Ford F-150 Lightning electric vehicle is a mighty luxury truck | review

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Elon Musk’s Tesla pickup truck has a sci-fi design. But I recently drove a Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck that looks like your more traditional monster truck. But it’s available as an all-electric vehicle.

The car packs a lot of tech for people who want a taste of the future. Before the pandemic, I picked up a habit of reviewing cars for the tech that is in them. I didn’t drive these vehicles around a track like a pro car reviewer, but I kept an eye on the tech in electric vehicles. And so I tried out a 2022 model of the Ford F-150 Lightning. It’s like a country truck for nerds.

Before the pandemic, I drove the  Jaguar I-Pace, the BMW i3s, the Mini Cooper SE Countryman (hybrid), the Volkswagen e-Golf, and the Ford Fusion Energi. After the CES 2019 tech trade show, I figured this would prepare me for our self-driving car future.

But while that future isn’t mainstream across the country yet, the EV part of things is here. It’s nice to see some of the other tech embedded in the cars as it starts to fade into the woodwork and become just one more feature. Modern EVs have tech for advanced safety features, passenger comfort, infotainment, sustainability and general driver assistance.

Core capabilities

Ford F-150 Lightning models.

This car is a big truck, the kind that you have to step up onto a running board before you can then step up again to get into the cabin.

The F-150 Lighting comes in four models: Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum.

The truck’s range is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency to be about 230 miles with a standard battery on a full charge. The extended-range battery enables the truck to travel as much as 320 miles for the XLT and Lariat series trucks. It can update the mileage estimate based on real-time driving data, including towing, payload, weather conditions and traffic.

The truck can tow 10,000 pounds (for the extended version, or 7,700 for the standard) and carry a payload of 2,235, and it has horsepower of 480. The standard model goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in five seconds. And the extended-range version can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds.

While the price makes it a luxury vehicle, Ford says it is built for everyday use. It has a 4×4 drivetrain and dual electric motors with a single-speed transmission. It’s got a sculpted hood for better aerodynamics.

A standard-range battery takes 15 hours to charge with a 20-feet mobile power cord and dedicated 240-volt wall outlet at 30 amps. It takes 10 hours with a Ford Connected Charge Stations at 80 amps, and 44 minutes with DC Fast Charging at 150 kW public charging stations. You can check your charging progress via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to a Ford Charge Station Pro. There are 70,000 plugs across the country with the BlueOval Charge Network.

Safety features

More features of the Ford F-150 Lightning EV.

It has a lot of modern safety features. The side mirrors have LED lights to show when a car is approaching your blind spot. It also has a cross-traffic alert system in case someone is running a red light. There’s a lane-keeping system that prompts you if you stray out of your lane. It has post-collision braking and pre-collision assist with automatic braking. It can detect pedestrians and it has forward collision warning with dynamic brake support. It also has a reverse sensing system and brake assist.

It also has intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane centering, and speed sign recognition. And it has Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0, which is standard on the Platinum and available on the Lariat. It has Active Park Assist 2.0 and Ford BlueCruise hands-free highway driving tech. The truck has a perimeter alarm and an SOS post-crash alert system and keyless entry. The tailgate is power operated.

The trunk is in the front (called a drunk), giving you a lot more space to store things, in addition to the bed. The frunk measures 14.1 cubic feet and it can carry 400 pounds. You can use your smartphone to light four zones around the truck — front, rear and sides — by using the touchscreen in the truck or a smartphone FordPass app.

With enhanced 9.6-kW Pro Power onboard the truck, it has 11 power outlets for charging devices via USB connectors as well as one 240-volt plug in the bed. That’s enough juice to charge another vehicle quickly.

And the Ford Intelligent Backup Power allows the truck to transfer power from the vehicle to your house while connected to the Ford Charge Station Pro wall box. That’s useful in case your non-solar house has a power outage. In theory, the truck can power a home for up to three days on a full battery. It can last for up to 10 days with rationing by the Ford Intelligent Backup Power. And it’s pretty handy for camping.

You can use your phone as a key to unlock the truck if you misplace your key. If you’re towing something, you can use the Scales with Smart Hitch app to do real-time estimates so of cargo weight. That weight information is displayed on the Sync 4 center stack touchscreen app and via the Ford Pass app.

If someone tries to steal your trailer, you can get a theft alert on your smartphone. It has high beams that automatically go on when it thinks you need them.

Infotainment

The interior of the Ford F-150 Lightning truck.

The dashboard has a 12-inch or optional 15-inch screen in the center of the dashboard. And it has a hotspot telematics modem that can connect you via 4G via FordPass Connect.

Even the tailgate has a media holder for a smartphone, a pencil holder, and a cupholder. So you can use it as a workbench. There’s also a wireless charging pad using Qi wireless.

There’s a 12-inch digital screen in the instrument cluster. The driver can see a digital compass, gauges, and the remaining miles estimate. You can upgrade the audio. The Lariat version has a B&O Sound System with HD radio and eight speakers, including a subwoofer. The platinum version has a B&O Unleashed Sound System with HD radio and 18 speakers.

I enjoyed using the satellite radio again, with tons of SiriusXM channels. The center console is so wide you can put a laptop on it and use it as an interior work surface, preferably when you’re not moving. Or you can put a whole tray on it for your lunch. The rear also has under-seat storage for things you want to keep out of sight. Inside the cabin, there are six USB ports and two 120-volt power outlets.

The vehicle has a 360-degree camera and a forward-sensing system. It has connected built-in navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and wireless phone connection. The center screen has adaptive dash cards for frequently used apps, and you can create personal profiles for the truck.

The price?

Color choices for the Ford F-150 Lightning.

The Ford F150 has a base MSRP of $52,974. The options on the model I drove brought it to $75,814 for features like the extended range battery, maximum trailer tow package, partitioned lockable storage, a bedliner, and equipment like the XLT lighting.

Those features make it into a luxury truck. You save an estimated $1,750 in fuel costs over five years, but you can see that doesn’t compensate for the original cost. In that way, you’ll have to think of both the luxury and the utility you get out of a vehicle like this when paying for it. It also costs an estimated $950 a year to charge the vehicle, if you don’t have a solar roof.

I liked the truck, as I felt all that power coursing through my veins while knowing the electric vehicle was a bit more sustainable.

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