- I drove all three electric pickup trucks for sale in the US.
- The Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning, and GMC Hummer EV are three very different versions of the electric truck.
The fancy Tesla’s got Americans interested in electric vehicles. Big trucks could 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 pickup trucks are now for sale in the US, up from zero just over a year ago.
To some, they may all look almost the same. They all have a bed and a few 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 ups and downs and special features.
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 with it too much.
There’s an electric powertrain inside, but there’s no need to relearn how to drive.
Stepping on the accelerator, however, instantly reminds you that you’re not in just any truck. The Lightning’s 775 pound-feet of torque and 580 horsepower get it to 60 mph in around four seconds. Acceleration is instant and a bit scary in such a large vehicle. At highway speeds, the Lightning is surprisingly quiet.
With the optional larger battery pack, the Lightning gets a very healthy 320-mile range rating from the EPA. (The base model is good for 240.)
And the Lightning offers fun features not possible in conventional trucks. Its roomy front trunk provides lockable storage that can fit a few duffel bags. Using multiple plugs scattered around the bed and sink, the Lightning’s battery can share enough energy to power a house for several days.
The Lighting has the most conventional appeal of the three trucks and a relatively affordable price to match. The 2023 model starts at $51,974. But if you want the maximum range, be prepared to shell out upwards of $81,000 and up.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have the R1T, the first model from startup Rivian. The firm took the basic contours of a truck and seized the opportunity to create something completely new and different.
The result is a high-end, high-tech off-road truck aimed at lovers of outdoor activities.
Like Tesla, the Rivian eschews pretty much all the regular buttons in favor of a large touchscreen that controls just about everything in the vehicle, from drive modes to the direction of the air vents. Tapping a screen for every little thing can be tedious and annoying, but Rivian’s interface is beautifully designed. And the lack of switches allows for a clean and 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 box to inflate tires after a day at the beach or on the trails. There is a headlight coming out of the driver’s door and a portable speaker that sits under the center console.
And the truck’s off-road capabilities are off the charts thanks to a monster powertrain, comprehensive camera system, and 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 simply by pointing the R1T at treacherous obstacles and pressing the throttle.
For now, the R1T starts at $87,000 and is only available with four motors and a 314-mile battery. Cheaper versions are on the way.
electric hummer gmc
The new Hummer looks a lot like the one that was discontinued 12 years ago. It’s huge, excessive and, above all, a very good way to get noticed. The main difference is that it gobbles up electrons, not gas.
The Hummer EV is supremely capable, particularly in the $113,000 Edition 1 model I tested. It boasts 1,000 horsepower, three motors, a positively ridiculous sprint to 60 mph in three seconds, and a segment-leading range of 329 miles. It’s advertised as a terrific SUV, but I didn’t get to test drive it during my weekend loan.
Plus, it’s packed with wacky features that are just plain fun.
It has a removable roof made up of four glass panels. It has a large front trunk. It has a roomy, eye-catching interior and a screen that plays video game-like graphics every time you switch between driving modes. (When you switch to Off-Road mode, for example, the screen shows a Hummer rolling across the surface of Mars.)
The addition of rear-wheel steering enables the most publicized feature of the Hummer. With Crab Walk activated, the Hummer’s rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, allowing it to drive diagonally.
It’s fun to experiment with, but it doesn’t seem all that practical on a day-to-day basis. And that pretty much sums up the Hummer as a whole.
These trucks meet so many different needs and personalities that crowning a winner is almost useless. It’s 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 are likely to be at least a few people crossing them.
For me, a weekend adventurer who appreciates modern styling and a smaller form factor, the Rivian’s friendlier proportions and outdoor-focused features take the cake.