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Car reviews - Ford - F-150 - Lightning


We like
Incredible straight-line performance, OEM-quality finish, comfortable ride, immense cabin space
Room for improvement
We couldn’t keep it for the weekend!

We jump into AUSEV’s RHD Ford F-150 Lightning for an electrifying first drive

8 Apr 2024

AUSEV was kind enough, or brave enough, to throw GoAuto the keys to a right-hand drive F-150 Lightning for an on-road test drive around Brisbane. 
It was a brief 25-minute drive, but it gave us a tantalising first taste of the battery-electric vehicles (BEV) that Australians are likely to covet in future – and right now, this is the only right-hand drive electric 4x4 ute available.  
While Ford Australia decided to bring the wildly popular F-150 here, the all-electric Lightning model has not made its Down Under yet – at least not from a Ford dealer. 
That problem has been solved by Australian-owned distributor, AUSEV, which offers a range of commercial BEVs with end-to-end solutions covering vehicles, charging, servicing and fleet management.  
No stranger to remanufacturing vehicles for the Australian market, AUSEV has a long history of importing and remanufacturing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but now it has set its sights firmly on BEVs with distribution deals for both the consumer and fleet markets. 
GoAuto drove one of AUSEV’s F-150 Lightning models equipped with Method Race wheels and Maxxis RAZR off-road tyres, an example that has so far been used for testing and validation locally.  
Other than an extremely high-quality right-hand-drive conversion, which aimed to change as little as possible, the F-150 Lightning retains all of the safety features and functionality of the North American model except for the fact it can be registered and driven on Australian roads. 
The F-150 Lightning uses dual electric motors providing permanent four-wheel drive and combined outputs of 432kW/1050Nm. The long-range version we tested has the larger 131kWh battery that is claimed to provide up to 510km of driving between top-ups. 
A 98kWh standard range variant loses a little power with a reduced 337kW on tap and makes do with 370km of range. 
Despite its American heft, the F-150 Lightning in big battery configuration will rocket to 100km/h in four seconds flat. For perspective, the Baja-bred Ford Ranger Raptor will hit triple digits in around six seconds.  
So, the AUSEV F-150 Lightning is quick, eco-friendly and can be driven on Australian roads, but does it live up to the promise of its on-paper stats and in-the-metal looks? 
On the road 
Spoiler alert: The F-150 Lightning we tried was every bit as good as we could have hoped. 
Yes, the Method wheels, beefy rubber and menacing black paint job all helped in terms of kerb appeal but it was the performance that blew us away.  
It is hard not to be a big fan of the current generation Ford Ranger Raptor, with its 292kW powertrain and off-road racing suspension setup, but the F-150 Lightning blitzes it in terms of outright performance. 
You might not be able to clear a tabletop jump or enter the Baja 1000 with an F-150 Lightning, but how many Raptor owners really do that, anyway? Around town, the Lightning reigns supreme.  
Neck-snapping, wheel-clutching straight-line performance makes the F-150 Lightning immensely exciting to drive, and try as we might it is hard to come to terms with how a nearly three-tonne truck can get up and boogie like this one does.  
With a supersized 1.6-metre tray, more in-cabin space than some serious SUVs and a payload of just over a tonne, the Lightning is a serious workhorse too. 
In fact, sitting in the second row to take photos of the impeccably remanufactured dash, we found more rear occupant space than we've experienced this side of a stretch limo. Thanks, America.  
Suspension is also coil-sprung all round, so despite some serious carrying capacity the Lightning is a compliant and comfortable beast – no doubt helped by the taller tyres fitted to the model tested. 
We did not have the opportunity to assess laden performance or range and a brief 25-minute drive was not long enough to accurately assess how far one of these utes will travel before needing to re-juice – loaded, towing or otherwise. 
Ford claims a range of 510km, and by all accounts, this is a fairly accurate indication. Fill it to the brim with cargo or tow your 3.5-tonne caravan and energy efficiency is likely to be punished at least as much as it would with a petrol or diesel equivalent. 
Right-hand drive converted or not, Ford should be commended for what is a seriously well-thought-out vehicle. 
But what we experienced was an F-150 Lightning with a right-hand drive conversion from a company that did it right. We doubt a Ford-fresh left-hooker could be any better than this. 
Steering feels sharp and there are no clues that this Lightning has been converted to right-hand drive. An indistinguishable injection-moulded dash and surrounding trim make this vehicle feel as OEM as they come.  
Had we been blindfolded getting in, or lied to about the vehicle’s origins, it would have been easy to believe this was a Lightning that rolled off the Ford factory line with its steering on the right; we spent some time searching for telltale signs of remanufacturing and failed to find any.  
One of the most impressive things about the Lightning is that, despite having an absurd amount of Newton metres waiting at the ready, it is as unintimidating and tame as they come under sensible amounts of throttle.  
Drive modes consist of Normal, Sport, Tow/Haul and Off-Road, but we left it in Normal. If given the keys to a vehicle like this for a brief time in limited driving scenarios, trying to work through every drive mode is pointless. 
Sport mode may well be more savage, and we would guess it probably is, but the Normal drive mode was superbly manageable during normal driving. Drop the hammer, though, even in Normal mode, and it is hard to imagine a situation where sharper performance would be needed. 
For fleet, commercial or private buyers that need serious payload, performance and want to do their bit for the environment compared with one of the petrol-guzzling alternatives, on first impressions the AUSEV F-150 Lightning is a seriously impressive package. 

And there is nothing else out there like it, at least not yet.

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