Ford F-150 Lightning Vs. F-150 Hybrid: What We Learned Towing and Hauling With an Electric Truck

Ford F-150 Lightning Vs. F-150 Hybrid: What We Learned Towing and Hauling With an Electric Truck Until recently, those who wanted an all-electric pickup truck had no options. But the category has recently boomed, with new trucks from start-ups and auto manufacturers alike, including the Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV and most recently Ford, which joined the category with the launch of the 2022 F-150 Lightning.

Ford F-150 Lightning Vs. F-150 Hybrid: What We Learned Towing and Hauling With an Electric Truck

The Lightning is perhaps the most completely conventional pickup to date, with an exterior and interior design similar to the regular F-150. However, it also has its own innovations, such as a large front box that opens for power, a higher version of the output, and the ability to power your home during outages when using the 80 amps available with a properly configured home.

Despite these unique capabilities, we know that an electric truck still needs to perform the same duties expected of gas powered trucks—particularly towing and towing. So to test the Lightning, we measured acceleration with and without a 1,220-lb payload on its bottom. We also towed a 5,900-pound Airstream travel trailer to see how well it towed and how a large trailer would affect your overall driving range.

During testing, the Ford F-150 was the most electrified before the Lightning was introduced, serving as a reference point in various tests. Both trucks had similar prices for testing: about $78,000 for the 2021 F-150 Limited Hybrid when it was new and about $80,000 for the 2022 F-150 Lightning Lariat. Today, however, a 2022 Limited Hybrid like the one in this test runs around $85,000. Lightning prices are up, too: For 2023, the truck we tested costs nearly $89,000.

2022 F-150 Lightning Air Force 2021 F-150 Limited Hybrid
Tested price: $80,589 $77,845
horse power: 580 430
Torque (lb-ft): 775 570
Empty vehicle weight (pounds): 6760 6,100
Payload capacity (pounds): 1,697 1,362
the above. Towing capacity (pounds): 10000* 11600
* With maximum trailer towing package; 7700 pounds otherwise
So, what did we learn? The short answer is that Lightning should serve the business needs of some customers well; For others, however, it is not a viable alternative to a gas or diesel powered truck. Read on for more details on how it performs while towing, what it’s like to charge quickly and how fast it can accelerate.

How good is the F-150’s lightning pull?

To test the Lightning’s towing performance, we took it on a driving loop with and without a travel trailer and did the same with the F-150 Hybrid. When you only judge the Lightning’s drag performance by the subjectivity you feel from the driver’s seat, it’s a great towing vehicle. It had no trouble pulling a travel trailer, and the truck’s massive 775 lb-ft of torque gave it more performance than the F-150 Hybrid (570 lb-ft of torque) when coming off a stop.

While we liked the lightning’s softness and quietness when towing, you can’t plan for towing that much. We started the approximately 140-mile towing trail with the Lightning extended-range battery pack at 97% charged and the truck exhibited 317 miles of expected range. With the airstream hooked up and the truck in towed mode, the expected range quickly dropped to 158 miles—about half of what it used to be. Entering trailer specifications into the trailer profile can improve the accuracy of the Lightning’s expected range when towing.

The sudden drop in the expected range was a little annoying, but we quickly realized that the new range estimate was one we could rely on; At the end of the driving route, the truck’s expected range reading dropped by 131 miles, and we drove 136 miles, putting it just 4% below the mark. The Lightning’s average efficiency when towing was 1.3 miles per kilometer, or about half of the 2.5 miles per kilowatt-hour we observed when we were driving the truck on the same road the next day without a trailer.

The F-150 Hybrid also saw its average efficiency cut in half when towing, from a computer average trip of 26.6 mpg when driving on the road without a trailer to 12.6 mpg when the airstream is drawn the next day. Traffic conditions on both days were similar, and the mostly flat driving route consisted of a mixture of suburban streets with choppy traffic, country roads with no traffic, and a stretch of the Interstate with moderate traffic.

Although the trucks experienced similar average losses in efficiency, the Hybrid, with its 30.6-gallon fuel tank, has a theoretical driving range when drawing in an airstream that’s still more than twice that of the Lightning: doubling the Hybrid’s tank size by the drag efficiency gives it 386 miles of range, with the Lightning’s 131kWh long-range battery capacity doubled by a draw efficiency of 1.3mph, giving it a range of up to 170 miles. Hybrid refueling time can also be measured in minutes; Lightning, as we learned when we quickly charged it at the end of our towing drive, is measured in hours.

How fast does the F-150 Lightning charge?

