Edmunds: Ford Lightning vs. Rivian R1T

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Tesla, the first high-volume electric vehicle maker, was the first to promise a zero-emissions pickup truck, but it was Rivian, an American startup, that delivered the first production electric truck. With impressive range, dazzling performance and innovative features, the R1T attracted both conventional truck buyers and early adopters.

Ford’s all-electric Lightning F-150, 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 best buy? Edmunds experts compared them to find out.

Rivian currently offers the R1T as a quad electric motor model only. There’s a motor at each wheel to give the truck all-wheel drive as well as a staggering combined 835 horsepower. That’s enough for the R1T to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds in Edmunds’ tests. The R1T’s supposedly large battery is good for an EPA-estimated 314 miles on a full charge. In Edmunds’ actual range test, the R1T slightly exceeded that estimate, covering 317 miles.

The F-150 Lightning comes standard with two electric motors and all-wheel drive. Customers can choose between two levels of power and range: the standard battery model produces 452 horsepower and an estimated range of 230 miles, while the extended range battery increases to 580 horsepower and up to 320 miles of range . Edmunds tested a Lightning in the Platinum version, which has the big battery and a range of 300 miles. It was slightly slower than the R1T, needing 4 seconds to hit 60 mph, but did 332 miles in Edmunds’ range test.

Both trucks are incredibly fast and have enough range to make long-distance driving realistic. The R1T’s quicker acceleration helps it win here.

The R1T is smaller than the F-150 but smartly designed. It has a large front trunk, a tunnel-shaped storage space between the cabin and the bed, and additional storage space in the bed floor. The R1T also contains some useful perks. A built-in air compressor is convenient and a camera surveillance system keeps valuables safe. Towing is rated at 11,000 pounds.

The F-150 Lightning has its own huge front trunk and a longer bed – 5.5 feet compared to the R1T’s 4.5 feet. Ford also designed its EV pickup to allow owners to use the battery to power tools, appliances and even a home in an emergency. Properly equipped, the Lightning has a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.

R1T and Lightning trade is blowing here. While the R1T offers more towing capacity and a few nifty storage areas, the Lightning has a bigger bed and a more robust power system.

Rivian aimed for the right-sized pickup with just enough style to intrigue but not overwhelm. The result is a modern exterior and an upscale interior. Many of the R1T’s controls are housed in its central touchscreen, which can be distracting while driving. The R1T is quiet, but its ride quality is firmer than some other trucks.

Ford wanted few visual distinctions between its gas-powered F-150 and its all-electric model, so the Lightning looks smooth and tough. Inside, the layout looks familiar to truck buyers, while a 15.5-inch upright infotainment system adds a touch of innovation. An independent rear suspension provides a smoother ride than a regular F-150. The Lightning’s larger size provides more interior volume and its ride quality is smoother than the R1T.

The configuration Rivian is taking reservations for at the moment is the $88,500 four-motor Adventure trim with the big battery and a late 2023 delivery time. height and a 16-inch central touch screen. It is backed by a five-year/60,000-mile base warranty and an eight-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Ford is taking orders for the 2023 Lightning, though you can find 2022s on dealer lots. For the 2023 truck, there’s the stripped Pro grade starting at $54,269 including destination. The loaded Platinum sits at the top of the range, at $98,219. Ford’s three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is less than the R1T’s, but its battery warranty is equal to Rivian’s.

The R1T has a higher starting price but includes many desirable features as standard. The Lightning may be cheaper but gets just as expensive with options.

This competition comes down to the type of electric van you want. The Rivian R1T is an incredible first effort from a startup and stands out for its distinctive styling, smart storage and muscular power. Ford’s F-150 Lightning is the more conservative choice, but offers buyers more flexibility in its available accessories and the reassurance that comes from an established brand.

This story was provided to The Associated Press by car website Edmunds.

Miles Branman is an associate at Edmunds. Twitter

Robert M. Larson