The Ford F-150 Lightning is Finally Here and It’s All It’s Said to Be

Ford F-150 Lightning Featured Image
Ford F-150 Lightning featured image. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Especially if you like the strong, silent type.

At every level, from the entry Pro model ($39,995+) to the top of the line Platinum edition ($90,874+), this truck is a game changer. It’s powerful, it’s fast, it’s super quiet and only runs on electric power. Finally, the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck is here and if you can get one, you’re a lucky duck.

You won’t just be lucky, you’ll be popular, too. Don’t be surprised if people stop in traffic to take your photo, ask you about it in parking lots and corner you at cocktail parties to learn more. What Ford has come up with is that exciting.

Electrifying the Auto World on Her Terms: What Drives Her, Linda Zhang, Ford F-150 Lightning Chief Engineer

The Lightning Logo On The Side Of The Bed Is One Of The Few Indicators That This Truck Is Electric

The Lightning logo on the side of the bed is one of the few indicators that this truck is electric. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Go Ahead, Get Excited; There’s Good Reason To

There’s really nothing as freeing as driving a pickup truck. You feel on top of the world, high above it all, with incredible power under foot. And in the F-150 Lightning, it’s even more so. Both the standard battery/motor combination (98 kWh battery with 230 miles of range and 452 horsepower) and the extended range (131 kWh battery with 320 miles of range and 580 horsepower) deliver instant acceleration, even with a full payload in the truck bed. 

But that’s just the start of the story, though the rest follows as you’d hope. This truck is confident, capable and exhilarating, all because of its electric powertrain. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Scotty Reiss (@scottyreiss)

Related: Meet the Future of Hauling: The All-Electric Ford F-150 Lightning

The Ford F-150 Lightning'S Charge Port

The Ford F-150 Lightning’s charge port. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Instant Power To Make You, and Your Soul, Soar

To start, acceleration is instant; you do have to push the pedal to the floor (just tapping the accelerator won’t deliver all 775 lb.-ft. of torque, so don’t worry, you won’t accidentally hit 60 MPH in the parking lot). And when you get the chance to, though, do it. It’s fantastic. 

Then, the F-150 Lightning is quiet and comfortable. Driving through San Antonio it drove like any truck: comfortable, if a bit large for city streets. But then, I had to merge onto a busy interstate and that’s where the F-150 Lightning demonstrated its mastery: Seeing a semi-truck in the right lane and a short-ish on-ramp, I hit the accelerator and instantly sped past the truck and into the lane ahead, getting up to the 65 MPH speed limit in mere seconds. It felt good—on ramps are always the most fun—but I also felt confident. Gone is the feeling of the truck’s power scrolling up for the merge, the sound of the engine taking a breath before it roars. Instead, it simply soars. 

Related: Electrifying the Auto World on Her Terms: What Drives Her, Linda Zhang, Ford F-150 Lightning Chief Engineer

The Front Cabin Of The Ford F-150 Lightning

The front cabin of the Ford F-150 Lightning. Photo: Scotty Reiss

No Compromises in This Electric Pickup Truck

This would be my biggest reservation, and I’m not alone; Ford found in its testing that people were skeptical about the ability of an electric truck to do things like haul a full Home Depot run or tow a horse trailer. So they worked hard to ensure that the F-150 Lightning could. 

What they ended up with was more power than the truck actually needs to operate as usual, resulting in added capabilities that most people never thought of. 

Such as, 775 lb.-ft. of torque, the source of that instant acceleration. And the ability to power other things, like campsites or an entire house. It can tow up to 10,000 lbs and has a payload (passengers + cargo in the truck bed) of about 2,000 lbs., comparable to its gas-powered siblings. It has more storage than the typical truck, including a ‘frunk’ with 14 cubic feet of space (about the same as small trunk) that can hold up to  400 lbs. It has one-pedal driving to regenerate the battery as you drive, especially when descending a hill, crawling in traffic or braking. 

And it can tow smartly, using on board scales and navigation that will calculate the battery range based on the load, the route and the terrain. It’ll incorporate a stop at a charge station along the route. And you can set it to get the most (or the least) battery regeneration as you drive, increasing your battery range.

