Watch a Rivian R1T and Ford Lightning electric truck go head-to-head in a towing test [Video]

Electric trucks are winning over drivers with improved range, towing, and more power off the line than gas-powered pickups. One of the most common questions potential electric truck buyers ask is how much it can tow. Check out two of the most popular electric trucks on the market – the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning – go head to head in a towing test in the video below.

Two automakers – one that’s been building cars for over 100 years and the other founded in 2009. But each has the same goal – to make the ultimate electric pickup.

The Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T are two of the most popular electric trucks simply because they were some of the first on the market.

Ford released its full-size electric pickup in May 2021 as its “smartest, most innovative truck” out of the automaker’s 100-year history building them. Meanwhile, Rivian was the first to produce an electric pickup in the US, with its R1T rolling off the production line in September 2021.

Rivian builds its electric truck to enable and inspire people to do the things they want to take pictures of sustainably, while Ford looks to build the future of the truck.

Although Rivian and Ford’s electric trucks differ, drivers use them for similar activities, including towing. The Ford Lightning offers a max towing capacity between 7,700 lbs (Pro) and 10,000 lbs (XLT, LARIAT). Rivian says its R1T can tow up to 11,000 lbs. Let’s see who wins in a towing test.

Ford Lightning vs. Rivian R1T electric trucks towing test

To answer the question many of you are wondering, Edmunds Cars put a 2022 Rivian R1T and a 2022 Ford Lightning up against each other in its first all-electric towing contest.

Towing with an EV, or any pickup for that matter, will negatively impact range. The less aerodynamic the trailer, the more impact it will have on the truck’s towing ability. So, Edmunds loaded up 17-ft box trailers with Hyundai IONIQ 5 SUVs for a combined weight of roughly 7,500 lbs.

Rivian R1T vs. Ford F-150 Lightning towing test (Source: Edmunds Cars)

The Ford Lightning has 580 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the model in the Edmunds test features the extended-range battery, which is good for 131 kWh of usable power and up to 320 miles of range, but also adds weight, decreasing the EV truck’s maximum towing from 10,000 lbs to 7,700 lbs.

By comparison, the Rivian R1T features 835 hp and 908 lb-ft of torque with a 135 kWh battery for a towing capacity of 11,000 lbs and 314 miles range.

The test took place in a 200-mile strip of the California desert with steep hills and valleys, meaning they needed to find charging spots along the way due to the increased load.

After over 200 miles of testing, the Lightning averaged 1 mile of range per kWh, and the Rivian averaged 0.9 miles per kWh. According to the testers, the factor that made the most difference was charging.

Despite the Rivian R1T’s ability to charge faster (220kW) compared to the Ford Lightning (150kW), the team didn’t charge the Lightning truck to 100% to save time.

The Lightning had a total charge time of 3 hours and 9 minutes, while the Rivian R1T was 3 hours and 21 minutes despite the Rivian’s ability to charge faster.

In the end, Edmunds says both trucks performed similarly in terms of efficiency and were equally good at climbing steep grades with a powerful electric truck. However, they did conclude that the Ford Lightning offers additional advantages over Rivian’s electric truck for towing.

For example, the Lightning uses extra data and GPS to calculate more accurate range estimates and blind-spot warnings. In addition, Ford’s Pro model offers Trailer Hitch Assist, allowing the electric truck to automatically back up and align its hitch ball to a trailer.

The Rivian did perform better in terms of maneuverability, however, which can be clutch if towing in tight spots.

Rivian’s head of software, Wassyn Bensaid, says a “big towing update” is coming this summer along with several other updates to improve functionality, so stay tuned for more as both of these trucks will continue improving through OTA updates.

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