Tesla, the first major EV maker, promised a zero-emission pickup early on, but it was Rivian, an American startup, that delivered the first mass-produced EV truck. With impressive range, staggering performance and innovative features, the R1T has attracted both conventional truck buyers and early adopters.
Ford is fully electric F-150 Lightning, was the second EV pickup to arrive this year. It achieves competitive range and power while packing smart features into a traditional full-size pickup body. Which truck is the better buy? Edmunds’ experts compared them to find out.
DRIVELINES AND RANGE
Rivian currently only offers the R1T as a model with four electric motors. There is a motor at each wheel to give the truck four-wheel drive, as well as an astonishing combined power of 835 horsepower. That’s enough for the R1T to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds in Edmunds’ testing. The R1T’s so-called Large battery pack is good for an EPA-estimated 314 miles on a full charge. In the Edmunds real-world range test, the R1T beat that estimate somewhat, going 317 miles.
The F-150 Lightning is standard equipped with two electric motors and four-wheel drive. Customers can choose from two levels of power and range: The standard battery model produces 452 horsepower and an EPA-estimated range of 230 miles, while the extended-range battery jumps to 580 horsepower and a range of up to 320 miles. Edmunds tested a Lightning in the Platinum trim, which has the big battery and 300-mile range. It was slightly slower than the R1T, which took 4 seconds to get to 60 mph, but went 332 miles in the Edmunds range test.
Both trucks are impressively fast and have enough range to make long distances realistic. The R1T’s faster acceleration helps it win here.
UTILITY AND TOW
The R1T is smaller than the F-150 but cleverly designed. It has a large trunk in the front, a tunnel-like storage space between the cab and the bed, and an additional storage space in the bed base. The R1T also contains useful goodies. A built-in air compressor is handy and a CCTV system keeps valuables safe. The towing is estimated at 11,000 pounds.
The F-150 Lightning has its own huge trunk and a longer bed – 5.5 feet compared to the R1T’s 4.5 feet. Ford has also designed its EV pickup so owners can use the battery to power tools, appliances and even a home in an emergency. Well equipped, the Lightning has a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.
The R1T and Lightning trade is blowing here. While the R1T offers a larger towing capacity and some storage spaces for tricks, the Lightning has a larger bed and a more robust system for delivering power.
STYLING AND COMFORT
Rivian aimed for the right-sized pickup with just enough striking style to intrigue but not overwhelm. The result is a modern exterior and a luxurious interior. Many of the R1T’s controls are housed in the central touchscreen, which can be distracting while driving. The R1T is quiet, but the ride quality is firmer than some other trucks.
Ford wanted little visual distinction between its gas-powered F-150 and its all-electric model, so the Lightning looks sleek and tough. Inside, the layout feels familiar to truck buyers, while a 15.5-inch vertical infotainment adds a touch of innovation. An independent rear suspension provides a smoother ride than a regular F-150. The Lightning’s larger size offers greater interior volume and the ride quality is smoother than the R1T.
Winner: F-150 Lightning
VALUE AND WARRANTY
The configuration Rivian is tentatively taking is the $88,500 four-motor Adventure trim with the large battery pack and a late 2023 delivery time. It’s well-equipped with vegan leather seats, height-adjustable air suspension, and a 16-inch central touch screen. It is backed by a basic five-year/60,000-mile warranty and an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain.
Ford is taking orders for the Lightning 2023, although you may find some 2022s on dealer lots. For the 2023 truck, there’s the stripped-down Pro class starting at $54,269 including destination. The loaded platinum is at the top of the range, at $98,219. Ford’s three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is lagging behind the R1Ts, but the battery warranty is on par with Rivian’s.
The R1T has a higher starting price, but includes many desirable features as standard. The Lightning may be cheaper, but will be just as expensive with options.
This contest comes down to what kind of electric pickup you want. An incredible first attempt from a startup, the Rivian R1T stands out for its distinctive styling, clever storage and muscle power. Ford’s F-150 Lightning is the more conservative choice, but gives buyers more flexibility in the accessories available and the reassurance that comes from an established brand.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the car website Edmunds.
Miles Branman is an employee at Edmunds. Twitter