Get Ready To Ride The Lightning!

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum

Price As Tested: $120,950 CAD

Colour: Azure Grey Metallic Tricoat

***First, let me apologize for the title. It’s not original. You know it, I know it, but I had to. The truck’s called a Lightning. I’ll never have this chance again! On to business.***

Change is hard. Progress is never easy. The EV revolution we’re neck deep in shows no signs of going away. Demand for EV’s may be slowing a bit but that may well owe itself to simple satisfaction of pent-up demand over a long 3 plus years of global supply shortages. Millions of these electric wonders are on the roads now and despite whatever shortcomings they may or may not have, they work for many people. Ford knows this. They may not have jumped in headfirst like Hyundai, but they are investing. The Mustang Mach-E is their SUV offering and it’s pretty solid. It took me (and many others) by surprise when Ford announced they would electrify the F-150. The F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in Canada and has topped the list in the US for generations. We love the F-150. We love everything about it. Ford took a huge risk wading into the EV space with their most beloved nameplate. Incredibly, they’ve managed to pull off something incredible as the F-150 Lightning is nothing special… and that’s exactly the point.

Allow me to explain. EV’s are often characterized by their quirky design choices that often seem to be made solely to make the vehicles look and feel different. The Mach-E’s idiotic door buttons and pull tabs are a great example. These type of design choices have proven off-putting for a lot of prospective car buyers. It’s why the aforementioned change is difficult. Ford knew that if they changed the electric F-150 too much it would turn off the millions who buy their trucks every year and deeply damage their brand. Talk to the folks at Bud Light about the necessity of knowing your audience. As a result, Ford opted to make a very conventional F-150 that just happens to have electric drive. Other than feeling a little bigger and having that nifty light strip across the front, this F-150 Lightning feels like every other F-150 I’ve driven over the last decade. This was a brilliant choice.

The interior of the F-150 is as familiar as any of its ICE siblings with the exception of the massive 15.5” screen (12” on lesser models). iPad aside, this is like coming home. You still get the massive condominium-sized rear seats, common switch gear, plastics and design language. It’s all very familiar. Nothing is radically different or jarring. You even get some buttons under the infotainment screen to control things like HVAC etc. The Mach-E features the same infotainment setup as the Lightning and all the controls are in the screen. This is deeply irritating and challenging to use while driving. I wish all the conventional stuff was buttons and dials (heated steering wheel/seats etc), but I’ll take what I can get. The interior of the F-150 Lightning does nearly everything right.

When I pulled the Lightning into the driveway and did my first proper walkaround I was stunned by the dual charging ports. One on either side. What a revelation. I couldn’t believe it! What a brilliant idea. I was then completely flummoxed in my attempts to open the charging port on the passenger side of the vehicle. I damn near broke out the crow bar before I realized it was just a plate that looks like the actual charging port on the drivers side. Not funny Ford.

Much ballyhoo has been made about the enormous frunk on the F-150. It’s a great toy to play with, no arguing that. My oldest son took great joy in climbing inside and surprising his mother as I opened it for her to see. What struck both of us about the frunk was how slow it was. It takes forever to open. I know this probably seems nitpicky but it’s a little disappointing to watch the frunk unlatch, take 1-2 seconds to think about it and then decide to open at a very slow rate. As a result, I’ve been throwing the charging cable in the back seat as opposed to using the purpose built cubby under the floor of the frunk. It’s just too much work to open and close it every time.

The F-150 Lightning in the Platinum trim is the top shelf model. This gets you the extended range battery among other bits and pieces. The range indicated at 100% charge was about 475kms. If you ran the battery dead, you would get close to this. I found charging that big boy battery pack was a chore. My experiences with the Mach-E weren’t great and they weren’t much better in the Lightning. I had problems with the charger talking to the car and it took me over 2 hours to charge the car from 35-80%. Once again commercial charging has illustrated why a level 2 charger at home must be a priority for me. If you have that setup, this would be a phenomenal daily driver and work vehicle. The range is sufficient that even if you had to charge it everyday, it would take you where you needed to go.

During my time with the F-150 Lightning, I was discussing the car with a co-worker of mine. He brought up something that had us laughing hard. We looked at the door sticker and confirmed the weight of this thing. 8550lbs… my oh my. The fact that the Lightning can overcome that kind of a weight and still deliver the performance it does is a wonder. It does throw into focus the challenge of batteries. A technological revolution must be on the way in terms of how batteries are made, what they’re made of and how they store juice. It feels very much that the Lightning and other vehicles like it need all those extra batteries just to haul around the other batteries. This self-defeating exercise is a concern for the long-term viability of current battery tech.

I’ve largely divorced myself from the politics of the battery issues regarding Ev’s. They’re real and should be at the forefront of the mind of anyone who is seriously considering buying a battery powered electric car. Ultimately, only time will tell how that issue shakes out. In the meantime, we get in the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning something rather incredible. A progressive evolution in what defines a modern pickup truck. This thing looks and feels so much like what came before that it makes the revolution it’s heralding so much easier to accept. All other factors aside, Ford should be commended for that.

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