Ford's popular workhorse makes a huge statement in the electric truck game

Whichever number you pluck from the Ford F-150 Lightning’s spec sheet, you can guarantee it’ll be a whopper. Power, torque, weight, girth – they’re all much plumper than anything presented by cars we dare call ‘pick-ups’ over here in Europe. It’s the girth that proves most OTT on sinuous British roads, though. Taking up a whopping 2.4m with its elephant-ear mirrors folded out, this isn’t a car you’ll thread carefree down country lanes. 

You’ll be feathering the throttle, too. There are currently two versions on sale in the F-150’s American homeland, both with a motor at each axle for four-wheel drive. The standard-range model peaks at 446bhp and 775lb ft, while the extended-range version boasts 572bhp but the same torque figure. I doubt you’ll mind too much, nor even notice. Despite weighing a sliver under three tonnes, it hits 60mph in 4.3sec. You know, like supercars used to…

Ford f150 lightning front trees

However prodigious its power, though – all served up instantly, as is the electric way – this is an easy car to potter around in once you’ve got used to its size. The steering is quick by commercial vehicle standards, so even though it lacks any meaningful feel, the Lightning’s monstrous frame can be controlled with welcome ease. While independent rear suspension arrives as an F-150 first, there’s still a somewhat rudimentary feel to the chassis set-up, at least with a relatively empty bed. Nothing major, just the odd shudder over more sudden bumps and ruts that an SUV would comfortably iron out.

If that doesn’t seem like a fair comparison, then try sitting in a Lightning. With a huge portrait touchscreen transplanted from the Mustang Mach-E – alongside a swathe of luxurious trim and equipment on this Lariat spec – the vibe is closer to plush family transport than rough ’n’ ready workhorse. It’ll happily play the latter role, of course, and with a whole new trump card over the petrol-fuelled F-150s that have dominated US sales charts for decades.

The behemoth 131kWh battery doesn’t just turn a 2989kg block into an unfeasibly quick projectile but it can also power a dozen tools while out on the job. There are plug sockets everywhere, with a handful in the huge 400-litre frunk (which also has a drainage hole at the bottom), more in the vast five-seat cabin, and another bank just the other side of the electrically whirring tailgate. If a storm knocks the power off at home, the Lightning can tag itself in as a generator.

Ford f150 lightning downhill

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So while it can’t help but feel overendowed on British roads, that also makes it overqualified for just about any job you’ll throw at it. Quite how its range figure will be affected by proper utility it’s hard to say. Ford quotes up to 320 miles when you’re not hauling around a trailer or powering a chainsaw all day. Incidentally, towing capacity is 4.5 tonnes, giving some vague pragmatism to the gigantic torque figure, and there’s a complex trailer assist function built into a huge suite of driver assists.

Over here, it’s a fun irrelevance. Official imports look unlikely. But in its homeland, the Lightning appears an almighty line in the sand with the Tesla Cybertruck’s ETA edging up like a sat-nav’s in M25 gridlock. Ford wasn’t a pioneer with mainstream electric cars, but it has made a ginormous statement in the electric truck game. In more ways than one.

Stephen Dobie


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ghostrider 10 November 2023

The Ford F-150 Lightning's debut drive is a symphony of power and sustainability. Its electric prowess delivers a thrilling performance, seamlessly blending the F-150's rugged legacy with eco-conscious innovation. The lightning-fast acceleration, agile handling, and spacious, tech-infused interior redefine expectations. This electric marvel is not just a green machine; it's a versatile workhorse with an impressive towing capacity. The F-150 Lightning doesn't compromise on strength, proving that electric vehicles can be both powerful and environmentally responsible. Ford has electrified the iconic F-150, setting a new benchmark for excellence in the electric truck realm—a brilliant fusion of tradition and tomorrow.

xxxx 1 September 2022

Been called a Tesla fanboy by the uneducated pretty much since Tesla banged out the Model S, but now I don't where Tesla are going. Model X and S sales are falling like a brick and worst of all I think the Cybertruck is a joke, sometimes wonder if Tesla are saving face by delaying it year after year with a view to maybe starting again.

