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Test Drive: 2023 Ford F

Mar 29, 2024

Ford Motor Company has really swirled up some buzz and maybe some controversy around their top name vehicles. First there was the all-electric and SUV-version of the Mustang and now they’ve electrified the F-150 and reintroduced the name Lightning for it. This will surely rankle some of the truck enthusiasts although maybe not as much as the Mustang Mach-E upset the muscle car enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, I have been looking forward to some actual seat time in the Ford F-150 Lightning. I got several hot laps in the electrified F-150 as early as two years ago and I was impressed. But I had not yet gotten a full week with the F-150 Lightning until now.

The front end of the F-150 Lightning shares similar looks to the standard F-150, although some of the features are exclusive to the electric pickup truck.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Ford dumbed down the Lightning on looks or made it look too “Cybertruck” like. Not at all. In fact, the F-150 Lightning looks every bit the part of most other F-150s. And that’s a good thing.

From behind, the Lightning looks just like every other F-150 (except it’s missing tailpipes). The big F-150 is emblazoned on the tailgate. The front end does have some Lightning-exclusive design elements including the headlights that frame the grille. And the grille is not open, like the gas or diesel-powered versions are. Rather it’s a faux open grille, since EVs don’t need to be air cooled.

Otherwise, the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is stout like other pickup trucks with a strong stance and typical pickup-truck-like styling. And for that Ford deserves a lot of praise. It would’ve been easy to make the Lightning look different, but instead Ford’s design wisely carried on the F-150 tradition and I think that will benefit this truck.

From the back, the Ford F-150 Lightning looks similar to other F-150 trucks.

From a performance standpoint the F-150 Lightning will impress. Put all your pre-conceived notions about EVs aside and look at the sheer horsepower and torque of the F-150 Lightning and you’ll think you’re back in an older SVT Lightning. Two electric motors with an extended range battery (131 kWh lithium-ion) makes for 580 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. From a fun-to-drive standpoint, mash the accelerator and watch this full size Supercrew pickup truck take off.

Testing numbers for the Lightning for 0-40 mph times are under four seconds. I didn’t verify that, but I had passengers that were thrilled with the roller-coaster-like take offs. And doing so smoothly and quietly is the part that never got old and left me feeling awe inspired.

You can’t glaze past the range question when it comes to electric pickup trucks. The extended range version that I had had total range of around 320 miles. That does not include towing. I didn’t tow nor have any load on the truck, so the range of around 300 miles was accurate but would surely be diminished by towing or carrying significant load. Still there was range anxiety. However, charging the truck up yielded a total cost to me of about $35, which is far less than what a full tank of gas would cost for a regular F-150. So there’s a give and take. And to get the Lightning to about 80% charge, it took around 30 minutes of waiting around time. Ultimately it’d be great if these times could be improved significantly.

Honestly, the point of the F-150 Lightning is that it’s not aimed at all truck owners. If you have an RV or typically drive long distances, then the Lightning likely won’t be in consideration. But if you are a construction site manager or small business owner and need a truck for its ability and ruggedness, then the Lightning is a contender.

The giant vertical touchscreen dominates the center stack and the interior of the F-150 Lightning.

The interior is as good you expect from any F-150. Heck, almost all of today’s pickup trucks can rival luxury brands with their refinement and this Lightning is no different. The combination of faux wood and chrome accents add a lot of personality to the interior. There are leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. There were even heated and cooled seats.

Ford’s clever fold-down work surface, folds over the retractable the gear shift to allow for a flat area for a laptop or notepad to be used.

Ford’s infotainment system is light years better than it used to be and stands as one of the best in the entire auto industry now. The touchscreen overwhelms the dashboard but is slick and responsive. Integration with smart phones is easy and the commands are intuitive.

All of this comes at a price. Today’s trucks, fully loaded, have become outrageously priced. And EVs generally add even more to the sticker. So don’t be shocked to learn that my tester had an MSRP of $96,879 and please don’t email me with your outrage about that price. I didn’t choose the price, I only report on what’s on the sticker.

Just as the Mustang Mach-E had many merits making it “Mustang-like” so too does the Ford F-150 Lightning pay respect to the Lightning name of yesteryear. That performance-oriented truck made by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) was very much performance-oriented but so too is the new F-150 Lightning which gets its performance in a sleek, electrified way.

With the extended range battery, the F-150 Lightning has a range of around 320 miles, without load or without towing.

Originally published on, part of the BLOX Digital Content Exchange.

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