Before diving in, let’s address the elephant in the room. Long-distance drivers and those lacking access to at-home charging should probably stick to diesel and gasoline. But let’s say you’re EV-curious. Drive fewer than 200 or 300 miles each day. Have the budget to install an 80-amp at-home charger. And aren’t planning to supercharge a Coyote-powered V8 F-150. For you fine folks, let me regale you with tales of the mighty 2022 F-150 Lightning.
One of, if not the, most powerful, fastest, best-handling F-150s of all time.
Ford recently hosted several regional dealer training seminars featuring several early 2022 F-150 Lightning PROTOTYPES. In other words, hand-built. Running early software. Imperfect and unfinished. Over the course of a couple hours, Ford reps outlined the Lightning’s features, engineering, and capabilities before rocketing us around an auto-cross style cone course to show off its acceleration, braking, and overall handling.
It’s Crazy Fast (Like Mustang GT Fast)
Earlier this year, I reviewed the F-150 PowerBoost and came away impressed. Dropping a Hybrid drivetrain behind the 3.5L EcoBoost produces 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque, making it faster than a second-gen F-150 Raptor. As a V8 lover, the extra 160 lb-ft of torque over the 5.0L Coyote sure does make up for the missing engine roar.
And the all-electric F-150 Lightning is even better.
Spec one with the extended range battery and you’re rocking 563 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of INSTANT torque. Ford didn’t let us measure acceleration during the ride-along experience, but if you watch the above video, you’ll see us rocket to 74mph in very quick order…
In a four-door, 6,500-lb truck on regular tires…
Before diving into and devouring an autocross course at speeds that feel more like a 3,700-lb Mustang GT. That’s right, the Lightning weighs almost 3,000-lbs MORE than the Mustang, yet can keep up with (and maybe best) it in a straight line.
The Lightning’s mass is problematic in the twisties, of course. But, remember, this isn’t a sports car. Compare the new Lightning to any current F-150 gasser and the EV’s superiority is striking. With a lower center of gravity, it turns in quicker and with less body roll. And the first-for-an-F-150 independent rear suspension makes for the smoothest F-Series ride quality EVER.
In fact, the 2022 F-150 Lightning handles so well, and is so fast, we’d love to see Ford offer some sort of optional Recaro bucket sport seating. (And maybe a lowered suspension option with Michelin Pilot Sport tires for added grip.)
Identical Interior & Amenities (Almost)
Touring the insides of three Lightning Prototypes… Ford had a PRO, an XLT, and a LARIAT on hand, but FYI there will also be a Platinum trim level.
The Pro is designed for fleet sales and craftsmen. Rubber floors and vinyl seating are standard, but so is the console shifter as well as the digital gauge cluster and 12″ SYNC 4 screen that, in the gas-powered F-150, is only standard at Lariat or above trim levels. The only thing missing from the Pro, as far as I can see, is the decorative illumination that runs across the front grille.
The XLT looks virtually identical to the XLT PowerBoost with the 402A package that we reviewed earlier this year. Except you can’t order a Lightning with three-person front-row seating. All Lightnings include the console shifter. And like the Pro, the Digital Guage Cluster and 12″ SYNC 4 screen are standard.
Last but not least, we have the Lariat, which features two-tone leather seating surfaces very much like the gas-powered Lariat. The big upgrade here, and also in the Platinum, is the 15-inch vertical SYNC 4A screen out of the Mustang Mach E.
In addition to the larger screen, SYNC 4A boasts more customization and interaction. It offers driver profiles and learns what features you use the most as well as how you drive, which helps the Lightning’s Intelligent Range functionality predict more accurate range estimates tailored to each individual driver. (SYNC 4 Lightnings also have Intelligent Range, but it doesn’t remember each driver).
The big takeaway from these prototypes is that the Lightning looks and feels like a normal F-150. Except it’s a little fancier in the tech department. When you start it up, it’s silent. And there’s a big, lockable frunk (front-trunk) that you can also wash out with a garden house (no pressure washers, please).
All-New Chassis & Serviceable Battery
While the cab and bed are identical to the gas-powered F-150, the 2022 F-150 Lightning sits on an all-new chassis with independent front and rear suspensions, dual electric motors, and two available battery packs (standard and extended range). Speaking of the battery, the extended range iteration will be the largest EV battery on the market when the Lightning debuts.
Ford also plans to offer an 8-year, 100K-mile battery (and drivetrain) warranty — if the battery’s charge capacity drops below 70%, Ford will replace it. Unlike Teslas, where the batteries have become part of the vehicle’s structure, Ford made the Lightning’s battery pack serviceable.
Only eight bolts connect the battery pack to the frame rails.
