How much range do you need in an electric vehicle and at what price? This was the contention surrounding the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck winning The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2023 award. The truck’s merit is undeniable but its price, fueled by three price hikes last year, was unsettling.
Ford increased the price of the base F-150 Lightning Pro by nearly 40%, from $41,669 (including the whopping $1,895 destination fee) to $57,869 as of last month.
Since truck buyers paid about $60,000 on average in 2022—the cost of a well-equipped Lightning XLT with the smaller pack—the 2023 F-150 Lightning is still within reach of most shoppers, however. The fully loaded Platinum that crests just under $100,000 is another story.
The F-150 Lightning outshined dozens of contenders for this year’s award, largely because of how it makes a paradigm shift so utterly familiar. It’s quicker, quieter, cleaner, better optimized, and as—if not more—capable than everything that’s preceded it. But how we would equip it is not so simple.
The F-150 Lightning can be had two ways, essentially: With a 98-kwh standard range battery pack that makes 452 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque, and has an EPA-estimated range of 240 miles; or with a 131-kwh extended range pack making 580 hp and 775 lb-ft, and with a range of 320 miles.
All Lightnings have front and rear permanent-magnet motors for all-wheel drive, an independent rear suspension, a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds, a crew cab, and a 5-foot-6 bed that carries over from the F-150 so owners can transfer their accessories between gas and electric F-150s. From the cab back, its pretty much the same F-150. But the Lightning’s frunk stores 14.1 cubic feet, carries 400 pounds, and doubles as a cooler or power source. It’s easier to load and unload big box runs than the bed, and it’s waterproof and secure. That alone gives it the edge over gas-powered F-150s.
The base F-150 Lightning Pro comes well equipped, as well, with 18-inch alloy wheels, vinyl seats, heated front seats, cruise control, a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 12.0-inch touchscreen that fits better on the dash and is underscored by climate dials and buttons. We prefer it to the 15.5-inch all-in-one touchscreen that dominates the center stack on top grades. Every Lightning comes with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors. Adding the charging cable ($500) and a 9.6-kw onboard generator ($1,200) brings the price to just over $60,000. The towing packages add another $3,000 or so.
But that’s for the standard pack. Only fleet customers who purchase at least five Lightnings and are certified by Ford as a fleet buyer can get the Lightning Pro with the extended range pack. The cheapest version that normal customers can buy with the extended range pack is the XLT grade, but it’ll cost $17,500 more ($12,500 for the pack, $5,000 for the XLT upgrade). The XLT trim adds running boards, a surround-view camera system, cloth seats, and the F-150’s clever interior work surface that turns the console into a mobile desk. The total is just shy of $84,000.
So, a non-linear math question: Is a 40% price increase ($84,000 vs $60,000) worth a range increase of 33% (240 miles to 320 miles)? Only you can answer that, based on your wants and needs. Since we would be towing infrequently, we would opt for the base F-150 Lightning Pro. For owners who tow regularly, and log a lot of longer-distance trips, that upcharge for the extended range pack would seem to be worth it. But we’re basic. Or we’re cheap. That’s one reason why the Ford Maverick won our Best Car To Buy 2022.
We couldn’t fault you for going big, with the battery pack and the finer grades of the Lightning. The future is exciting, and it’s here. For a price.
Check out all of our Best Car To Buy 2023 coverage here, including our segment winners as well as the Best Car To Buy from our enthusiast arm, Motor Authority, and our efficiency leg, Green Car Reports.
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