Don’t Expect Hands-Free Driving in These Ford F-150 Lightning Models

The exciting new Ford F-150 Lightning will be available next spring. The all-electric version of the Blue Oval’s most popular pickup truck will offer trim levels similar to those of its standard F-150. But the EV will offer a choice of two battery packs and a slate of high-tech features for fans eager to give Ford’s electric truck a try.

And to better compete with the forthcoming Tesla Cybertruck, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning will even offer hands-free driving. But not every trim will provide this capability.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning at a glance

For 44 years, the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the United States, Ford claims. By developing and adding innovative features, the F-Series sets the standard for the rest in the field. Ford didn’t simply replace a standard F-150’s combustion engine with batteries and electric motor for the new all-electric version of America’s favorite truck. 

The automaker really thought things out. Converting such a high-volume vehicle into an EV would be a game-changer for Ford and the entire industry. The base-model F-150 Lightning will start at just under $40,000. It will qualify for federal and state EV tax incentives. Its affordability will rattle competitor cages, which is likely what Ford is aiming for.

As opposed to being just an electrified version of the standard F-150, the Lightning is a spirited, aerodynamic EV with distinctly new features. In 2022, it will be available only in the four-door SuperCrew cab configuration and a 5.5-foot bed. 

Also, the Lightning will offer the same dimensions as the gas-powered F-150. It has a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds, and it can carry 400 pounds in the trunk, where the engine once was. In addition, it boasts a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.

The standard battery offers a range of 230 miles, and the powertrain produces up to 426 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque. An available extended battery offers up to 300 miles on a full charge and 563 hp. Motors in the front and rear power standard all-wheel drive.

Furthermore, the Lightning will be the fastest and strongest F-150 in Ford’s lineup. It will be able to reach 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. It will also be the first F-150 to get an independent rear suspension — a necessity to accommodate the rear motor. While the Lightning won’t have an air suspension, its configuration will provide solid handling and a smooth ride.

The Ford F-150 Lightning’s hands-free driving technology

To give Tesla Autopilot and General Motors’ SuperCruise systems a run for their money, Ford offers its BlueCruise hands-free driving system. With BlueCruise engaged, the driver can let go of the steering wheel and allow the truck to drive itself, but only on a compatible highway mapped in the system by lasers.

Ford has mapped out more than 100,000 miles of highway as “Hands-Free Blue Zones.” Intelligent cruise control activates on compatible highways. And with integrated active lane-keeping assistance, drivers can go hands-free. The system even notifies the driver by text and blue lightning when entering one of these zones.

The system uses speed sign assessment to manage braking, acceleration, and steering assignments. But the driver must pay attention to the road for the system to work. The onboard camera can detect eye movements even in the dark and from behind sunglasses. 

If the driver is distracted or nodding off, the system will issue a warning. If the driver doesn’t take the actions the system requires, the truck will pull over and stop.

Trim levels and the competition

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning will be available in three trim levels: XLT (base), Lariat, and Platinum. BlueCruise will not be available on the XLT trim. However, it will be available on the Lariat and come standard on the Platinum.

So, is the 2022 Lightning at a disadvantage because every Tesla Cybertruck model offers Autopilot? For an extra $10,000, buyers can get full self-driving capability with the Cybertruck via the beta release of Tesla‘s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beginning in October.

However, no automaker — even Tesla — has a fully “self-driving” vehicle yet. Still, Tesla’s system offers more than Ford’s latest technology, which offers hands-free driving only under specific conditions. 

So, how will BlueCruise stack up against GM’s and Tesla’s systems? Only time will tell.

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