Buying a new home, for all its excitement and anticipation, comes with an unfortunate side effect: moving. While a small number of you have experienced the indulgence of hiring movers to pack it all up, the rest of us schlubs have been stuck tracking down boxes, locating packing materials, and hauling box after box to the new place. Not to mention the occasional joy of lifting heavy furniture with the friends you begged to help.

When my family moved into our new house recently, we opted to do most of it ourselves save for the heavy lifting part. We left that to the professionals from a local moving company because we’re not 25 anymore and they are. Everything else—including scores of boxes, stuffed animals, clothes and books—we packed into the bed and back seat of a new F-150 Lightning Lariat 4x4. I borrowed this truck to determine if an electric pickup was up to the task.

After more than a dozen trips back and forth from the old house to the new one, the Lightning didn’t just meet my expectations; it surpassed them. In the process, Ford proved to my Texan family how capable an electric truck can be.

Ford F-150 Lightning Moving Test

But how about the towing range?!

Anti-EV truck fans holler that electric trucks lose too much range when they tow and haul. It’s true that the range decreases when adding weight, but that’s also true for gas-powered vehicles as well. Try towing at max capacity in a Durango Hellcat and watch your gas tank needle cruise to the left (ask me how I know). The point isn’t to bash either option but to understand that when the vehicle is operating above its GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating).

Kelley Blue Book reported on a study comparing loss of range when towing with a gas-powered or all-electric vehicle. The writer noted that “every truck loses range when you add weight to the bed” no matter the fuel source.

American Automobile Association (AAA) Director of Automotive Engineering Greg Brannon told KBB that towing and hauling range may not be a huge consideration for many truck shoppers, anyway. While testing the F-150 Lightning on a test track loaded down with 1,400 pounds in the bed, AAA engineers found a 24.5 percent range loss; KBB calculated a comparable loss of 14 percent of range in a gas-powered pickup. But that doesn’t tell the whole story for casual truck buyers.

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“Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it’s important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity,” Brannon said. “Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction.”

So yes, if towing range is a crucial factor for you (as it would be for fleet managers), today’s EV pickups might not work out for you. But if you’re moving rarely and promise not to be the “friend with a truck” who agrees to help move every friend you ask, it will be fine.  

Ford F-150 Lightning Moving Test

Miles to spare

The last time we moved was 14 years ago, and there were only two of us then. We had a few key pieces of furniture and my husband moved almost all of it in his 2000 Range Rover. This time, we had an additional person (our teenage son) and boxes of sporting equipment, books, Lego pieces, and other accoutrement that comes along with having kids in the house.

Ford delivered an F-150 Lightning to our old house, and we started loading it up. First, the giant planters, which held our home-grown tomatoes, jalapenos, rosemary, and basil. Hoisting them up to the bed was challenging, but there was plenty of room once we got them in. Then there was a heavy bedroom set, assorted chairs and desks, big wardrobe boxes full of clothing on hangers, and more. Not only did we load up the bed, but we filled in all the empty space we could in the back seat for every trip.

Several of the trips included heavy items that required at least two, if not three, of us to lift them. The planters are each 100 pounds and we had five of them, plus we loaded up the seats and any extra space we had available. Turns out you can accumulate quite a few household items after 14 years in the same place. 

Ford F-150 Lightning Moving Test

Overall, we went back and forth from the old house to the new house 15 times in the EV. At a little more than 10 miles round trip, that equals nearly 150 miles, well under the 320-mile range the EPA says the truck can achieve on a full charge (with the extended battery). But we had a few hundred pounds of stuff in the bed, plus two passengers, bringing us close to a four-digit payload on most trips. 

The truck was delivered to us with between 80 and 90 percent capacity, and after the first two round trips (20 miles), we had 80 percent and 220 miles remaining. That doesn’t add up, since 80 percent of 320 miles is 256. That’s because the Lightning is a smart machine. It measures your real consumption and adjusts its figures accordingly. 

Ford F-150 Lightning Moving Test

On the third day, the truck showed that we were at 64 percent of capacity with 179 miles to go. Day four registered 54 percent and 156 miles, and at the end of day five we were at 48 percent and 145 miles; 48 percent of the EPA’s 320-mile figure is 153.6, so it wasn’t too far off.  By the end of our week with the Lightning, we had 32 percent left on the battery with the truck predicting 82 miles of range remaining. That’s a 20-mile delta between the EPA figure (32 percent of 320 miles = 102.4 miles) and what the truck calculated. So there’s a penalty for the extra weight, but it didn’t sap range as much as we expected. Given that recharging from 15 to 80 percent takes just 44 minutes, we could be back to where we started in even less time. 

One thing my once-EV-skeptical husband pointed out is that there was a ton of road construction that week along the route, and we were stopped nearly every time. If we had been driving a gas-powered vehicle, we would have been wasting gas, idling. In the F-150 Lightning, the truck waited patiently without expending extra energy.

Ford F-150 Lightning Moving Test

On top of that, the Lightning boasts 560 horsepower and 775 lb.-ft. of instant torque, which is not only more than its gas-powered sibling but more than any F-150, ever. Driving through the hilly west side of Austin, that torque came in handy.

In the end, I turned the truck back in with miles to spare, and my family agreed that the Lightning was more than up to the task. Happily, we won’t be moving again any time soon. 

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