I rode the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s first electric pickup truck.
The Lightning delivers ridiculous acceleration and handling for a boxy, 6,500-pound truck.
Ford says the F-150 Lightning accelerates to 60 mph in 4-5 seconds and claims up to 563 horsepower.
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From afar, the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning looks nothing special.
If you weren’t looking for them, you might not notice the truck’s LED light bar, attached grille, and subtle bodywork changes that indicate it’s not one of the millions of gas-fueled Ford pickups which is seen daily trampling US roadways.
Stepping inside the truck, there’s nothing screaming “electric” or “futuristic.” Unlike some of the other new EVs to hit the market, it’s not overly sleek or technical looking. The Lightning gets a huge central touchscreen, but its interior is shared with the rest of the F-150 lineup.
Once the power kicks in, though, it becomes abundantly clear that this is no ordinary truck, something I learned riding shotgun in the new vehicle around Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan test track.
Crawling around a parking lot, the lightning was silent, spotless. But all that subtlety immediately vanished, with Lightning chief engineer Linda Zhang putting it in the straight path of the track.
From a stop, lightning blasted forward with astonishing force, throwing me back in my seat. We were at 90 mph before we knew it. Reaching highway speed in a conventional truck means waiting for gears to shift as the engine turns to higher RPMs. There’s no hesitation in the F-150 Lightning – it takes off with all its might immediately, and it just keeps on carrying.
You can experience this kind of instant, powerful acceleration in just about any EV from the commuter Kia to the high-performance Audi. But the Lightning, the sensation in a truck-like heavy pickup, is so surreal that, from the looks of it, it’s no business to smoke sports cars in a straight line.
None of this should have come as a surprise. Ford promises that the all-wheel-drive Lightning will produce 775 pound-feet of torque and up to 563 horsepower. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in between four and five seconds, making the Lightning the fastest Ford truck ever built. Knowing all this, it felt strange to be hurled around the track so easily into something so big. The way the power moves around quietly, without the familiar groan of the engine or much wind noise, makes the experience even stranger.
A beast of a vehicle, the 6,500-pound Lightning weighs 1,000 pounds more than the standard F-150 due to its 1,800-pound battery pack. But you may not know it riding a shotgun. As Zhang swung it around the track, the lightning felt strangely light and feathery.
Through sharp turns, the truck was remarkably engaged. There was practically no body roll you’d expect from a high-riding vehicle that’s about six feet tall. This is largely thanks to its bulky battery pack, which sits under the floor of the truck and lowers its center of gravity, helping with handling.
Parked too high on the track after a very brief test ride, the Lightning could, at a glance, blend in with other F-150s milling. And that was kind of a thing. Ford’s goal was to create an electric truck that sounds familiar, but still brings capabilities you can’t find in a traditional pickup.
The absurd performance I experienced during my test ride is a benefit that Zhang hopes will attract buyers.
“Performance, rideability, the ability to be able to tow, haul, and move really just quickly—I think that’s a big why-buy for this truck,” Zhang said. “It’s one of those vehicles that once you get into it you’re like, ‘Wow, I don’t think I can go back.'”
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