- I drove Ford’s new electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning.
- I think it’s perfect for road trips.
- It’s comfortable, quiet, spacious, and off-road worthy. But charging could pose an issue.
Driving Ford’s new F-150 Lightning through the Texas countryside earlier this month proved that the hyped-up electric truck truly is all it’s cracked up to be.
Moreover, testing the Lightning showed me that it’s the ultimate road-tripping vehicle.
Here are five reasons why:
1. It’s comfortable and whisper quiet
One of the first things that jumped out at me when I started driving the Lightning was just how quiet it was.
Pull away in a lumbering truck, and your brain is wired to expect the drone of a gas engine. But get going in a Lightning and all you hear is a bit of wind noise and the faint sound of the tires hitting the pavement. You need to get up past 75 mph or so for the wind noise to really kick in.
Moreover, the Lightning offers plenty of room to stretch out. I drove an $80,000 Lightning Lariat for hours at a time and never felt cramped or uncomfortable. The back seats have tons of legroom and headroom too, even for tall people.
2. That frunk
Storage space is a nice thing to have on any road trip. And the Lighting has plenty of it.
There’s the bed, of course, which is 5.5-feet long and can haul not only luggage but bulkier items like bikes, kayaks, and tents. But the Lightning’s not-so-secret weapon is its frunk.
The Lightning’s hood doesn’t conceal an engine, but rather a cavernous cargo area. It opens wide and can easily fit a few decently sized backpacks. It could come in especially handy as a spot for things you want easily accessible, rather than buried deep in the bed.
3. Hands-free driving capability
Blue Cruise, Ford’s hands-free driving system, is available on some of the pricier Lightning models. The system works like this: Turn on cruise control and arrive at a stretch of highway that Ford has pre-approved (a Blue Zone), and the Lightning will invite you to take your hands off the wheel.
The truck then uses cameras and sensors to automatically steer, accelerate, brake, and monitor surrounding traffic. In my experience, it all works pretty well. The Lightning confidently stays in its lane and I could sometimes go long stretches without having to intervene. When traffic isn’t too hectic, Blue Cruise could make long-distance drives a bit less tiring.
That being said, it doesn’t work perfectly all the time and requires constant babysitting. I opted to keep my hands close to the steering wheel at all times.
4. It’s a generator on wheels
The Lightning doesn’t just suck in electricity to charge up, it can also give energy away. The truck offers household outlets spread throughout its bed, cab, and frunk, so it can share power with cooking appliances, TVs, laptops, and other electronics.
Want to take your espresso machine and Instant Pot on a cross-country camping trip? Go right ahead.
5. Go-anywhere capability
Sometimes road trips are also about going off-road, whether it’s a dirt trail to a secluded campsite or a bonafide overlanding adventure. And the Lightning has no problem going off the beaten path.
All trucks come with two motors and all-wheel drive. Plus, they deliver tons of torque immediately, making light work of big rocks, water crossings, and loose terrain. I’m far from an off-roading expert, and even I could switch the truck into off-road mode, point it at a boulder, and climb over it with relative ease.
The elephant in the room here is range and charging.
Depending on the battery pack you choose, the Lightning can travel between 230 and 320 miles at once, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So on the highway, you’ll be stopping to charge every few hours. The thing is, most people stop every few hours anyway.
The bigger issue, potentially, is finding places to fill up. Charging infrastructure is getting better all the time, but stations aren’t so common that one can spontaneously venture out and stumble across one. And there aren’t as many options in the middle of the country as there are by the coasts.
Still, I’m convinced that the F-150 Lightning is the ultimate road-tripping solution.