MODEL: Ford F-150 Lightning
VEHICLE TYPE: Two-door pickup
MILEAGE: 12 city, 16 highway
Pickup trucks, in theory, are supposed to be models of efficiency, with the ability to move people and things with a minimum of fuss.
From time to time, however, along comes one on the order of the 2001 Ford SVT Lightning, which is not something you buy just to cart around pigs, firewood, garbage or mattresses.
No, you buy the F-150 Lightning because you want a truck that has about as much in common with other trucks as a Corvette does with a Cavalier or a Viper with a Neon. As with previously offered Lightnings, Ford has pumped up everything from the suspension to the stereo to make it a real runner.
Driving the test Lightning, which had no options included in its price of $32,460, was akin to sitting astride a fleet and frisky young racehorse just looking for a chance to sprint.
Even so, the Lightning proved rather docile in terms of driveabililty, although an inattentive driver may find the Lightning wandering about or, in the case of a heavy foot, looking for a speeding ticket.
The ride was stiff because of the muscled-up suspension, but not jarring. Its leather interior had seats that were comfortable with good adjustments, and there were enough amenities a good stereo, drink holders, some storage and white-face instrumentation that was always easy to read to satisfy the crowd that demands comfort.
The supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 whips out 380 horsepower with 450 pounds-feet of torque going to work at a relatively low 3,250 engine rpm.
What this translates to for the 4,700-pound Lightning, according to Ford’s specifications, is zero-to-60 mph in 5.8 seconds with the potential to run 142 mph, preferably on a closed course with a professional driver.
Clearly the Lightning demands respect from its driver, other trucks and a lot of performance cars that can’t match its numbers.
Just remember, it is a niche truck and not something everyone is going to want to drive or ride in every day. It’s not really a work truck but it can be an exhilarating way to go.