2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

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2022 Ford F-150 Lightning First Drive Review: Converting The Doubters

by Jared Rosenholtz

Remember when Ford started replacing thirsty V8 engines with turbocharged V6s? There was some pushback at first, but then owners got used to the idea of an EcoBoost F-150. Well, that's about to happen again with the all-electric 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning. We don't like to throw out the term "game-changer" lightly, but that's what the Lightning feels like. Unlike the GMC Hummer EV Pickup, which is an excessive (albeit cool) toy, Ford's electric truck is an affordable workhorse that will soon litter driveways, job sites, and charging stations around the US.

Ford will launch the F-150 Lightning with two battery sizes enabling two power outputs, a 452-horsepower Standard Range and a 580-hp Extended Range, each making a staggering 775 lb-ft of torque. In case you're wondering, that means even the base Lightning is more potent than any previous F-150. The old supercharged Lightning only came with 380 hp. And the party tricks don't stop there. As we learned during a First Drive event in San Antonio, Texas, the 2022 F-150 Lightning is a revolutionary product that's about to take America by storm.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Models

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Pro
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$39,974
XLT
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$52,974
Lariat
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$67,474
Platinum
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$90,874

See all Trims and Specs

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Exterior: A Real Cyber Truck

Though it rides on a completely different platform than the gas-powered F-150, the Lightning shares nearly identical dimensions with a standard Crew Cab model. The cab and 5.5-foot bed are shared with the conventional F-150, so the Lightning remains familiar unlike the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado 1500 EV. There are some key changes though, including different wheels, a closed-off grille, and unique lighting signatures.

These design elements change depending on trim, with the base Pro model looking the most like a conventional F-150. It gets a utilitarian plastic grille with no futuristic light bar above it. The XLT model adds a Light bar in the front, while the Lariat gains the horizontal light bar at the rear. Buyers can select from 11 paint colors, including Agate Black Metallic, Antimatter Blue Metallic, Atlas Blue Metallic, Carbonized Gray Metallic, Iced Blue Silver, Iconic Silver Metallic, Oxford White, Rapid Red Metallic Tinted, Smoked Quartz Metallic, Star White Metallic, and Stone Grey Metallic.

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The base F-150 Lightning Pro and XLT models ride on macho 18-inch wheels, while the XLT is available with the same 20-inch Dark Carbonized Grey wheels that come standard on the Lariat trim. Upgrading to the top Platinum model is the only way to get flashy 22-inch wheels. All trims get some subtle blue "Lightning" badging on the bed plus a cool American flag and lightning bolt logo on the tailgate. We admire how Ford crafted the Lightning to look familiar, rather than create a radical new design. Truck customers are creatures of habit, and we believe Ford was smart not to reinvent the wheel here.

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Performance & Towing

Ford will offer a choice of two battery pack sizes: a 98 kWh Standard Range (SR) and a 131 kWh Extended Range (ER). Paired with the former, the dual-motor powertrain produces 452 hp while the latter leaves gas-powered F-150 variants in its electric dust with 580 hp. Both produce 775 lb-ft of torque and Ford says both battery variants will hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, though we clocked even quicker times in both. The SR took just 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph, while the ER made the sprint in 4.1 seconds. Both models feel shockingly quick from behind the wheel, making internal combustion seem antiquated by comparison.

The Blue Oval hasn't sacrificed capability for speed though, as the Lightning can still tow and haul. Ford says the SR can tow up to 7,700 pounds, while the ER can pull up to 10,000 lbs. Of course, towing will hurt the driving range, but Ford included an integrated Intelligent Range calculator that can accurately predict how far it will go. Combined with the available Onboard Scale, which can measure the weight in the bed, the Lightning feels like one of the smartest pickup trucks ever built.

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If you aren't towing, Ford says the SR Lightning will travel 230 miles on a single charge. The larger ER battery enables up to 320 miles of range, or 300 miles in the loaded Platinum model. On a DC fast charger, the Lightning can replenish juice at speeds of up to 150 kW. This can charge the truck from 15-80 percent battery in around 44 minutes, with 10 minutes of charging adding around 41-54 miles. If you get the ER battery, Ford will throw in a free Charge Station Pro (Level 2) plug, which can juice up from 15-80 percent in around eight to 10 hours. That's basically an overnight charge.

The Lightning isn't just quick at receiving energy, it can disperse it too. This truck features Ford's excellent Pro Power Onboard generator, which features 11 power outlets (including three in the bed). Pro Power Onboard offers up to 9.6 kW, which can power heavy tools or even charge another EV. Using an available (but pricey) home integration system ($3,895 before installation), the Lightning can even power a home for several days.

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Driving Impressions: It's Like Lightning

Holy crap! There's no better way to describe how the F-150 Lightning jumps off the line. It's so quiet, yet so abrupt. One second you are at a dead stop, and just over four seconds later you are at highway speeds. In a pickup truck! Any "purist" who maligns Ford using the Lightning name on an EV rather than a supercharged V8 needs to promptly give their keyboard a rest. The acceleration is more savage than any F-150 we've ever tested (Raptor included) and it even makes the supercharged Ram 1500 TRX seem sluggish. The lack of transmission is particularly noticeable, providing smoother acceleration than Ford's 10-speed automatic.

