Monday, June 17, 2024
Reviews2023 Ford F-150 Lightning First Drive: The Moment of Truth

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning First Drive: The Moment of Truth


San Antonio, Texas — The early news is good. More than 200,000 people have put down a deposit to own an F-150 Lightning. Ford even had to stop taking orders last December so that those who were waiting would not have to wait too long. This truck, which has been the most sold in Canada for 56 years, is Ford’s bread and butter. The success of the electric transition depends on the success of this model. Are all the right ingredients in place?

Lacklustre styling

Ford has chosen the path of normality with its Lightning. It resembles the gasoline model in every way, and that’s by design. Ford considers that the F-150’s clientele doesn’t like too many changes. GM chose a different path with the upcoming Silverado. We can’t wait to see which of the two will be right. Ford hopes that this ordinary vehicle will not intimidate more traditional buyers. For others, its styling lacks a bit of panache. Same approach inside. You have a spacious cabin that marries intuitively executed physical controls with an easy-to-use central touchscreen. The available amenities are also similar to the standard F-150. These include the optional folding center console table, front seats that recline nearly flat so you can stretch out and take a nap, and a lockable storage box under the rear seat. A notable optional upgrade is a vertically aligned 15.5-inch touchscreen. It’s the same as the one in Ford’s Mustang Mach-E EV.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning | Photo: Benoit Charette

No hands

The BlueCruise hands-free driving system is available on top-of-the-line models. It works on over 160,000 km of pre-mapped divided highways to take the stress out of long-distance driving by taking control of the truck’s steering, acceleration, and braking. Although it’s a hands-free system, BlueCruise uses cameras to monitor the driver to make sure he or she is in the driver’s seat and paying attention; otherwise, you get a warning. Like the Mustang Mach-E and F-150, the Lightning can receive live updates through its infotainment system. These updates keep your truck up to date with the latest software and features without having to visit a dealership. You also get a full list of electronic driving aids.

Plenty of technology and a trunk up front

From cloud-connected navigation and wireless access to Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto to built-in Amazon Alexa and SYNC AppLink apps. You have a standard 12-inch easy-to-use screen with a customizable interface. Animated graphics show how the vehicle is performing in hands-free driving mode on the highway or how effective the regenerative braking system is. The higher-end models benefit from the same large screen as the Mustang Mach-E, so there is no surprise for the brand’s regulars. Also worth mentioning is the front trunk, which can hold 400 litres and can store and lock valuable cargo. This is undoubtedly an argument that will convince a number of buyers who don’t want to leave their things to the goodwill of Mother Nature. A final word on the folding center console that turns the front center section into a work table. This is a feature of the gasoline-powered F-150 that Ford has retained in the electric model.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning | Photo: Benoit Charette

Quiet and comfortable

One of the first things we noticed was the silence inside, which is very relaxing. We noticed that the 22-inch wheels on the Platinum model are harsher on the road than the 20-inch wheels on the other models and that they also cut into the range a bit. While Ford advertises the range of the larger battery at 515 km, the Platinum version comes in at 482 km because of those bigger tires. An independent rear suspension offers a more comfortable ride, while an all-new frame uses the strongest steel ever used in an F-150 frame (due to the 1,500+ pound battery weight) and supports a maximum available payload of 2,235 pounds. Ultimately, you get a smooth, supple ride. By offering the first independent rear suspension in the F-Series, the Lightning enhances ride quality with a low center of gravity that also helps improve handling, provide a more stable ride, and reduce body roll. All this is accompanied by precise steering. The F-150 Lightning also boasts excellent off-road performance, thanks to a 4×4 system with four selectable driving modes: Normal, Sport, Off-Road, and Towing/Haul. It offers protection underneath the vehicle, and its power combined with high torque makes towing easy, even with heavy loads.

Two batteries

Power comes in the form of two batteries. The Pro, XLT and Lariat versions offer a 98-kWh battery that makes 452 horsepower. The Platinum version comes standard with a 131-kWh battery that gives 580 horsepower. Note that for those who want it, the 131-kWh battery is available as a $13,380 option on all other models. Both batteries produce 775 lb-ft of torque, more than any other F-150 pickup. The F-150 Lightning equipped with the standard battery can tow up to 7,700 pounds, and the larger battery increases the maximum charge to 10,000 pounds. The load capacity is 2,235 pounds. It is also important to note that because of the very high torque, towing has never been easier. Even with the weight near the 10,000-pound limit, the truck didn’t even seem to be working at full throttle.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning | Photo: Benoit Charette

What about range?

The F-150 Lightning offers two options: a regular range battery with an EPA-estimated range of 370 km and a 131-kWh extended range battery that is good for 515 km. Due to its 22-inch wheels, the Platinum version is limited to 482 km. Fleet customers have the option of purchasing the extended range battery on the Lightning Pro, with its 515 km. As for fuel economy. We spent the first day behind the wheel of a Platinum version with 22-inch wheels averaging close to 120 km/h or 72 to 75 mph because the speed limit in Texas is 75 mph. So, at legal speeds in Texas, the average energy consumption was slightly over 28 kWh. The next day with 5,000 pounds in the trailer, that average jumped to 44 kWh, and with 1,900 pounds in the box, the consumption was 35 kWh. This means that towing with 5,000 pounds takes away 35% of the range under the right conditions. This probably means you need to take another 30% off in the winter and another 20% if you’re towing a heavier load.

A mobile generator

Ford has put a lot of emphasis on the F-150’s ability to convert into a generator. Base versions come standard with 2.4 kilowatts of power with outlets in the front trunk to power small electrical items. The Lariat and Platinum versions offer 9.6 kilowatts of power as standard – a combination of 2.4 kilowatts available from the front trunk and 7.2 kilowatts from the 11 cab and bed outlets. You can choose to use this power to supply electricity to another electric car or to supply your home with electricity during a power outage. However, to do this, you need a Ford electrical box that cuts the power to the house and transfers it to the truck, just like a generator. This box costs $5,000 USD and requires a 100-amp input plus the electrician’s fee. This same box also serves as a charging station for the F-150, which with 80 amps of power, can charge the vehicle overnight on 110 volts. This system, called Pro Power, will appeal to professionals who will no longer have to lug a generator to work. In addition, the FordPass app alerts you if the truck’s battery drops below one-third of its total range, and they can even set the truck to stop using Pro Power Onboard if the battery level approaches the distance to the nearest charging station.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning | Photo: Benoit Charette

A high price tag

The best deal for the Lightning will be reserved for professionals who will get the $58,000 Pro model. The XLT variant, which is the first model available to the public, starts at $68,000 with the regular 98 kWh battery. The Lariat version climbs to $80,000, and you must spend $110,000 for the Platinum version that comes with the 131-kWh battery. You’ll have to fork out $13,380 to get this battery in the other versions. Finally, it’s not cheap to get a 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning. However, more than 200,000 people have already given a deposit, and Ford had to stop taking orders last December because the model was so popular. So, the price did not shock the customers too much.


The Lightning is a real revolution in progress. Ford has put all its know-how into this truck to get the approval of its biggest customers. The F-150 is Ford’s bread and butter. This transition has to be a success, or the future of the company is at stake. But don’t worry, all the ingredients are there, now it’s up to the customers to like the recipe.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning | Photo: Benoit Charette


  • Very quiet ride
  • Towing capacity up to 10,000 pounds
  • Spacious and practical front trunk


  • High price tag
  • Only one bed length


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