The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Makes Off-Road Trucking a Breeze

·3 min read
Photo credit: Brian Silvestro
Photo credit: Brian Silvestro

Ford doesn’t market the F-150 Lightning as a serious off-roader, but it has the chops to be one. There’s standard full-time all-wheel-drive for more traction on loose surfaces. There’s a thick skidplate that covers both electric motors and the floor-mounted battery, ensuring no critical components are damaged while tackling treacherous terrain. Ford even made a mechanical rear locking differential standard on every trim to keep it from getting stuck on tougher paths. In practice, the F-150 Lightning is easy to drive off the pavement, whether you’re conquering steep, rocky paths or sliding through dirt rallycross courses.

While the hardcore rock-crawling is best saved for those with Raptors, F-150 Lightning owners will be pleasantly surprised with how much their trucks can handle. The lack of any sort of widebody panels means it can squeeze through most narrow paths, and a ridiculously tight turning radius allows for some impressive maneuverability. The mechanical rear locker is useful for putting power down, while the lack of an engine means crawling happens in total silence. That makes it easy to listen for changes in traction and wheelslip. It’s tough to appreciate EV off-roading until you actually do it. But once you get a taste, you won’t want to go back to internal combustion.

No matter which trim or battery size you go for, the Lightning comes standard with 775 lb-ft of torque. That torque comes at exactly zero rpm, as soon as you step on the accelerator pedal. Whether you’re trying to climb over a particularly tall rock, fly through a mud pit, or blast out of a gravel corner, it’s more than enough to get you into, through, and out of most situations. Even better, the pedal is well-tuned to allow for gradual, measured inputs. You’ll never find yourself having to jab at the accelerator or worry whether the truck is about to jump forward when you’re trying to ease through a path with caution.

Photo credit: Brian Silvestro
Photo credit: Brian Silvestro

Though it doesn’t have the same wild ground clearance or suspension travel as its widebody desert-running sibling, the Lightning is no slouch on quicker sections of dirt. Ford set up a short rallycross course for us to test out the truck during its first drive event, giving us an opportunity to slide it around without fear of hitting a tree. While the steering is lacking any sort of feedback, the F-150 EV’s powertrain is eager to blast out of corners with every stab at the go pedal. There’s gobs of traction thanks to the full-time AWD, and some impressive high-speed dynamics due in part to the truck’s uniquely low center of gravity and near 50-50 weight distribution. If it weren’t for the height and shape, you’d think you’re driving a big rally car, not a full-size pickup.

While most F-150 Lightning drivers will never take their trucks on any truly challenging paths, it’s nice to know the truck will be able to perform. Casual enthusiasts and veteran overlanders should have no problem taking the Lightning down their favorite low- to medium-difficulty trails, even without any modifications. If you want to take the truck up some more difficult stuff, a set of all-terrain tires will go a long way—just be wary of how aftermarket tires will affect range.

You Might Also Like