- I rode in 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 hits 60 mph in 4-5 seconds and boasts up to 563 horsepower.
From afar, the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning looks like nothing special.
If you weren’t looking for them, you might not notice the truck’s LED light bars, enclosed grille, and subtle bodywork changes that signal it isn’t just another of the millions of gas-fueled Ford pickups seen rumbling down US roadways daily.
Stepping inside the truck, there’s nothing that screams “electric” or “futuristic” either. Unlike some other new EVs coming to market, it’s not overly sleek or techy looking. The Lightning gets a giant central touchscreen but its interior is, by and large, shared with the rest of the F-150 lineup.
Once the Lightning gets moving, however, it becomes abundantly clear that it’s no ordinary truck, something I learned riding shotgun in the new vehicle around Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan test track.
Creeping around a parking lot, the Lightning was silent, unassuming. But all that subtlety vanished the instant the Lightning’s chief engineer, Linda Zhang, floored it onto one of the track’s straightaways.
From a stop, the Lightning blasted forward with breathtaking force, throwing me back into my seat. We were at 90 mph before I knew it. Getting up to highway speeds in a conventional truck means waiting for gears to shift as the engine revs to higher RPMs. There’s none of that hesitation in the F-150 Lightning — it takes off with all its might immediately, and it just keeps hauling.
You can experience roughly this sort of instant, powerful acceleration in any EV, from a commuter Kia to a high-performance Audi. But the sensation is so much more surreal in a bulky pickup like the Lightning, a truck that, by the looks of it, has no business smoking sports cars in a straight line.
None of this should’ve come as a surprise. Ford promises the all-wheel-drive Lightning will produce 775 pound-feet of torque and up to 563 horsepower. It pegs 0-60 mph at between four and five seconds, making the Lightning the quickest Ford truck ever. Even knowing all this, hurtling around the track so effortlessly in something so large felt bizarre. The way the Lightning zips around silently, without the familiar groan of an engine or even much wind noise, made the experience even stranger.
A beast of a vehicle, the 6,500-pound Lightning weighs over 1,000 pounds more than a standard F-150 due to its 1,800-pound battery pack. But you wouldn’t know it riding shotgun. The Lightning felt oddly light and feathery as Zhang flicked it around the track.
Through sharp turns, the truck was remarkably planted. There was practically none of the body roll you’d expect from a high-riding vehicle that’s some six feet tall. This is largely thanks to its hefty battery pack, which sits beneath the truck’s floor and lowers its center of gravity, helping with handling.
Parked in a lot at the track after a too-brief test ride, the Lightning could, at a glance, blend in with the other F-150s milling about. And that was kind of the point. Ford aimed to make an electric truck that’s familiar, yet brings capabilities to the table that you just can’t get in a conventional pickup.
The absurd performance I experienced during my test ride is one perk that Zhang hopes will draw buyers in.
“The performance, the ride, the capability of being able to tow, to haul, and really just move quickly — I think is a big why-buy for this truck,” Zhang said. “It’s one of those vehicles that once you get into it you’re just like, ‘Wow, I don’t think I can go back.'”