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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CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Hey, everybody. "Autoblog" senior producer, Christopher McGraw, here. I'm excited today for a few different reasons. First off, it is September, which means it is almost fall. It is a nice 52 degrees out right now. I'm actually, like, a little chilly, which is a nice break from the 98-degree temperatures we've been seeing out here in Colorado.
Second of all, I'm in the Ford F-150 Lightning. I'm a huge fan of pickup trucks. I'm also a huge fan of electric vehicles. And since I haven't driven the Rivian yet, this is one of the first that I have driven. I've driven the Hummer as well. But this is the first time that I've gotten like a week-long seat time in an electric pickup truck.
This thing's got all the bells and whistles. It's a platinum, and it has been a blast to drive, but can you sleep in it? First things first, let's turn this thing on. Look it. Boom. On. That's it. That's all we got. Let's turn down the sound here. I love it. It's so quiet. And I'm going to open up this sunroof, brighten things up a bit in here. It is massive. So that's halfway. There we go. Massive sunroof. Really like that. Really like being able to look up at the stars at night.
Another thing that I like is because this is electric, you don't have to worry about getting carbon monoxide poisoning. So if you're super hot out or super cold out, you can actually run the AC or heat. There will be a drain on the battery, so you have to factor that into consideration. But it's something that you can't really do safely in an internal combustion vehicle. So that's great. Another thing is this F-150 has lie flat seats. So let's see how these feel.
All right, so this is the lie flat seat in the Ford F-150, and while it does go quite a bit further back than other vehicles, I would not say that this is something that is going to be super comfortable to sleep in long term. I have-- just story time. There was a time when one of my old co-workers and I, we were shooting a Volkswagen video at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and we got up super early to hit the Old Faithful right as the sun was coming up.
And by the time we were in Grand Teton, around 1:00 PM at Horseshoe Bend, we were really tired. We just needed like a quick 15, 20-minute nap to recharge. And so, this is how we slept was lean the seats back. I think that these seats would be perfect for that. Being able to lean all the way back is really nice. But full night's sleep? I don't think so. But you can definitely look up at the stars through this huge sunroof, assuming that it's a clear night.
So lie flat seats, good, better than most, but not a perfect solution. Another thing that I'd like about this F-150, it 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, or whatever. It's just like a nice little table inside the vehicle. Again, not a perfect solution. There's a lot of cracks and crevices here that can get filled with crap.
The first F-150 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.
Another thing I like is that we got a ton of cup holders here. We got one, two, three, four, and then we got plenty of space in the door. Though, none of the space in the door looks like it's specific to cup holders. So pretty good. Again, not ideal.
All right, now looking at this. Take the little tray out here. There's a lot of space and a lot of USB ports, which I like. There's two USB ports in here in the storage area. Also, there's just a ton of room in that storage area. You can fit easily a dozen cans of pop. You can fit whatever you want in there. You can probably even fit a small cooler in there, and just throw some ice and not worry about it leaking.
We also have two USB ports up here. So plenty of USB ports up in the front. Though, unless you're sleeping up front, the USB ports up here are not going to matter so much, but I do just like having the space. And it's lockable. There's a lock on the front, so if you have your valuables in the truck, you can lock the truck, you can lock this portion, and then you're good to go.
Also has a lockable glove box and some secondary storage up here as well, which I also like. Storage is big when you're sleeping in your car. You got to put all your stuff somewhere. Some more power. I've got a 12-volt here, and then an AC-120-volt here. This is not the only AC plug on this vehicle. So we'll get to that in a little bit, but it's great to have AC up front in the cabin.
All right, let's move to the back of the cab and see if you can sleep in the rear. All right, so now we're in the rear. So seats are down. Let's do a quick measurement with the seats down. It's not completely flat. It kind of leans into the back here, which isn't awful. I'd rather lean that way while I sleep on it than the other way, but flat would be better.
So we're talking 56 inches, so just a little shy of 5-feet. So if you curl up, you can sleep laying down. Wouldn't be bad while somebody else is driving on maybe a long road trip to catch some Z's, but, again, not ideal for a full night's sleep. But if we push these up, maybe we can sleep on the floor a little bit better.
All right, so seats pulled up really easily, as you've seen, but we have this, like, storage area. Really great for organizing your stuff underneath the seat, I think, but not great if you want to sleep on top of it. So fairly easy. Press that down and then fold it flat, and then you can actually lock it in place there.
