain, and an digital locking rear differential borrowed from the common F-150. Every has at the least eight 120-volt retailers unfold all through truck, a 12-inch digital instrument panel and a 20-foot cellular charging cable able to each Stage 1 (120 volts) and Stage 2 (240 volts, 30 amps utilizing a NEMA 14-50 plug). There’s loads of shared normal tools as nicely, together with the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver help tech, however there’s in the end a lot to let you know in regards to the varied trim ranges, that we thought it was higher to interrupt it down in a separate article right here.
Our first driving stint within the F-150 Lightning came about on public roads in and round San Antonio within the Platinum trim with the Prolonged Vary battery. After our first trip within the Lighting prototype final September, Autoblog Highway Check Editor Zac Palmer famous that “Any F-150 proprietor may hop into the Lightning and immediately really feel at house.” Whereas he was talking in regards to the expertise as a passenger, it holds true from the driving force’s seat of the manufacturing truck as nicely. The 15.5-inch infotainment display screen shared with the Mustang Mach-E is the inside’s headlining function (and we usually prefer it), however the remainder of the inside could be very a lot widespread with different F-150s. That features the fold-down shifter and deployable workspace borrowed from the common F-150 that’s excellent for when you want to cease to take some notes (or get pleasure from a tidy meal) inside your truck.
Firing it up, we headed out from downtown San Antonio, creeping silently via the streets. There, the driving felt much like different electrical automobiles — prompt, easy acceleration and supremely quiet operation — however, simply, greater. On the expressway, the Lightning’s powertrain actually started to set itself other than the F-150s we’re used to. Regardless of its measurement and weight, this pickup can hustle. It will get in control in what appears like an prompt, making merging straightforward as you simply decide your hole and seemingly teleport into it. The motors are so potent that there was by no means a scenario throughout our drive once we truly wanted to place the pedal to the ground.
The electrical motors aren’t the one revolutionary factor about this F-150, although. It’s the solely full-size truck to come back geared up with an impartial rear suspension moderately than the standard strong rear axle. It additionally has coil springs, which is one thing . This packaging, Ford says, was to raised accommodate the battery, in addition to the full-size spare tire beneath the mattress. That stated, the Lightning nonetheless felt like every other F-150 happening the highway. It nonetheless exhibited a truck-like trip, although a premium one. It might trundle over imperfections with a comfortable rebound, extra of a smooth bounce than a crashy jolt. We didn’t discover a lot vibration via the body construction both, maybe because of the high-strength metal body encasing the inflexible battery pack, with a suspension designed to deal with the additional weight of all of it.
After a pair dozen miles of freeway driving and protected, uneventful BlueCruising (see our separate evaluate of the semi-autonomous driving system coming quickly), we made our means onto some extra meandering rural highways, the place the steering wheel would get some train. The steering felt direct, however digital and synthetic. There wasn’t numerous play on-center, and the weighty feeling builds shortly once you dial in additional angle. It’s in a position to hustle via the corners, constructing lateral g forces with out an extreme quantity of lean, although we have been nonetheless pulled to the edges of the broad seats of the Platinum. We later discovered the softer seats within the lesser trims held us in place higher, however did miss the fancier thrones’ massaging functionality.
The F-150 Lightning, relying on trim, and choices, can tow as much as 10,000 kilos; particularly, the Professional, XLT and Lariat geared up with the Prolonged Vary battery and the Most Trailer Tow Bundle are rated to tow that restrict. We later hopped in a sufficiently geared up Professional mannequin with a 9,500-pound trailer load hooked up, and headed out for a fast loop. The truck had no issues with that quantity of weight. With all that torque and horsepower, we have been by no means lagging to maintain up with site visitors, and there was no concern merging onto the freeway. The entrance tires would slip somewhat when given almost full throttle, however as soon as traction management introduced all the pieces into concord, the Lightning sped away with ease. Like the most effective vans for towing, we may nearly neglect there was something behind us as soon as underway. We have been much more involved in regards to the measurement of the trailer than the load, and made use of the accessible rear digital camera feed on that huge infotainment display screen to verify we gave it loads of room round corners or when passing oncoming vans on slim roads.
