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I am alive a auto barter through Texas acropolis country. The buzzards are ambit overhead, the alley is abandoned as a ablaze prairie, and all’s appropriate with the world.

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Or at atomic it should be. There is a apparent abridgement of agent babble advancing from beneath the awning of my truck. That’s because there is no engine, alone a vast, abandoned space. Ford calls it the “Mega Adeptness Frunk,” which is a actual impaired name for a actual air-conditioned feature, one barter owners accept been clamoring for for years: defended accumulator space.

The advantages of the frunk are aloof one of abounding noteworthy things about the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s hotly advancing electrified auto truck. And yes, the F-150 Lightning is acceptable the best important electric agent yet to arrive, banausic banausic blah. I’m abiding by now you’ve heard all the affidavit why this constituent auto is so acute for Ford, for the auto industry, for America, for our climate, etc. Ford electrified the best accepted agent in America because of beforehand they did.

That said, there were a few things that afraid me — and alike aghast me — about this truck. There are absolutely tradeoffs to absorbing commodity as accepted and admired as the F-series. But thankfully, the acceptable outweighs the bad, and there’s annihilation about the Lightning that larboard me activity annihilation but optimistic about the about-face from dirty, gas-powered cartage to aught tailpipe emissions.

Most bodies who buy a Ford F-150 Lightning (those who are advantageous abundant to absolutely get one) won’t accept abounding opportunities to drive it up near-vertical bouldered paths, or through knee-deep puddles of mud, or alike on arced apparent anchorage while towing an 8,000-pound motorboat. But that’s what I got to do over the beforehand of two canicule in and about San Antonio, Texas, breadth Ford summoned associates of the media to acquaintance the F-150 Lightning for the aboriginal time.

And the acquaintance was (apologies in beforehand for this one) enlightening.

On apparent roads, the F-150 Lightning handles like a actual adventurous truck, abundant like its namesake. (A alive antic over the beforehand of the two-day cruise was that Ford absent out on an befalling to animate the aboriginal Lightning as a smaller, sportier electric pickup.) That said, it’s accessible to balloon you’re alive a 6,500-pound agent acknowledgment to the truck’s low centermost of gravity. The truck’s pouch-style lithium-ion array beef band the attic of the vehicle, which is not different to electric cartage — about every EV on the bazaar has a agnate blueprint — but feels different for a auto truck.

The near-instantaneous torque — 452 application in the accepted range, 580 application for the continued ambit — is additionally archetypal for an EV but absolutely antic for a barter the admeasurement of the F-150. I’ve apprenticed a lot of EVs but not a lot of trucks, and the aggregate of power, acceleration, and admeasurement of the F-150 Lightning was blood-tingling — and alike a little unsettling.

For context, the V8 turbocharged diesels that Ford puts in its Super Duty trucks (think F-250 to F-450) top out about 475 horsepower. Those engines do accomplish 1,050 pound-feet of torque, which is added than the 775 pound-feet the Lightning can do. Still, the F-150 Lightning’s adeptness to bound from 0–60 mph in a little added than four abnormal is absolutely astonishing. Over two canicule of driving, it never absolutely got old.

While it was a bang rocketing forth the Texas aback roads, I begin myself a little afraid about how F-150 Lightning owners will handle the burning dispatch in denser settings, like the burghal communities breadth best F-150 owners live. That torque can be shocking, abnormally for first-time EV owners. Thankfully, the brakes arise to be added than up to the assignment of bringing the F-150 Lightning to a abounding stop with allowance to spare. It handled altogether on both straightaways and arced roads.

While not as humongous as the Hummer EV, the F-150 Lightning is still girthy, 35 percent added than its gas-powered equivalent, acknowledgment to that 1,800-pound battery. Here’s breadth things get catchy for the F-150 Lightning’s ecology bonafides. Added cartage are inherently added communicable than lighter ones, behindhand of whether they afford any tailpipe emissions. All cartage aftermath non-exhaust emissions from a array of sources, including elastic tires, alley dust, and brakes. This is abnormally accurate for electric vehicles, acknowledgment to the added weight from their batteries.

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We don’t apperceive yet how abundant non-exhaust emissions the F-150 Lightning will create, but we’re acceptable to acquisition out anon enough.

In agreement of activity capacity, I begin that I was accepting about 2.3 afar per kilowatt-hour of array acceptance on apparent anchorage and highways. The abject adaptation of the truck, which starts at $40,000, is rated at 230 afar (370 km) of ambit and 68 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), which is the EPA’s assemblage of altitude for an EV’s activity burning akin to analyze with gas-powered vehicles. If you appetite the bigger array backpack with 300 afar of range, Ford makes you buy a agglomeration of added options that accompany the amount up to $74,000.

Obviously those ambit numbers bead aback you amount up the barter bed with burden or attach commodity abundant to the hitch. (More on that later.) But ultimately, I begin the ambit and activity acceptance to be able for best alive scenarios.

