Reviews

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning First Drive – Ready for Duty

The phrases ‘all-new’ and ‘seismic shift’ are too continuously hurled round by those that peck their manner round a keyboard between visits to shrimp-laden buffet tables. Nonetheless, when the nation’s best-selling automobile – the picture of which is so intently tied to America that it would as nicely have a baseball hat and an apple pie in its glovebox – is fitted with a completely new methodology of powering its manner down the freeway and round job websites, even the j-j-jaded TTAC workforce will sit up and take curiosity.

In comparison with different efforts within the electrical pickup truck area, reminiscent of ridiculously angular examples loudly and annoyingly defended by fanbois jihads teams of rabid admirers, the Ford F-150 Lightning truly exists in huge numbers and is actively being cranked out of a manufacturing unit close to Detroit. There’s no scarcity of vaporware within the EV truck phase, with quite a few Barnum-like firms making grandiose guarantees amounting to naught, taking the hopes and money of others down together with them.

With the F-150 Lightning, Ford is certainly *not* peddling vaporware. It’s right here, it’s actual, and we drove a number of examples final week in – the place else? – Texas.

Toiling at this outlet for over a decade has supplied a number of classes, not the least of which is the information you lot within the B&B choose base trims to the options-laden examples that are normally on provide at drive occasions. To be blunt, your authors right here typically agree. That’s why we jockeyed to snag the keys to a Professional trim truck, a mannequin with vinyl seats and a rubber flooring which represents the least costly finish of Ford’s snazzy new all-electric pickup truck.

(Full disclosure: Ford paid for flights, meals, and housing in San Antonio, Texas, in order that we may drive the brand new Lightning.)

It’s the trim bearing the much-touted sticker worth of $39,974. Regardless of its lot in life as an entry-level rung on the totem pole, it packs everlasting four-wheel drive due to twin inboard electrical motors, a whopping 775 lb-ft of torque, and 230 miles of vary from its 98 kWh battery pack. The slick and helpful frunk – offering 14 cubic toes of weather-protected cargo area and a quartet of 120V shops able to cost yer DeWalt drill batteries or Igloo cooler – is a part of the deal, as are Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of lively driver aids and luxuries like dual-zone local weather management. The truth is, it’s even geared up with an infotainment display robbed from the most-expensive gas-powered F-150 pickup. Whereas the urethane wheel and undamped tailgate are prepared for work, they’re accompanied by a variety of the tech many drivers like – even when they received’t admit it to their hardhat buddies. Lightning’s cabin is like some other F-150, which is an effective factor.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Professional

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum

For an extra 10 grand, fleet clients can step as much as a Professional with the 131kWh prolonged vary battery or all arms can go for that powertrain in an XLT, Lariat, or Platinum. This brings 580 all-electric horses to the steady, an equal quantity of torque as customary vary vans, and a driving vary of 320 miles (save for Platinum whose 22-inch rimz shave vary to 300 miles). It’s that energy workforce we wheeled within the Lone Star state over a mixture of congested site visitors, nation roads, and steady-state freeway driving. EVs carry out most poorly within the latter since there are few power regeneration alternatives, which is the inverse of gasoline-powered vans who typically get their greatest financial system on the freeway. We averaged an power consumption of two.0mi/kWh over 105 miles, spiking to a median of two.8 throughout a stretch of heavy site visitors through which the truck aggressively regenerated energy by way of one-pedal driving. To achieve the marketed 320-mile vary score, one must hit a median of two.44; inconceivable however not unimaginable. Assuming an electrical financial system of two.0mi/kWh, the prolonged vary battery pack can be exhausted in 262 miles.

Anybody who’s pushed an empty pickup truck will know the sunshine feeling in its aft part due to a cargo field typically full of air. The Lightning solves that drawback with its liquid-cooled battery pack, a candy-bar-shaped unit that Ford engineers advised us weighs about 1,600 lbs and spans the truck between its entrance and rear tires. The truck feels planted, due to a middle of gravity a number of inches decrease and some inches rearward in comparison with an EcoBoost F-150. Lightning’s powertrain silence is a visit, allowing one to listen to rain splash towards the rocker panels and each single freeway growth joint. Steering is fast, virtually too fast for a truck, however is tempered in trailering mode which we’ll speak about in a second. So-called ‘one-pedal driving’ helps regenerate valuable power however takes acclimation if one is used to letting their truck coast to a cease.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

For stats nerds, know the Lightning has about half an inch much less floor clearance than most trims of a gasoline-powered SuperCrew 4×4, the closest allegory since that’s the sole cab configuration through which the Lightning is (presently) provided. Cab top, width, monitor – all are inside a hair when evaluating the electrical truck to its petrol brothers. Even its off-road measures of strategy and departure angles are inside a pencil’s width of one another, although breakover suffers by 1.2 levels due to that half-inch distinction in floor clearance.

