The real-world test of Ford F-150 Lightning XLT

Standard battery of Ford F-150 Lightning XLT has an estimated range of 240 miles
An undated image of 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT. — Ford
An undated image of 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT. — Ford

In early updates about the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT, which car enthusiasts have been testing in Detroit for a year, they have been exploring the challenge of balancing speed and range. To understand this better, they decided to use real-world data rather than estimates. 

The MotorTrend Road Trip Range was conducted to test again, this time varying the cruising speed between 55 and 80 mph in increments of 5 mph. By considering the aerodynamic drag estimates they established earlier, they adjusted the "range added" charging times at 70 mph for each test speed. 

This allowed us to calculate more accurate figures for the optimal speed and charging strategy for an imaginary 1,000-mile road trip, assuming access to functional fast chargers at well-spaced intervals.

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In the initial Michigan road trip with the Lightning XLT, the enthusiasts achieved a range of 240 miles. This accounts for driving at a constant 70 mph after a full charge, down to a 5% battery level. It's important to note that the official EPA range combines both highway and city driving, so our road trip range won't match the EPA's combined figure of 320 miles.

The impact of speed on the range is substantial due to aerodynamic drag, which increases exponentially with speed. 

The real-world test results largely aligned with their theoretical estimates based on drag, with some variation due to factors like rolling resistance and accessory load. Notably, at 80 mph, the real-world range fell more than 100 miles below the EPA combined estimate.

While driving at 80 mph may save 50 minutes over a 1,000-mile trip compared to driving at 75 mph, the three extra 15-minute charging stops mostly offset that time gain. 

Choosing 70 mph further reduces charging stops, adding around 28 minutes to the journey compared to 75 mph. Going faster, such as 85 mph, significantly extends travel time due to more frequent and longer charging stops.

For those who dislike frequent stops, lengthening charging sessions to 30 or 45 minutes has a relatively small overall time penalty. Swapping 15-minute stops for 45-minute ones adds only 3% to the travel time at 55 mph and 8 percent at 80 mph.

The detailed testing of the Ford F-150 Lightning XLT's speed and range relationship emphasises the importance of balancing speed, charging stops, and overall travel time for long road trips.

Service life 4 mo/4,065 mi
Base/As tested price$65,369/$85,779
Extended-range battery ($12,500), Group 312A ($5,000: Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0, ProPower Onboard, 10-way power driver's seat, heated steering wheel, power tailgate with step, 20" dark wheels, LED bed lighting), Max Trailer Tow package ($1,000), spray-in bedliner ($595), soft tri-fold tonneau ($590), mobile power cord ($500), under-seat storage ($225)