The F-Sequence is the perennial hottest automobile on the planet. Final 12 months, Ford offered greater than 725,000 of the issues, and that is regardless of supply-chain points and every thing else occurring on this planet. That truth — the sheer significance of this truck’s success to Ford’s backside line — made final Might’s announcement that the corporate would construct an electrical F-150 all of the extra essential. The F-150 Lightning had all of the potential on this planet to be a real mass-market game-changer. Now, lower than a 12 months later, the F-150 Lightning is absolutely in manufacturing, and a game-changer it’s certainly.
Ford invited me right down to San Antonio, Texas to drive its electrical F-150, an acceptable place to again up the important thing factor the corporate needs to bolster with the Lightning: It is only a truck. A very good, actually helpful, actually fast truck that is additionally electrical. Totally electrical, to be clear, powered by both a 98- or 131-kilowatt-hour battery pack delivering between 230 and 320 miles of vary. Go together with the lesser of the 2 battery packs and also you’re taking a look at 452 horsepower, or 580 hp for those who step as much as the extended-range pack. Regardless which battery you get, count on 775 pound-feet of torque utilized to all 4 wheels.
To place that in perspective, that is extra horsepower than all however the F-150 Raptor and extra torque than any F-150 ever made. In actual fact, you’d must step as much as the 6.7-liter Energy Stroke diesel on the F-250 to get extra torque than the Lightning, however the EV nonetheless provides 100 extra horsepower — to not point out a considerably smaller carbon footprint.
Whereas these numbers are important, extra essential are what you are able to do with them. And right here, it’s kind of of a blended bag for the F-150 Lightning in comparison with its internal-combustion siblings. The Lightning has a max tow score of 10,000 kilos and max payload of two,235. Each figures are significantly larger than the three.3-liter V6 F-150’s scores of 8,200 and 1,985 kilos, respectively, however fall fairly far in need of the three.5-liter EcoBoost F-150’s 14,000 and three,250 kilos. The Lightning sits closest to the two.7-liter EcoBoost F-150 configuration, with its 10,000 kilos of towing and a pair of,480 kilos of hauling.
In different phrases, it is roughly proper in the midst of the F-150 functionality vary. To place that functionality to the check Ford offered numerous towing and hauling experiences, providing every thing from an enviable pile of plywood to a utility trailer loaded down with water and wine. Complete weight of that trailer and cargo? 9,500 kilos, simply 500 in need of the max score. Regardless of that, the truck accelerated easily and braked cleanly, sufficient in order that although I lacked any substantial hills to climb, I’ve little question the truck would’ve tackled them with no difficulty.
It tows nicely, however for a way far?
That stated, the query stays of simply what number of hills the truck can cowl whereas so encumbered. Vary whereas towing is without doubt one of the massive query marks surrounding the F-150 Lightning. I solely had entry to a brief, 15-mile towing check loop — and a low-speed one at that — so I am unable to give any numbers with actual confidence. However I can let you know on the varied vehicles with varied trailers, I noticed estimated ranges typically within the 150-mile space, about half the utmost vary. In my very own check loops, I typically noticed consumption charges of 1.2 miles per kilowatt-hour. That once more would level to a spread of round 160 miles, down from the 320-mile EPA estimated vary with the prolonged pack.
Now, a 50% discount in vary could seem excessive, but it surely’s roughly in step with the elevated consumption you’d count on when towing with an everyday truck. The distinction, after all, is you could way more rapidly refill than you’ll be able to recharge. I hope to do extra thorough towing checks earlier than I draw any formal conclusions, but it surely actually looks as if the F-150 Lightning will probably be nice for towing quick distances. Nonetheless, you could need to stick along with your gas-powered rig for longer hauls.
OK, so the F-150 Lightning is probably not probably the most able to the F-Sequence vehicles from a cargo standpoint, however I am simply getting began. This truck brings numerous new capabilities to the desk that no different truck on the planet can obtain. It may possibly, for instance, haul as much as 400 kilos of cargo in its weatherproof frunk. (Must deliver dwelling 5 baggage of concrete within the rain? Depart the tarp at dwelling.) Far and away the F-150 Lightning’s hallmark trick, nonetheless, is its vehicle-to-load performance. With V2L, you should utilize the truck to energy… something, even a whole home. Ford says the extended-range battery is sufficient to energy a mean dwelling for 3 days, which for professionals, may imply no extra pricey, droning generator leases on the job website.
If that is not sufficient, the truck’s bi-directional charging is sensible sufficient to cycle your home on and off the grid, recharging itself at night time and doubtlessly disconnecting your house from the utility system through the day, when charges are highest. That is solely relevant for those who reside someplace with metered billing, however for those who do, this might be a considerable financial savings in your utility invoice.
So, the Lightning is a truck with an unusually complete set of expertise, however that also leaves the query of what it is wish to drive. The reply is that it is fairly good, actually. It is fast, after all, with a 0-to-60-mph time someplace within the mid-four-second vary. That is only a few tenths slower than a Mustang GT. Off-road, it is fairly succesful too; the moment torque and clean throttle response making it straightforward to inch as much as and over rocks. And with locking differentials at both finish, even when opposing wheels are suspended in midair, the truck has no drawback shifting ahead.
The experience high quality is remarkably good, clean and compliant, and simply the form of factor I would see myself desirous to do for lengthy journeys. Sure, I do know it is an EV, which you’ll not suppose can be nice for road-tripping, however 320 miles of vary is on the order of 4 or 5 hours of driving. With the precise charger, the Lightning can get again to an 80% cost in simply over 40 minutes. That 150-kW charging price is much slower than we see from merchandise just like the Porsche Taycan, however a 40-minute break after 5 hours within the saddle does not sound so unhealthy to me. Plus, the truck’s navigation system is sensible sufficient to route you to and thru these charging breaks.
The inside is straight-up F-150.
If I’ve one grievance with the experience, it is that the physique management is on the poor aspect. The truck is compliant, sure, but in addition floaty. That is not the top of the world, as it is a truck that may weigh within the ballpark of 6,500 kilos relying on configuration. In different phrases, this is not the form of factor you will need to be hustling into corners.
And that is actually my solely grievance. The F-150 Lightning hits all of the marks. It is remarkably competent at every thing you’d need from a truck whereas additionally filled with a wealth of recent and thrilling options. It stands to revolutionize how a utility automobile like this can match into your life and, maybe extra considerably, your corporation. I have been saying for a 12 months that the Lightning has the potential to be a game-changer. Now, I can confidently say the sport has been modified.
Editors’ notice: Journey prices associated to this story have been lined by the producer, which is widespread within the auto business. The judgments and opinions of CNET’s workers are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.