Use Case: The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT
There are several debates going on right now about full-size pickup trucks. Some center on their size (do they need to be that massive---especially up front?).
Some center on their practicality (a surprising number of these trucks never leave the pavement and never have more in the bed than a minivan with the seats folded could handle). And some center on their fuel-efficiency or lack thereof.
It's on that last point that the Ford F-150 Lightning would seem to be a stellar solution. It is a Ford F-150 pickup truck that does not use fossil fuel.
It has no engine. Instead, there's a very spacious front trunk---or "frunk".
The Ford F-150 Lightning is a full-size battery electric vehicle, and equipped like our test vehicle, it has a range of 320 miles per charge (there's also a 230-mile range version), with a recharge from 15 to 80 percent possible in 35 minutes on a DC fast charger.
Given that an F-150 with a 5.0-liter V8 is capable of only 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway (EPA estimates, your mileage may vary), the Lightning is absolutely a major improvement when it comes to gallons of gasoline used and particles of tailpipe pollution put into the air---both of which drop to zero.
All of which is terrific if you use your full-size pickup like a big sedan that just happens to have an open bed in the back, just in case.
But what happens if you use it as----well, a truck?
When it comes to towing, on paper the F-150 Lightning looks awesome, with a max trailer rating of 9,000 pounds with the extended range battery our tester has. I don't have anything to tow, so I'm going to let those who have things and tried it tell their stories here. Motor Trend tried towing three different size and weight trailers and watched their 300-plus-mile range plummet.
Car and Driver did it with a boat, and got essentially the same result. And then there's YouTuber Tyler Hoover of Hoovie's Garage. The video thumbnail says it all, but the video itself is well worth your time:
The TL:DW (too long, didn't watch) is that even towing the empty trailer to go get that classic pickup sent the Lightning's range into a tailspin. And it got worse once the trailer was loaded.
And that's too bad, because the F-150 Lightning is tremendously cool on literally every other front. Yes, it can (with extra-cost equipment) even power your house.
And inside, it's all F-150 goodness, with the XLT trim looking great and Lariat and Platinum trims downright luxurious. Pricing has become something of a moving target, with Ford increasing the base price of the Lightning twice---in August and then again in October of 2022. Ford cites "significant material cost increases". As of this writing (late October), the Pro (work truck spec) starts at $51,974, XLT (our tester) at $59,474, Lariat at $74,474 and Platinum at $96.874. All prices are before delivery, options and taxes.
So, best guess is that our tester lands somewhere around $70,000. Which is steep for XLT trim. A Platinum will likely cross six figures or just barely stay on this side of $100,000.
My take: The Ford F-150 Lightning works as a truck only if you don't use it as a truck---and, let's face it, that's a lot of American truck ownership. But even those people justify the purchase of a pickup with "if I need to (fill in the blank), I can". They're buying capability, whether they ever use it or not. Battery-electric vehicles are remarkable. There are a EVs on the market right now, and more coming, that could replace a lot of cars and SUVs.
It may be a while before pickups catch up.