The fun-with-math implications of this truck are limitless for those who like to geek out on such things.

Related: Are Electric Cars Actually Better for the Environment?

The Power Panel In The Ford F-150 Lightning'S Truck Bed

The power panel in the Ford F-150 Lightning’s truck bed has three household outlets and a 240V outlet. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Why This Truck is So Electrifying

Pickup trucks have long been the bellwether of the automotive market and to a smaller but just as important extent, our overall economy. Trucks are the daily driver of small businesses, from construction companies to landscapers, delivery companies and more. Many drivers choose to buy trucks because they can do double duty: All work all week and then cater to fun and family on the weekend.  

But trucks can be expensive to own and operate and they get notoriously low fuel economy, especially when fully loaded. Even at the entry level they can cost $30K (two doors, cloth seats and front wheel drive at that). And the trend has been toward even more luxe trucks with all the top-shelf amenities like massaging seats and bespoke leather interiors, often driving prices toward $100K, and even at that, they are still hard to get. 

So a fully capable pickup truck with a starting price of under $40K that will save thousands of dollars a year on gas (electric should cost a third or less), with built-in brains to optimize your driving and charging, that is capable for towing, hauling and weekend fun? Well, that’s a game changer. 

Massaging Seats In The Platinum Edition!

Massaging seats in the Platinum edition! Photo: Scotty Reiss

Driving All Over Texas, Worry Free

We set out from San Antonio, heading to Boerne, taking the long route for about a 70 mile drive. With one-pedal driving activated, the A/C on, The Highway on the sound system and enjoying the generous speed limits of Texas roads, the drive was comfortable and easy. 

On the highway I put the F-150 Lightning into Blue Cruise mode, Ford’s semi-autonomous drive system that allows you to relax your hands on the wheel on limited access highways. Tap the button on the far left of the steering wheel and with lane departure assist activated, the system will follow the traffic ahead and keep you in your lane. A “Hands Free” light illuminates on the driver information screen but that’s a bit of a misnomer; the system will prompt you to put your hands on the wheel if you take them off for more than a few seconds. 

Also, never take your hands off the wheel while driving, especially at 70 MPH.

After a full afternoon of driving the highways and backroads of Texas Hill Country I headed back to the hotel. I’d covered more than 125 miles but still had almost 200 miles of battery range. And once I got into crawling afternoon traffic near downtown the battery range simply held steady; it cost me nothing but time to get back to the hotel.

Related: 4 Things I Love about the Ford F-150 King Ranch Hybrid

One Pedal Driving

The large touch screen lets you set and monitor driving criteria for the most efficient use of the battery’s charge. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Charging Story

So how does one charge the Ford F-150 Lightning, and how fast does it charge? Good questions, and there are multiple answers.   

Most owners will charge the F-150 Lightning at home. Ford sells a branded charger ($1,310) that can be installed in a garage, though you can install your own at a lower cost. Ford’s charger is a level 2 charger that will replenish the battery at about 30 miles of range per hour of charging and can integrate with a home charging system to power your house with the truck.  

Owners can also head to a DC fast charge station (using the Blue Oval Charge Network), pop the charger into the Lightning’s port and charge up to 80% of the battery’s capacity in under 44 minutes. And get this: Once you’ve set up your user profile and payment, any charge stations in the Blue Oval network will recognize your truck and immediately start charging; no need to go through a process to confirm payment and start charging. Also, Ford is including two years of free DC fast charging at Electrify America stations.  

Learn This Term: Vehicle to Load Charging

This is one of the most exciting factors in the electric car future: You can use your car to power your house (and this is why you will need to buy the Ford charge station for home installation).

Now…put your skepticism aside and think about the last time your power went out. You had warning. You knew there was going to be a tropical storm/nor’easter/blizzard. And you hit the gas station and grocery store to stock up, and then the lights flickered out and you sat in the dark wondering how long this would last. Some of us trod out to the garage, fired up the gas generator and assembled a chain of extension cords so we could see what was spoiling in the refrigerator. 

