At my age there aren’t too many ‘firsts’ in my life. I’ve jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, been shot at (more than once), fathered children (at least I’m pretty sure they are mine) and ate croissants while staring at the Eiffel Tower. No, I haven’t climbed mount Everest, but I don’t really have a desire to, and Mile Kunis still hasn’t returned my phone calls, but my dance card has been pretty much punched for years.
And when it comes to vehicles, a ‘first’ for anything is really hard to do. But Ford actually gave me a ‘first’ recently.
I’ve been accepting of all-electric vehicles for some time now, so getting a week with an all-electric car isn’t something that is new to me. But getting a week with an electric version of America’s favorite pickup truck was to me sort of a big of a deal; after all the F-150 isn’t a sissy. It’s been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the past 45 years. It’s a quintessential American thing; big, in your face, a symbol of the good old U.S.A. (insert Bald Eagle cry here).
I wondered then if this electrified behemoth could live up to the mighty F-150 name. Or if it is just a ‘flash’ in the pan (pun intended).
Introduced in 2022, the Lighting started its life as an F-150 SuperCrew (or crew cab) with a 5.5-foot bed. Instead of the dino blood powered engine under the hood though, it has two electric motors and all-wheel drive thereby placating Mother Nature and all her children, otherwise known as the younger generation wearing skinny jeans, knit caps, and drinking almond milk.
At first glance the Lightning looks the part. There are a few electric styling tweaks like a futuristic light bar across the front, and the charge port is nicely hidden under an F-150 badge with the model’s name (in my testers case Lariat) and ‘Lightning’ is proudly displayed on the outside of the bed. To me the distinctions make this F-150 stand out from its gas-powered cousins like a glowing disco ball at a country hoedown. It’s like it’s saying, “I’m electric, and I’m proud of it!” instead of “Look at me, I’m saving the planet!”
The Lightning is available in four trim levels: Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum. All Lightnings come in a four-door crew-cab body style with a 5.5-foot bed.
The base Pro model comes with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, vinyl seats along with keyless entry, a digital instrument cluster, 12-inch infotainment screen, an integrated navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration with wireless connectivity and a six-speaker sound system.
The standard safety features include forward collision mitigation, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning, a lane keeping system, and rear automatic braking.
Moving up to the XLT adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat, power-adjustable pedal, under seat rear storage, front parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system. You can option in a 312A High package with 20-inch wheels, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, a power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, a lane keeping system, and evasive steering assistance.
This package adds Pro Power Onboard that upgrades the household-style power outlets to provide a maximum of 9.6 kW of electricity.
The Lariat, which was my tester for the week, adds LED cargo bed lighting, power-folding side mirrors, a power-sliding rear window, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, an eight-speaker B&O audio system and a wireless charging pad.
It also upgrades the 12-inch screen to a 15.5-inch touchscreen display mounted vertically. My tester also had the optional 511A High package with a twin-panel panoramic sunroof, power adjustable steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, heated rear seats and more under seat storage along with a tow package.
The top-of-the-line Platinum ups the wheels to 22-inch, upgrades the leather upholstery, massagers in the front seats, an 18-speaker B&O audio system, upgraded tow package and for Platinum buyers Ford will have a third party install a Ford Charge Station Pro at your home.
Powering the Lightning models are dual electric motors that give the truck all-wheel drive. The Pro, XLT and Lariat all come with a 98-kWh battery pack that allows the truck to make 452 horsepower and 775 lb.-ft of torque with an EPA-estimated 230 miles of range. A larger 131-kWh extended-range battery pack is optional on the XLT and Lariat and standard on the Platinum. The extended-range battery not only provides up to 320 miles of range but also boosts the truck’s output to 580 hp (the 775 lb.-ft stays the same but trust me that’s enough).
There are a couple of things that I’m still getting used to when it comes to electric vehicles: the power off the line, and the silence; sheer absolute silence beyond maybe a whine from the motors. In the case of the Lighting, however, there was a tire squeal from a standing start thanks to the extraordinary amount of torque. Seriously, if you’ve never sent 6000 pounds of all-American pickup truck from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, you haven’t really lived. Trust me.
There was also another first with the Lightning. A short family trip of about 30 miles one way on the highway introduced me to Ford’s BlueCruise system. The system uses the Lightning’s advanced driver aids to give a near hands-free driving capability on select highways, including the one we drove on. I had yet to experience hands free driving, and I have to say I was beyond impressed. And it was made easier by the fact that I recently had a quick charger installed at my house so can now forget having to search for a charger for daily driving.
At the end of the week, I was smitten by this big electric piece of Americana in my driveway.
The Lightning is indeed a quintessential American thing; big, in your face, a symbol of the good old U.S.A. sans the Bald Eagle cry, and the future of electrification in the automotive industry that screams “I’m electric, and I’m proud of it!”
Just don’t look for me to be wearing skinny jeans, a knit cap, and drinking almond milk anytime soon.
The Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat
MSRP (as tested): $90,089
Battery capacity : 98 kWh
Base engine type: Electric
Horsepower: 426 hp
Torque: 775 lb.-ft
Estimated range: 230 mi.
Max Towing Capacity: 10,000 lbs.
Max Payload Capacity: 2,000 lbs.
Base Curb Weight: 6015 lbs.
Length: 232.7 in.
Overall width with mirrors: 96.0 in.
Overall width without mirrors: 80.0 in.
Height: 78.3 in.
Wheelbase: 145.5 in.
Bed length: 67.1 in.
Cargo capacity, all seats in place 14.1 cu.ft.
Ground clearance: 8.4 in.
Cargo Bed Width at Floor: 65.2 in.
Cargo Bed Width Between Wheelhousings: 51.1 in.
Cargo Bed Height: 21.4 in.
Cargo Space/Area: 52.8 cu.ft.
Front headroom: 40.8 in.
Front leg room: 43.9 in.
Front shoulder room: 66.7 in.
Front hip room: 62.5 in.
Rear headroom : 40.4 in.
Rear legroom: 43.6 in.
Rear shoulder room: 66.0 in.
Rear hip room: 62.6 in.
Basic: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
EV Battery: 8 yr./ 100,000 mi.
Rust: 5 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside assistance: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
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