Subsequent take a look at up, the off-road course. On a unfastened dust path with an enormous dip, we managed to get a wheel up within the air – the truck hesitated barely with the locker off, however traction management was in a position to finally get us out of the outlet. With the diff locked, there was no hesitation in any respect. We later climbed and descended steep, rock-strewn hills, splashed via deep, muddy water and crossed a rocky creek mattress, all with relative ease and luxury.
All through all of it, we have been in a position to really admire simply how nicely an electrical powertrain is suited to off-roading. Since electrical motors produce their most torque from zero rpm, there’s no want for a low-range switch case. Or a transmission, for that matter. So with no gears to handle and deep reserves of energy, it was merely a recreation of linear throttle modulation and discovering the correct path. Simply press somewhat extra deeply together with your proper foot if you want to get going, and ease off once you don’t. It’s nearly too straightforward.
Maybe the most effective factor about an electrical 4×4 is the quiet. Roll down the home windows and you may hear the world round you — timber rustling, birds, the rocks tumbling beneath the tires. In nation as lovely as these hills exterior of San Antonio, it’s good to have the ability to get pleasure from it with extra of the senses, free from the chug of an engine or the whiff of exhaust.
After all, there are extra advantages to the electrical pickup package deal than simply the driving expertise. Whereas a entrance trunk in electrical vehicles and SUVs looks like a waste of area, it’s truly a fantastic addition for a truck. The Lightning’s 14.1-cubic-foot frunk is comparable in quantity to a midsize sedan trunk. That must be sufficient to get rid of the necessity for a locking mattress cowl (or simply leaving valuables open to the weather and thieves), and retains the again seat open for a full load of individuals. Plus, with ProPower Onboard (extra on that in a second) there are additionally 4 120-volt plugs in there, in addition to USB and USB-C ports, that means you should utilize that frunk area to cost one thing whereas driving (like an electrical scooter to get you that final mile), or to energy instruments or home equipment at your worksite or tailgate celebration.
Each Lightning can present at the least 2.Four-kW energy via a complete of eight 120-volt, three-prong energy retailers unfold all through the truck. The accessible upgraded ProPower Onboard system provides an additional 7.2-kW of juice for a grand whole of 9.6-kW and contains 4 120-volt plugs within the frunk, 4 within the mattress and one for every row of seating inside. There’s additionally a 240-volt outlet within the mattress for powering greater instruments, or for charging one other EV with the cellular charger and an adapter. Mainly, it’s an much more strong model of our Autoblog Know-how of the Yr.
The F-150 Lightning also can present energy to the house with Clever Backup Energy. Prolonged Vary fashions include the 80-amp Ford Cost Station Professional (it prices $1,310 in any other case). Not solely can this cost the Lightning at 19.2 kW, it could actually additionally draw 9.6 kW from the automobile into your private home, through the Residence Integration System ($three,895) supplied by Sunrun. Within the case of an influence outage, you should utilize the Lightning like a generator to energy your entire house. It has sufficient vitality storage to energy the typical house (utilizing 30 kWh per day) for 3 days — or as much as 10, Ford says, in case you preserve vitality to solely energy the actually necessary issues. When energy is restored, it’ll routinely start recharging the pickup. In locations with variable vitality charges, the system will even have the ability to cost the truck when vitality is reasonable, and use that saved vitality to energy your private home when electrical energy is dear.
One function we had seen teased beforehand, however had forgotten about till we have been digging via a few of the menu screens, is a small suite of video video games you’ll be able to play when you’re ready to your truck to cost at a public station, or ready to select up a passenger. We toyed round with them somewhat between driving classes, and located them to be nice time-wasters. Properly, Sudoku has all the time sucked, however we loved the remainder, which embrace video games referred to as Blocks, Jigsaw Puzzles, Lane Change, Sketch and Tiles.
For all these people who may use one thing to do whereas ready round for his or her reserved F-150 Lightning to be delivered, relaxation assured that it’ll be well-worth the wait. As suspected, the truck + electrical equation is a no brainer. It’s acquainted, but filled with distinctive improvements and capabilities. It feels no much less of an F-150, and in reality, appears like a lot extra. We simply hope the order books for the 2023 mannequin open quickly, and that Ford can shortly get its expanded manufacturing on-line. And, in fact, after the knockout Mustang Mach-E, the brilliantly economical Maverick and this absolute powerhouse of an F-150 Lightning, we will’t wait to see what Ford comes out with subsequent.