New Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck: specs, range and first-drive review

Electric power puts on a new spin on one of the world’s most popular vehicles

Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford’s F-Series pickup trucks have been around for more than 70 years, with over 40 million sold in that time – primarily in its home market of the USA. It’s never gone on sale in the UK, but the arrival of a fully electric version marks a significant milestone in the switch to zero-emissions vehicles.

That said, the F-150 Lightning isn’t the only contender in the electric pickup truck class. The Rivian R1T and Hummer EV are both on sale in the US now, with the Chevrolet Silverado EV and the Tesla Cybertruck set to follow hot on their heels. 

According to the American EPA test cycle, which differs slightly to the WLTP system we use in Europe, F-150 Lightnings fitted with the 98kWh standard range battery can cover up to 240 miles on a charge. But if you go for the 131kWh extended range unit that figure jumps to 320 miles. Regardless of the battery, every model features a dual-motor setup for all-wheel drive and over 1,050Nm of torque.

There are some differences in charging speeds though: the standard-range F-150 Lightning can charge at up to 120kW, which means a 15-80% top up requires 44 minutes at a suitably fast rapid charger. However, the long-range version peaks at 155kW, so replenishing the 131kWh battery to the same level takes just 41 minutes. 

The long-range model also boasts a towing capacity of 4.5 tonnes (10,000lbs), compared to the standard-range F-150 Lightning’s 3.5 tonnes (7,700lbs) limit. But, standard-range versions have a slightly higher maximum payload of 907kg, which is roughly 100kg more than the long-range model can carry. Thankfully, there are scales in the truck’s 1.67-metre load bed that can detect the payload weight and adjust the Lightning’s range estimate on the dashboard accordingly.

Higher-spec Lightning models also feature Ford’s 'BlueCruise' hands-free driving system, which can be activated on certain stretches of US and Canadian highway. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, BlueCruise is totally hands-free, but it can only be engaged on pre-programmed roads; there are over 130,000 miles of designated ‘hands-free zones’ already, and more coming soon. 

Due to its sheer size, we don’t expect the electric F-150 to come to Britain anytime soon, however, its technology could be carried over to the smaller Ford Ranger model, which is currently available in the UK with a diesel engine. If so, a Ford ‘Ranger Lightning’ would serve as a rival to the Maxus T90EV pickup that recently went on sale here.

Ford F-150 Lightning first-drive review

The Ford F-150 Lightning is undeniably one of the most important electric cars ever made. That’s a bold statement for sure, but once you consider the unwavering popularity of the pickup truck, the F-Series’ loyal fanbase, and its potential to change many Americans' perception of EVs, the significance of this pickup truck is clear. So obviously, we wanted to try it out for ourselves.

The styling of the F-150 Lightning is more understated than the Rivian or Hummer it competes with, as the overall shape is barely changed from the regular V8-powered F-150. The full-width LED light bars at the front and rear, plus the blanked off grille and more aerodynamic wheels do hint this is the EV version, but the familiar looks should appeal to the F-150 diehards the Lightning needs to win over.

That said, during our time with the all-electric F-150 we became accustomed to people stopping to stare, not to mention firing off a barrage of questions about how we managed to get our hands on one. That’s because, to date, Ford has 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, and isn’t taking any more right now, so clearly the sales pitch is working.

The truck we drove was the top-of-the-range Platinum model, with all the bells and whistles including the 131kWh extended range battery and 555bhp motor. That’s plenty of poke, with a 0-62mph time in the mid-four-second range, which you can use to stun any sports car driver you leave at the lights in this three-tonne truck – as we discovered first hand.

But switching from Sport to Normal mode, and leaving the city for the open roads of southern California, we had an indicated range of 298 miles, which is just 20 miles less than the truck’s claimed range. Unfortunately, from here, the truck’s energy consumption was higher than expected, so we reduced the level of regenerative braking to allow the truck to roll more on the highway – a trick we used more than once over the course of our road trip. 

As well as highway cruising, the F-150 Lightning can also tackle windier country roads; its ride comfort is likely thanks to the truck’s independent suspension system – a first for the F-150.

The wealth of technology in the cabin also helps when you’re covering many miles in the F-150 Lightning. In our range-topping Platinum model that included a 12-inch digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel paired with a 15.5-inch central touchscreen swiped from the Mustang Mach-E SUV. Less expensive models get a slightly smaller 12-inch unit. 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across the range, while the 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system in our truck proved a real treat. The Lightning’s rapid charging capabilities also came in handy, providing hundreds of miles of range in the time it took for a long lunch.

Some of the truck’s other tricks? As there's no engine, customers are rewarded with a 400-litre 'frunk' under the bonnet. Plus, built-in electrical outlets in both the load bed and frunk allow you to power tools and other equipment from the truck’s battery, and bi-directional charging means you can top up another EV, or even power a house in an emergency.

It’s also worth noting that, unlike the Rivian R1T or Hummer EV, the Lightning range features a more affordable, commercial-focused version called the Pro, priced at $46,974 (c.£39,000) before any tax incentives. For that you get the standard range powertrain, plus Ford’s Co-Pilot360 2.0 safety and driver assist systems, the onboard scales, rapid charging capabilities, a 12-inch central infotainment touchscreen and the Pro Power Onboard function to power tools and other equipment. 

However, if you were to go for a top-of-the-range Platinum like ours, that would set you back at least $96,874 (c.£81,000). Though, in the world of electric pickup trucks, that’s not the craziest price tag we’ve seen.

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