Of the dozens of vehicles I’ve tested this year, the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck generated some of the greatest interest from both car and non-car people. The question they had was always: Should I get one?
If you’re asking, the short answer is yes.
The Lightning is as familiar as an F-150 in style and features, but it has all the outlets, and it sports a massive front trunk (“frunk”). But charging experiences have been inconsistent for us, it’s not the most efficient EV, it’s not cheap, and it’s an F-150 for better and worse.
After spending a week living with the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, here’s where it hits and misses.
Hit: Looks and acts like an F-150
Simply put, the Lightning is an electric F-150 that America knows and loves. It looks (nearly) the same with slab sides and blunt ends. A lot of the sheet metal is actually shared between the trucks. Inside it’s just as similar. The folding shifter creates a flat work surface. In back, the tailgate has a slide-out step and C-clamp pockets.
Miss: Still an F-150
The F-150 may be the bestselling vehicle in America, but it’s not without its faults. The Ram 1500 has a nicer interior regardless of trim level or price. Beyond that, not everybody is going to want to live with an F-150. The Lightning’s classic body-on-frame construction shivers after some road impacts, even though it’s the best-driving version of the F-150. It’s also more than 12 feet long, just like a gas-powered F-150. Prepare for three-point turns and outdoor parking. It might not fit in your garage, or mine anyway.
Leave it to Ford to coin the term Megafrunk. With no gas engine, the Lightning’s hood covers an excellent storage space. The enclosed, secure storage space measures 14.1 cubic feet, which Ford says is good enough to carry two sets of golf clubs and up to 400 lb. The liftover height is much lower than that of the Rivian R1T’s frunk because the F-150’s front end rises with the hood. It’s much easier to lift things in and out than in a taller, deeper truck bed. The frunk even doubles as a cooler complete with a drain plug. Tailgating will never be the same.
Miss: Sometimes fast charges
Ford said the Lightning is capable of DC fast-charging at up to 150 kw. That should charge the Lightning’s 131-kwh battery pack from 15% to 80% in 41 minutes (Ford says the smaller 98-kwh pack will take an extra three minutes). Not amazing, but not awful. Rivian and others can do better. The Lightning and Mustang Mach-E are supposed to feature a hassle-free FordPass system that enables complimentary DC fast-charging on Electrify America’s network at up to 250 kw. That system failed to work for me with the Mustang Mach-E, and it failed to work in the Lightning for Senior Editor Bengt Halvorson. I was able to get the Lightning to fast-charge once I inserted my credit card, which shouldn’t be necessary with the FordPass plug-and-charge system, but the rate of charge never exceeded 81 kw. It took an hour to go from 22% to 80% charged. Not great. A Rivian R1T parked a few stalls down from the Lightning was pulling over 200 kw. Your (charging) rate and experience may vary.
Hit: All the outlets
The Lightning isn’t just a truck. It’s a rolling generator. It can power your campsite. It can power your work site. It can recharge another electric vehicle. The truck has an onboard generator running from 2.4 kw to 9.6 kw. In the bed there’s a 240-volt outlet running off a 30-amp breaker, and four 120-volt outlets with each set of two running off dedicated 20-amp breakers. All of it is standard. Up front the frunk has four 120-volt outlets plus a USB-A port all running off a dedicated 20-amp breaker. That’s before taking into account all the standard outlets and USB ports inside the cab. Nothing in production today can compete at this level.
Miss: In reality it’s expensive
The 2022 F-150 Lightning now costs $53,769, which is an increase of $12,100 from when it launched less than a year ago. That’s a nearly 30% increase, and that’s for the small 98-kwh battery pack with the 230-mile range. With the larger 131-kwh extended range battery pack, the F-150 Lightning XLT starts at $83,000 or $87,000 for a Lariat. The Lightning Platinum I tested costs nearly $100,000 now, which seems like absolute insanity.
The answer to people asking me if they should get a Lightning comes down to this: Do you like and want an electric vehicle? If yes, proceed to question two: Do you like and want a Ford F-150? If yes, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is for you, but your financial advisor might say otherwise.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
Base price: $53,769 including $1,795 destination
Price as tested: $93,509, but now nearly $100,000
Powertrain: 580 hp from dual motors, 98 kwh to 131 kwh battery pack, all-wheel drive
EPA range: 300 miles, or 73/60/66 MPGe
The hits: It’s an F-150, rolling generator, useful Megafrunk
The misses: Most are silly expensive, charging experiences aren’t consistent, it handles like a truck
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