The 2022 Motor1.com Star Awards help decide the who’s-who in a variety of automotive disciplines, and perhaps none had as much diversity as our truck category. Although every single entrant was electrified this year – a sign of the times, no doubt – they represented three different size classes, ranged between 191 horsepower and an even 1,000, and had a price disparity of nearly $100,000 from the cheapest to the most expensive entrant.
While some competitors felt like gratuitous overkill and some felt a bit wimpy, one struck the most pleasing balance between futuristic technology and genuine truck bona fides, with a familiar form factor coming along for the ride. The all-electric 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is the Motor1.com Star Award winner for best truck. But in spite of its just-right posturing, the F-150’s win didn’t come easily, facing down against the charming Ford Maverick, rugged and powerful Toyota Tundra, and attention-grabbing GMC Hummer EV. Each offers its own unique set of strengths and drawbacks, and the Lightning had to fight for its title.
What We Look For
The award for Best Truck looks at capability, including technology that aids towing and hauling, off-road ability, and everyday usability. Trucks are, for the most part, larger and more cumbersome than sedans and crossovers, so everyday usability is given some consideration, too. Finally, overall comfort – ride quality, drivability, interior quality and packaging – plays a role, since North America is a truck market and there’s no shortage of consumers buying a truck even if they have no intention of using it for work.
|Quick Stats||2022 Ford Maverick XLT Hybrid|
|Engine:||2.5-liter I4 w/Permanent Magnet Motor|
Sharing lots of its architecture and its standard hybrid powertrain with the ho-hum Escape crossover, the 2022 Ford Maverick couldn’t possibly withstand the scrutiny when compared to its more traditional truck rivals, right? Surprisingly, it did. The Maverick earned its plaudits thanks to a stylish and practical interior, borderline-athletic handling, and comfortable ride, and its efficient hybrid powertrain did nothing to hurt its odds – 42 miles per gallon in the city and 33 highway, with a combined rating of 37 mpg. Those numbers are among the highest of any non-electric vehicle in contention for a Star Award, truck or not.
But fuel economy and maneuverability aren’t usually high priorities for truck customers, and the Maverick we tested didn’t really offer much in the way of towing capability or off-road performance. That’s because the hybrid Maverick is a front-wheel-drive affair, with all-wheel drive only available on the more powerful (but less efficient) EcoBoost model. The hybrid is also limited to just 2,000 pounds of towing capacity, although its payload rating of 1,564 pounds would have been the purview of a full-size truck just one or two generations ago. As nice as the Maverick is, there are better pickups if you really need to do a truck’s job.
|Quick Stats||2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1|
|Motors:||Triple Permanent Magnet Motors|
|Output:||1,000 Horsepower / 1,200 Pound-Feet|
Few trucks have inspired as much controversy over the past two years as the GMC Hummer EV. The Hummer EV has 329 miles of range per charge, an impressive number until you notice the spec chart also lists a massive 212.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Thanks to its pavement-cracking curb weight of 9,640 pounds, the Hummer EV isn’t as efficient its fully electric, three-motor powertrain would suggest. It is still pretty dang fun to drive though, with those motors putting a healthy 1,000 hp and 1,200 pound-feet of torque to the wheels. Throw it in Watts To Freedom mode and 60 passes in well under 4 seconds.
You feel every bit of its 5-ton curb weight when driving on a curvy road, but the Hummer has a smooth and composed ride on the highway. Its Super Crusie driver-assistance suite is also among the best in the industry, offering hands-off freeway capability and even automatic lane changes to get around slower traffic. And its four-wheel steering gives the Hummer EV a narrower turning radius than the much smaller Maverick, with Crab Walk adding some dubious off-road capability – but plenty of crowd pleasure. As a toy, the Hummer EV can’t be beat. But its intimidating price and dubious efficiency count it out in this test.
|Quick Stats||2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro 4x4 I-Force Max|
|Engine:||Twin-Turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 w/Motor-Generator|
|Output:||437 Horsepower / 583 Pound-Feet|
The 2022 Toyota Tundra is a wholesale improvement over its predecessor in nearly every quantifiable respect, with more power and efficiency via its newly available i-Force Max hybrid engine. With 437 hp and 583 lb-ft – best of any other non-electric half-ton truck – the Tundra’s optional powertrain mates a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 to a motor-generator mounted inside the 10-speed transmission’s bell housing. The powertrain also gets an impressive 18 mpg city, even when hauling around the added weight of our tester’s TRD Pro off-road kit.
