Ford’s new electric truck is big, versatile and fast

Off-road in the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat.

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Stepping on the accelerator of the Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck produces a quiet, near-instantaneous forward thrust, the kind of head-to-headrest g-force you expect from a Tesla . But it’s a big, hugely capable truck, with a cavernous “frunk” (with 110-volt power) where a gas-guzzling V8 would otherwise reside.

Driving this truck produces head-spinning reactions because, despite exceptionally high demand, they are still very scarce on the ground. Ford said in early August that it has delivered Lightnings to all 50 states, but only those relatively high on the list are being asked to choose their options and get a delivery date.

Blame chip shortages and other supply chain issues, which are endemic across the industry and not unique to electric vehicles. The waiting list is long and new 2023 orders are not being taken. But some customers get their delivery dates now — they read the rave reviews and wait to have a truck in their driveway.

They will be happy when the big day arrives. The truck is quite impressive. It shares with the Tesla Model S and the Lucid Air the delivery of both high performance and great functionality. Yes, it’s a big crew cab truck with a power tailgate, but thanks to the EV drivetrain, it also has all that cargo space up front and a flat floor for the rear passengers, who can plug in devices if desired.

Loading the F-150 Lightning.

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Ford made headlines when it said the Lightning would start below US$40,000 (specifically, US$39,947), but that’s for a stripped-down work truck heading into fleets. This one won’t power your house like some Lightnings do, and it has less range than more expensive versions.

The 2022 Atlas Blue dual-motor Lightning tested with the extended range battery in Lariat trim (with a base of US$67,474) was US$80,589, including the Lariat package (US$10,000), tow package $825 trailer load (8,600 lbs. tow and 1,800 lbs. payload) plus $595 spray-on bedliner. It’s the Lightning you want – it pays to tick a lot of boxes on the order sheets. The top of the heap is the Platinum Extended Range at US$92,669.

With the 131 kilowatt-hour extended-range battery, the Lightning can go 320 miles on a charge, and thanks to 580 horsepower on tap, it can hit 60 miles per hour in about 4.5 seconds. A Lightning Platinum in the hands of testers hit 60 in four seconds flat.

The driver is unaware of all that power for routine errands. The Lightning shares much of the body and structure of the standard F-150 (albeit with a redesigned front end with a large light bar), and it hasn’t been shrunk in any way. It’s a big truck, and has a wide turning radius (23.9 feet). Three-point turns are essential and parking is, well, careful. Consumers who prefer something smaller should check out Ford’s all-new Maverick, which comes in a 42-mpg (city) hybrid model that starts at US$20,995.

The Ford F-150 Lightning truck adds interior space due to its electric drivetrain.

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Handling is decent enough, in part because EVs like the Lightning have a low center of gravity (thanks to underfloor batteries). All bets are off when a straight road opens up – the F-150 has about the same horsepower as a McLaren 570S (with 562).

When the shock and awe have passed, the driver begins to notice all the ways the Lightning is practical. There are multiple 110 volt outlets everywhere, including in the bed. The trunk and tailgate are powered, which comes in handy when you’re struggling with packages.

Ford’s electric vehicles are now coming out of the new Model e division. (Ford Blue still does internal combustion.) The Lightning is just one of the electric trucks on the market. The Rivian R1T and Hummer EV pickup are available, and the Chevrolet Silverado is coming next year. The Lordstown Endurance is supposedly on the way, with delays only comparable to Tesla’s Cybertruck (now expected in 2023). So far (with the Rivian not yet tested), the Lightning is the one to beat.

About Melanie Tweed

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