Unbelievably Ford have pulled the Lighting out the bag, nailed it if you will and stolen a massive march on Tesla, the waiting lists are huge and people are buying and selling them like bit coins. Oh and GMC and are Fords coat tails.

Einarbb 1 September 2022

Not surprised, X and S now are old in the tooth so to speak, newer designs are around from elsewhere - thus people are now looking elsewhere. It was inevitable -- I never criticized Tesla fans for anything else, but what I felt was their - over-strong believe, Tesla would never falter. But it seems, Tesla is repeating known past mistakes made by well some historic car-makers. There has been clear hubristic believe at Tesla, that their designs are ever-grean, thus buyers shall never come to perceive 'em as old in the tooth, thus they can churn 'em out - forever without appreciable alteration of overall design; no matter that the cars have been improved technoligically. However, any least look at markets round the world - I refer not just for BEV's rather for broad car market, that if one looks at car designs - trends, how makers ever appear to need to, redesign their cars periodically, to maintain buyers enthusiasm. It ever surprised me, the believe - that Tesla would be ever green, be able to continue make same models forever without any significant design changes. In a believe, they'd never grow old-look from buyers point of view. Quite a mistake IMHO. IMHO also that big press, is a mistake, as it renders it more expensive, to change the basig design in how it looks, it only works if same design can be produced for a long time without significant design alteration; however I never believed - the fan base - that Tesla would brake the mold, meaning it never would need to; change the basic looks of their cars, in other words design entire new cars, because looks had gone obsolete in eyes of buyers -- however that's what I reckon has happened to Model X and S. Model 3 yes is still a strong seller, so is Y. However neither is going to last forever either, without substantive design changes. I suspect this is what Tesla hasn't understood -- the need for planned model replacements, regules ones like every other car manufacturers. The believe that Tesla is different, I believe clearly has now been proven wrong. I agree with you, Ford has now pulled one over Tesla -- with their truck. It's worth mention, Ford through-out its history, waxes and wanes, I mean it periodically innovates sometimes biggly - yet between those periods of innovation, there also are periods of decline where Ford seems for a time to forget a need for periodic innovations; which ultimately lead it to trouble -- triggering another spurt of innovation. Ford sort of seems to go through these cycles every 20 years or so, repeat manner.

Boris9119 1 September 2022

Respect XXXX, we all make errors of judgement, you, unlike many, are able to acknowledge such.

xxxx 2 September 2022

It wasn't a error of judgement or mistake on my part, several years ago I said the company wouldn't go bankrupt and were building great cars whilst others were saying the opposite. NOW they seem to have stalled but still have a fighting chance.

Einarbb 2 September 2022

Yes, however it's tricky if manufacturer waits to long to replace important models - I mean, if it dawns only on manufacturer, model needs replacing -- after sales decline has begun; as new model needs time to be developed, and if sales decline is already in process -- then revenue isn't as great it needs being perhaps. Some have suggested, Tesla as some point, may be -- purchased by a competitor. That could really happen, if it were to enter a difficulty in funding -- new model lines. Mind, history of manufacturing is so rich in makes that have foundered, for waried reasons; you can find just about every possible variation of how manufacturer can fail, by reading bit upon history of car-manufacturing.

whalley 1 September 2022

In the USA, these things are not classed as cars but trucks and that classification makes more sense when you see them. As personal transport on the school run they are hardly likely to catch on, nor at over £70,000 are they likely to be utilised by UK / EU builders for their design purpose any time soon. Still, amazing to see, and something bound to attract attention wherever it appears over here..

Boris9119 1 September 2022

Agreed whalley, how many F150 ICE were sold each year in UK? This is a 'filler' article by Autocar that literally either you or I could have penned, or anybody else for that matter. Autocar is on life support, seriously!