Ford Authority

Ford F-150 Lightning Tow Test Shows Limits Of Pickup: Video

The Ford F-150 Lightning has been a hit with consumers and critics alike thus far, earning accolades and positive reviews essentially across the board. However, like all EVs, the F-150 Lightning has some limitations – the biggest of which are related to charging speed and the effect that towing has on range. Though Ford F-150 Lightning buyers get some free charging with their purchase, the existing charging network has proven to be inadequate and unreliable even by Ford CEO Jim Farley’s own admission, prompting the automaker to launch its own “Charge Angels” program to sniff out broken chargers and third-party charging network Electrify America to release a quality pledge recently. These problems also became glaringly obvious during Edmunds‘ recent towing test with the EV pickup, too.

Edmunds tested the Ford F-150 Lightning alongside an ICE-powered Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Ram 1500 to see how these trucks match up, each of which traveled a 215-mile loop through the deserts of California towing a 3,120-pound open-air trailer carrying a Tesla Model 3 ballasted to 3,855 pounds. Right off the bat, the EV was at a disadvantage, as it sports the highest price tag and the shortest range, but also the lowest energy cost.

The F-150 Lightning cost $59.62 to charge following the journey, followed by the Ram turbodiesel at $69.05, the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid at $80.28, and the Silverado ZR2 at $93.76. However, while the ICE trucks were able to complete the entire trip without stopping to refuel, that wasn’t the case with the Lightning, which took a whopping one hour and 42 minutes to charge. That’s due to a number of reasons, including the fact that the truck’s navigation didn’t identify the 350 kWh charger that it needed to get the job done quicker, and the driver had to actually detach the trailer to fit it in a charging station, too. As such, this process took around an hour longer than it should have.

Infrastructure and technology limitations aside, Edmunds came away otherwise impressed with the F-150 Lighting’s ability to tow. “Despite having the lowest maximum towing capacity and the highest gross combined weight, the Lightning handled its load with poise over the duration of the trip,” the reviewer noted. “Its expanded battery pack and two electric motors had no issues going up and over inclines, and its independent rear suspension – as opposed to the traditional solid axle found in most trucks – smoothed out the ride quality without hampering capability.”

Regardless, this test is further proof that technology has a way to go before EV pickups can be relied upon for extensive towing. “If there’s one takeaway about the Lightning EV’s towing chops in late 2022, it’s that any charging stop along your towing route could very well be both frustrating and time-consuming,” Edmunds said. “For now, at least, anyone who does serious towing on a regular basis will be better off sticking with the old-school tried and true.”

We’ll have more on the F-150 Lightning soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford F-Series newsFord F-150 newsF-150 Lightning news, and ongoing Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Robert.Walter

    I assume those range figures and refill costs were a function of tank size and fuel type.

    From an efficiency standpoint, the articles might have been a bit more helpful if the ICE figures were also adjusted to at least account for tank size.

    Also, INB4 all the “oh the grid” people show up.

    1. whypac

      For the ICE trucks, the fuel tank size was irrelevant for this test. None of the ICE trucks had to stop to refuel. Also, the resulting ICE fill-up costs after test completion were easily predictable. Of course the RAM turbo-diesel was the most fuel efficient. Turbo-diesel is always going to win at efficiency against gas engines, even with the Ford’s power train being hybrid. Ford’s F150 hybrid isn’t tuned for fuel efficiency. The hybrid is tuned for being a power generator for external equipment. And of course the Chevy ZR2 came in last with efficiency. The ZR2 is a lifted, gas guzzling 6.2 V8, tuned for power and designed for off-roading.

      1. Robert.Walter

        Maybe better put a chart breaking down this info would have been appreciated.

  2. Wayne

    One Electric Car Battery
    500 Tons of Ore to refine 25 lbs. of Lithium
    900 to 1000 gal. of fuel to move the ore
    Lithium is refined by using sulfuric acid.
    The mine at Thacker Pass requires 75 semi loads of acid a day.
    One electric battery for a Tesla requires
    25 lbs of Lithium
    60 Ibs of nickle
    44 lbs of Manganese
    30 lbs of Cobalt
    200 lbs of Copper
    400 lbs of Aluminum, Steel and Plastic
    To produce one battery takes tremendous amounts of energy supplied by coal, nuclear or gas fired power plants.
    If you believe this is Green Energy, then we are all in trouble.

