This story has been updated to show Ford's "next generation electric truck" will be produced at Blue Oval City, not the Lightning.
When you look at it, the all-electric F-150 Lightning is immediately identifiable as one of Ford Motor Company's signature trucks. When you get behind the wheel and take it out on the road, it's a different story.
The state-of-the-art vehicle combines the features people expect from a pickup truck — significant towing capacity, flatbed storage and the powerful feeling that accompanies driving something the size of a small boat — with the modern amenities drawing an increasing number of drivers to electric vehicles. (When Blue Oval City opens about 50 miles from Memphis, it will produce Ford's "next generation electric truck.")
I got to test drive the Lightning for The Commercial Appeal on Wednesday morning, and it did not disappoint.
Tooling about the streets of Memphis was like gliding, even over the myriad potholes dotting city roads. It did feel a bit of a squeeze to navigate some of the narrower Downtown and Midtown streets, but nothing uncomfortable if you are accustomed to driving a larger car.
Interstate driving was a breeze as well. It was easy to accidentally get up to more than 80 mph without feeling a thing.
Then, with the blessing (and encouragement) of Ford representatives, I took the car onto an empty country road, came to a halt and then floored it. I'd have to consult the photographer riding with me for confirmation, but I believe the first words out of my mouth were some that cannot be printed in this family newspaper.
It goes from 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds and can get you up to 100 mph in just over 6.
The feeling can only be compared to a sports car or a roller-coaster. If you've ever driven a sports car on an open road or ridden the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, you can estimate the feeling.
The main difference is that the Lightning is completely silent. When I first turned on the car at the Edge Motor Museum, where I started my test drive, I actually had to ask someone from Ford if it was on because it didn't make a sound.
It remained completely silent throughout the half-hour drive regardless of speed, rate of acceleration, rate of braking or whether it was idling at a stop light.
F-150 Lightning features
The base-model truck, which I drove, starts at a little under $40,000 before incentives.
Without the need for an engine, the front of the truck features what in other cars would be called a trunk but in the Lightning is called a frunk. The hood opens up to reveal a storage space large enough to accommodate a grocery load for a family of 12 or two sets of golf clubs — a fact reinforced by the image of two tiny sets of golf clubs under the hood.
The frunk, which can hold up to 400 pounds, also features multiple electric sockets and a USB port to power items for tailgates (or frunkgates), campsites or power tools. At the front of the frunk, a portion of the base lifts up and can be filled with ice and beverages to make a cooler that drains directly out of the frunk and onto the ground.
A charging port just in front of the driver-side door can accommodate electric vehicle chargers of any type. A fully-charged battery can take you about 320 miles. In the event of a power outage — something Memphians are familiar with — the truck could fully power a house through a charger installed in the residence for three days.
The truck bed is the same size as the bed on the gas-powered F-150 and also features additional electric sockets.
Inside, the Lighting has five seats. The back row of three seats can fold down or up to give extended storage to fit objects as large as dog crates. In the front, a touchscreen allows for control of just about anything you could think of.
There are relatively standard features like music and maps. If on a long road trip the car's GPS will automatically include stops at charging stations where needed along the route. It's compatible with all the in-vogue virtual assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.
BLUE OVAL CITY NEWS: Ford announces $16.5 million partnership with University of Tennessee
You can also switch between driving modes — off-road, 4-wheel-drive, etc. — see how much more weight your truck can hold in the cab, the bed or in towing capacity and myriad cameras show you what is behind and in front of you and even give you a view of what it would be like hovering over the truck looking down.
From the touchscreen you can also control when to shut off charging ports within the cab to conserve battery life. For example, you can set the car to cut off power to the outlets once you get to 100 miles of battery charge left.
Extra amenities can be added to the truck ranging from locking storage under the back-row to full-body massagers in the seats.
All-in-all, the only negative from my test drive was that I had to return the truck.
Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development and healthcare for The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at Corinne.Kennedy@CommercialAppeal.com
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Ford F-150 Lightning EV: What it's like to drive this electric truck