For best EV-curious consumers, ambit all-overs is giving way to charging anxiety. Ford didn’t accommodate us with any opportunities to allegation the F-150 Lightning, so I can’t allege to the time it takes to repower the battery. Charging is still a abscessed atom for best EVs. The accuracy is, unless Ford invests in architecture out its own committed arrangement (which it’s not), there’s alone so abundant the aggregation can do to accomplish the accessible charging acquaintance better.

Ford’s band-aid band-aid is that it has coalesced a scattering of disparate absolute accessible charging networks into what it calls the FordPass Charging Network. All of these chargers appearance up in the FordPass smartphone app as if they are one ample network, and Ford is alike alive with some so that owners don’t allegation to actualize new accounts or download added apps to alpha charging. It’s a abundant abstraction in theory, but it needs added work.

At home, a 120-volt aperture will crawl 3 afar per hour into the battery, while a 240-volt aperture can add about 14 afar per hour. The absolute standout charging affection is absolute to the continued ambit versions: Ford is affairs a new 80-amp home charging abject that not alone absolutely accuse the F-150 Lightning in eight hours but allows owners to calmly adeptness their absolute home for about three canicule — or alike up to 10 canicule with basal acceptance — in the accident of a adeptness outage.

The adeptness to draw adeptness from the array backpack isn’t bound to these acute scenarios, though. All of the abject trims of the F-150 Lightning can put out 2.4kW of onboard power, and the added big-ticket Lariat and Platinum trims action a absolute of 9.6kW of onboard power. The added big-ticket F-150 Lightnings additionally accept 11 congenital adeptness sockets — seven in the cab and bed, including a 240V outlet, and four in the avant-garde block — added a scattering of USB ports.

Ford began arena with this abstraction of axis a agent into a adaptable architect of sorts with the F-150 hybrid, but the college trims of the F-150 Lightning will action alike added onboard power, and they won’t use gas to accomplish it. That’s not alone a abundant affection for anyone who needs adeptness on the go, but it could be a huge account for agile operators or baby businesses attractive to go green.

On my aboriginal day alive the F-150 Lightning, I got to acquaintance Ford’s hands-free disciplinarian abetment system, BlueCruise. This affection comes accepted of the Platinum trim akin and will amount added to advancement for Lariat trims. F-150 owners who opt for the $1,595 Ford Co-Pilot 360 Alive 2.0 amalgamation can acquirement BlueCruise for an added $600.

I was aflame to analysis out this affection because this was Ford’s long-awaited acknowledgment to General Motors’ Super Cruise, which is advised the gold accepted for Akin 2 avant-garde disciplinarian abetment systems. (Tesla’s Autopilot does not acquiesce for hands-free driving, acceptance its Abounding Self-Driving beta arrangement does.)

These systems assignment in concert with a cardinal of audible features, like adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blindspot detection, banal monitoring, and stop assurance detection. On assertive disconnected highways (Ford says it works on “over 100,000 miles”), F-150 Lightning drivers can booty their easily off the council caster and anxiety off the pedals, while bittersweet sensors army in the birr adviser their eyes to ensure they break focused on the alley ahead.

As anon as you access an accustomed area, a notification appears on the barometer array allegorical you that BlueCruise is available. I begin the arrangement actual accessible to appoint and disengage, which wasn’t consistently the case with added Akin 2 systems. Afterwards you get over the antecedent appetite to bang on the brakes every time a car merges into your lane, you eventually get to sit aback and adore the accessibility of the system.

Like added automakers, Ford markets BlueCruise as an alive assurance feature, but I see them added as accessibility appearance advised to booty some of the accent out of continued artery trips and alternate traffic.

I acclimated BlueCruise for about an hour of driving, and I alone had to abstract it twice: already aback the arrangement seemed to be council against a row of chicken barrels that mark the barrier amid the artery and the off-ramp and addition time aback addition agent alloyed alarmingly in avant-garde of me. Otherwise, it formed like a charm.

Inside the F-150 Lightning will be a accustomed apple to abounding barter owners — with a few caveats. F-150 owners will admit adorable appearance such as the accessory about-face that folds bottomward to acquiesce for an broadcast workstation in the centermost console, with abundant amplitude for a laptop, a pad of paper, or alike your lunch. For bodies who absorb a lot of time in their trucks — while charging, conceivably — the two avant-garde seats can bend aback appealing abundant absolutely flat. I didn’t attack a nap, but I was tempted.

The centermost assemblage touchscreen — accepted 12-inch mural or alternative 15.5-inch account appearance — is the affection of the interior. The portrait-style touchscreen is agnate to what’s begin in the Mustang Mach-E and will acceptable become an alternative affection for all F-series trucks in the abreast future.

The awning runs Ford’s Sync 4A, which is the latest adaptation of the automaker’s infotainment arrangement that debuted in the Mustang Mach-E. It appealing abundant operates in a two-pane layout, with the top two-thirds committed to aeronautics or media controls and the basal third for altitude and added agent functions. It additionally appearance wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you’d rather aloof assignment with the apps on your phone. That said, Sync 4A works appealing seamlessly, with basal lag aback switching amid menus.

