The F-150 Lightning is a great truck, but don’t tow it with it

The F-150 Lightning is a great truck, but don’t tow it with it

The Ford F-150 Lightning was one of the first electric trucks available, and to this day, it remains one of the few. The truck brings the much-loved F-150 styling and massive size, but replaces the gas engine with a high-revving electric motor that gives it the kind of compactness you wouldn’t normally expect from a truck at all.

But there are still some things that make buying and using an electric truck a little difficult. After all, the use case for trucks is usually a little different than it is for a car, and that can complicate whether or not an electric truck is right for your needs.

Technically a beast

The Ford F-150 Lightning is incredibly powerful. This is immediately evident as soon as you press the accelerator pedal. It’s very fast, especially for a car of this size – and some models can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. Many smaller, lighter electric cars can’t even match that.

Andrew Martonek/Digital Trends

It is capable of towing heavy loads as well. The F-150 Lightning is capable of towing up to 10,000 pounds, depending on which model you get. You’ll need an XLT or Lariat model to tow that much, but even the lower trims can still tow up to 5,000 pounds, which isn’t bad at all. That’s enough power to tow a relatively large trailer.

It’s fun to drive too. I love driving big vehicles, and the F-150 Lightning is equipped with touches that make the experience even better. For example, the box has a drain hole that allows it to function as a cooler or ice chest, and you can take it out with a hose to clean it. There are power outlets scattered around for things like power tools. It feels as solid on the inside as it looks on the outside.

Range anxiety

But before you plan to buy an F-150 Lightning for your next long road trip, you may want to think twice. Why? Well, it can Technically Pull those really heavy loads, but they won’t get you very far.

Even after a few years of electric trucks being available, towing large loads is still difficult prominent Impact on electric truck range. Given that the F-150 Lightning’s range isn’t great in the first place, using the truck to tow things like a trailer may not be possible at all for your needs. The current Ford F-150 Lightning has a range of about 320 miles.

The impact of towing heavy loads may also be greater than you think. According to a report from MotorTrend, towing a 7,218-pound trailer cut the range to just 90 miles, while towing a 3,140-pound trailer cut it to just 115 miles, which is well less than half the truck’s range when it’s not towing any something.

Andrew Martonek/Digital Trends

Even if you don’t tow at all, however, if you plan to carry heavier loads in the truck bed, you should still expect to see a serious reduction in range when you do.

To be clear, this is not a problem limited to electric trucks. Most estimates suggest that for every additional 100 pounds a truck tows, gas mileage will be reduced by approximately 2%. Therefore, towing a 7,218-pound trailer would reduce fuel consumption by approximately 72%. Considering that a gas-powered F-150 can go just over 500 miles on a full tank of gas, towing the same load would drop the range to 150 miles or so.

the difference? That’s still just over 90 miles, and you can easily fill up your tank in a few minutes when you need to. With the F-150 Lightning, you’ll have to charge every few hours, and doing so will take 30 minutes or so.

Not all truck drivers are the same

None of this means you should not be Buy an F-150 Lightning. This is just to say that you should know what to expect.

Let’s be real. a lot Many truck drivers buy trucks simply because they like them – not because they haul large loads and tow trailers frequently. I get it. Trucks are great! Not only does it give you enough bulk to stay safer on the roads, but it has an extra layer of versatility. You may not be a builder, but being able to move houses without renting a U-Haul can be helpful. Or maybe you are the patron saint of the friend who helps everyone when they move.

Andrew Martonek/Digital Trends

There are plenty of use cases between towing a trailer and driving a completely empty truck. Maybe you’re a construction worker who regularly transports tools and materials, and you can load your truck on site or at home. These loads are unlikely to reach thousands of pounds, and you’ll likely get enough range for around town driving as needed.

But maybe you’re someone who really plans to accomplish a lot by owning a truck, like towing large trailers and hauling very heavy loads. In this case, purchasing a gas-powered truck, or a hybrid truck, is probably the best course of action for your needs.

The future of trucks

So what could solve this? Simply put, better batteries with more range, plus faster charging technology. We’ll never have trucks that offer the same range when towing a trailer as they do when no Towing a trailer. Physics doesn’t work that way. But as battery technology improves and electric cars provide better range, the impact of towing will steadily decline.

Let’s say you only get a third of the range when towing as you do when not towing. With a 300-mile range, you’ll only end up with 100 miles. But if your truck has a range of 500 miles to begin with, you’ll get a more manageable range of 160 miles or so. If solid-state battery technology really delivers on the promise of a range of 750 miles or more, you’ll end up with about 250 miles when towing. This is impressive.

Christian de Looper/Digital Trends

Charging plays a big role in making electric trucks more practical, too. One of the main reasons towing with a gas-powered truck is so easy is that you can fill it up in a few short minutes, instead of having to wait nearly an hour. 15-minute charging is a good goal for the next few years, but in the long term, we hope we’ll eventually be able to fully charge an electric vehicle in just minutes. If that happens, it is very far in the future.

Ultimately, after driving the F-150 Lightning for a week, I found it to be a great electric truck. If you decide to buy one with realistic expectations, you’ll love it — but if you expect to get the same towing experience from the F-150 Lightning as you will from the gas-powered version, you’ll be disappointed.

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