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While the thought of driving an electric truck was further from our minds years ago, it’s becoming a more popular option nowadays, due to the benefits this type of EV offers. Both Ford and Rivian have excellent electric pickup options on the market, but which one is better?

Some critics felt that overall, the Rivian is the best one to buy. But Ford exceeds its rival in one major area. What is it and why does the Rivian fall short in that category?

A 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning drives off-road.
2023 Ford F-150 Lightning | Ford

How both electric trucks scored with U.S. News

U.S. News uses data from authoritative automotive reviews as well as information gathered from third-party sources to determine rankings for each vehicle the site scores. Here, we compare the R1T and the F-150 Lightning electric pickups. These trucks rank No.1 (R1T) and No.2 in the EV pickup category, according to U.S. News.

Looking at each truck individually, the R1T scored better than the Lightning. With 9.4 points out of 10, this model received a 9.5 rating for performance, a 7.7 score for the interior, and a perfect 10 when it comes to safety, but reliability has no rating. 

The Lightning version only received an 8.8 for performance and an 8.4 for the interior space. Safety and reliability scores aren’t available at this time for the Ford model. Both versions have a 9.6 critics’ rating, which is the publication’s way of reporting how the reviewers feel about the truck and whether the site recommends it to others. 

What area does the Ford F-150 Lightning best the Rivian R1T?

The 2023 F-150 Lightning may come in second to the R1T overall, but it does outshine the Rivian’s truck with its interior space based on its higher U.S. News score in that area. Ford offers a 5.5-foot bed with its electric truck as well as a frunk. The total cargo space for both adds up to 66.9 cubic feet of storage. The Rivian model has a total of 66 cubic feet of storage spread out between three different areas, including its bed, frunk, and gear tunnel. 

Also, the Lightning version offers another use for its frunk besides regular gear storage. You can transform it into a cooler for storing drinks and other items when on off-roading adventures. This is possible because of its water-resistant liner, plus there’s a drain plug located at the bottom of the front trunk.

Cabin space is another area the publication was pleased with. While both models had plenty of space for the driver and front passenger, the rear seat was more comfortable for taller adults in the F-150 Lightning than the R1T. The Ford’s electric truck has almost 44 inches of legroom and 40.4 inches of headroom.

Rivian’s version offers almost 37 inches for legs and 39.7 inches for passengers’ heads. The Lightning also has about 7 inches more shoulder room as well. 

Why the Rivian R1T fell short with its interior

U.S. News did like the 2023 Rivian R1T’s tech features and felt it offered plenty for its value. One area, though, that the reviewers weren’t all that pleased with is the usability of many of its controls. Rivian limited its usefulness by having most of its features accessed through the touchscreen. The publication felt that it was too distracting, potentially making driving unsafe. 

One surprising aspect of the truck is what it’s missing. It doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It does, however, have Amazon’s Alexa system, but this is a voice-controlled feature that offers assistance and isn’t near as popular as Google or Apple’s apps. 

You also won’t find other items like an HD Radio, Satellite Radio, heated rear seats, remote engine start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather seat covers, which the Lightning offers either as standard or as an option on its top-tier trim. Ford also offers an automatic parking feature that the R1T doesn’t come with. 

Both Ford and Rivian have pretty capable electric trucks on the market. The R1T does come out on top overall with ratings from the U.S. News, but Ford takes a major win with its Lightning model when it comes to its interior. 


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