2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
To say America has a penchant for pickup trucks would be a bit of understatement — for years the three top-selling vehicles in this country have been pickups, and leading that charge for 40 years is the Ford F-Series. Another truth: Within the last year America has experienced a dramatic increase in electric vehicle interest and production. Now these two worlds come together as Ford introduces the first full-electric pickup truck — the F-150 Lightning. With the efficiency and performance of an electric vehicle combined with the utility expected of a full-size pickup truck, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a force to be reckoned with — if Ford can keep up with demand.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDefining Moment
“For both Ford and the American auto industry, F-150 Lightning represents a defining moment as we progress toward a zero-emissions, digitally connected future,” said Executive Chair of the Ford Motor Company Bill Ford. “F-Series is America’s best-selling truck for 45 years, the backbone of work across the country, and a trusted icon for generations of customers. Now we are revolutionizing it for a new generation,” enthused Ford.

© Ford Motor CompanyQuicker Than the Original
Although this is the first electric F-150, it is not the first F-150 Lightning. Sold in the mid 1990s and again in the early 2000s, the Lightning had been a high-performance version of the F150 created by Ford SVT. And even though those trucks were fast and powerful for their time, the new F-150 Lighting is even quicker. Perhaps Ford should consider a proper sport truck successor (think sticky tires, sport suspension) to the original Lightning based on this new electric truck — call it Lightning Extreme? The Lightning Lightning? (Strikes twice?)

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLooks Like an F-150
When you build a new version of the nation’s best-selling model, it’s a wise move to stick with the same basic look — so that’s exactly what Ford designers did. While the chassis and powertrain are unique to the Lightning, there’s no mistaking this new model for anything but an F-150 — in fact, at first glance many consumers won’t even notice the differences.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLightning Styling
Certain elements make the Lightning easy to identify when compared to a standard F-150. Up front is a solid grille with three different textured designs dependent on trim level. Except for the base-level Pro trim, signature LED running lights connect via a light bar that runs across the top of the grille. The hood has been sculpted to improve airflow — as have the running boards — helping to make this the most aerodynamic F-150 ever.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
The LED lights continue to draw attention at the rear with stylish new lights — higher trim levels also get an LED bar that spans the top of the tailgate. The gate itself has been restyled but still wears the large, embossed F-150 lettering across the center. The absence of exhaust pipes is a dead giveaway that this is the electric version of America’s best-selling pickup truck.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLightning Badge
The most noticeable callouts are the LIGHTNING badges on each side of the bed, as well as a small American flag with a lightning bolt on the lower-right corner of the tailgate. Instead of the typical fuel-filler door on the bedside, the Lightning has a charge portal cover that calls out the truck’s trim level.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCustom Chassis
The F-150 Lightning gets built on an all-new frame (the strongest ever for an F-150) designed to house the batteries between the rails. Also unique to the Lightning is its independent rear suspension — another first for F-150. With the batteries distributed down the center of the frame, the center of gravity is kept low for better handling, performance and ride comfort, further aided by the truck’s 50/50 weight distribution.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is available in four trim levels: Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum. All F-150 Lightning trims are configured as 4-door SuperCrews and come with the same dual motor all-wheel-drive powertrain. Prices listed are base MSRP without a destination charge. The Lightning is also eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit as well as other regional rebates and credits depending on locale.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSafety
Ford equips all F-150 Lightnings with its Co-Pilot360 2.0 suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance technologies. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping, a rearview camera and post-collision braking.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceF-150 Lightning Pro
At a base price of $39,974, the Pro is at the entry point to the Lightning lineup. Designed as a work truck, the Pro is certainly not basic thanks to a long list of standard equipment that includes vinyl bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, a 12-inch touchscreen display with SYNC4 enhanced voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Mega Power Frunk (more on that later) and 2.4 kW exportable power through a total of 8 120-volt outlets and 8 USB ports. The Lightning Pro also gets a Carbon Black grille, 18-inch machined wheels with all-terrain tires, four pickup box tiedown hooks and trailer sway control. The Pro is equipped with the standard battery; an extended battery is available only for Pro fleet purchase.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceF-150 Lightning XLT
Priced at $52,974, the Lightning XLT upgrades the Pro with cloth bolstered seats, a folding interior work surface, a 360-degree camera, rear underseat storage, four locking cleats in the truck bed, power-adjustable pedals and a forward parking sensor system. The XLT also gets a geometric gray/satin metallic grille with signature front lighting and Carbon Black fixed running boards with enhanced lighting. The extended battery — which increases both horsepower and range — can be added for $19,500.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceF-150 Lightning Lariat
The Lightning Lariat has a base price of $67,474, upgrading the XLT with heated and ventilated leather-trimmed front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, a powered sliding rear window, ice blue ambient lighting, LED box lighting, wireless phone charging, intelligent adaptive cruise control, and SYNC4A with 15.5-inch LCD touchscreen display. Also standard is a premium geometric gray/satin grille, 20-inch dark carbonized gray alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, a tailgate step and 9.6 kW Pro Power Onboard. The extended-range battery is available on the Lariat for an additional $10,000.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceF-150 Lightning Platinum
At the top of the F-150 Lightning trim ladder stands the Platinum with a starting price of $90,874. Platinum comes fully loaded including premium Nirvana leather seat trim, power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, chrome and satin accents, oak wood trim, a twin-panel moonroof, Bluecruise hands-free driving and the B&O “Unleashed” 18-speaker audio system. The Platinum also features a Vador Black high-gloss grille and front skidplate, 22-inch bright machined alloy wheels with Ebony Black pockets, an extended-range battery, a max trailer-towing package and the Ford Charge Pro home charger system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceElectric Power
The 2022 F-150 Lightning is powered by dual three-phase fixed-magnet AC electric motors — one at each axle — so all Lightnings are all-wheel drive. Both motors have the same power. Total output for the extended-range Lightning is 580 horsepower with 775 lb-ft of torque — the most torque ever in a production F-150. Standard-range Lightnings will generate 452 horsepower but maintain the impressive 775 lb-ft of torque.