More impressive than the acceleration is the handling. Because the battery is mounted low in the floor, the Lightning hugs the road better than any previous F-150. On winding Texas backroads it felt infallible as if Ford somehow defied physics. The Hummer feels a bit sportier with its clever rear-axle steering, but the Lightning is nothing short of impressive. Ride comfort is decent thanks to the first independent rear suspension ever in an F-150, though we'd like to see Ford take it a step further with air suspension on top trims.

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We had a brief opportunity to tow with the F-150 Lightning. With a 5,000-pound trailer strapped behind it, the Lightning accelerated as if there was nothing holding it back. The Lightning's silent drivetrain is especially eery while towing, as most pickup drivers associate the task with more noise from the engine. It makes towing so much more peaceful. Here, the only telltale sign that there's anything behind you is some occasional bounce from the rear at slow speeds, though this phenomenon seems to disappear as the truck reaches cruising speed.

Our miles-per-kWh rating seemed to drop from around 2.1 to 1.5 while towing, hinting that the range drop may not be as severe as some EV detractors believe. Further tests will be required to accurately evaluate how far the Lightning will travel while towing.

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Interior: The Same, But Techier

Not much is changed from a gas-powered F-150 inside, except the technology is more readily available. Every trim level gets a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, which features unique graphics that differ from gas-powered models. For infotainment, Pro and XLT trims get a sizable 12-inch touchscreen with SYNC 4, which is shared with upper level F-150 ICE models. Stepping up to the Lariat or Platinum models adds a massive 15.5-inch portrait screen, like the one used in the Mustang Mach-E. Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices.

The larger screen features several puzzle games to play while charging, though it lacks any streaming services like Netflix. Ford can add these later via over-the-air updates but encourages owners to use their phones with the built-in Wi-Fi. The Lightning also features Ford's Blue Cruise hands-free driving technology on Lariat and Platinum trims. This was our first encounter with the system, which we felt was inferior to GM's Super Cruise. Since Ford doesn't use pre-scanned imagery of the road, Blue Cruise tends to ping-pong within the lane and deactivate when it can't detect lane markers.

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The rest of the Lightning's cabin differs greatly based on trim. Base Pro models come with vinyl seats and rubber floors, making it easy for fleets to clean the interior. Though the materials are pretty utilitarian, even the base Lightning feels modern thanks to those two massive screens. The XLT feels more premium inside with stylish cloth, while the Lariat steps it up to heated and ventilated leather. We should mention those ventilated seats can freeze your tuches, even in the Texas heat.

We spent most of our drive time in the loaded Platinum, which features Nirvana leather with Active Motion massage function and Ford's lay-flat seats, which are perfect for long charging sessions. The Platinum also gets heated rear seats, an outstanding 18-speaker B&O audio system, and a panoramic roof. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, the Lightning goes from simple to extravagant.

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Practicality: Ultimate Usability

A standard F-150 is already a practical vehicle with its 5.5-foot bed, but the Lightning takes it even further. With no engine under the hood, Ford was able to incorporate a 14.1 cubic foot Mega Power Frunk. This storage area is large enough for several suitcases or two full-size golf bags, with four 120-volt outlets to charge up devices. The frunk also includes a cargo net, under-floor storage, and grocery hooks. Truck owners no longer have to toss their small items in the back seat or the bed.

Since Ford kept the 52.8 cubic foot bed identical to a gas-powered F-150, all of the available accessories will fit the Lightning, including bed liners and tonneau covers. Ford's bed step is available here, as is a power option that can drop and lift the tailgate from the key fob.

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Verdict: The Smartest Truck Around

Coming from the best-selling pickup truck line in America, Ford could not afford to screw up the first-ever electric F-150. We are here to say, that's not the case. If anything, Ford has proved that the pickup truck is the ideal vehicle to incorporate electrification. The Lightning is faster, smoother, and more refined than any prior F-150. It still packs enough capability for the average owner, plus new technological innovations that are bound to make the ownership experience even more rewarding.

But let's talk about the loud elephant in the corner; what about the owner who plans to tow a 12,000-pound trailer from New York to California? That person will be better served by an ICE truck. Period. Ford knows its truck customers well, and it is well aware of how many of them tow long distances. The percentage is smaller than the commenters on the internet would lead you to believe, and for those edge cases, you can go buy an F-250 Powerstroke diesel. But for the realistic truck buyers out there, the Lightning is about to blow away your expectations.

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Pricing, Trims, & Competitors: Something For Everyone

The Lightning Pro instantly becomes the most affordable electric pickup truck on the market, starting at $39,974 before destination and not including the $7,500 federal tax credit (not available at the time of purchase). Pro models are only available with the SR battery unless you are a fleet customer and can order the ER variant. The more consumer-focused XLT starts at $52,974, with the ER battery bumping the price to $72,474. It should be noted that you get a lot more than just the larger battery for 20 grand, including the 9.6-kW Power Pro generator, power tailgate, 20-inch wheels, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Ford Co-Pilot 360 Advanced. If you are on a budget, the XLT seems like the best option.

The Lariat dials up the luxury for $67,474 in SR guise or $77,474 for the ER battery. If you plan to get the ER battery, it seems worth it to just get the Lariat for $5,000 more. If money is no object, the Platinum trim comes with the ER battery standard, at an eye-watering $90,874. That's a lot of money, but it's still on-par with the currently available competition, the Hummer and Rivian R1T. As for the Tesla Cybertruck, we'll wait until it actually exists to draw any comparisons. In order to win the race, you have to show up first.

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