3 Reasons to Buy the Rivian R1T Over the Ford F-150 Lightning

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick
The R1T is a perfect small truck. Image credit: Kyle Patrick

Here are three reasons the original electric pickup truck is the smarter pick.

We recently spent a week with the Rivian R1T, the OG EV pickup. The Rivian might have first-mover status, but the Ford F-150 Lightning has been leading the electrified sales charts much as it does in the ICE world. That’s well and good—the Lightning is a fine truck that we also enjoy—but sales volume doesn't always equal the best product. The Big Mac isn’t the best burger, right?

Following that thinking, here are three reasons someone in the market for an EV pickup might want to choose the Rivian.

1) You Don’t Need The Size

Many vehicles have a full-width rear light bar, but the R1T was the first truck. Image credit: Kyle Patrick

A firm promise this won’t devolve into a rant about the size of modern pickups, yet there’s no denying the sheer size of the Lightning, not to mention the chunkier Chevrolet Silverado EV. The R1T is nearly 16 inches (406 millimeters) tidier tip-to-tail and offers handy, height-adjustable suspension–which can bring the Riv to near sports car levels of wheel clearance for those low-hanging parking garage ceilings.

The size argument applies to the bed, too. At 54 inches long, it’ll handle smaller loads just fine, but you lose about a foot from the Ford. There’s still the Gear Tunnel should you want to hide some (long, narrow) items, mind you. It’s not as if the R1T gives up any towing capability either: at a max rating of 11,000 pounds, it’ll out-tow the Lightning by 1,000 lb.

2) You Crave Performance

The Rivian offers handy, height-adjustable suspension. Image credit: Kyle Patrick

The new electric Lightning is much quicker than the last truck to wear that name–the EV might even be quicker than the wicked 720-horsepower Raptor. Neither of Ford's flagship trucks can match the searingly quick, 835-horsepower R1T quad motor. We’re talking a flat 3 seconds to 62 mph (100 km/h), and that’s on knobby all-terrain tires. It’s enough to startle passengers and flatten eyeballs.

Speaking of the Raptor: the Rivian isn’t built to bust dunes in quite the same way, but its adaptability and various drive modes do give it a wide breadth of performance options. The Rally drive mode in particular is a laugh riot, turning nearly 7,000 pounds of pickup into a flingable, adjustable special stage weapon should the mood take you. Just, uh, give it plenty of room on those gravel backroads: the R1T only feels small in this setup.

3) Standing Out

The unmistakeable nose of the Rivian R1T. Image credit: Kyle Patrick

Props to Ford for making the Lightning look largely like the ICE-powered F-150, save for the lightbars front and rear, and the aero-aiding wheel designs. That’s part of the appeal.

But bigger props to Rivian for coming out of the gate with a cohesive brand language that works. Maybe you aren’t the biggest fan of the R1T’s peepers—Stadium Lights, to give them their proper name—but there’s no denying they make the Rivian instantly recognizable out in the wild. Everyone is doing thin, full-width taillights these days, but the R1T’s ultra-minimalist look and lack of big, protruding bumper marks it out from the other end, too.

What's especially attractive is the distinct lack of aggression. The R1T looks happy, like a puppy just waiting for pets. Who’s a good boy? The R1T’s a good boy.

Even better, we now know this design language translates to other shapes. The R2 is understandably close to R1 in shape and demeanor. But the little R3? It’s a retro-tastic rally car, basically.

It might lack the workhorse appeal, approachable entry price, and portable generator capabilities of the F-150 Lightning, but the Rivian R1T remains an appealing contrarian choice in the world of both EVs and pickups.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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2 of 3 comments
  • Kso82065760 Kso82065760 on May 31, 2024

    I have driven Ford F150s for years, trading every 3 years. The last one I had was the hybrid Power Boost. I have now taken possession of a Rivian R1T after looking at the Lightning. The Rivian is the most amazing vehicle I have ever driven. I am a contractor and I have my tools in the frunk and in the storage area under the bed floor which is quite large, and in the gear tunnel. Although the 12” shorter bed may seem small, the tailgate is unique in that I can haul sheetrock or plywood just as easily as my short bed Ford.

    I have not missed the 12” yet but do like the truck size, power, and comfort. The one pedal driving is great as well compared to the Ford. The Rivian maps are better than Apple or Google. As you can tell, I cannot say enough good things about this truck.

  • Den Den on Jun 05, 2024

    Have you tried applying for a loan with Global Dominion?