Speaking of, the Tundra earned plenty of respect for its functional set of rugged features. The TRD Pro includes BBS forged aluminum wheels wrapped in 33-inch all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates, and fender extensions with funky digital-camo details. The TRD Pro–specific springs and remote-reservoir shocks provide better articulation and performance in tough conditions, and the trim-specific bodywork both looks cool and gives better approach and departure angles. The Tundra was like a loyal hound – friendly and approachable and fun – but it didn’t have enough new tricks to sway us away from our winner.
|Quick Stats||2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat Extended Range|
|Motor:||Dual Permanent Magnet Motors|
|Output:||580 Horsepower / 775 Pound-Feet|
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning delivered a convincing performance in our Motor1.com Star Awards from the moment it arrived at our test. All of us appreciated the combination of modern styling details and traditional F-Series proportions, with a smooth ride and conventional dynamics that many current F-150 owners would likely appreciate – there’s no learning curve here, just get in and drive.
One notable exception to that familiarity is the powertrain. With 580 hp and 775 lb-ft coming from its dual electric motors, our extended-range Lightning has more power and torque than any other F-150 variant save the Raptor R, which eclipses it with 700 hp but comes up short with 680 lb-ft. The net result of all that grunt is an incredible, smooth rush of acceleration whenever you lean on the skinny pedal, as well as a trailer rating of 10,000 pounds when equipped with the Max Tow package.
So the F-150 Lightning is a plain ol’ truck when it comes to the interior, driving dynamics, and towing credentials, but what of its future-ready EV powertrain? Thanks to the optional extended-range battery’s 131.0-kWh capacity, it’s capable of driving 320 miles per charge – matching the Hummer EV in spite of a much smaller, lighter battery. The extended-range battery can also recharge at a maximum rate of 155 kilowatts. Using a DC fast charger, the Lightning will recharge from 15 to 80 percent in 41 minutes, while an at-home recharge will go from 15 to 100 percent in 8 hours.
Adding to our appreciation is the massive, 14.1-cubic-foot frunk, which gives the Lightning some lockable, weatherproof storage. The Lariat model we tested also features the 9.6-kW Pro Power Onboard system standard, putting four household outlets in the frunk, two in the cab, and four more in the bed. And if you need to run a portable welder, there’s even a 240-volt outlet in back. The available Ford Charge Station Pro at-home charger can also provide your home with power in the event of a blackout, keeping you comfortable (and your refrigerator running).
With a long list of thoughtful productivity features, excellent charging performance, commendable range, swift acceleration, and familiar driving dynamics, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is an excellent all-around truck. Not one member of our staff had significant complaints about the Lightning, a testament to its honest, earnest goodness.
How We Choose Star Awards Winners
The Motor1.com Star Awards start with vehicles that received the highest Star Ratings throughout the year. Our awards consideration set starts with vehicles that are either all-new or significantly revised over the last year. From there, we invite the best vehicles to join us for a week of head-to-head testing.
During the year we let data take the lead in our rating system, but the goal of Test Week is to compare vehicles head to head – on the road, on the track, or in the dirt as the case may be – to see which competitor in each segment stands out with unmissable value, incredible technology, and impressive real-world behavior. Any vehicle invited to participate in Star Awards is excellent, but only the very best in each segment can claim the title.
Photo Credit: Logan Zillmer
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat Extended Range