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My Ford Lightning CAMPER, and first 2000 miles observations

3678 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Kstype
I got my Lightning Lariat ER 2 weeks ago now and have already put about 2000 miles on it. We have had EV's for a long time now, 4 teslas (including the original Roadster), a Rav4 EV, a Fiat 500e, as well as a Volt and Prius in the distant past. I have been anxiously waiting for a pickup though as I need one often for work, so I have reservations for the Lightning, Rivian, Cybertruck, Silverado, and even the Canoo! When I found out Ford wasn't going to make more than 60k Lightnings this year (I believe) I decided I had waited long enough, found a reasonable deal on a Lariat out in Indio (we live in Phoenix, so about a 4hr drive) and traded our Model X for it straight-up since we live in this weird world now where our used car had increased in value the past 2 years.

The truck has been pretty great so far. I have rented U-Haul trailers twice and it tows fantastic, but I don't expect we will be towing with it very often. I LOVE the ventilated seats here in Phoenix. The infotainment system takes a little getting used to but have not had any issues with lag or anything, seems to work great and its my first vehicle with Apple CarPlay which is fantastic I have to say. It does drive like an F150, in that it has some bounce to it on bumps and around curves but that's to be expected I think.

I installed an Adventure Trailers (AT) Habitat camper shell on top - not the most aerodynamic of camper shells but this is truly a camper and not just a shell - the entire roof folds out into a 4 person tent for our family of 4 (kids are 5 and 7) which we tested out last weekend at the Grand Canyon and worked flawlessly. This still allows me use of the entire truck bed which was a big deal. I was a bit nervous about the effect on range but it does not seem to have affected it much. On the climb from 1500 to 7000ft from Phoenix to Grand Canyon we got about 1.6mi/kWh while doing about 70mph. On the way down we got about 2.3. I had taken a trip without the topper up to Prescott AZ (6000ft) and got about the same both directions. I also took a trip towing this camper shell on a UHaul trailer (about 2500lb total) and as others have mentioned the range was cut about in half, though I think I still got about 1mi/kWh while towing. Glad we won't be doing that often if ever again. I purchased a custom-sized wind fairing from Colorado Fairing Company to mount to the top of the front of the camper to try to reduce some of the drag on it further too. Around town I pretty consistently get around 2.5-3mi/kWh. Most of your efficiency comes from accelerating slowly it seems, and keeping your speed down.

We have a dual-zone Dometic fridge/freezer that we put in the bed of the truck for the camping trip. I plugged it into the outlets just to see how it would drain the battery and it seemed to take about 1 mile of range per hour. I think a better thing to do is going to be to purchase something like a Jackery which can charge from the truck while we are driving, and then unplug it from the truck and plug the fridge into that while we are camping so the truck battery doesn't need to be used.

Bluecruise takes a little getting used to but I actually like it a lot, I'd say its different but comparable to Tesla's autopilot. Some things I like better, some less. It does seem to give you reminders far too often about hands on wheel or eyes on the road but I think this is the price you pay to get the NHTSA to approve these kinds of systems.

I will say that the guess-o-meter is fairly accurate compared to our Tesla's - with the Tesla I always had to make sure I had a good buffer if we were taking a road trip to make sure we made it there on time (though not a big deal since there are so many superchargers all over out west). With the Lightning, I am starting to feel pretty confident in the predicted range. If anything, I think if you drive carefully you can often better that prediction especially if you're willing to reduce your speed a bit or find someone to draft behind. The key difference is the Tesla range is based on battery health ("ideal range") while basically every other EV manufacturer seems to use your past driving habits to predict your actual range. I think Tesla does that because people would complain about their range "dropping" (which I've already seen on this forum a lot) if they saw how their driving habits affected their range.

The only gripe I have with the truck so far is the upholstery on the seats seems kind of loose and I worry that it will eventually start to wear poorly. Coming from a Tesla, the charging network definitely leaves a lot to be desired but we have been early adopters before and believe that it will get much better in the coming years. I'm disappointed Ford didn't put a faster charger on the truck - its odd to be next to a little Kia that can charge at 350kW and I'm typically in the 125kW range at best. But, with little kids you need breaks on the road anyway so not a big deal. I wish there was an air suspension on board too, but that's probably "planned obsolescence" from Ford to get us to buy the model that adds that in a few years. Its a business, so I get it.

Overall very pleased!

Photos of the truck and topper coming...
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