AAA Research shows Ford F-150 Lightning Range Falls with Heavy Loads

PORTLAND, Ore., – With electric vehicles becoming more popular, drivers need to know how range is impacted by a vehicle’s load.

AAA Automotive Engineering researchers recently tested the Ford F-150 Lightning, the electric version of the best-selling pickup in the U.S., to determine the impact of payload on the range. When loaded with 1,400 pounds of sandbags, 110 pounds shy of its maximum capacity, the Lightning’s range dropped from 278 miles to 210 miles, a reduction of 24.5%.

“Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it’s important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity,” said Greg Brannon, director of AAA Automotive Engineering. “Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction.”

It’s also important to remember that the driving range of all vehicles, whether gas-powered or electric, is affected by weight. Basically, the more stuff you carry in the vehicle, the less fuel-efficient the vehicle will be,” adds Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

Ford F150 Lightning EV Load and Range 6-2023
Ford F-150 Lightning on chassis dynamometer at the Automotive Research Center

As battery technology continues to improve, EV range will likely increase. However, even with current technology, electric vehicles are still more energy efficient than gas-powered vehicles regarding energy consumption. The F-150 Lightning has an EPA rating of 47 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) compared to 20 MPG for the gas-powered F-150.

All EV drivers need to think about the kind of driving they’ll be doing and choose the right vehicle for their needs. For example, do you do a lot of highway driving or mostly drive in urban areas? And what kind of access do you have to EV charging?

AAA notes that while internal combustion engines get better mileage with highway driving than in stop-and-go traffic, the reverse holds true for electric vehicles. EVs tend to be less efficient at higher speeds and more efficient in city driving because of regenerative braking, which captures energy from braking and converts it into electricity to charge the vehicle’s battery. This electricity can then be stored in the car’s battery or power other electrical components.

For now, it’s still easier for most drivers to stop at a gas station and spend a few minutes filling up than it is to charge an EV, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to many hours to get a full charge, depending on the type of charger and how depleted the battery is. “Still, with some planning, it’s easy for EV drivers to find convenient charging solutions,” adds Dodds.

In the case of battery electric pickups used as work vehicles, permanent loads (such as equipment racks, toolboxes, and equipment trays built into the vehicle) will reduce the range at all times, even without additional cargo.

Please refer to the full report for methodology details, including specific testing equipment and test track characteristics.

AAA offers many services and benefits for drivers of electric vehicles:

Portland and Bend are two markets where AAA provides mobile charging for EVs on the roadside. The AAA service trucks with mobile electric vehicle charging capability provide a Level 2 charge and can typically provide about 10 to 14 miles of range in about 30 minutes so that EV drivers can get home or to a charging station.

Level II Electric Vehicle charging stations, provided by ChargePoint, are available at the following AAA Service CentersPortlandBeaverton, Lake OswegoClackamasSalemEugeneBendMedford, and Boise. EV charging stations are accessible to all electric vehicle drivers through the ChargePoint app. AAA members get two complimentary hours of charging for their electric vehicles.

AAA’s Marie Dodds reviews new cars every week including many EVs and hybrids. Find all the reviews here, reviews of EVs and hybrids here, and the review of the Ford F-150 Lightning here.

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at

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For more info go  AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 880,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 63 million motorists in North America.