These are not words and phrases one often gets to write when it comes to reviewing vehicles. I have driven some great ones in my time, but they were great more on the micro level. A vehicle that moves the yardsticks on a macro level, though? That’s rare.
But recently, I think I’ve experienced it and of course, it was behind the wheel of a pickup truck.
Indeed, why shouldn’t it be? Four of the five highest-selling passenger vehicles in Canada last year were pickups. If we’re going to see a real turning of the tides in the car and light truck world, it’s going to involve a big seller.
With the Ford F-150 Lightning EV pickup (Pro: $58,000, fleet only; XLT: $68,000; Lariat: $80,000; Platinum: $110,000), it doesn’t just involve a big seller but the
biggest seller as the F-150 has been the bestselling passenger vehicle in Canada for over 50 years running. If Ford could release an EV pickup that worked – that could still haul, still tow and still comfortably be an everyday driver – this could be their biggest release since the original 1948 F-1.
You wouldn’t necessarily know it from looking at the Lightning, however. With the exception of its unique non-grille and LED DRLs that arch o’er top of said grille, unique wheels, “Lightning” scripting along the side, this looks a lot like a standard F-150. Even the solid one-piece “grille” has been given a texture to make it look more traditional, while at the same time making the Lightning the most aerodynamic F-150 ever.
The interior follows suit; with the exception of the optional 15.5” infotainment display (a 12” item is standard) and slightly different gauge cluster, it’s all F-150 in here including a full-flat load floor with deployable rear underseat storage, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, optional heated front and rear seats and cooled front seats, optional full-length moonroof and standard collapsible shift lever. Why collapsible? If need be, you can fold out the armrest and use the area above the shift lever as a workspace. Or lunch table.
That outline you see surrounding fender badging, meanwhile, is there because that’s where the charge port is – on the left side, anyway. The right side just looks like there’s a charge port there. Charging maxes out at 150 kW. With a capable DC fast charger it can go from 15-80 per cent in 41 minutes in perfect conditions; cold temperatures can increase that by as much as 44 per cent in the worst case, so you’ll want to keep that in mind and pre-condition your truck, which can be done via an app.
Two battery sizes, are available: there’s a 98 kWh option providing a claimed 483 kilometres of range and 452 horsepower and a 131 kWh option providing 515 km and 580 hp. All Lightnings make a frankly startling 775 pound-feet of torque and get dual-motor AWD, enough to tow up to 10,000 pounds and haul up to 2,235 lbs of payload. And, it must be said, that’s enough to make it the most powerful F-150 Ford sells, which should appease those that will bemoan the fact that the last Lightning was a sports truck.
That’s all very impressive for an EV, but keep in mind you are limited to a 5.5-foot bed and SuperCrew cab and there is no FX4 off-road package for now, which could change going forward.
The underhood void left by the engine is used for something called a “Mega Power Frunk”. Essentially, it’s a storage area that can hold up to 400 lbs. and has a power hookup. That means if you’ve got a folding e-bike up there or battery-operated tools, for example, you can charge it all as you drive. The closed grille also means your stuff won’t get wet.
In addition to the item in the frunk, the bed comes with a standard 9.6 kW Pro Power Onboard power generator with four 120V sockets and a single 240V socket. It’s perfect for powering a jobsite…or your home.
Say you’ve installed a Level 2 wall charger at your home, and you’ve plugged your Lightning in. If you were to experience a power outage, the truck will automatically start powering your home and on a full charge, can do so for between 3-10 days depending on whether or not you’re watching your 70” OLED TV the whole time and slow-cooking roasts, or simply trying to keep the lights on. Once power comes back on, the current flips and the truck starts to charge again. Further, Ford says that soon, they’re expecting owners to be able to tell the truck to power their home during peak hours so you’re literally “off the grid” when it’s at its most expensive, if you live in a peak power situation. This isn’t just a new truck; it’s a whole new infrastructure.
The thing is, it is also a truck and it performs its traditional truck duties very well.
Power delivery is direct and without delay and while it won’t leap off the line like a Mach-E, you might not want that kind of acceleration from your truck. As long as there’s power enough to reach the end of the passing lane before that RV ahead does and to cruise comfortably at highway speeds, it’s all good. There’s even a digital “engine sound” you can turn off, if you so please. The menu used for this function is also used for your one-pedal drive toggle and when on, I was pleased to find it doesn’t clamp the binders too violently when you release the throttle, just gently applies some drag, all the way to stop.
Since there is no transmission and no mechanical engine at work, I was left without the groans and moans associated with towing as I hooked up to a 5,000 lb. trailer. The Lightning just goes about its business with nary a complaint. I did see my range drop by about half while towing the load but as always: if towing is job number 1 for you, there are other trucks to go with. Still, the Lightning gets all the great tow gadgets seen elsewhere in the line-up such as Pro Trailer Backup Assist and the ability to have your blind spot system cover the length of your trailer.
When it comes to hauling, meanwhile, the Lightning gets a suite of apps including a digital scale.
While the powertrain is obviously the biggest add over every other F-150 out there, they haven’t forgotten about the chassis. To wit: the Lightning marks the first time an F-150 gets independent rear suspension. The result is a much smoother ride and coupled with all that heavy battery weight sitting nice and low in the chassis, reduced body roll.
The Lightning is a homerun hit for Ford. Actually, when you consider its infrastructure, it’s a walk-off grand slam and it’s easy to understand why there are already 200,000 orders for this thing, even though they can only produce 100,000 out of a special division at the Rouge Assembly in Michigan for ’22. That kind of adoption alone is a really good indicator that with the Lightning, the EV vehicle has left the realm of the strange, or the weird, or different and entered the realm of the mainstream.
The writer attended this media drive as a guest of the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
four-door mid-size pickup truck
all-wheel-drive, dual EV motor
98 kWh or 131 kWh
FUEL ECONOMY CITY/HIGHWAY/COMBINED:
/100 km (standard range); 3.0/3.7/3.3 Le
/100 km (extended range)
1-speed direct drive
$58,000 (Pro) $68,000 (XLT); $80,000 (Lariat); $110,000 (Platinum)
WEBSITE: Ford F-150 Lightning