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The F-150 Lightning is a heavier-duty pickup truck priced lower than the Rivian R1T. But that doesn’t mean Ford should ignore what is perhaps the Rivian’s most remarkable feature. What is this cool feature, you ask? The Rivian R1T’s gear tunnel

The gear tunnel of the Rivian R1T is a nifty little trick

The gear tunnel is an 11.6 cu-ft pass-through storage compartment behind the Rivian’s rear seat. Interior access is possible through a small opening behind the back seat’s center armrest. However, there are larger doors on each side of the truck for loading gear. 

The gear tunnel openings aren’t very tall or wide, restricting the size of the gear it holds. But, since the tunnel spans the width of the truck, it holds longer items like snowboards, fishing poles, and golf bags with ease. MotorTrend reviewers stuffed the gear tunnel with carry-on suitcases, duffle bags, a backpack, and a briefcase with room to spare. 

While the extra storage space is a nice feature, that alone doesn’t qualify as “a nifty trick.” Inside the tunnel, you’ll find 12-volt and 110-volt outlets to power almost anything you’d need away from home. In addition, the gear tunnel’s flip-down exterior doors can hold up to 300 pounds. So you can use them for extra seating or as a step to access the Rivian’s 4.5-foot truck bed. And don’t forget Rivian’s optional Camp Kitchen

The Camp Kitchen rides on a shuttle, allowing it to slide in and out of the gear tunnel. It features a two-burner electric cooktop, a sink with four gallons of onboard water storage, and a 30-piece dishware set. The shuttle, also available separately, has a 200-pound capacity and provides quick access to gear stored deep in the tunnel. 

Why Ford should add this feature to the F-150 Lightning

While the body-on-frame construction of the Ford F-150 Lightning doesn’t lend itself to replicating Rivian’s gear tunnel exactly, a similar feature would increase the Lightning’s appeal. Of course, the Ford F-150 Lightning already provides a 14.1 cubic foot front trunk, the largest of any electric vehicle, and a 67.1-inch long truck bed.

However, the trunk won’t accommodate snowboards or skis, and the truck bed is unsecured without an optional cover. A gear tunnel would provide secured storage for items like these, plus the nifty tricks listed above. 

The Ford F-150 Lightning already has some pretty cool features

Even without the gear tunnel, the F-150 Lightning still has some pretty cool features. We’ve already mentioned the massive front trunk, but inside it you’ll find:

  • Several 110-volt power outlets
  • A concealed battery jump point for jumpstarting other vehicles when needed
  • A scale molded into the plastic in case you need to measure something
  • An emergency release to open the compartment in case you lock yourself in

Ford includes a manual trunk lid release inside the cab if the battery dies or the electronics fail. Other nice touches found on the Lightning include:

  • A full-size spare tire
  • Independent rear suspension
  • An integrated fold-down tailgate step
  • More measuring scales on the tailgate

There’s even a nifty space to apply a clamp if you need to hold something on the tailgate. Of course, you’ll find more standard power outlets in the bed, but there’s also a 240-volt outlet if you need to power a welder or dry a load of laundry. 

Speaking of power, with optional equipment, the F-150 Lightning can power your house in case of a power outage or if you forget to pay the electric bill. Ford says the Lightning with the extended-range battery can power the average U.S. home for three days without rationing or up to 10 days with careful power conservation. 

It’s doubtful that Rivian’s gear tunnel will be the deciding factor swaying anyone’s purchasing decision between it and the Lightning. It’s more likely that Ford’s pricing and traditional pickup looks will have a more significant impact. But more storage space is always a good thing, and who wouldn’t like a mobile kitchen to cook breakfast at the job site?


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