With nothing but a wide-open road ahead, I roll to a stop and drop the hammer. It is no longer the gas pedal, but it is still the accelerator and does it ever invoke acceleration. Instantly 775 lb-ft of torque hits the rear wheels of the Lightning and the all-season tires briefly protest, as the truck leaps forward from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds like a silent missile.
The thrust is so significant that I could feel my brain pushed to the back of my skull as a Cheshire Cat grin formed on my face. The acceleration is addictive, even though I risked making myself car sick in a way that only electric vehicles seem to induce.
Though the Lightning moves out much quicker than a 6,015-pound pickup has any right to, it still delivers a more familiar acceleration experience than its Mustang Mach-E cousin, as it transfers weight to the rear of the truck and leaps forward, whereas the Mach-E, particularly the GT, just leaps forward.
While I should have expected it, constantly matting the go pedal does adversely affect the range of the 2022 F-150 Lightning Lariat I was driving. Equipped with an extended-range battery, this truck offers 300 miles of range at a starting price of $77,474.
As the most powerful F-150 ever built with 580 horsepower on tap, it lives up to the history of the nameplate pioneered by the SVT Lightning. Having been around for the debut of the last SVT Lightning — which was powered by a 380-horsepower, supercharged Two-Valve 5.4-liter engine — that truck was fun, if not fuel-efficient, but it did have an impressive 450 lb-ft of torque for its era, which pales in comparison to the 775 lb-ft in the current Lightning.
Of course, time and technology marched forward, so the new truck is not only faster and more powerful, it hauls plenty of modern features. The latest Lightning brings SYNC 4 infotainment and a huge vertical screen like one found in the Mach-E. Likewise, it sports a traditional-style instrument cluster delivering important speed, range, and other information at the ready.
“It really is the smartest F-150 we’ve ever made,” said Darren Palmer, vice president, Global EV Programs, Ford Motor Company. “F-150 Lightning gives our customers all the info they want in an instant — a real-time view of where they’re going, what they’re hauling, or how much real-world range they’ve got banked. And with Ford Power-Up software updates, the experience is only going to get better.”
Among those features is BlueCruise, which lets the truck do most of the driving on enabled stretches of road throughout the country. On a mostly interstate road trip, I was able to sample the hands-free aspects of this feature and it made the long hauls more enjoyable, but it does chastise if the driver doesn’t keep eyes on the wheel. Of course, I turned it off a few times and put the pedal to the floor to feel the rush.
The Lightning was a surprise arrival in my driveway after a week in the Maverick, and it too came at a great time. Heading to the beach about 110 miles away for Memorial Day weekend provided a great test for its practicality in transporting people and gear. In practice, the Lightning experience is effortless. It delivered not only that incredible acceleration and surprisingly sharp handling, but a comfortable ride, plenty of room for gear (particularly in the huge frunk), and ample range for a weekend getaway.
Upon arrival at my vacation destination, the truck still retained plenty of range for running around town for grocery runs and dinner outings, but I did make a detour to the one fast-charging station in town where in an hour it restored the charge to 90 percent for $19.95, which would be plenty for the weekend and the trip home.
Once parked at a seaside rental, the Lightning generated a lot of attention overnight. In the morning, the manager tracked me down and asked if I was driving the truck. She had fielded numerous questions about the truck, which had just begun rolling out to buyers when I drove it.
Ford’s marketing of this truck resonated. People know about the Lightning, and when they finally get to experience it firsthand as I did, it is likely to convince a lot more people to give electric trucks a try.