2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Review: A Plug-and-Play EV That Won’t Replace Gas Trucks Just Yet

It’s an easy-to-understand electric pickup that’s also mighty quick and super capable. However, the compromises are still too many with a price tag so steep.

byJerry Perez| PUBLISHED Nov 11, 2022 11:00 AM
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Review: A Plug-and-Play EV That Won’t Replace Gas Trucks Just Yet
Jerry Perez
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The 2020s will go down in history as the decade when electric pickup trucks became all the rage. Ironically, the first to make headlines—the Tesla Cybertruck—is mostly an illusion, while legacy automakers have designed, launched, and started mass-producing their own. It’s almost as if Ford and GM knew that selling trucks is a hell of a lot more profitable than just promising them. The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning sits at the forefront of this electric movement, ushering in the single biggest change America’s favorite kind of vehicle has seen to date.

The concept of an electric pickup like the Lightning is controversial, meaning it fights an uphill battle straight away. They represent something most of us dislike: change. This is especially true when the old thing being replaced still works just fine; then why change at all? But whether we agree or not, it’s only a matter of time until change sets in, and we’re all forced to deal with it and move on.

Jerry Perez

From midsize to heavy-duty trucks, I’ve owned several and driven a lot more. Importantly, my last pickup—a previous-gen Ford F-150—was one of my favorite vehicles I’ve ever had. Knowing the F-150 ownership experience is one of the reasons why I wanted to spend a week with the Lightning, hoping to learn just how different the two F-150s are. Y’know, see where the Lightning carries on the torch and where it breaks the mold.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum Dual Motor Extended Range Review Specs

  • Base price (as tested): $92,569 ($93,509)
  • Powertrain: 131-kWh lithium-ion battery | 1-speed transmission | all-wheel-drive
  • Horsepower: 580 hp
  • Torque: 775 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 4.0 seconds
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • Bed length: 66 inches
  • Curb weight: 6,893 pounds
  • Max towing capacity: 8,600 pounds
  • Max payload capacity: 1,656 pounds
  • Max ground clearance: 8.4 inches
  • Off-road angles: 24.4° approach | 17.6° breakover | 23.6° departure
  • EPA estimated range: 300 miles
  • DC charge rate: 15% to 80% in 41 minutes at 150 kW
  • Quick take: An incredible feat of engineering and—for better or for worse—the most “normal” electric truck out there. But the gap to the normal F-150 in terms of usability remains too great for now.
  • Score: 7/10

The Basics

The Lightning is the only electric vehicle in Ford’s truck lineup. It offers a darn good hybrid pickup, the F-150 PowerBoost, which I once drove 723 miles on a single tank of gas. The Lightning has many similarities with it, as it’s also available exclusively with four full-size doors and a 5.5-foot bed. What’s more, the Lightning takes the PowerBoost’s mobile power inverter and ups the ante to 9.6 kilowatts of available juice.

As The Drive’s Truck Editor Caleb Jacobs shared in his first-drive review earlier this year, Ford chose not to rock the boat with the styling. A modern-looking, closed-off grille replaces the open-slat look of its ICE counterpart, giving the truck a rounded and aerodynamic face. The focal point is the large headlight, which dominates the front end. I say “headlight” because while it’s actually three different parts, it looks like one continuous unit when illuminated. 

It’s the same in the rear, where traditional-looking F-150 taillights are connected via a middle section across the tailgate. It reminds me of that Robocop remake that wasn’t any good. Some aero-friendly wheels and a charging port cover on the driver’s side front fender wrap up the Lightning-specific exterior cues; otherwise, it looks like a run-of-the-mill F-150. Surely this will be a plus to traditional truck buyers, though it might turn off those looking for something edgier.

There’s hardly anything differentiating the electric truck’s cabin from the combustion one. This is a good thing, really, as I’ve always found F-150 interiors to be practical, good-looking, and exceptionally comfortable. A 12-inch digital display that’s standard on all trims serves as a gauge cluster, while the Platinum features a large, vertical infotainment screen similar to that of the Mustang Mach-E. The oversized touch display has a physical volume knob, which is something I wish Ford would’ve done with the climate and heated seat/steering controls.