    1. Robert.Walter

      Because batteries are recyclable eventually battery production and recycling lifecycle will reach near equilibrium and become a nearly closed system.

      Big oil loves to ignore this fact.

      Because burning oil in ICE powertrains is not a closed system or recyclable by any scalable means ever.

      1. Lazerbone

        Sorry– the energy density does not exist in current battery technology. Even if you could close the loop in battery production via recycling (which is impossible given losses that occur in wear of material and losses in the recycling process itself). The simple fact is the existing grid cannot support EVs at scale and the majority of power generation in the world is NOT green. You need 30+ years to get to green in energy production (i.e. massive nuclear) before EV has the potential to be anything more than a niche part of the market. Solar panels and wind turbines won’t fill the gap. Since the Lightning can’t reasonably tow all it can do is move people and “some” cargo from point A to B. A properly sized EV or Hybrid will do it more efficiently.

        1. Jon

          In California, solar panels, are in fact, filling the gap. And CA has over a million EVs on the road now, hardly a “niche.” And with incentive electricity pricing to encourage charging during low demand periods, the existing grid can handle huge growth. The rest that is needed can easily be built over the coming decades. Try again with the off the cuff “facts”?

    2. Jon

      Did you not know, or did you just conveniently ignore that the vast majority of Lithium mining conducted around the globe does not use the method you described with such gusto and obvious one sided bias? Because showing one very cherry picked side, but completely ignoring the tons of CO2 that those cars will Not create over their lifetimes won’t convince anyone of anything. Here’s a clue – dozens of studies have been done of the entire EV production and consumption vertical, and the results show one thing, in every instance: Compared to ICE, EVs are Green Energy. By a huge factor.

    3. Montana Man

      Aren’t you glad we live in a country that provides Liberty, Freedom and Justice for (almost) everyone?
      I can almost guarantee you (99.9999999999%, anyway) that no one will hold a gun to your head and force you to buy an electric vehicle.

  3. David Dickinson II

    This is the most useful article posted all year. This is the kind of test and date most people really want to hear about.

  4. John Coviello

    I agree, it was the test that made it so. Here would be a test that most everyday drivers would like to see. Using a standard Mustag Ev with the standard battery; pick a time where the outside temperature is around 30 degrees for a week and leave the car outside Fully charge the battery before going to bed (there will be no more charges in this test). Next morning drive 15 miles to work and let the car stay outside. After 8 hours drive home and park outside. Do this for five consecutive days where each night and at the end of the five days record how much battery charge and vehicle range is left. If you don’t get that far record when the battery was done. That would be a test that all EV only buyers should want to read. Remember it IS NOT recommended to keep the vehicle plugged in every night. Doing the same test with the outside temperature above 80 degrees for a week should also be interesting reading.

    1. Dave

      I would love to see the results of your proposed test John. I would anticipate the EV manufacturer’s will not like the results. Cold weather is a batteries enemy!

    2. Jon

      Where did you get the idea that it’s not recommended to keep the vehicle plugged in every night? Because that is not true. It’s the norm for every EV owner that charges at home, which is the vast majority of EV owners. It’s clear you’ve never owned an EV.

  5. Chad

    All the above comments and feedback center around the need for facts, data, graphs, charts, test parameters, etc..I will give you some facts, I am in Lee County Florida. 85% are still without power following Hurricane Ian, both residential and commercial. 100% of EV owners in those homes and areas are sitting with no charging capabilities. They are getting o miles of use as they have not been able to charge in last 4 days. So, do not talk to me about the merits of battery-powered vehicles and the charging processes thereof.

    1. Jon

      Gas stations can’t pump gas without electricity. ….smdh with both humor and pity at these comments.

  6. hot toddy

    this story has been pounded into puding on social media. Pretty sure we’ve all read it in some form by now and are getting Ford Authority’s take on it.


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