Unlike many gas stations, where you can go with a trailer to refuel, most public charging stations are not designed to accommodate electric vehicles while towing. We had to unplug the air from the truck before the DC fast charging test could begin. Most charging stations are located on the outskirts of parking lots, with the charger on the curb in front of a regular parking spot. If Airstream is left parked while charging, it will block a traffic lane in the parking lot, we don’t want to be those People.

Ford F-150 Lightning Vs. F-150 Hybrid: What We Learned Towing and Hauling With an Electric Truck

As it were, the location of the 150- Electrify America charging station in the far reaches of the parking lot meant there was plenty of room for our untied trailer, and it only took five minutes or so to untie it from the truck. However, it was time to add it to the long refueling process.

At the start of the charging test, the Lightning’s battery was at 17% charged, and the truck was showing an expected range of 26 miles; After 45 minutes, the battery has reached an 80% charged state, with the charger’s display showing 84.5 kWh of added energy. Charging speeds were fairly consistent over the course of 45 minutes, ranging from about 100 kW to 125 kW. Those results are close to 41 minutes Ford says it will take a quick charge of 15% to 80%.

Charging lightning-v-hybrid editorial chart

Ford F-150 Lightning Vs. F-150 Hybrid: What We Learned Towing and Hauling With an Electric Truck

However, the truck’s expected range at 80% was 127 miles — a reflection of the truck’s recent towing work. Adding 101 miles of range in 45 minutes results in just 2.2 miles of range added per minute. Although fast charging speeds tend to drop when charging above 80%, we continued to work towards maximizing our range, as an owner on a Qatar trip might do.

As expected, our charging speed decreased as 80% of the charging state went through; It took 1 hour and 25 minutes to go from 80% to 100%, and that only added 36 miles of expected range for a total expected range of 163 miles on a full charge. Over the course of the entire charging session, which took 2 hours and 10 minutes, Lightning added 115.4 kWh of energy at a cost of $49.45. Lightning buyers get 250 kWh of free energy at Electrify America charging stations, but it won’t take long to use it to charge the larger battery on the long-range variants.

The difference in refueling time between the trucks was more significant than the already large differences in driving ranges when towing. While it took more than two hours to recharge the Lightning at the end of the towing trail, it only took minutes to add 10.6 gallons of premium gas to the hybrid after turning on the towing, at a cost of $71.34. What gas-powered drivers are accustomed to – fast refueling times – no longer exists with electric vehicles even at so-called fast charging stations.

How does payload affect the acceleration of the F-150 Lightning?

The Lightning is an impressively large and fast truck – no matter if you have any cargo in its cargo box. The two-engine, four-wheel drive truck takes out with vengeance and a bit of wheel slip as its four tires dig up traction. The truck hits 60 mph in just 4.19 seconds when the bed is empty and increases just 0.6 seconds to reach 4.79 seconds with 1,220 pounds of sandbags in the bed. In comparison, the Hybrid lags more than 1.5 seconds behind the Lightning in both tests.

Ford F-150 Lightning Vs. F-150 Hybrid: What We Learned Towing and Hauling With an Electric Truck

Although the Lightning creates a large 60-mph gap over the F-150 Hybrid, it shrinks quite a bit by the time it reaches the quarter mile. Driving the Lightning, we felt the power loss near the end of the quarter mile, with the empty truck traveling about 107 mph at that point.

The Lightning’s instant power delivery was also evident in the 50-70 mph acceleration test. Unloaded, it outperformed the hybrid by about a second – 1.99 seconds against 2.96 seconds. The hybrid takes a moment to respond by starting the gearshift before accelerating, but the Lightning snaps forward immediately — no need to wait. With our sandbag load in the bed of each truck, the gap grew to 1.07 seconds, with the Lightning traveling from 50-70 mph in 2.26 seconds versus the Hybrid’s 3.33 seconds.

Should You Buy a Ford F-150 Lightning?

The answer to this question depends largely on what you plan to do with it. Although the Lightning pulls our Airstream wagon easily and isn’t overburdened by the payload we put in its cargo box, its towing range and fast charging times are shortcomings that make it an impractical choice for even medium-distance towing trips, not to mention the longest trips. A towing trip that ends at the campsite with power leads can be a convenient alternative to charging, allowing you to charge your truck before heading home with a Lightning portable charger, but that’s assuming the site connections are fully functional.

What this test showed for us is that the F-150 Lightning is better for anyone with city towing or towing needs, allowing the truck to finish the day plugged in to a home charging setup, where it can be charged overnight and ready for the next day’s work. For long-distance towing and towing, the F-150 Hybrid makes more sense.

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