Happily, the F-150 Lightning is a terrific F-150 — and a terrific truck. If you can find one to buy for a reasonable price and you’ve got a handle on charging for how you’ll use it, it’s clearly a better choice than a gas-powered truck.
But the Lightning is not without its issues — Ford can’t make enough to meet demand, just raised prices, and is still trying to get dealers to stop marking available units up by tens of thousands of dollars. And then there’s the software. This is a very fast truck that is also a maddeningly slow computer.
Of course, gunning the Lightning all over town eats up range, and that means you have to deal with charging, both at home and out in the wild. You absolutely need a Level 2 charger at home with the Lightning since the battery is huge and trying to charge it with a standard 110 outlet netted less than one mile of range per hour, which might as well be nothing.
Extended-range Lightnings like our review unit come with Ford’s 80-amp Charge Station Pro, which requires professional installation and allows the Lightning to serve as a backup power source for your home in case of a blackout, but since I only had the thing a week, I just plugged Ford’s 30-amp travel charger into my 240-volt dryer outlet and it charged just fine overnight, at around 15 miles of range an hour. Plugged into a 150kW DC fast charger, Ford says you can go from 15 to 80 percent in 41 minutes. The truck maxes out at 155kW, so hunting for the rare 350kW charger isn’t really worth it.
GUNNING THE LIGHTNING ALL OVER TOWN EATS UP RANGE
At 100 percent charge, the Lightning reports its range at 325 miles, but that number quickly drops as you drive around, especially where I live in the mountains. You can plan trips in the FordPass mobile app and send them to the built-in nav, which will plot out chargers along your route. Those charging stops are locked in once you set a route; it would be nice if the system would give you more options along the way.
Charging on the road is mostly handled through Ford’s app and charging network; the company has been building out its network since the Mach-E came out last year, and things are improving but still occasionally spotty. You can sort available chargers by charging speed in the app and on the built-in nav. Chargers in the Ford network can be activated on your phone but not in the truck for some reason. Importantly, I had no problems using plug-and-charge at supported stations, which automatically activates a charger and handles billing just by plugging in. And, of course, you can just pay with a credit card if you want. And while I charged at several Electrify America stations that worked well, there were the usual broken chargers and glitches in getting things started. There’s still a long way to go, but things have started improving in meaningful ways.