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Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T: Which Is Better?

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by Nick Versaw Updated May 12th, 2022

F150 Lightning vs Rivian: Rivian R1T

Electric cars have become a common sight around the U.S., but electric pickup trucks are still pretty new to the scene. Leading the way are Ford and Rivian, two American automakers with a very different backstory.

Ford has been around for over a century, and has recently started introducing electric and hybrid versions of its popular F-150 pickup truck. Rivian is a startup that took the industry by storm by developing a new EV pickup from scratch. Both of these electric vehicles have some features in common, but differ when it comes to things like price, miles of range, and towing capacity.

So which of these electric pickup trucks is right for you? Let’s see how the Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T compare in a head-to-head competition.


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Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T Overview

F150 Lightning vs Rivian: different colors of the Ford F-150 Lightning

Before we get into the details of the F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian, let’s start with what they have in common. Both of these trucks are fully electric vehicles, which means they have a battery pack and an electric motor, but no gas tank or internal combustion engine.

In order to recharge the battery, you’ll need to plug them into a public charging station or install an EV charger at work or at home. If you’ve never used an EV before, check out our electric car guides to learn more about how EV charging works.

But how do these EV trucks compare when it comes to cost and trim options?

Pricing and Trim

Both the F-150 Lighting and Rivian are available at multiple trim levels and price points. The F-150 Lighting is the more affordable of the two, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $39,974 for the base trim with a standard battery pack.

Here’s what you can expect from the four available trim levels: 

MSRP Powertrain Battery
F-150 Lightning Pro $39,974 Dual-motor Standard range
F-150 Lightning XLT $52,974 Dual-motor Standard or extended range
F-150 Lightning Lariat $67,474 Dual-motor Standard or extended range
F-150 Lightning Platinum $90,874 Dual-motor Extended range

The Rivian R1T is more expensive, with a starting price of $67,500, and three available equipment packages. Both the Explore and Adventure trims come with two motors and a standard battery pack, while the Launch Edition gets quad-motor AWD and a larger battery pack for additional range:

MSRP Powertrain Battery
Explore $67,500 Dual-motor AWD Standard
Adventure $73,000 Dual-motor AWD Standard
Launch Edition $85,000 Quad-motor AWD Large

As you can see, the most expensive F-150 Lightning costs more than the Rivian, but the base model is significantly cheaper. However, there’s no quad-motor option.

Specs

As for other specs, both EVs are full-size pickups with the numbers to show for it. The R1T has a ground clearance of 14.9 inches and a wading depth of 3 feet, beating the Lightning’s ground clearance of 8.9 inches.

When it comes to payload and towing capacity, the winner depends on which trim you choose. The base model of the R1T has a greater towing capacity than the Lightning — 11,000 lbs. vs. 7,700 lbs. — but you can bump that up to 10,000 by choosing an F-150 model with the extended range battery and an optional trailer package.

In terms of range, both vehicles can go the distance. Although the Tesla Cybertruck is expected to beat them both, the electric F-150 has a range of 230 miles vs. the R1T’s 314 miles, according to EPA range estimates:

Ford F-150 Lightning Rivian R1T
Ground clearance 8.9 inches 14.9 inches
Maximum payload  2,000 pounds 1,760 pounds
Towing capacity 7,700-10,000 pounds 11,000 pounds
Miles of range 230 to 320 miles 260 to 400+ miles

Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T Features

Rivian R1T Gear Tunnel

Specs are important, but they’re only part of the picture. How do the F-150 Lighting vs. Rivian R1T stack up when it comes to driving experience and functionality?

Capacity and Cargo Space

The Rivian R1T has seating for five people, as well as 62 cubic feet of cargo space. It has a “frunk,” or front trunk, and a “gear tunnel” with side access near the rear wheels. Other features include a lockable tonneau cover and six onboard power outlets.

The F-150 Lighting also seats five, but has slightly less cargo space: 52.8 cubic feet in all. However, it has a longer trunk bed at 66 inches vs. 54 on the Rivian. It also has a “Mega Power Frunk” with four 124-volt outlets and two USB outlets, so you can easily plug in power tools and other equipment.

Technology

Rivian offers a bevvy of driver assist features called Driver+, which includes things like highway braking and steering assistance, a lane-keeping system, parking assistance, and adaptive cruise control. It comes standard with all vehicles and uses 11 cameras, five radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors to keep you safe on the road. You can access everything from the driver’s seat with a 15.6-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The F-150 also comes with driver assist technology called Co-Pilot360, but you’ll have to pay extra for Co-Pilot360 Assist+, a premium package with Adaptive Cruise Control and other advanced features. The F-150 has a 12-inch touchscreen — a bit smaller than the R1T’s — as well as a built-in infotainment system with voice recognition.

Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T Availability

Ford F-150 Lightning Capability

Whether or not an EV can deliver the horsepower and all-wheel-drive performance you need in a pickup truck is no longer up for debate. Other models, like the GMC Hummer EV and the forthcoming Tesla Cybertruck, are joining the competition too.

The biggest question hanging over EV pickup trucks is how soon you can get behind the wheel. Both the F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T have extensive waiting lists, with some orders unlikely to be delivered until 2023 and beyond.

Ford has temporarily paused reservations of the electric F-150, while Rivian R1Ts are slowly starting to hit the road. The not-yet-released Tesla Cybertruck may take a while too: New Tesla models are known for their long long wait times due to their popularity.

If you’re planning to buy an electric truck this year, you may have to choose an alternative to the F-150 Lightning or the R1T. Ford has several other versions of the F-150 available, including hybrid versions with the PowerBoost drivetrain.

And of course, you can always look for deals on used EVs that have already been on the market for a while. This can be a great way to get a fuel-efficient vehicle without putting down $1,000 on a pre-order that may take years to arrive.

May the Best Truck Win

F150 Lightning vs Rivian: construction worker getting his tools from his pick-up truck

When it comes to the Ford F-150 Lightning vs. Rivian R1T, which electric truck comes out ahead? That depends on what you plan to use it for. We think the F-150 Lighting is the better work truck, while the R1T is the better pick for off-road adventures.

That’s because the F-150 Lightning’s interior workspace and built-in power outlets make it a great fit for construction sites and field work. Meanwhile, the Rivian R1T’s extensive ground clearance and driver assist features can help you enjoy the great outdoors.

That said, both of these EV trucks can handle a wide range of environments, so either option is a good pick for heavy-duty driving. The biggest downside to both vehicles is that you may have to wait a while before you can get your hands on one due to their massive popularity and lengthy waiting lists.

If you can’t wait for a new Ford or Rivian, then you may want to consider one of these hybrid pickup trucks instead. Since hybrid trucks have been on the road longer, you’ll find plenty of used hybrids for sale that you can drive home with right away.

Just enter your ZIP code here to start comparing your options:


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