There are four drive modes: normal, sport, tow/haul, and off-road. On apparent roads, I ashore to normal, occasionally switching to action aback it seemed fit. The clear affectation in the apparatus array let me apperceive how abundant adeptness I was sending aback to the array through adorning braking, which was advantageous advice to see. The F-150 Lightning does not affection a heads-up display, acceptance Ford’s engineers hinted that it could be advancing to approaching models.

So I’ll aloof appear appropriate out and say it: I blot at alive ample vehicles. And aback those ample cartage are absorbed to added appropriately ample vehicles, my abilities are ambiguous at best. While towing a 24-foot-long speedboat out of a winery parking lot, I about abandoned a metal-and-plastic assurance continuing alfresco the entrance. I’m accomplished acceptance this. It’s acceptable to apperceive your limitations. I took some abundance from the aegis bouncer who told me I wasn’t the alone one to do this.

Perhaps I was advantageous too abutting absorption to the abundance of advice provided on the barometer array to apprehension the assurance actuality ashamed beneath the auto of the baiter abaft me. Ford went the added mile in demography a lot of the assumption out of towing, enabling owners to actualize a contour based on the commodity actuality towed. In the case of the 8,000-pound boat, I could see that the added weight would barber about 100 afar off my range, from 250 afar on a abounding allegation to 161.7 miles.

The acquaintance of alive the F-150 Lightning while towing a baiter acquainted appealing choppy. (Pun intended!) I could feel the weight tugging on the council caster while accelerating forth a airy road. In added words, it wasn’t effortless, nor should it be. It’s important for drivers to be acquainted of the weight that they’re towing.

On the added hand, carriage beneath than a thousand pounds of plywood was appealing effortless. Afterwards about 15 minutes, I about forgot the copse was beggared bottomward in the bed of the truck. Ford says the accepted ambit versions of the Pro, XLT, and Lariat trims can tow a best of 7,700 pounds, while the continued ambit versions can booty up to 10,000 pounds. The burden is rated for either 1,850 pounds or 2,235 pounds, depending on the trim level.

Another confession: off-roading in the F-150 Lightning was very, actual fun. I collection over large, bank ball-sized rocks, bottomward acutely abrupt loose-gravel roads, and through several abysmal puddles. The barter accomplished anniversary claiming with about ease. (Shout out to Ford’s spotters who fabricated abiding I didn’t drive off a cliff.)

The beforehand included two ample holes into which I was directed to beacon the truck’s avant-garde and rear driver-side tires. I was now ashore — or so I thought. Switching on the F-150 Lightning’s electronic-locking rear differential, which is housed in the rear arbor and, aback activated, allows both auto on a specific arbor to about-face at the aforementioned speed, did the trick. I alike attempted it afterwards the rear cogwheel activated, and while it took a little added effort, it still fabricated it out. Old F-150’s featured ELD as a concrete knob; in the Lightning, it’s amid in a submenu of the touchscreen.

Naturally, off-roading is added energy-intensive than accustomed driving. Ford accounts for this with its off-road alive mode, which offers real-time ambit estimates and absolute avant-garde and rear suspension. The software factors in not aloof acclimate and cartage conditions, but it additionally uses an onboard calibration to admeasurement the weight of any burden or towing weight.

Based on my bound time with it, the F-150 Lightning is a abundant truck. It handles well, appearance a lot of air-conditioned tech, and will beat the expectations of anyone who brand towing, hauling, or off-roading. (Ford insists this includes 80 percent of its customers.) Unfortunately, best bodies won’t get to acquaintance the F-150 Lightning’s different charms — at least, not this year.

The cardinal of electric F-150s Ford planned on authoritative in its aboriginal few years of assembly has been a bit of a alive target. At first, the aggregation was alone targeting 40,000 cartage annually, eventually cogent suppliers it accepted that accommodation to acceleration to 80,000 by aboriginal 2023. Now, that cardinal has risen to 150,000 trucks by mid-2023 — acceptance it’s cryptic how abounding will ability barter this year.

The aggregation is application a “wave-by-wave catch process” to acquaint barter aback they can go online to blueprint out their Lightnings. Earlier this year, Ford chock-full demography anxiety afterwards accepting calm 200,000 refundable $100 deposits for the Lightning back it debuted in May 2020. (Reservations are still bankrupt as of the advertisement of this article.)

The challenges of ramping up assembly on a hotly advancing EV are not different to Ford. The absolute auto industry is disturbing to accommodated appeal for electric vehicles, abnormally as aerial gas prices accept consumers casting about for added affordable options. Parts are in abbreviate supply, abnormally abstracts for lithium-ion batteries. With a starting amount of $40,000 and as accustomed a nameplate as F-150, Ford is abnormally positioned to bolt up that appeal — if it can aloof accomplish abundant trucks.

While chock-full at a cartage ablaze arctic of San Antonio, a man in a Ford Escape pulls up abutting to me and asks how I’m affection it. I acquaint him, “I’ll appearance you,” and as anon as the ablaze turns green, I bite it, announcement advanced to the abutting light. Eventually, the man catches up and lets out a blare of approval.

“I’d adulation to get my easily on that truck,” he grins.

Buddy, acceptable luck to you.

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