Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum review: It’s time for snow trucks
I came from A long line of F-150s. One of my earliest vehicular memories is jumping into the back of a late 1990s red sidecar that my grandfather trucked around his cattle ranch in the Sierra Nevada. That truck eventually gave way to a silver 2004 model that was passed down to me in 2014, and then a blue-and-green 2015 model that I inherited when Jamey and Papa (as I still call them) sold the farm a few years later. I’ve been driving them aggressively around the Pacific Northwest ever since.
For me and for Papa Hall, who is now in his mid-eighties, trucks are tools. Despite the fact that he paid extra for extras like an extra-large tank (“so I wouldn’t have to pay for gas in California”), it was for hauling firewood, towing trailers, and driving a series of black and red cars. Brown Labs to go duck hunting. He beat up his F-150s so much that he had a custom bumper guy named Mort.
The new F-150 Lightning Platinum — a fully electrified truck with a giant touchscreen, heated and cooled seats, and a panoramic sunroof — won’t be familiar to my grandfather. It looks, feels and smells more like a luxury German car than dog hair and dust any F150 has ever done.
However, after actually using it to haul a trailer across town, my two muddy dogs from after the garden, and hundreds of pounds of apples to the cider press, I came to see my future. These trucks are not luxury versions of the rough and tumble vehicles that Papa and I owned and loved. The F-150 Lightning does everything you ask of it, and in almost all cases better than gas models.
Unless you’re a renter without access to a charging port, or a long-term driver who tows a travel trailer frequently, this is likely the most capable vehicle to handle any situation you’ll ever encounter. For those who can swing the initial cost, it’s Leatherman Auto.
Lightning less grease
This isn’t the first F-150 Lightning. Two decades ago, Ford built a super-fast gas version of the F-150, and it’s still much slower than this newer electric version, of the same name. Besides the fact that the new F-150 Lighting Platinum with the towing package I tested accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds, the new Lightning and the Ye Olde Lightning have nothing in common.
My review truck (the $92,000 Platinum model) compares fairly directly to the top-end hybrid F-150 Limited with all the trimmings (about $83,000). Just as people know it for gas trucks and buy them in droves (for those who don’t know, the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. since 1981), my crew cab review unit arrived with a slew of other bells and whistles you’d expect from any truck Outstanding in 2023.
It has heated and cooled seats, adaptive cruise control, a huge sunroof, and a 360-degree camera. Like many electric cars, it offers one-pedal driving that allows you to never touch the brakes, and can steer for you on many roads. Ford’s Blue Cruise function goes so far as to allow you to take your hands off the wheel during sections on major highways, provided you’re looking out the front window. To do this, it has sensors that look into your eyes and make sure you are watching. Yes, it sounds as crazy as it sounds to drive hands-free.
The interiors between the gas and electric trucks are nearly identical, but the F-150 Lightning has a huge front trunk where its engine should be. Ford claims that “the back” of this thing can fit, three Sets of standard golf clubs. Happy Frank also includes four 120V power outlets and two USB ports (one USB-C and one USB-A), meaning you can plug in your devices while traveling, or charge your laptop or gadgets while on the go between errands. Sites (or fields on the farm).
The back of the truck has four additional 120-volt power outlets, plus a 220-volt outlet above it. Yes, you can use Lightning with a full-size hair dryer, a hot tub, or even charge another electric car from it, with the ability to tell it when to stop so you have enough range to drive home. This is epic and wonderful. The hybrid truck can also do this in Limited trim, but power generation is capped at 7.2 kWh compared to the Lightning’s 131 kWh. Standard gas models can be equipped with 2.0 kWh or 2.4 kWh, depending on model and engine.
In Lightning, there’s also an option to let the extended-range trucks’ massive 131-kilowatt-hour battery (as opposed to the 98-kilowatt-hour battery of standard-range models) serve as a generator for your home, as long as you buy a $1,300 wall charger from Ford. That charger and extended battery seem much cheaper when you start factoring in the pricing of whole home generators, their maintenance, and the cost of gas.
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