© Ford Motor CompanyBattery
Ford offers the F-150 Lightning with standard- or extended-range batteries. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion pouch battery delivers 98 kWh in the standard range and 131 kWh for the extended range. Batteries are stored in a waterproof exoskeleton that shields them from crashes as well as external elements such as mud.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRange
According to Ford, the Lightning has a range of 230 miles with the standard-range battery, while the extended-range unit delivers 320 miles of range (300 miles on the Platinum). These ranges are for an unladen truck — additional cargo or trailer towing will bring these numbers down by about the same percentages one would expect from a gas-powered F-150.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCharging
When plugged into a 150kW DC fast charger, the F-150 Lightning can go from 15 to 80 percent charge in a bit more than 40 minutes. Ten minutes on this Level 3 charger will deliver 41 miles of range — 54 miles with the extended-range battery. A typical 32-amp Level 2 charger will bring the standard battery level to 100 percent in 13 hours — 19 hours for the extended range. Ford offers the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro which takes 8 hours to fully charge the extended-range Lightning.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
While the exterior of the Lightning is subtly different from the standard F-150, inside the dimensions and features match directly with gas-powered counterparts. Front seats offer great comfort and support, whether it be the vinyl seats in the Pro or the attractive leather-trimmed seats in the Platinum (shown here). The Platinum even offers massage functions and full recline for front-seat occupants — nice features in any vehicle, and surprising in a truck.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHigh-Tech Look
Ford offers two different main display screens in the F-150 Lightning — the Pro and XLT get a large 12-inch integrated touchscreen display, while the Lariat and Platinum upgrade to a vertical 15.5-inch display. Similar to the display first seen in the Ford Mustang Mach-e, the larger display provides plenty of real estate, with one dial — for volume control — integrated at the bottom of the unit. Climate controls remain visible at the bottom of the screen, and there are easy shortcuts to vehicle settings and other apps. All trucks also feature a configurable 12.3-inch digital driver display.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWork Space
One of the useful features that carries over from the standard F-150 to the Lightning is its central work space. Pushing a button next to the gearshift lowers it into the console, creating space so the top of the center storage bin can be unfolded to form a large, flat surface. This is an ideal surface for working — or eating lunch — while waiting for the truck to charge.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
With plenty of legroom and headroom along with a flat floor, the rear seat of the F-150 Lightning is spacious and comfortable. Both USB ports and 120-volt power outlets keep devices charged. If more cargo space is needed, the rear seat bottoms can fold up to provide an impressive amount of interior space. Higher-end trims also have folding, lockable storage hidden under the seats.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMega Power Frunk
One of the advantages of an electric pickup truck is the absence of a large internal combustion engine up front. As a result, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has an all-new storage option. Referred to as the Mega Power Frunk, the power-operated hood opens to reveal a spacious front trunk (or frunk).

