When we look back on the transition from gas to electric vehicles, this will be the one that changed everything. General Motors gets credit for the first modern electric vehicle with the EV1 a quarter-century ago, and Tesla showed the world a way towards mass adoption, but Ford will get credit for taking them truly mainstream. The 2022 F-150 Lightning changes…and charges…everything.
It’s what’s not under the hood that first gets your attention. Where past F-150 owners viewed V8 and turbocharged V6 engines, there’s…a frunk. Press a button on the key fob to power open the hood for space to seal and secure golf bags, grocery bags, laundry bags, or just a load of pumpkins my family hauled from the farm. Baskets of apples, camping gear, and construction tools fit too. Plug in with household outlets.
Batteries and motors hide under the skin, which is similar to other F-150s. Though, there’s a textured gray panel where air would normally flow to the radiator, and angular LEDs encircle the front, the truck is only further differentiated by a power plug door on the front driver-side fender. Our Lariat trim also came with 20” dark alloy wheels, twin-panel moonroof, Lightning logos, and a power tailgate with flip-out step. Tie down your gear on spray-in bedliner. A panel of household plugs in the bed allows additional connection for camping and work gear.
Interior details and technology continue to gently separate the Lightning from gasoline versions. Sliding inside, you’ll first notice the gigantic tablet-style touchscreen and flatscreen gauges. Navigation, B&O audio, and wireless phone charging are part of it – as are heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and a power sliding rear window. A button retracts the shifter so you can flip open the console for a mobile desk – complete with another household plug in the dash. Safety is enhanced with adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and an in-dash trailer brake controller.
It was a lot of fun taking some of my mother trucking friends for a ride in the Lightning. I know V8 and twin-turbo V6 engines are very cool, but they will not instantly and silently send 580 horsepower and 775 lb.-ft. of torque to their all-wheel-drive systems. Tap down to see 0-60 mph in 4 seconds. Fully charged with the extended-range battery, our Lightning travels 320 miles per charge and can tow 10,000 lbs.
But, not at the same time. Larger trailers will suck about half of the range, which can be replenished 15-80% in 41 minutes. Use it for hauling a load of mulch, carrying bicycles, or lumber for weekend projects, and you’ll notice little difference. Unlike any other pickup, it can even power your house after a storm.
And, while you’re contemplating all that yummy goodness, consider the Lightning is also the best-riding F-150 to date. All of the battery weight is kept low in the frame, which improves handling – as does an independent rear suspension that keeps the rear from doing the jiggles over rough pavement. Configure the truck’s attitude through throttle-altering drive modes including Normal, Sport, Tow/Haul, and Off-road.
Ford nailed the Lightning, an EV that makes traditional truck buyers comfortable while showing them how cool the future will be. Sure, it will require constant charging with a trailer attached, but the truck’s acceleration and driving experience puts big points on the board. Still don’t want an EV? Go for a drive and we’ll see!
The F-150 Lightning starts around $40,000 for a basic work truck, but this loaded Lariat came to a lofty $88,619. Competitors will soon include the Rivian R1T, Tesla Cybertruck, Chevy Silverado EV, and Ram EV.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, Five-passenger, 4×4 Pickup
Powertrain: Li-ion batteries/motor
Output: 580hp/775 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
Brakes f/r: regen disc/disc
Must-have features: Power, Utility
Driving range: 320 miles
0-60 mph: 4.0s
Economy city/hwy: 78/63 mpg-e
Assembly: Dearborn, Mich.
Base/as-tested price: $39,974/88,619