Inside the battery pack, there are several separate battery modules, each made up of hundreds of individual cells. This means that Ford can service and replace individual components, rather than have to replace the entire battery pack if one component fails. Which seems smart because it should save Ford money during warranty, and customers money outside warranty.
Should You Upgrade to the Extended Range Battery? (Probably.)
We don’t know everything about 2022 F-150 Lightning pricing just yet. But Ford did say the Extended Range battery would be a $10,000 option on the Pro, which starts just under $40,000 (for a no-option, standard-range version). Ten grand seems like a lot, especially when Ford only charges $7,500 for the extended range battery in the Mach E.
But here’s everything included for that $10,000…
Extra range. The extended range battery bumps the Lightning’s targeted EPA range to 300 miles (up from 230). From what we can tell, Ford wants to achieve these range estimates with 1,000 lbs of cargo, so the range with an empty truck could be even more impressive.
More power. The extended range battery promises 563 peak ponies, up from 426. This pushes the 0-60 mph time into the mid-4-second range where the standard range battery will hit 60 in about 5 seconds. Both batteries offer 775 lb-ft of torque. In short, the extended range battery fuels the most powerful and quickest F-150 of all time.
Dual OnBoard Charging. The extended range battery adds a second onboard charger to the Lightning’s charging system. No, you do NOT need to use two cables, nor plug it into two outlets. It just means that the system separates the incoming amperage. From a practicality standpoint, what this means is that the Extend Range Battery pack can charge from 15-100% in 8 hours at home (with Ford’s 80 amp charger) where the Standard Range Battery charges in 10.
Included 80 Amp Charger & Intelligent Backup Power Switch. Every single Ford EV includes a mobile charger, which allows you to plug into any 120V or 240V wall plug. Charging times aren’t fast, mind you. But Ford likens these to a jerry can of gasoline; for help in a pinch.
However, the Extended Range Battery also includes an 80 Amp Ford Charging Station. It requires professional installation, of course, but as mentioned above, will recharge the Lightning from 15-100% in 8 hours. There’s also power switch to take your home on or off the grid. Why? Because the Lightning offers Intelligent Backup, effectively turning your truck into a mobile battery pack for various emergencies.
Ford says the extended range Lightning can power a typical home for up to 3 days, or even longer periods depending on how you’re using your power. And with up to 9.6Kw of power available via standard plugs, you could take it to a worksite and/or a friend or family member’s home during an emergency too.
It’s Not the Craziest Truck (EV or ICE), but It’s Still Relatively Affordable
While the F-150 Lightning is plenty quick, it’s not quite the king of hot rod trucks. The RAM TRX and Rivian RT1 are already faster. And the forthcoming HUMMER and Tesla CyberTruck will probably be bonkers as well.
But the Lightning promises to be the most affordable of the bunch.
Again, a no-option Pro starts under $40 grand, and you’ll probably be able to get an extended range XLT in the mid-to-high $50s. Not cheap, mind you. But we recently tested an XLT PowerBoost with all the options (including SYNC 4) that MSRP’d over $63 grand.
In this context, it should be relatively easy to spec out a Lightning at or under the cost of a similarly-trimmed, gas-powered F-150. And that doesn’t even take into account tax rebates offered for EV buyers. Meaning, the Lightning could hypothetically offer more power, features, and capabilities at a lower (final) price point than the gas option.
And that right there is Ford’s trump card.
The Lightning is going to change the EV truck game not because it is The Best, but because it’s going to be The Most Widely Available and Affordable.
Is the F-150 Lightning perfect? No. The best? Nope. For everyone? Not even close.
But name a truck that is. Some want to tow. Others want luxury. Sometimes you need tow doors. Or maybe four. Everyone’s a little different, with a range of available budgets. It’s why the F-Series starts under $30,000 and will run you well into the six figures depending on body style, trim, model, and features.
For example, I adore the 6.7L PowerStroke Super Duty. It’s a capable beast and a blast to drive. But it doesn’t fit and my garage and is far too large for my needs. GREAT truck; not for me.
The Lightning is similar.
If you need to drive long distances daily and/or can’t install at-home charging, skip the Lightning. And if you want similar performance with a growl, you could always drop a Whipple or Roush supercharger onto a 5.0L Coyote-powered F-150 and still be 50-state legal.
But if you are a homeowner that commutes fewer than 200 or 300 miles per day, rarely roadtrips, and doesn’t tow over 10,000 pounds, the F-150 Lightning is pretty darn spectacular. And not because it’s an EV. But because it’s already the most powerful and smoothest F-150 ever made.
Photos: Michael S. Palmer & Ford Motor Company
Source: Ford Truck Enthusiasts