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePlenty of Space
Large enough to hold two full-size golf bags or several pieces of luggage, the frunk can handle cargo weighing up to 400 pounds. With this much lockable storage, many F-150 Lightning owners will no longer find it necessary to install a toolbox in the truck bed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAdditional Utility
The frunk features cargo hooks to secure loose gear, as well as an underfloor bin for smaller items or muddy clothes. Multiple 120-volt outlets and USB ports provide power while items are stored, or to provide power for the ultimate tailgate (frontgate?) party.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTruck Bed
Ford is currently offering the Lightning in a single bed size: 67.1 inches long and 50.6 inches between the wheelwells. With multiple tie downs, available bed lighting, Ford’s innovative bed step and optional power tailgate, this truck brings a lot of bed utility. The Lightning can haul as much as 2,235 pounds with the standard battery — the heavier extended range battery drops cargo capacity to 1,952 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing Capacity
When equipped with the maximum towing package, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds when fitted with the extended-range battery. The Platinum can tow 8,000 pounds, while the standard-range battery is rated at 7,700 pounds max. Ford offers a range of towing aids that includes a built-in scale, a smart hitch, trailer reverse guidance and an automatic light tester. When a trailer’s specs are entered into the towing system, the truck remembers that trailer and can provide an estimated range based on size and weight. (Ford engineers say that aerodynamics affect overall towing range more so than weight.)

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePower Supply on Wheels
Not only does the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning possess all the capability expected of an F-150, it also has the ability to be a mobile energy source. With the 9.6 kW Pro Power Onboard, the Lightning can provide external power through 11 outlets distributed around the bed, cabin and frunk. With this option, the F-150 Lightning can provide power to the jobsite, campsite or any outdoor function. (At the truck’s press launch in San Antonio, Texas, a single Lightning provided power to multiple Traeger smokers, a big screen TV with amplifier and speakers, arcade games and a popcorn maker.)

© Ford Motor CompanyEmergency Backup
The 2022 Ford F-150 can also act as a power backup for a dwelling in the event of a power outage. With the available 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and the Ford Intelligent Backup Power system, the F-150 Lightning can become a household power supply when utility power fails. Based on a typical 30 kWh use per day, Ford claims the truck could provide power to a home for up to three days — or up to 10 days if the power is properly rationed. When utility power to the home is restored, the system automatically reverts back to charging the truck — a great feature.

