Video: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: Review
By Cars.com EditorsMay 12, 2022
We're here in San Antonio to drive the all-new 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup truck. It's not the first all-electric pickup to hit market, but it is the first from a mainstream brand. We have some history at cars.com with Ford pickups.
The redesigned F-150 won both our Best of and Best Pickup Awards, and we actually bought an F-150 limited hybrid. And then, last year, the Maverick swept both of those awards again, and now we have a 2022 Maverick Lariat hybrid. So now we're here with an all-electric Ford after two hybrid Ford pickups. We'll have to wait till we get it back home in Chicago for a more comprehensive test, particularly with our home charging setups. But for now, let's see how it does. Let's check it out. Part of what makes the F-150 Lightning so compelling is that it really doesn't look that much different from a non-electric F-150. Since there's no need for a grill, you do get this solid piece and you do get a new Lighting signature, but up front you'd be hard pressed to tell besides those two things that this is any different. This does hold the mega power frunk underneath, but coming along the sides, you do get some new wheel designs. Here's the charging port. And then along the sides you just get F-150. The running boards are flat for aerodynamics flat underneath for aerodynamics, and then you get some Lightning badging with the unique blue accent. And when you come around to the back, you get the same across body LED Lighting signature that you see up front and some more badging as well with the little Lightning logo there, but really that's about it. I should also note that the Lightning Pro has a little bit of a different look that's more of the fleet only lower cost model. So I'm sitting inside the F-150 Lariat and we've already really gone over the F-150 Lightnings interior at last year's Chicago auto show. So I'll try not to belabor that here but what's really striking is like the exterior just how similar this is to a gas-powered F-150 that you can buy right now. This model does come equipped with BlueCruise It's available on Lariat and Platinum models. So you do have a camera here and another camera over here to make sure your eyes are on the road while your hands are off the wheel. The other big difference is that in Lariat and Platinum models, you get this 15.5 inch SYNC 4A system, which moves pretty much all the controls to touchscreens. We're not huge fans of that. It's not the most convenient or user-friendly way to do things. There is still a physical volume knob, but things like climate control, everything exists within the screen. Sync 4A is relatively easy to use, I've found, but they're just multiple menus for things that could be simple button pushes. Lower trim models do get a smaller screen that maintains more physical controls but higher trim levels will get this fancy SYNC 4A. Interesting to if SYNC 4A starts propagating into lower trims and more Ford products in the future. Other than that, you still get mostly F-150 stuff. So there's a wireless charging pad here, USBC and A ports. You can also get a collapsible gear selector that folds down, and this model comes equipped with the work surface that folds flat. Eat your lunch, put your laptop here. Do things like that. Otherwise, this is an F-150. This feels just like our long-term F-150, although a little bit lower materials quality because this is a lower trim level. So the F-150's breaks feel somewhat like a traditional EVs, which is good and bad. They do have a decent amount of stopping power. There's just not a lot of pedal feel, like it feels like it takes a lot of effort to push the pedal down. Not super communicative. The Lightning does in fact have one pedal driving, not every EV does. I've only been driving for maybe an hour and a half, two hours right now, so I don't quite have the feel down. I don't find the accelerator pedal to do a great job of communicating as I'm letting off, which means that I can be surprised by some sudden breaking force. But one pedal driving is one of my favorite ways to drive EV, so I'm glad it's here. And I think obviously with more experience, you build up a better feel for it. Again, I haven't spent much time inside this vehicle but as of now, I haven't found any way to adjust any sort of level of regenerative braking in the truck. It's pretty much, "Do you want to use one pedal driving? Yes or no?" But beyond that, you can't really change or at least I haven't found how to change yet. Just how much regenerative force the brakes produce. So we're on some bumpy roads right now, which you may or may not see in the way my body moves but the ride quality overall feels like a traditional pickup truck with a load in the back. I think ride quality in this particular F-150 Lightning is also helped by its 20 inch wheels. Our long-term F-150 with which I've spent the most time of any F-150 has 22 inch wheels, which can lead to a lot of impact harshness. I haven't noticed that nearly as much here. Overall, it's a pleasant experience. Still very much handles like a truck, which is to say not super well. Road wind and tire noise is pretty impressive to me. There's obviously some and that's probably exacerbated a bit by the lack of engine noise to drown out any exterior noises. But not too bad, certainly not annoying. One of the most impressive things about the F-150 Lightning and how it drives