And that'll work on either side. I really like that. You don't have to walk around. You don't have to do it with both switches. It's got one on either side, and both work. So that gives us a much flatter spot to sleep. It's not completely flat with a sleeping pad, depending on how thick your sleeping pad is. If you get a thick one, this probably won't be as big of a deal. But if you're working with a thinner one, it might be a bit of a pain.
Let's measure the width of this area from like the center console to this piece of plastic. We got 30 inches. So that's not too bad. So about the width of like a skinny doorway should be big enough width-wise wise for people to sleep. What about length-wise?
So I'm going to measure just from when it drops off here. So this isn't actually all the way to the door yet. So if I'm measuring that, it's right around 56, 57 inches. If we go all the way to the door, we're talking at most 64, 65 inches with the doors closed.
Some of that space will be taken up by this part of the door. So with the doors closed, you're looking at right around 5-feet, maybe just a couple inches more. I myself am 5' 7," and most of humanity is bigger than that. So unless you're coming in right around 5-feet, you're going to have to curl up a little bit to sleep back here.
That being said, with the sun roof and with the front seats moved up and this up, this does feel a lot bigger of a space. It's not going to be the most comfortable with this hard plastic being on another level. I do love this plush carpet. I feel like I could sleep-- give me a pillow and I could sleep on this by itself. I don't even need a sleeping pad, but this part will mess you up a little bit.
So, again, the cabin is not ideal, and that's my problem with pickup trucks because you can't really sleep inside of them very easily. And when you sleep in the bed, again, you are stuck outside unless you have a tent, which is not sleeping in a car. You're going to be open to all the elements, animals, et cetera.
So sleeping in a truck, difficult, not impossible. I think you get a good night's sleep in here if you're not that tall, but you won't be able to stretch out. Still way better than nothing. And having the lie flat seats, somebody could sleep here, somebody could-- if you put this down, you could sleep on the bench. And then the two people up front could lie flat, so you could actually fit a fair amount of people in here if you really, really needed to.
There was a situation when I was camping once where there was grizzly bear activity, and we were not allowed to sleep in our tents because the bears were roaming through the campsite. And so what we ended up having to do is sleep inside the vehicle, and we brought a bunch of stuff.
So even though we were in a larger-- we were in a Nissan Pathfinder at the time. We did have to sleep in the seats just because the vehicle was full of stuff. So at that moment, I would have loved to have had lie flat seats. So better than, say, the Sierra that we tested earlier because these seats do lie flat, but not really all that different on the inside as far as space to sleep.
Other things I want to talk about, we got more charging here. We got a USB-C and a regular USB, another 12-volt here, and then we have another AC outlet. And, again, this vehicle can be on while you are in it, and you don't have to worry about the carbon monoxide. So you can charge stuff.
And I love-- we have two 120-volt AC plugs inside of this vehicle, and that is not all of them as we will get to in a minute. So there is a lot going on in this vehicle. And, so far, it's definitely the best truck we've tested for sleeping in, but let's go to the bed and see if it's any better back there.
Now we're in the bed of the pickup truck, the thing that is, like I've said before, named after what you sleep in at night, which for trucks is ironic because it's not the best thing to sleep in. First off, we have this spray in bed liner, which is really nice if you're going to be doing work stuff with your vehicle and don't have to worry about it getting scratched.
The thing I don't like when sleeping in it, if you have a bigger sleeping pad it's no problem, but if you have a thinner one these ridges here are going to be a problem. You're going to definitely feel them on your spine if you're lying on your back or your hips, If you're lying on your side. I'm not a huge fan of that. But, again, this isn't made for sleeping in, so I totally get why they're there.
If you have a thicker pad, like I said, it won't be as much of an issue. This bed isn't the longest bed that there is. So let's do some measurements and see what we're talking about if you do find yourself wanting to sleep open air, looking up at the stars, don't have to worry too much about animals or weather, and you want to sleep in the back of your truck. Let's see what we're talking about here.
We're going to do diagonally because that's going to be the longest, and I'm going to do diagonally to where if the tailgate was closed. That's where we'll be. So all the way there in the corner. All right, we're at 7-feet, just about 5 inches. So almost 7.5-feet. So unless you're playing in the NBA, you'll have no problem lying diagonally. If the bed is open, even if you are playing in the NBA, you'll have no problem laying diagonally. You just might have to position yourselves a little bit in between the wheel wells here.
