It ran the gamut from off-road to towing to the high speed ring.
We're going to resist the urge of mentioning Metallica's Ride the Lightning album more than once in this post, even though it makes perfect sense. But now that the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is officially here, we can tell you how it rides. Ford didn't let us put our foot to the floor in its new 563-hp, 775-lb-ft EV, but we did go through three unique tests to feel it for ourselves.
Go to the reveal article for all the details, but to summarize: the new F-150 Lighting will start at just under $40,000, have ranges of 240 or 300 miles (the standard battery produces 426-hp), a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds, and usable power outlets in the bed and in the new 14.1-cubic-foot front trunk.
The three events included towing a 6,000-pound trailer, going off-road, and taking on the high-speed ring at Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG). All were instructive and impressive, showing off the capability of the new truck that goes on sale in the middle of next year.
Ford strapped a boxy little trailer onto the hitch of the new Lightning at a parking lot area deep in the middle of its secretive, 3,880-acre plot in Romeo, Michigan, far from the prying eyes of spy shooters. We checked out the new Smart Hitch system and went on our way, quickly.
From the first acceleration, we felt the 775 lb-ft of torque doing the work. If we were blindfolded, we would not have guessed a trailer was attached as the launch still threw our head back. The development driver took us up a huge hill, and down the other side. Like a standard F-150, it has the trailer brake controller, hill descent speed control, and modes for tow/haul. We'll note that it was the most boring of the three tests, but instructive.
Next, we jumped into a trailer-less F-150 Lightning for the off-road course. The pickup felt like a rally car, no joke. With its super low center of gravity, and the electronic nannies turned off the Lighting whipped through the fast trails, tail out, with four rooster tails of dirt spitting up from the tires. There's barely any lean in the corners, or on acceleration or braking. It looked so fun we almost knocked out the driver and took over behind the wheel.
The second part of the dirt course was more traditional with steep, sharp hills and several feet of standing water. It performed flawlessly here, though we're sure Ford tested it many times to make sure it was up for the challenge. The tire tracks were getting deep by the late morning, meaning we had several chances to test the steel underbody protection. It passed the test with flying thuds.
Finally, we got to the high-speed ring test track, which you must be invited onto over the radio that all the Ford MPG workers carried. After the gate opened, driver and chief engineer Linda Zhang dropped the hammer. With the trailer attached our thought was "wow, that's pretty quick!" Without the trailer it was "holy crap this thing is fast!"
Zero-to-60 mph takes about 4.5 seconds, but it felt faster than that. It must have been near a g of acceleration because Lighting will send your stomach to the back of your rib cage with every launch. It accelerated, shift-free up to about 90 mph in what felt like seconds. Quick lane changes were similarly impressive with 1,800 pounds of battery down low in the chassis. Even in an emergency two-lane change, it felt stuck to the asphalt.
This beast is impressive, from stem to stern, and will be a boon for FoMoCo. We're hoping people continue to get over the range anxiety, considering the average American drives just 29 miles a day. We also hope that truck buyers/owners are of the more practical sort, that can do that math, and will realize this will suit their needs. If Ford can convert 10% percent of its truck buyers to EVs, that will be about 80,000 pickups. But after riding along, we think it can convert even more. And if you see one of these at a stoplight, with the driver making engine rev noises, don't engage. It'll end badly.