There aren’t many hard buttons on the center console, either—just the max defroster, hazards, and traction control. The steering wheel features traditional media, cruise control, and menu buttons. This means the driver of a V8-powered F-150 could hop in a Lightning and know how to operate it right away. Ford didn’t need to reinvent the wheel here, and it stuck with what it already does well.

The crew cab sits on a floor-mounted, 131-kWh, lithium-ion extended-range battery that powers dual permanent-magnet motors via a one-speed transmission. This makes the Lightning a full-time four-wheel-drive truck without a low-range transfer case. In this configuration, it produces 580 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. This translates into an 8,600-pound towing capacity alongside 1,656 pounds of max payload. The Platinum has an EPA-rated 300 miles of range on a full battery, which is shorter than the extended range Lariat and XLT's 320 miles but more than the 240 miles for models with the standard-range pack.

Driving the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Out of the Big Three’s half-ton pickups, the F-150 has always provided the best all-around driving experience. Slightly stiffer suspension and quick-reacting steering have made the Ford easy to drive around town, feeling more like a car than a truck when not fully loaded with people or stuff. For longer stints, however, the Silverado and Ram 1500 always seemed to have an edge with their plush suspensions, though their boat-like steering response made them feel a bit clumsy in the city. As for the Lightning, it’s a mixed bag.

The Lightning’s steering feel is neutral at highway speeds, where the truck feels relaxed and minor steering adjustments don’t result in unwanted reactions from the front tires. Things are as they should be for a vehicle of this size and weight—speaking of, the Lightning Platinum tips the scales at 6,893 pounds. But in the city, I found myself really working that steering overtime to make a turn. It’s certainly not the agile-feeling F-150 that I’m used to.

Then there are the driving dynamics. Navigating busy roundabouts in the Lightning was never comfortable, winding the wheel with the suspension leaning toward one side before leaning the other way upon exiting. It all added up to a clumsy driving experience that I never really got used to after a week behind the wheel. It felt as if I were driving a building on wheels, but then again, concrete may be more communicative than this chassis and steering wheel.

The Lightning is a wild departure from its combustion sibling in terms of driving enjoyment. The independent rear suspension does a lot for keeping the weight in check and inducing a sense of stability in most situations, but its magic can only go so far when dealing with a vehicle of these proportions.

Yes, stepping on the accelerator and being thrown against your seat in a violent fashion is fun. But once that charm wears off—and trust me, it does—you’re left with essentially a sterile rocketship. On the road, the Lightning feels more like a big and blocky F-250 Super Duty than it does a normal F-150.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom, and it’s worth noting that not all pickup drivers want to be engaged at the wheel. In fact, I’m sure most of them could care less. On longer drives, the Lightning relies on its number one attribute to make you smile: comfort. As long as you’re driving in a straight line, the Lightning is the quietest, most comfortable pickup truck I’ve ever driven. Pair that with BlueCruise—Ford’s hands-free driving assist—and you’ve got a hell of a road trip machine.

I found BlueCruise to be rather good during a three-hour road trip from Indianapolis to the Michigan border. I only had to take control of the wheel a few times, usually because of a construction zone or some unexpected traffic situation. It’s not perfect, oftentimes ping-ponging between lanes after coming off a turn, but I can certainly see it being a life-saver on long trips.

The Highs and Lows

It’s an F-150, but electric. It looks like one and feels like one, at least on the highway. There’s no learning curve like with most electric cars, which is a big plus. It’s a plug-and-play electric pickup. It’s got virtually the same cabin as a regular F-150, and as the Lightning's Chief Engineer Linda Zhang told me at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show, every bed accessory made for the gasoline-powered truck fits the Lightning. That’s enormous value for consumers shopping for OEM or aftermarket add-ons. 