is its power. This is a Lighting model with the extended range battery, which means it has 320 miles of range. But more importantly than that, at least for right now, is it has 580 horsepower and 775 pounds feet of torque. We're coming up to a stop sign now, so I can show you in one second. But what that means is it can do things like this. Chirp the tires and push your head back in the seat before you even realize what's going on, but what's also great about the Lightning is that in addition to power from a stop, you definitely have ample passing power at highway speed. So if you need to get around something, merge into traffic, you've got power to spare. Ford says the Lightning can do zero to 60 in about the mid-four-second range. We can't wait to test that ourselves, mostly because it's just so much fun. The standard range battery is available in the pro XLT and Lariat. That gives you 230 miles of range and 452 horsepower to go with that 775 pounds feet of torque. The extended range battery is also available in the XLT and Lariat as well as the range topping platinum. In the XLT and Lariat that gets you 320 miles of range in the platinum that drops to 300. As far as range thus far, we started with just under 320 miles of range and we're currently at 223. I also have not been driving that carefully at all and spent a good chunk of time in sport mode. There's not a whole lot of body roll in the F-150 Lightning relative to other pickup trucks, which is to say, there's a fair amount of body roll because it's a pickup truck. I don't think there's maybe quite as much as our F-150 but really I'd have to drive them back to back to be certain either way. As far as steering feedback. Again, it's a pickup truck. You're not expecting a sports car here, are you? If you are, I mean, you could try the TRX or the Raptor but those are really sports cars for dirt and not the road. What I'm saying is that the steering communicates enough that I'm not complaining about it, but not really a whole lot because it's a truck and it's not tuned to be communicating every bit of road to you. Parking the F-150 Lightning is about a straightforward as parking a regular F-150. This one comes with parking assist systems that can do it for you automatically, handle the steering for you. This one also has a helpful 360 degree camera system to make that easier. So one other feature available on higher level trims of the F-150 Lightning is BlueCruise, which is what Ford calls its hands-free driving system. As you can see, we are on the highway. I am not using my hands and we are driving. It does get mad. If you start looking away from the system. There are monitors here and here to make sure you're keeping your eyes on the road. But, overall it works pretty well. It's a very straightforward hands-free system. There's no automatic lane changing or anything at this time. The Ford says they're working on rolling that feature out along with other enhancements as well. Now having said all that, do I like using BlueCruise? Not really, but that's because I don't like not holding onto the wheel and controlling the car. And I don't know how my passenger in the back seat also feels about the fact that I don't have my hands on the wheel right now. It's a very, just uncomfortable situation for me. And now it wants to turn off for some reason, which isn't really clear except it said, "Keep hands on steering wheel." So now we're back to driving normally But when it works, it works pretty well. According to Ford, it will work down to a stop. Now, BlueCruise will only work on pre-map sections of highway unlike say Tesla's autopilot or full self-driving. But I actually prefer that for my sense of safety. According to this trip in 49.7 miles of driving, we have averaged 0.8 miles per kilowat hour. Granted, it has been idling as well, but that's not great. Ford does say that the impact of towing on the range of an electric vehicle is roughly equivalent to the impact of towing on fuel economy of an internal combustion vehicle. Not sure I believe that, but that is what Ford claims. Probably, my biggest complaint right now driving along is that I don't have actual towing specific side mirrors, but these do give an okay view of the sides of the boat trailer we're pulling behind us. Part of the fun of the Lightning is just how quick and powerful it is when unladen, but while towing you do lose a lot of that surprise and wow factor. It is still amply powerful, just not obviously as quick as it could be. If it didn't have say 8,300 pounds behind you. This is a very short tow route, but it included surface roads and freeway. And this is impressive. We've used about seven miles of range and the range calculation has been very low. We started with about 82 miles of range. We're down to 75, but the range calculation has also been accurate for the situation. So are you going to be able to get very far in one charge while towing? No. Is it going to be fairly accurate for how far you can get? Yes. You just have to plan accordingly. I'm not sure this is the choice necessarily for someone who needs a long haul towing rig, but it does have the ability to at least tow those heavy loads. How far you can get is a different story. I've only spent a brief time in the Lightning but I've come away very impressed. It's too early to say whether or not Ford has another award winning pickup truck on its hands. So we'll have to wait for more comprehensive testing. So, stay tuned for that and more at cars.com.