- I drove all three electric pickup trucks sold in the US.
- Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer EV are three very different variants of the electric truck.
- They all offer more than 300 miles of range and lots of interesting features.
Stylish Teslas got Americans interested in electric vehicles. Big pickups can launch them into the mainstream.
After all, Americans love their trucks.
And there’s good news for anyone considering trading in their gas-guzzling F-150 for something a little greener. Three battery-powered pickups are now on sale in the US, up from zero just over a year ago.
To some, they may all seem about the same. They all have a bed and some electric motors, and none are particularly cheap.
But the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T couldn’t be more different. I drove all three and learned all about their highs, lows and quirks.
The F-150 Lightning is the most traditional of the bunch. It looks almost identical to the gas-powered F-150 inside and out — and that was the point. Ford aimed to electrify its best-selling vehicle without messing it up too much.
There’s an electric powertrain deep inside, but you don’t need to relearn how to drive.
Hitting the gas pedal immediately reminds you that you’re not in just any truck. The Lightning’s 775 pound-feet of torque and 580 horsepower allow it to shoot to 60 mph in about four seconds. Acceleration is immediate and a little scary in such a large vehicle. At highway speeds, the Lightning is surprisingly quiet.
With the extra-large battery pack, the Lightning gets a very healthy range of 320 miles from the EPA. (The base model is good for 240.)
And Lightning delivers fun features not possible in conventional trucks. Its spacious front trunk provides lockable storage that can accommodate a few duffel bags. Using multiple outlets spread across the bed and the bed, the Lightning’s battery can share enough energy to power a house for days.
The lighting has the most mainstream appeal of the three trucks and a relatively affordable price to match. The 2023 model starts at $51,974. But if you want maximum range, get ready to pay over $81,000 and up.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the R1T, the very first model from the startup Rivian. The company took the basic outline of a pickup truck and took the opportunity to create something completely new and different.
The result is an advanced, technically heavy, off-road truck aimed at outdoor use.
Like the Tesla, the Rivian eschews virtually all conventional buttons in favor of a large touchscreen that controls almost everything in the vehicle, from driving modes to the direction of the air vents. Tapping a screen for every little thing can get tiring and distracting, but the Rivian’s interface is beautifully designed. And the lack of power switches allows for a clean, minimalist interior.
What impressed me most about the R1T was its many, many thoughtful and unique features.
There’s the Gear Tunnel, a cargo area that runs sideways behind the rear seats and has doors that double as steps or seats. There is an air compressor built into the bed to pump up tires after a day at the beach or the trails. There’s a flashlight that pops out of the driver’s door and a portable speaker that lives under the center console.
And the truck’s off-road capabilities are off the charts thanks to a monstrous powertrain, an extensive system of cameras, and an adjustable air suspension that provides up to 15 inches of ground clearance. I’m a novice off-roader if ever there was one, and I found great success on the trails by simply pointing the R1T at treacherous obstacles and hitting the accelerator.
For now, the R1T starts at $87,000 and is only available with four motors and a 314-mile battery pack. Cheaper versions are on the way.
GMC Hummer EV
The new Hummer is very similar to the one that was discontinued 12 years ago. It’s huge, exaggerated and above all a very good way to get noticed. The main difference is that this one sucks electrons, not gas.
The Hummer EV is extremely capable, especially in the $113,000 Edition 1 trim I tested. It has 1,000 horsepower, three engines, a positively ridiculous 60-mph sprint in three seconds, and a segment-leading range of 329 miles. It’s billed as a great all-terrain vehicle, but I wasn’t able to test it during my weekend loan.
Plus, it’s packed with outlandish features that are just plain fun.
It has a removable roof consisting of four glass panels. It has a large front trunk. It has a spacious, flashy interior and a screen that plays video game-like graphics every time you change driving modes. (When you switch to off-road mode, for example, the display shows a Hummer rolling across the surface of Mars.)
The addition of rear-wheel steering enables the Hummer’s most hyped feature. With Crab Walk on, the Hummer’s rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts, allowing it to drive diagonally.
It’s fun to experience, but doesn’t seem that practical in everyday life. And that pretty much sums up Hummer as a whole.
These trucks serve such widely varying needs and personalities that it’s almost impossible to crown a winner. It’s kind of like comparing a mountain bike, a road bike and a folding bike – they’re just different. Still, since these are the only electric trucks available right now, there’s sure to be at least a few people cross-shopping them.
For me—a weekend adventurer who appreciates modern style and a smaller form factor—the Rivian’s friendlier proportions and outdoor-focused features take the cake.