Conversely, it’s a big, clumsy boy to drive around town, and some of the fit and finish leaves a lot to be desired. For example, when opening and closing the frunk, the hood stutters and sort of jitters as if it's not sure what it’s supposed to do. The opening and closing procedure could look and feel much smoother, like that of an SUV’s tailgate. The cover for the charging port is finicky and feels like cheap plastic. The same goes for the connector as it doesn’t have that solid fit when plugged in, making me feel like I didn’t plug it in properly. 

2022 Ford F-150 Lighting Features, Options, and Competition

If you’re itching to spend nearly six figures on an electric pickup truck, right now is the time to be alive. The Rivian R1T, Chevy Silverado EV, and the newly-announced GMC Sierra EV are the Lightning’s direct competitors. The Ford and Chevy offer low-end models for business fleets and can be had with dual-motor, extended-range batteries, and four-wheel drive. There are four Lightning trims: Pro, XLT, Lariat, and Platinum. Only the top three trims can be optioned with the extended-range battery; the Pro ER is exclusively available to fleets. 

My tester had only two options, but that’s because the range-topping Platinum trim already comes equipped with everything and the kitchen sink. Max recline seats and a spray-in bedliner added $345 and $595 respectively to the truck’s total price, which came in at $93,509 including destination. For that kind of coin, you get all the goodies, including a twin-panel panoramic roof, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a retractable shifter with a flat-surface work area, 4G hotspot, adaptive headlamps, surround LED lighting, 22-inch wheels on all-season tires, an e-locking rear axle, power-opening and closing frunk and tailgate, 360-degree camera, and an integrated trailer brake controller. As far as advanced driver assist systems, there’s adaptive cruise control—which can be used separately from BlueCruiseevasive steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping system, and, of course, BlueCruise itself. 

Pricing out electric trucks right now can be a bit tricky, given that not all trims of every model are available yet, and higher-than-expected demand has raised prices on whatever little inventory there is. That being said, you can expect to pay right under $95,000 for a loaded Rivian R1T like the one our Deputy Editor Kristen Lee recently tested. Above that even is the GMC Hummer EV, which technically starts in the low $80,000s, but quickly climbs up to over $110,000 when equipped with all the goodies. The Chevrolet Silverado EV isn’t on sale yet, but when it is, it’s expected to offer a fleet-only work trim for around $40,000 like the Ford. The sleekest Chebby will set you back about $105,000, however, and the just-announced GMC Sierra EV will also top out around $108,000 in Denali trim.

Sustainability

Range is king. And as you can see below, the Lightning and the R1T are the only two trucks to have been rated by the EPA, so whatever GM claims for the Chevy and GMC can’t be fairly compared just yet.

The Blue Oval is slightly less vocal about some of the F-150 Lightning’s sustainability credentials than, say, Rivian is with the R1T, but they’re there. The Ford has wiring harnesses made from “100 percent post-consumer, recycled ocean plastic,” which has earned the automaker several sustainability awards. And like all F-150s, the Lightning also relies on fully recycled aluminum for its body construction, further bolstering its perceived green reputation.

Value and Verdict

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is an odd duck. On one hand, you have this incredibly advanced truck capable of doing zero to 60 mph in four seconds, as well as towing 8,600 pounds (though not at the same time) in ultimate comfort. But on the other hand, you have a sterile driving experience with clumsy driving dynamics and a massive price tag. And let’s not forget, the charging infrastructure still sucks. If you can’t get the right plug at your house to charge overnight, you’re in for a lot of headaches and quite a bit of scratch in using public chargers.

So what are you really left with, a two-trick pony? Sorta. Having spent several happy years and thousands of miles with Ford trucks, I walked away feeling short-changed by my experience with the Lightning. It checks the right boxes—perhaps more accurately than any of its current and future competitors—but it’s not the F-150 experience people like me are used to.

Personally, I’d wait until Lightning 2.0. There are still too many compromises to make with an electric truck—Ford or otherwise—and that’s just not what pickups are all about. If I can’t use my truck exactly how, when, and for as long as I need to, then that’s a problem. That being said, until the Chevy Silverado EV heads to customers’ garages, the Ford F-150 Lightning—for better or for worse—is the best electric iteration of the American pickup truck as we know it. 

Email the author at jerry@thedrive.com