© Ford Motor CompanyCharging Other EVs
Another unique trick the Lightning has up its proverbial sleeve: With a 220-volt outlet in the truck bed, the Lightning can operate as a mobile Level 2 charger. This means that the Lightning can top off or provide emergency power to another EV as needed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Driving on highways and city streets around San Antonio, we confirmed the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has all the qualities we expect from an electric vehicle. The truck is quiet with incredibly smooth power delivery, and with 775 lb-ft of torque instantly available this truck is downright quick. With power delivered to all four wheels, launching from a stop delivers impressive acceleration. Ford estimates the full-size truck will hit 60 mph in about 4 seconds, and our experience leaves us no reason to disagree with that claim. Even when cruising on the highway at 70 mph, full throttle will push occupants into their seatbacks.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCruising
With its silent powertrain and comfortable cabin, the Lightning is a great vehicle to cruise around town or head into the country. The ride is solid and smooth, and with the benefit of available seat massagers and high-end audio system, the Lightning is not what most think of when it comes to driving a pickup truck. The Lightning also offers one-pedal driving, which provides maximum regen braking when lifting off the throttle, making it possible to drive without using the brake pedal at all.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBlueCruise
Ford offers the Lightning with the latest version of its hands-free driving system called BlueCruise. Designed for use in designated divided highway situations (BlueCruise lets the driver know when it’s available), the system works like an advanced dynamic cruise control, holding a speed while keeping a set distance behind the vehicle ahead. While BlueCruise handles the steering to keep the truck in its lane, it can be a little nerve-wracking in busy traffic since it seems to wander back and forth a bit within the lane. Once out of traffic, BlueCruise provided a nice break from the stress of driving. However, BlueCruise does require eyes on the road (and monitors for that), so the driver can’t simply browse on a phone or read a book.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNot a Sports Car
With its quick acceleration, the F-150 Lightning makes it is easy to forget that it’s still a full-size pickup truck. We were quickly reminded of that fact when we got into some winding roads and soon discovered that even with its lower center of gravity and 50/50 weight balance, the Lightning still handles like a big truck. This isn’t a complaint — we wouldn’t expect anything else from a full-size pickup — it simply can come as a surprise since the acceleration is like that of a sports car.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing Range
We had the opportunity to tow a 9,500 pound trailer, which is close to the Lightning’s 10,000-pound maximum capacity. According to the trip computer, this trailer would cut range on a full charge to 170 miles, or about 53 percent of the reported unladen range. Comparatively speaking, this is not much more of a drop than one might expect from a gas-powered truck pulling nearly its max weight. We also found the range to be about the same with a lighter travel trailer that provided more air resistance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTorque for Towing
The range may drop considerably when towing a 9,500 pound trailer, but performance certainly doesn’t. With 775 lb-ft of torque instantly on tap, acceleration in the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is impressively quick, even when getting up to highway speeds. Unlike a diesel or gas powerplant that requires time to rev and possibly downshift, the Lightning simply goes on demand, whether from a stop or already at speed. At 65 mph the truck feels perfectly stable, making it an excellent option for towing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOff-Road
All Ford F-150 Lightnings come with 8.4 inches of ground clearance as well as a locking rear differential for maximum traction. Taking the big truck through mud and over slick rocks, we also discovered that the Lightning’s power is easy to modulate — especially in off-road mode, which eases the throttle tip-in for better control. The truck is capable of handling a variety of terrain, and it is a pleasant experience to motor through woods in complete silence.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRallycross
To get an idea of how well the power distribution works in slick conditions, we took the Lightning out on a loose-dirt rallycross course with stability and traction control turned off. The big truck handles quick changes in direction well, keeping to its intended course. It’s an odd feeling to power through a corner with wheels spinning but without a loud accompanying engine noise — only the sound of rocks and dirt flinging from under the tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
There are plenty of electric vehicles on the market, but nothing that can bring as much to the table as the new 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning. Ford’s newest truck possesses all the capability and comfort F-150 owners have grown to expect of the best-selling vehicle in America, now running on an efficient, clean and incredibly potent electric powertrain. Add to that the impressive driving performance and the flexibility of the Pro Power OnBoard system, and this truck checks more boxes than most thought existed. Ford’s biggest issue with truck sales will be finding enough build materials to keep up with demand.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
Pros: Excellent drivability; mobile power supply; full F-150 utility.
Cons: Not inexpensive; demand will exceed supply; no 2WD option.
Bottom Line: Ford redefines the notion of truck utility with an F-150 Lightning that literally has power to spare.

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