Over the past two months, I’ve had two chances to take a Ford Lightning for a quick spin — once around the scenic village of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (which you probably know as the home of the famed Road America racetrack) — and once around the block in a part of Chicago dotted with strip malls.
I wasn’t going to write about my experience, because these short drives aren’t as informative as a full day of driving on a press trip or a week-long press loan, and because our own Matt Guy had covered the first-drive event for us. I initially thought of these quick trips as a way to learn about the truck on background.
For those unfamiliar, I don’t write up every vehicle I test. Sometimes, I consider the drive to simply be providing background information. I might not review, say, a BMW X3, but I will know it drives, which is useful when comparing it to a competitor I am writing about. That’s just one example.
The more I mulled it over, however, the more I realized I had some thoughts on the Lightning, thoughts that merited sharing.
Still, this won’t be a deep dive — I got maybe 35-40 minutes of wheel time, combined. There will be no fast-facts box. I do have at least one Lightning loan scheduled, so look for a full review down the road.
I drove a Platinum with the extended-range battery both times — I didn’t check the VIN, but I think it was the same truck. The estimated horsepower on this model is 563 and peak torque is 775 lb-ft from the front and rear traverse-mounted dual electric motors. Range is 300 miles.
What I find most interesting about the Lightning is how much like a traditional F-150 it is, despite the electric powertrain and all the other Lightning-only features Ford likes to advertise. Yes, the truck has some styling cues that differentiate it from ICE-powered F-150s. But the overall profile still screams “F-150.”
Lightning’s driving experience is obviously different, of course. There’s no engine sound — just the silence one associates with EVs. One-pedal driving can be activated if you so choose. And the torque is instant.
The one-pedal driving experience kept me from having to use the brakes too much — I mostly only needed to apply the binders when traffic in front of me came to a sudden stop. Pay attention to the road ahead, be aware of yellow lights, and you’ll be able to coast down to a stop with the one-pedal action.
The Lightning rides well enough on good pavement, feeling not too different than any other full-size truck with an unladen bed. The steering does feel distant at times while feeling nicely weighted at others.
This truck’s greatest tricks have little to do with driving, though. You know about the front trunk (“frunk”), the onboard chargers that can power tools (or other EVs), and even the ability to power your home. But you might not know that the truck can estimate your payload size to help you adjust your driving style — and to make sure the range estimate is accurate.
There’s a useful space in the frunk for cooling beverages — I took note as someone who likes to tailgate at concerts — or for luggage or two golf bags. Speaking of tailgating, the presence of electrical outlets (4) and USB ports (2) in the frunk make the Lightning an intriguing choice for your next SEC football game.
I also liked that Ford’s Sync system can show you a breakdown of energy that was used on your last trip. My second spin came on a very hot day, and it was interesting to see how much the climate control (and ambient temperature) were part of the energy usage.
More wheel time is needed before I can render a verdict on the Lightning, but the more time I spend around the truck, the more curious I am to see what a full loan will reveal. It’s the most curious I’ve been about a Ford since — last year, when I was intrigued to drive both the Bronco and Maverick.
The EV truck revolution is upon us. I can’t wait to learn more about Ford’s part in it.
[Images: Ford, © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]
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