The F-Series is the perennial hottest automobile on the planet. Last 12 months, Ford bought greater than 725,000 of the issues, and that is regardless of supply-chain points and the whole lot else happening on this planet. That reality — the sheer significance of this truck’s success to Ford’s backside line — made final May’s announcement that the corporate would construct an electrical F-150 all of the extra vital. 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 totally in manufacturing, and a game-changer it’s certainly.
Ford invited me all the way 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’s only a truck. A actually good, actually helpful, actually fast truck that is additionally electrical. Fully electrical, to be clear, powered by both a 98- or 131-kilowatt-hour battery pack delivering between 230 and 320 miles of vary. Go with the lesser of the 2 battery packs and also you’re taking a look at 452 horsepower, or 580 hp should you step as much as the extended-range pack. Regardless which battery you get, anticipate 775 pound-feet of torque utilized to all 4 wheels.
To put that in perspective, that is extra horsepower than all however the F-150 Raptor and extra torque than any F-150 ever made. In reality, you’d must step as much as the 6.7-liter Power 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.
While these numbers are vital, extra vital are what you are able to do with them. And right here, it is a bit of a combined 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. Both figures are significantly greater than the three.3-liter V6 F-150’s rankings 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 couple of,480 kilos of hauling.
In different phrases, it is kind of proper in the course of the F-150 functionality vary. To put that functionality to the check Ford supplied a variety of towing and hauling experiences, providing the whole lot from an enviable pile of plywood to a utility trailer loaded down with water and wine. Total weight of that trailer and cargo? 9,500 kilos, simply 500 in need of the max score. Despite 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 challenge.
That mentioned, the query stays of simply what number of hills the truck can cowl whereas so encumbered. Range whereas towing is among the huge 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 can not give any numbers with actual confidence. But I can let you know on the assorted vehicles with numerous 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 variety of round 160 miles, down from the 320-mile EPA estimated vary with the prolonged pack.
Now, a 50% discount in vary could appear excessive, however it’s kind of in keeping with the elevated consumption you’d anticipate when towing with a daily truck. The distinction, in fact, is that you could rather more rapidly refill than you may recharge. I hope to do extra thorough towing assessments earlier than I draw any formal conclusions, however it actually looks like the F-150 Lightning can be nice for towing quick distances. Still, you could wish to stick together with your gas-powered rig for longer hauls.
OK, so the F-150 Lightning will not be probably the most able to the F-Series vehicles from a cargo standpoint, however I’m simply getting began. This truck brings a variety of new capabilities to the desk that no different truck on the planet can obtain. It can, for instance, haul as much as 400 kilos of cargo in its weatherproof frunk. (Need to convey dwelling 5 luggage of concrete within the rain? Leave the tarp at dwelling.) Far and away the F-150 Lightning’s hallmark trick, nevertheless, is its vehicle-to-load performance. With V2L, you should use 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, would possibly imply no extra expensive, droning generator leases on the job website.
If that is not sufficient, the truck’s bi-directional charging is sensible sufficient to cycle your own home on and off the grid, recharging itself at evening and doubtlessly disconnecting your property from the utility system in the course of the day, when charges are highest. This is simply relevant should you reside someplace with metered billing, however should you do, this may very well 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’s fast, in fact, with a 0-to-60-mph time someplace within the mid-four-second vary. That’s 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 downside transferring ahead.
The journey high quality is remarkably good, clean and compliant, and simply the sort of factor I’d see myself desirous to do for lengthy journeys. Yes, I do know it is an EV, which you will 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 proper 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 would not sound so unhealthy to me. Plus, the truck’s navigation system is sensible sufficient to route you to and thru these charging breaks.
If I’ve one grievance with the journey, it is that the physique management is on the poor facet. The truck is compliant, sure, but additionally floaty. That’s not the top of the world, as this can be a truck that may weigh within the ballpark of 6,500 kilos relying on configuration. In different phrases, this is not the sort of factor you may wish to be hustling into corners.
And that is actually my solely grievance. The F-150 Lightning hits all of the marks. It’s remarkably competent at the whole lot 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 may match into your life and, maybe extra considerably, your small business. I’ve 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’ be aware: Travel prices associated to this story had been lined by the producer, which is frequent within the auto trade. The judgments and opinions of CNET’s employees are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.