Talking of, Ford didn’t shrink back from permitting us to place the Lightning in powerful off-road spots. A muddy water crossing led right into a area of jagged rocks, all of which rapidly grew to become slicker than snot on a doorknob after a dozen or so vans handed by way of the realm. Silent off-roading is alien, allowing the motive force to listen to each pebble and squeak of tire. Finessing the truck’s energy took extra throttle management than standard due to the ability supply nature of an electrical automobile however the Lightning dealt with the course nicely with its weak spot being the pavement-focused rubber. Slapping a set of meaty KO2s on every nook would resolve this drawback on the expense of vary.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Which neatly brings us to the query everybody needs answered: How is vary affected by truck-like duties reminiscent of heavy payload and towing? We first sampled a Professional with 20 sheets of ¾-inch plywood in its mattress, a weight Ford claimed to be roughly 1,500 kilos. This jives together with your writer’s estimate that every 4×8 sheet of the stuff weighs about 70 lbs; additionally, at in the present day’s costs, it’s not disingenuous to recommend they collectively price greater than your writer’s first automotive. Our second weight take a look at was a boxy horse trailer laden with 5,000 kilos. Each vans had the prolonged vary powertrain.

Recall our unladen power consumption from earlier – 2.0mi/kWh spiking to 2.8 in heavy site visitors. The payload take a look at noticed that quantity drop to a constant 1.5 mile per kWh, although it was doable to get it below 1.0 whereas driving like a idiot. The even weight distribution we loved throughout our unladen drive was altered by this payload, placing a variety of mass on the truck’s rear. The truth is, it was simple to gentle up the entrance tires whereas accelerating very arduous on this state of affairs – not that you must with 1,500lbs of plywood within the field.

Trailering with a Platinum trim was an analogous story although weight distribution was much less of a problem – and if something about trailering, you perceive why. A 5,000 lb trailer (half this truck’s max) may have about 500 kilos of tongue weight urgent down on the truck’s hindquarters, one-third of what was loaded aboard our payload tester. This solved the lighter-than-air front-end feeling exhibited within the plywood-laden truck. Acceleration was brisk given the proper now availability of diesel-like torque numbers, although the truck’s silent powertrain exacerbated each single squeak and rattle which perpetually emanates from tow behinds. In the event you suppose yer metallic boat trailer is annoying now, wait till you hitch it to a Lightning. Vitality consumption dropped to an indicated common of 1.3 mile per kWh due to the trailer’s mass and boxy form.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Put in conventional phrases, meaning a battery-powered Lightning will get roughly between half and two-thirds of its unladen financial system when towing or hauling. Surprisingly, that is decently on par with the losses one experiences with a comparable gasoline-powered EcoBoost; private expertise has confirmed I can eke out 10 mpg when towing with a 3.5L-equipped F-150 in comparison with its unladen efficiency of about 20 mpg mixed. The most important distinction, after all, is one is ranging from a smaller vary with the Lightning than with an EcoBoost; two-thirds of 320 miles is quite a bit lower than two-thirds of 520 miles. One thought: Including weight within the type of a payload or a trailer permits aggressive power regeneration throughout downhill stretches, one thing a gasoline-powered pattern can not accomplish.

As for worth, an equivalently optioned PowerBoost (the closest parallel when it comes to energy) is about $12,000 cheaper earlier than taxes and a maze of rebates than a comparably geared up extended-range Lightning.

There’s a lot extra to cowl, together with Lightning’s trick capacity to energy one’s house to the tune of 9.4kW and a set of slick onboard weigh scales, however we’ll element that in a separate submit in order to not topic readers to a 3,000-word tome. Search for that tomorrow as we unfold out protection. Our driving impressions and real-world vary estimates whereas utilizing the factor like an actual truck recommend the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a sledgehammer to the face of firms peddling electrical vaporware.

[Images © 2022 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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