We have electric cars, electric SUVs, and now we have electric trucks. But does an electric truck like the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning make sense so early in the EV revolution? Could it still do all the truck stuff like tow and haul while providing a spacious and comfortable cabin?
Motor – Depending on which battery pack you opt for, the F-150 Lightning has either 452 hp & 775 lb-ft (337 kW & 1,050 Nm) of torque with the standard battery or 580 hp & 775 lb-ft (433 kW & 1,050 Nm) of torque with the larger extended range battery. This demo vehicle has the latter and it allows this 2,885 kg (6,360 lbs) truck to accelerate from a stop to 100 km/h in about 4 seconds. That’s almost as fast as the F-150 Raptor R supertruck. With the Lightning being all electric, the power & torque is instant without any hesitation. There’s so much power that the front wheels chirp a bit as they struggle to find grip. Granted, this demo vehicle came equipped with snow tires which don’t provide quite as much grip as all-season tires.
Battery & Charging – The standard battery has 98 kWh of capacity while the extended range battery has 131 kWh. With the standard battery, the F-150 Lightning can drive for up to 386 km (240 miles). The extended range battery allows the electric truck to drive for up to 515 km (320 miles). But if you opt for the Platinum trim, that range drops to 483 km (300 miles). This demo vehicle being the Lariat, 515 km was more than enough driving range for city runabouts.
With the extended range battery, Ford estimates that it can be recharged from a level 2 charger from 15% to 100% in about 20 hours. From 15% to 80% at a level 3 charger, Ford estimates a time of around 40 minutes. These times should be a little bit less with the standard range battery.
Braking – The brakes on the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning are strong enough to stop this big and heavy pickup. The brake pedal is equally firm which gives you confidence every time you put your foot on it.
Being an electric truck, regenerative braking also helps to stop this truck. It doesn’t have multi-level regen braking modes but it does have a smooth operating one-pedal mode. Additionally, if you switch the truck to Sport mode, regen braking is stronger than the Normal drive mode but it is not as strong as the one-pedal mode.
Handling – Thanks to the low center of gravity that the battery pack provides, the Ford Lightning is stable and planted around corners. It’s by no means a sports truck because the suspension is working overtime to keep the weight and body roll in check. But it feels very similar to the standard gas version.
Capability & Towing – The Lightning is only available with a 5.5 foot bed that has 1,495 L (52.8 cu-ft) of box volume. You can option the bed with a drop in liner or a spray-on liner. The bed has LED lights as well as one tie-down in each corner with additional removable tie downs. The tailgate can be power operated and incorporate Ford’s tailgate step. There’s also the ProPower on board that allows for multiple power tools to be plugged into the truck. Or you can use it to power in-home appliances during a blackout.
With the standard battery, the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is rated for just 5,000 lbs of conventional towing. Adding on the max tow package increases this number to 7,700 lbs. With the bigger battery, towing is rated for 7,700 lbs and 10,000 lbs with the max tow pack. The Platinum’s max tow rating is 8,500 lbs. Payload ranges from as little as 1,480 lbs to as much as 2,000 lbs. This depends on the trim level, battery size, and what type of tires are equipped.
Electric vehicles quickly lose driving range when a heavy trailer is attached. But in reality, gasoline or diesel powered trucks also lose a big chunk of their driving range, we just don’t look at that. We mainly look at the fuel economy taking a plunge. However, refueling a diesel or gas truck is much easier than recharging an EV truck. You just pop into a gas station, pay with a credit card instead of needing to download a million apps, and after 5 minutes you’re away. In an EV, charging stations are not designed with trailers in mind. So you have to disconnect the trailer, park the truck in a charging spot, hope that the charger isn’t broken, wait around a few minutes or hours (depending on the charger), reattach the trailer, and then you can be on your way. It is much more of a hassle.
Ride Comfort – One of the biggest changes to the F-150 Lightning, in terms of the suspension, is the change to a fully independent design for the rear axle. This truck does not come equipped with air suspension like the Ram 1500 but the fully independent suspension provides a supple ride. The harshness of the bumps are rounded off. But the suspension still has a lot of work to do in compensating with the weight of the truck so the Ford Lightning has some bounce over bigger bumps.
Interior Space – With the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning being an American truck, it has a lot of space in the cabin. Both front and rear occupants are treated to a generous amount of leg space and headroom. Furthermore, the driving position is high which allows for excellent visibility over smaller cars & SUVs. The back seats can be folded up 60/40 to allow for tall items to be transported. Additionally, the floor is completely flat as there is no need for a driveshaft or exhaust components.