But now, with the F-150 fully charged and plugged into its base, and with a home integration system (as you would have if you installed a gas-powered backup generator), the truck will automatically pick up where the power grid left off. In fact, if you didn’t get a notification on your Ford Pass app, you might not know that the Lightning is powering your house. 

The system, which Ford calls Intelligent Backup Power, requires the Ford charge station and a whole house integration system. With these two systems installed and the F-150 Lightning plugged in, the power source will switch to the truck when there is a power outage. When normal power is restored, the system will switch back (and continue to charge the truck). 

This is the future of electric car ownership and for those of us who regularly live through power outages, it’s a welcome development.

Inside It'S Warm And Wonderful

Inside it’s warm and wonderful. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What the F-150 Lightning Costs

There are two power options and both are 4 wheel drive: 

  • Standard Range has a 98 kWh battery, 230 miles of driving range and 452 horsepower; it can handle 2,235 lbs of payload and 5,000 lbs of tow capacity (7,700 with the trailer tow package); this option is available on all but the top of the line Platinum edition
  • Extended Range has a 131 kWh battery, 320 miles of driving range and 580 horsepower; it can handle 1,952 lbs of payload and 7,700 lbs of tow capacity (10,000 lbs with the trailer tow package); this option is available on all Lightning models
  • The battery and electric components have warranty of 8 years100,000 mile warranty (over the 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty)
The Power Panel In The Ford F-150 Lightning'S Truck Bed

The power panel in the Ford F-150 Lightning’s truck bed. Photo: Scotty Reiss

There are 4 models: 

  • F-150 Lightning Pro comes with the standard range battery only, 18” wheels, 12” media touchscreen with Sync 4 and voice activated assist, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, over the air software updates, connected built-in navigation, vinyl seating, stowable gear shifter, trailer hitch, 2.4W 120V outlets (8 total) and CoPilot 360 suite of driver assist and safety features, $39,995+
  • XLT edition adds a surround view camera, running boards, cloth seats, and desktop arm rest, $52,974
  • Add extended range battery to XLT: $20,000
  • Lariat edition adds 20” wheels, leather seats, CoPilot 360 with adaptive with adaptive cruise control and road sign reader, 9.6W 120V outlets (10 total) and a tail gate step, $67,474
  • Add extended range to Lariat: $10,000
  • Platinum Edition with extended range battery, Max Tow, Tow Tech package, 22” wheels power tailgate, phone as key, 15” media screen, premium leather seats, Blue Cruise and max trailer tow package, about $90,874
  • Max Tow package: $825
  • Tow Tech package: $1,395 ($1,950 on Pro)
  • Home charge station: $799 
  • Ford Charge Station Pro: Included with extended range models or available for $1,310
  • Sunrun home integration system for home backup power capability: about $3,895; installation is extra
  • The F-150 Lightning qualifies for $7,500 federal tax incentives and state incentives 
  • Destination: $1,695
  • Buyers will get two years of free charging through Ford’s Blue Oval network at Electrify America stations
The Ford F-150 Lightning'S Frunk

The Ford F-150 Lightning’s frunk. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Is This a Good Deal? Well, Certainly If You Dislike Going to the Gas Station

It’s not easy to compare the gas and Lightning models; the Lightning trims are highly optioned, but consider this: The base model F-150 has two doors and front wheel drive and is priced at about $30,000; add 4 wheel drive and it goes up by $3,795. The base model Lightning with a 4 door cab and 4 wheel drive starts at $39,995. With federal and state incentives it’s quite a good deal. Even if you do have to live with vinyl seats.

If you can land one of these, you truly are lucky. The demand for them has been so high that Ford has paused reservations, though they expect to sell 150,000 this year and 200,000 next year. That’s a lot of loud gas trucks taken out of circulation and replaced with the strong, silent type. 

Disclosure: I was Ford’s guest for this test drive; accommodations were provided but I take credit for all opinions (and the idea of tromping through the goat poop).

Yes, There Were Goats

Yes, there were goats (and llamas). And goat poop. But that’s OK… there were goats! Photo: Scotty Reiss

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss