The F-150 Lightning got sprinkled with falling ash, which stood out against its dark Antimatter Blue paint. Which made me realize one weird advantage of EVs that maybe no one has considered before: If ever another volcano blows around here — Rainier, Baker, Glacier Peak, take your pick, we've got plenty — electric cars don’t have engine air filters and internals to foul. Back in 1980, Mount St. Helens trashed a lot of vehicles that ingested its ashfall. EVs, the cars of the apocalypse!
This Lightning was in XLT trim. We’ve written a lot about Ford’s EV truck, but this is the first XLT we’ve gotten our hands on for more than a few minutes. It's a step above the basic Lightning Pro work truck, with the 2022 XLT starting at $54,769 including the $1,795 destination fee. That’s $7,500 more than the Pro, and it buys you additional standard equipment that includes the BoxLink cargo management system, 360-degree cameras, the distinctive Lightning front lighting, running boards, heated side mirrors, cabin fold-out work surface and more. The Pro, being a work truck, has vinyl seats, whereas the XLT has cloth. And the XLT has the potential to add quite a few more options — in particular, the extended-range battery.
This particular XLT had that 131-kWh battery, a $10,000 upgrade that offers an EPA-estimated 320 miles of range in XLT (300 miles in Lariat). Adding the big battery requires adding the 312A equipment group for another $9,500, which includes 20-inch dark carbonized wheels, 9.6-kW ProPower, more advanced Co-Pilot 360 driver assists, approach-detection cabin access, heated steering wheel and 10-way driver seat, and a power tailgate with step and work surface. Other options were the Tow Technology Package at $1,395 (which you’ll hear more about in our upcoming Tech of the Year testing), lockable underseat storage at $225 and spray-in bedliner at $595.
Grand total, $76,484.
That’s right, $76K, and cloth seats. Ford says the Lariat is the more popular trim, as a few grand more gets you leather. If you’re eating a cow, why choke on the tail?
But wait, this just in: Ford last week announced massive price increases on 2023 Lightnings that will change the whole equation. Base price for a Pro will be over $54,000 with destination fee, MSRP for the XLT is a bit under $62,000, and if you were equipping this particular 2022 press truck as a 2023 model, it would cost $85,484 — that's a $9,000 price increase over the truck we're driving in this review.
One other item of note: For 2023, Ford's configurator now lists the charging cord as a $500 prechecked "option." It was simply standard equipment before.
The Lightning is eligible for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit, though the rules would appear to exclude the Platinum trim, whose $98,219 starting MSRP exceeds by a mile the new $80,000 price cap for trucks and SUVs. You're an option or two away from a $100,000 truck.
With the discussion of price unpleasantness out of the way, let's resume our drive. Now, the
XLT has nice cloth seats, and the Lightning was enjoyable to drive and spend time in, seemingly no different than any other F-150 as long as you didn’t expect engine noise, don't electronically raise the hood to discover the massive frunk, and weren’t looking forward to blowing a hundo on a tank of gas.
Even though the Lightning was a clean-air machine on a dirty-air day, there were other reasons to enjoy the trip. Despite the smoke smell and occasional flurry of ash, it was nice to drive the Mountain Loop Highway with the window down. (It’s not what you would call an actual highway; a long stretch of the Loop is unpaved.) With no sound other than an occasionally audible whine of motors and the crunch of tires on gravel, you could hear the Sauk River flowing alongside — and even birdsong. It was much like the experience of driving a convertible, where more of your senses are engaged with your surroundings in a way they normally aren’t.
With no 240-volt charger at home, it took the XLT nearly three days to sip its way back to full charge from a 120-volt outlet — that’s the downside of having such a big battery. Obviously if you owned this truck you'd want to get an electrician in for an update to your garage.
Once the Lightning was topped off, I pulled it back out of the barn to take some pictures. It still had flakes of ash on it, and was generally dirty from the roadtrip. But a dirty truck is a happy truck. And a truck with clean emissions can be a happy thing too.
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- Another thing that I like about this F-150 doesn't really have anything to do with sleep, but it does have to do with camping. So you press a button here by the shift knob, and the shift knob will actually fold flat. And then you can open this up.
They call this like a work station. It's nice and flat. I think it'd be great for eating on if you have-- put a bowl here, plate here, whatever. It's just like a nice little table inside the vehicle. Again, not a perfect solution. There's a lot of cracks in crevices here that can get filled with crap. The first F-150 that I had that had this, actually, when I opened it up, it was full of crumbs, which was not great.
So not ideal. Probably be better off just having a table at your campsite. But if you don't have a campsite and you don't have a table, this is better than nothing. It's better than just eating something on your lap where you can drop it on the seats, get it on the steering wheel, get it on your pants, all that. So having this-- better than nothing.