With the Ford F-150 Lightning not having an engine, the frunk is an empty space that provides 400 L (14.1 cu-ft) of secure cargo storage. The hood is power operated, though it takes a while for it to open. Inside you’ll find plugs with the ProPower on board, lights, a small compartment under the floor for the charging cable and a button should you get trapped in the frunk… somehow…
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Being an electric vehicle, the Ford F-150 Lightning is a smooth and quiet truck. Yes, there is some wind noise because it is a big box after all but it’s not too intrusive into the cabin. One thing that you may feel at slow speeds is a slight “clunk” as you go on and off the accelerator pedal. I think it’s due to the slack in the electric motors and axles but I’m not sure and it’s quite subtle so not everyone may notice this.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – There’s no other way to say it. The 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is an expensive pickup truck. Here in Canada, it starts at $79,000 CAD ($63,474 USD) for the XLT trim with the standard range battery. In the United States, there’s a lower trim level called the Pro which starts at $59,974 USD. This demo vehicle that I have is the Lariat extended range with an as equipped price of $110,000 CAD ($87,214 USD).
Gadgets – This Lariat trim is not fully loaded but it still has a lot of convenience features in it. Heated seats, heated steering wheel, surround view cameras, front & rear parking sensors, dual zone automatic climate control, wireless phone charging pad, and so on. But more features such as ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, 18-speaker B&O sound system, massaging front seats and many more can be added on.
This truck also has a few electronic features to help the driver with towing and carrying payload. There’s a trailer checklist, much like what GM has with their trucks. There’s also a nifty feature that will use the suspension height to measure how much weight is in the bed of the truck. You can also turn on lights all around the truck with the zone lighting feature.
Interior Design – For the most part, the interior of the F150 Lightning has a similar design to the gasoline F-150. But the glaring difference is the large 15.5” touchscreen in the middle. The good stuff first. The graphics look good, it’s fairly easy to navigate around, and it has built-in games to play (when parked). The bad stuff. This screen integrates the climate controls which I personally hate. I prefer physical controls rather than touchscreen controls for the most used functions of a vehicle. Additionally, at times the switch between different menu items can be a bit laggy. In my opinion, the standard F-150 already has a large enough touchscreen but it still incorporates physical controls for common items. Ford did not need to copy Tesla for the Lightning.
Exterior Design – Speaking of Tesla, this F-150 Lightning does not look anything like the non-existent Cybertruck. It looks more or less like a normal pickup truck but with a covered grille. There are accent light bars that extend from one side of the truck to the other on both the front & back. The back one looks great but the front one gets lost in the design if you opt for a white truck like this demo vehicle.
Safety – The standard XLT trim of the F-150 Lightning is already equipped with every safety & driver aid feature apart from Blue Cruise. This is Ford’s semi-hands-free driver aid that works across most highways in Canada & USA. I previously experienced Blue Cruise in the Ford Mach-E but in this demo vehicle, it didn’t seem to work. I checked in the infotainment system if I had not selected the Hands-free portion but I did. I then went online to try to figure it out and it turns out others have noticed this issue as well. There is a software update that will allow the use of this system until a certain time but I was within that time period. I think this truck needed to go back to a dealership to get a full diagnostic. But overall from my previous experience, Blue Cruise worked well in most highway situations.
Warranty – The 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle basic warranty and an 8 year / 160,000 km battery and electric component warranty. There is a caveat for that one though because it’s only covered if the battery retains a minimum of 70% of its original capacity over that period. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – I think that as a piece of engineering, Ford did a great job on the F-150 Lightning. However, if you plan to use it as a truck and tow often or carry a lot of stuff often, then it’s not worth investing so much money into this. A gasoline or diesel pickup truck makes more sense. The driving range when towing or hauling is short and the charging infrastructure outside of major cities is non-existent. You can use this truck as a daily runabout in a city but an electric SUV will do the same job and it’ll cost significantly less. And let’s face it, how often do you see trucks in the city with empty beds? They’re everywhere.
If I were in the market for a pickup truck, I’d spend my money on an F-150 Powerboost because it’s the best of both worlds. The F-150 Lightning is a great truck but it’s time is too early. It needs to cost less and the infrastructure is nowhere near ready for vehicles of this type.
Thank you to Ford Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Ford.ca