Which electric truck will be best?
After letting President Biden go for a spin, Ford has just unveiled its all-new and first-ever electric truck, the F-150 Lightning. Of course, this vehicle comes as a response to the work of companies like Tesla with its Cybertruck, Lordstown Motors with its Endurance, and Rivian with its R1T. None of these vehicles are similarly sized to the new Ford truck (they're all bigger), nor do they have similar pricing, but of these three alternatives, the Rivian R1T is the one that seems most likely to debut first. But can it compete with a legacy automaker like Blue Oval? Can Ford get the electric truck formula right on the first go? Let's see.
Let's start with the F-150 Lightning. This truck will be offered with two levels of performance, with the entry-level version offering an impressive 426 horsepower with 775 lb-ft of torque. If that's not enough for you, the top powertrain provides 563 hp and the same 775 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, but no acceleration figures or top speed numbers have been claimed yet.
With Rivian, the R1T offers up to 750 horsepower. It too has AWD but also boasts air suspension for a better mix of comfort and off-road performance. Interestingly, towing capacity of the R1T is only a thousand pounds greater than that of the Lightning with a rating of 11,000.
The Lightning is still an F-150 at heart, and that means it's a workhorse. Despite that, you get nifty features like Ford's "Phone As A Key", sensors that tell you when you're approaching your tongue weight and payload limits, and over-the-air updates. The new Sync 4A infotainment system debuts in Lariat and Platinum trims too, boasting a 15.5-inch portrait-style touchscreen. This is complemented by a 12-inch driver info display.
Rivian's system is made up of a 12.3-inch driver info display, a 15.6-inch main touchscreen display, and a secondary touch display in the rear measuring 6.8 inches. Both trucks can act as power sources too.
Rivian's R1T will launch with three different battery packs: 105-, 135-, and 180-kWh options, with maximum range touted at 400 miles. Ford hasn't announced what battery specs the Lightning will come with, but has said that we can expect up to 300 miles of range on the top trim and 240 miles on the lesser option. With the included charge station, the Ford Lightning extended-range model can go from 15-100 percent charged in about eight hours at a rate of roughly 30 miles of range per hour of charge. At Rivian, your R1T will charge from 5-80 percent capacity in under an hour.
It should already be quite clear that the F-150 Lightning is more of a workhorse than the Rivian R1T, but with the largest frunk on the market, the Blue Oval rams home its usefulness. Here, you get 14.1 cubic feet of volume, while the R1T's front trunk only offers a still-impressive 11 cubes. But while the F-150 is geared for work, the R1T is aimed more at the active lifestyle market, offering things like an optional removable roof and a standard "gear tunnel" that allows you to house items like snowboards that you may not wish to store in the cabin until they're cleaned.
The price gap between these two electric trucks is quite large. The R1T starts at $67,500 before any options while the F-150 Lightning has a base price of $39,974. With the most expensive options added to the R1T but no accessories selected, we got to a price of $79,500. But the Ford can get expensive too, with the Dearborn-based carmaker saying that the Lightning will top out at $90,000.
All things considered, the R1T narrowly beats the F-150 on range and towing capacity but bests it in most other areas. And since the R1T is bigger and offers more overall for less, it's our choice on this occasion. That said, the Ford F-150 has always sold well and brand loyalty will help the Blue Oval sell loads of Lightnings. Both are set to be great pickups, and after riding shotgun in the Lightning last week we can't wait to see how they perform from behind the wheel. Only then can we give a true verdict.