- Mar 27, 2003
- Myrtle Beach, SC
Full Review | Work Truck Electric F-150 'Lightning' Pro | Different Kind of Supercharger
Ford’s first two forays into modern electric vehicles have been somewhat polarizing among the performance enthusiast community here on SVTP. We’ve all seen the consternation about the name ‘Mustang’ being used on a 4-Door SUV, not to mention the prestigious ‘Lightning’ nameplate applied to a Non-V8 Non-Performance truck. However, those who would complain about such nomenclatural activities are likely not the core audience for these new Fords. My question is; for those who are looking for battery powered transportation, how does Ford’s new All-Electric F-150 “Lightning” stack up?
First, let me tell you that this review is now being written with the benefit of several months of hindsight. In that time prices have increased twice, towing range limitations have been uncovered, and cold weather has revealed further range weakness. The press truck we got to experience several months back, IMO, was basically the best configuration you could get; a Pro model with the extended range battery. Unfortunately, Ford did not over that particular configuration to the public. It is only available to fleet customers. Our full video review paints a more complete picture of this truck:
Beyond it’s now well known limitations, the Electric F-150 is probably the best riding and driving Non-Raptor F-150 model currently available. You can tell the chassis engineers worked overtime to hide the truck’s nearly 4-ton mass, but use it when appropriate. The independent rear suspension offers impressive grip without sacrificing ride quality. A truck this heavy should not ride or handle this good, but here we are. Every driving dynamic I pay attention to was spot-on. While the ICE F-150 was a great starting point, the mechanical and tuning changes the engineers made were near perfection. They should be commended.
This rear suspension works way better than you might think it would.
On the business side of the equation, stating with the existing F-150 as the base for the new EV was genius. Not only is it a platform with which the public is extremely familiar, it also shortened the development time allowing Ford to beat the basically everyone else to market with a modern EV full-size truck. Having spent many thousands of miles behind the wheel of F-150s, the EV F-150 felt just like any other Ford truck. All the controls we’re located exactly where you’d expect. It feels much more accessible than something with no buttons and a steering yoke.
The interior is not a bad place to spend some time. I'd prefer cloth seats and a leather wheel though.
Acceleration wise, this thing is silly fast for a very heavy truck. It’s easily capable of surprising unsuspecting passengers and pedestrians. The ability to use it as a mobile power supply for a worksite, or even your house, is sure to make it popular with some. However, I feel the Powerboost F-150 may be a better option for most. Unfortunately, I suspect many early ‘Lightning’ buyers may come to that realization as well.
I’m of two minds about this truck. I really enjoy driving it, and think the build quality is fantastic. However, I cannot make logical argument for it as a typical truck. Its cost and utility makes it a poor choice compared to nearly every other F-150 configuration. Even from a refueling standpoint, it can actually be more expensive to operate per-mile than a Coyote powered F-150. Then again, a GT500 makes no economic or utilitarian sense when compared to a Focus ST. That doesn’t stop any of us from buying a badass Pony Car.
So if you are an EV enthusiast, the F-150 ‘Lightning’ may be the perfect vehicle for you. It has a lot of great qualities, and is genuinely a pleasure to drive. Life is all about compromise, so if you can live with the range/charging/cost/etc issues involved with a battery powered vehicle this size I suggest checking it out. I can’t personally make a case to purchase one, but I wouldn’t second guess somebody for wanting one. After all, I have a 2004 SVT F-150 Lightning in the garage and it made no logical sense to buy it instead of a contemporary FX4. In the mind of an enthusiast, when logic has to fight against fun there can be only one winner… If you like it, how much sense does it really have to make?
The built in bed scales is a neat feature. This F-150 had over a ton of payload capacity to work with.
This map of supercharging stations in my area shows a major weakness for nearly any EV. The closest fast charger to me is over 70 miles from my house. This truck could not comfortably tow a race trailer and car to the closest track and make it back home from that charger. Even towing my small'ish camper would be questionable.
Using a public fast charger isn't cheap. In terms of dollars per mile, I calculated that a gas motor F-150 is actually cheaper to fuel per mile than the EV. Let me know if you want to see the calculations.
Being able to power a jobsite, or your house, is a major selling point of this truck. It does work really well, but I personally prefer the PowerBoost F-150 though.
Just because there's no gas motor under the hood doesn't mean the cooling system is simple. There's a lot of coolant to move around a manage temperatures.
Ford spared no expense on skid plating the bottom of this truck. Steel panels protect all the vulnerable parts.
Yes, If you look around long enough you will find an oil filter on most electric vehicles.