Length-wise, so not diagonal, so you have a couple people. We're not quite at 6-feet. In fact, we're right at my height, which is 5' 7," which is a little surprising. You know, 5.5-feet, it's a 5.5-foot bed. No big deal there, but not ideal for sleeping in. You got two people who are 6-feet, you're going to have to curl up quite a bit. It's actually not a whole lot more room than there was inside of the truck. And when you're inside, you're at least out of the elements.
That being said, if you have the tailgate open, again, 7' 8." Plus, you can let your feet dangle, so you're not going to really be having any issues there. Width-wise, I'm going to do both the widest part and the narrowest part. See if I can get my measuring tape. There we go.
So at its widest point, it's almost as wide as it is long. So it's kind of funny to think about if you're looking from overhead. This truck bed is actually square in shape. And then at its narrowest point, we're talking just over 4-feet. So not a ton of space in the bed to lay.
One thing that this bed does have is Pro Power on board. So we have a 240-volt, 30-amp AC outlet here, and then two 120 volts underneath there. And then we open up the third one, and we got two more. So if you're at a campsite and you don't need the range from this Lightning, say there's a charger close by, you're going to pull up to grab some lunch at the diner next door or whatever, you can use the Pro Power on board to power anything.
You can have a campsite like Tom Haverford in "Parks and Rec" if you'd like. So that is super handy. So we're talking four 120-volt AC outlets, plus a 240-volt back here, and we have another two 120-volt AC outlets inside of the truck. So as far as power goes, this truck has got it all. So doing really well there.
We have one last spot to show you in this truck. It's something that the GMC Sierra did not have because there is an engine in the way, and that is the frunk. Can you sleep in the frunk?
So the obvious answer is no, you can't sleep in the frunk, but let's take a look at it anyway. Here's the key fob. Hit it twice. Beeps really loudly. Opens up automatically.
And having a frunk is very nice for a variety of reasons. First of all, it's just more storage. Another thing, we have another four 120-volt AC outlets right here, as well as two more USB outlets, which I love. We also, if you lift this up, have more storage underneath.
So that's where you can store charging cable and whatnot. And we've got a mesh net right here. Plus, it's fairly large. Width-wise, we're sitting at about 44 inches. Depth-wise, 28 inches. So you can fit a lot in here. And I know I said you can't sleep in here, but I am going to hop in and see what it's like if I were to try.
Definitely not the most comfortable, but I could lay in here and have this shut and be in here. I'm not going to say no problem. It's definitely going to be a problem, but I could actually fit in here, which is why they have this button here so you can press it and get out if somebody kidnaps you and throws you in the frunk of your F-150 Lightning.
Take my shoes off while I'm in here. So see? Sitting in here, totally easy. It's actually not uncomfortable. I think two people can sit in here no problem, tailgating, and you can throw a cooler in here, whatnot. You can hook up a TV because there's so much power. At that point, you're definitely glamping instead of camping, but to each their own.
So what are we talking about here? We're talking about an all-electric pickup truck. One thing we didn't talk about is that because it's all electric, it's going to be better for the environment. Keeping the environment intact is a great way to keep our campsites looking great.
So that's definitely a plus here as well. Just tons of storage, tons of storage from up front near the driver's and passenger seat to the frunk, obviously the bed, and underneath the rear seat. Just tons and tons of storage. Though not all of it is useful in a sleeping setting.
Power on board. If you don't need the range, which that is a big, if, the power on board, super helpful. You don't want to be having to worry about draining it, though. So just have to be aware of where you're at power-wise. But yeah, four outlets in the front, four 120, plus one 240 in the bed, as well as two more 120 inside of the cabin. Huge.
But, ultimately, there is nowhere to sleep inside where I can stretch out like I could in the Land Rover or the Range Rover or, really, most full-sized 3-row SUVs. So that's going to knock it a bit there. So overall, I'm going to give this a 3.4 out of 5 Z's.
Not bad, really not bad for a pickup truck, one that's not meant for camping. It'd be a great base for over landing if you're not going very far. That being said, over landing is like being about self sufficient. So that's where the electricity is going to be a bit of a knock. The range there isn't going to quite do it like a bigger internal combustion, maybe a diesel pickup. But it's a great base for camping, maybe just not the greatest thing to sleep in.