The high-value trim is a time-honored automotive tradition, and the 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Flash is the latest example of that. Basically, often to spur sales, automakers bundle together a handful of features that consumers want and sell a vehicle so equipped for less money than the next trim level up, which often includes the desirable features floating on a sea of fluff. As you’d probably expect, the F-150 Lightning Flash sits between the XLT and Lariat trims, although its feature content leans further to the latter than the former.
The largest component of the Lightning Flash is its extended-range battery pack, a 131 kWh monster good for 320 miles of EPA-rated range. Don’t expect to charge this electric truck quickly at home, but all that battery capacity could really come in handy on road trips. However, the F-150 Lightning XLT is already available with the big battery, so what does the Flash give you over the XLT?
A basket of tech, that’s what. The portrait-style 15.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system from the Lariat has been downloaded to this mid-range value trim, as has the loud B&O sound system and wireless phone charging. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ford’s iconic Securicode keypad rounds out the list of additional luxury gizmos. That’s a decent round of kit to make this electric pickup truck feel more premium, as it should with a proper luxury truck price tag. However, the best part of the F-150 Lightning Flash might just be hiding inside the dashboard.
Buried deep down in the press release sits this gem: “Heat pump to optimize the vehicle’s energy consumption.” Yes indeed, Ford has boarded the heat pump bandwagon, and I have a feeling upcoming owners will thank the automaker for doing so. So what is a heat pump? Well, it’s like a refrigerator in reverse. In cold weather, the system compresses a refrigerant, which heats up as it’s compressed. It then flows through a condenser typically located in the bulkhead or behind the dashboard, where the heat can dissipate from the refrigerant and be wafted into the cabin. It’s an efficient way of warming the cabin in cooler climates, and that efficiency can boost range substantially over using a resistance heater alone.
So why hasn’t Ford employed a heat pump before? Well, one possible reason could be the harsh North American climate. Once things get properly cold, like below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, EV heat pumps may actually be less efficient than just running the resistance heater. This shouldn’t be a huge problem for Pacific Northwesterners, but in, say, Detroit in January, a heat pump might not be the best solution. Still, for cooler climates, a heat pump should prove valuable in sweater season and beyond.
At the time of writing, Ford hadn’t released detailed pricing, but it did announce that the 2024 F-150 Lightning Flash will cost $69,995 excluding an unspecified freight charge. As it stands, the 2023 F-150 Lightning XLT with the extended range battery pack also costs $69,995 excluding freight, so to get more toys and a heat pump for similar money seems like a solid deal. However, shoppers can’t just hop online and order the latest Lightning right now — they’ll have to wait for order books to open in early 2024.
(Photo credits: Ford)
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