Mountain Wheels: High-power, all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning is worth the wait |

Mountain Wheels: High-power, all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning is worth the wait

Tested in Alaska to deal with our winters, the Ford F-150 Lightning EV offers big boost and all of the versatility of a gas-powered pickup.
Courtesy photo

In many ways, the revolutionary Ford F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup seems almost too good to be true. Other companies first floated the versatility of a long-range battery and generator system in weird little cars; Ford instead managed to transform its existing, perennially best-selling F-150 pickup into a full-fledged EV, with loads of towing power.

Like the new GMC Hummer EV, the first editions of the Lightning have sold fast, and while Ford eventually hopes to produce as many as 150,000 of the trucks a year, there have been some hold-ups. Namely, a battery fire issue that led to a month-long pause at the truck’s assembly plant — which was apparently resolved in mid-March.

Having finally driven the Lightning — I was literally the last media person in Colorado to get our 12,000-plus-mile test vehicle, before it was auctioned off to some deserving customer — I would say that the truck is worth considering, though that probably means getting your name on the 2024 model year waiting list.

The most positive news is that the Lighting behaves almost entirely like a standard F-150, with the exception of being much faster, as well as dealing with the real-world implications of a somewhat limited-range electric battery.

I had a Platinum version of the 2022 debut SuperCrew model, complete with 4×4 and the dual electric motor/extended-range battery setup. For 2023 and beyond, that configuration will apparently cost as much as $97,000; by comparison, a gas-powered F-150 Platinum starts at about $66,000, but can also be optioned out to cost more than the electric edition.

In this build, the Lightning gets a larger 131-kilowatt-hour battery that gives the truck 580 horsepower, 775 pound-feet of torque and an estimated range of as much as 320 miles.

Alternately, Ford promises the Pro, a more basic version of the Lightning for just over $60,000; you can also get Lightning with a 98-kilowatt-hour battery with about 240 miles of range and a single motor pushing 462 horsepower.

My Platinum’s full boost makes it, similar to the Hummer, an almost 7,000-pound vehicle that will sprint to 60 mph in about 3.8 seconds. I managed a half-day and 145 miles of city and highway driving between far south Metro Denver and Longmont and back and returned with 55% of the battery power still remaining. I was apparently averaging 2.3 miles per kilowatt in the process, as well.

Independent testing by Motor Trend found the total range without a trailer load was really closer to 255 miles. And while it’s also capable of pulling 10,000 pounds of trailer or carrying 2,235 pounds of payload in its standard setup, Motor Trend noted you’ll get less than 100 miles of range when pulling a large load.

So … it’s a start, and as mentioned, still an electro-mechanical miracle, considering Ford’s previous electrified products like the strange Energi crossover, or the curious Mustang Mach-e.

Better yet, it actually exists, unlike Tesla’s seemingly imaginary Cyber Truck, and it comes in a more time-tested package than the all-new Rivian R1T pickups.

If you can live with those range limitations or become a master of fill-ups with what are apparently not the world’s fastest charging speeds, the Lightning provides a very different but ultimately quite familiar F-150 experience.

On the revolutionary side, the Pro Power Onboard system — controlled through a gigantic, horizontally-oriented 15.5-inch touchscreen display — means you can be the center of attention at a campsite, or disaster area. You’ve got as many as 10 120-volt outlets under the funky front trunk, in the cab and in the rear, plus a 240-volt plug that can be used to run home appliances if the power goes out.

The power-lifting “frunk” itself is a 14 cubic foot space with cargo netting and a drain plug, if you’d like to seriously tailgate. The tailgate also power drops and lifts, and contains Ford’s access step system.

Lightning’s massive wall of LED running lamps is one of the ways of telling the vehicle apart from standard trucks, as well as hybrid-styled, low-air-resistance 22-inch wheels and even more in-and-out-of-cabin LED work lights.

Inside, it’s got all the leathery, multi-surfaced goodness of the gasoline Platinum build: sporty, perforated leather seating with odd wings at your shoulders, an 18-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo and a full-cabin sunroof, plus Ford’s tricky fold-flat shift knob.

The central control screen, with a slightly curious volume knob somehow positioned in it, allows full views of your performance, as well as a video drawing pad, of course. The Lightning was also equipped with Ford’s advanced, semi-autonomous Blue Cruise system, allowing hands-free driving on designated routes.

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