If you haven’t already put EVs on your radar, it’s probably time. This especially holds true if you’re within a few months of pulling the trigger on a new pickup. A rivalry between the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning vs 2022 Rivian R1T is brewing, and industry insiders believe the outcome could revolutionize the automotive industry. Pickup truck buyers won’t – and in some cases, can’t – sacrifice utility, so can these trucks hold their own?
Electric vehicles are already overtaking hybrid and traditional gas-engine models in popularity for cost and climate-conscious buyers, but suddenly the narrative is switching to one that centers on choosing an EV for better performance and capability. It makes sense, as Ford’s Lightning is officially the most powerful F-150 ever built. The Rivian R1T has no predecessor for comparison, but the startup’s inaugural model is no slouch either.
Let that sink in for a minute because everything we thought we knew about trucks and big diesel and gas V8 motors suddenly doesn’t fit. The new line of thinking is, if you’re seeking the most powerful pickup truck on the market, your best bet is to shop electric. Don’t believe us? Read on for some of the incredible specs we found on the Lightning and the R1T.
2022 Ford Lightning Highlights
Range and towing and acceleration… Oh my! The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has it all, along with a few unconventional attributes that will take some getting used to but ultimately win buyers over. First off, let’s give credit where credit is due: the Ford F-150 is America’s most popular and best-selling truck, and not just for a few years here-and-there; it’s been that way for 44 years.
Ford knew that adding an all-electric model to the lineup could disrupt the F-150 dynasty and dilute a brand that’s synonymous with capability. So, they waited and tested, and the result is a full-size truck that meets or surpasses any previous F-150 built in just about every metric. Ford knows that winning truck buyers over to electric power requires superhuman feats of engineering.
This newest F-150 relies on a dual electric motor setup to provide an expected 563 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque. The power plant rockets from 0-60 mph in just over 4 seconds, a stat that triggered a very un-presidential reaction from Joe Biden after he spontaneously took a prototype Lightning around the track at a recent launch event. Upon his return, Biden quipped, “This sucker’s quick.”
Quick indeed. But speed isn’t its only attribute. The F-150 Lightning also traverses deserts, climbs mountains, and even fords streams expertly, just as you’d expect from a properly equipped truck. It’s also comfortable and designed for the whole universe of pickup truck buyers, from work truck seekers to weekend luxury road trippers looking to tow the Sea Ray to their lake cabin.
One of the coolest characteristics of any EV is the abundant storage freed up by the absence of a combustion motor. The F-150 Lightning features a front trunk – or frunk – that’s outfitted with Pro Power Onboard, a series of outlets and USB ports providing up to 2.4 kW of electricity. That makes tailgating a lot more fun since it’s easy to connect space heaters, flat-screen TVs, and your favorite Traeger grill.
2022 Rivian R1T Highlights
The struggle is real for the Rivian marketing team. Winning over a segment of buyers that like a little tradition to go along with their five-figure towing capacity isn’t going to be easy. We’d wager that the early R1T adopters will look a lot like the crowd that first opted in on Tesla’s Model S: novelty buyers for whom money is no object.
With a starting price tag that’s almost $30,000 higher than the entry-level F-150 Lightning, the R1T targets a buyer that’s more affluent. That’s not to say affluent people don’t need truck-like utility, but they will need to part with around $70,000 if they want to find it in the form of a 2022 Rivian R1T. That’s a hefty price tag for an unknown player. Some buyers like being first on the block, but it’s a tough sell for repeat truck buyers.
The Rivian R1T runs on a quad-motor setup (one motor for each wheel) that’s tested at a 3 second 0-60 time. Towing capability is about equal to what’s expected from the F-150 Lightning, and the manufacturer is transparent about the fact that hauling heavy trailers results in an approximately 50-percent reduction in the R1T’s 314-mile driving range.
It’s all about tire choice on the R1T. The shoes you put on your truck determine range and performance, which isn’t unlike what’s expected on a gas or diesel-powered truck. Rivian is backing up its brand new truck with an oversized 5-year/60,000-mile comprehensive warranty, which it has to do in order to garner buyer trust. The thing to keep in mind before choosing an R1T is the very sobering reality that no one really knows how it will hold up over time.
In addition to the Gear Tunnel (a tube-like cavern that runs horizontally between the cab and the truck bed), the R1T also has under-seat storage, a center console, and a front trunk. Aftermarket accessories are rumored to include a custom Rivian roof-mounted tent that takes advantage of its Cargo Crossbars, a moveable set of roof rails designed to accommodate outdoor gear.
All the Benjamins you’ll part with to park an R1T in the driveway nets you a nifty collection of standard and available features, including – wait for it – a Camp Kitchen, complete with an induction stovetop and a mini sink with sprayer. It slides into the R1T’s cool Gear Tunnel, giving you everything you need for a tailgate party or night in the wilderness.
Ford takes a different approach to offering uncommon features, focusing on practicality more than kitsch. The Lightning features Ford Charge Station Pro, a system that converts the truck into a portable home generator capable of providing 9.6 kW of energy to fully power a household for three days, or ten days if used selectively. It’s literally a whole house generator.
Interior cabin advancements are also prevalent on both vehicles, with the Rivian R1T earning the trendiest award for inclusions like the rather oxymoronic “vegan leather” seating surfaces and ceiling-mounted titanium speakers. The company also claims it will offer LTE-level data capabilities for things like Wi-Fi and over-the-air infotainment updates.
Ford embraces technology and infuses the Lightning with advanced features, like a 15.5-inch portrait-mounted infotainment touchscreen that runs SYNC 4A and features cloud-based connectivity similar to that found on the R1T. A Bang & Olufsen Unleashed Sound System is also available, as is a twin-panel moonroof. Both vehicles offer robust driver-assist and safety technology.
Electric Trucks Are Coming
Ford and Rivian aren’t the only manufacturers that make up the new electric pickup sub-segment. Prepare for Tesla’s Cybertruck, a vehicle that looks more like the Mars Rover than a pickup truck, and upcoming models from Chevrolet and GMC, with the latter resurrecting the venerable Hummer nameplate in the ultimate automotive irony. After all, old-school Hummer H3 models delivered decidedly environmentally-unfriendly 14 mpg fuel economy ratings.
In short, electric trucks represent a shake-up of a category that was previously untouchable due to a legion of buyers who liked things just the way they’ve always been. Today, though, manufacturers are challenged with the daunting task of lowering emissions without sacrificing performance and capability.
That goal is certainly achieved with the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning and the 2022 Rivian R1T, albeit in very different ways. If your choice boils down to one of these two vehicles, ask yourself how much risk you’re willing to accept. It’s simple: unknown brand in its first year vs a 44-year best-seller. Which one sounds like a fit for you?