Gas Truck vs. EV Truck: Which Is the Towing Champion?

Not all trucks are made equal. If they were, everyone would drive the same truck in each class. One of the latest questions on the table is how far an EV truck, such as the Ford F-150 Lighting, can travel when towing compared to a gas truck. The team at The Fast Lane Trucks gives us the skinny on this conversation to bring us an answer.

Identical trailer used for the gas truck vs. EV truck towing question

Ford F-150 Lightning vs GMC Sierra 1500 used by TFL Trucks with trailers
Ford F-150 Lightning vs GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate | TFL Trucks

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What trucks are being used for this contest? If you’ve followed any of the TFL Trucks team and their towing adventures, you probably already know they love to put trucks up against the Ford F-150 Lighting. In this challenge, the truck used to challenge the Lightning is a GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate.

The Sierra is a half-ton truck with the largest of the V8 engines offered by GM. That means we’ve got a 6.2-liter V8-powered truck going up against an electric truck. Both pickups are pulling identical 6,000-pound travel trailers.

Do the towing ranges of these two trucks compare?

A truck capable of hauling ATVs, boats, and campers pulling a camper.
Truck towing a camper | Getty Images

Both drivers input their trailers into the system to receive the most accurate information, allowing the trucks to deliver power appropriately. As soon as the trailer is entered into the F-150 Lightning, the driving range changes from 282 miles to 160 miles.

The driver of the GMC Sierra 1500 input his trailer, but we didn’t see the change in driving range. That said, once the data was input, the driving range showing on his screen was 280 miles.

Score one for the gas truck and the driving range offered while towing with a full tank of gas compared to the EV truck.

Gas truck vs. EV truck: Do these trucks have hands-free driving?

GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate Super Cruise
GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate Super Cruise | GMC

In this contest, the Ford F-150 Lightning and GM Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate have a hands-free driving feature. The Ford feature is called Blue Cruise, but it can’t be activated while towing. That said, the lane centering and adaptive cruise control can do the job and keep the truck and trailer in the center of the lane.

Looking to the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate, the GM Super Cruise feature allows hands-free driving while towing. This feature works well with a trailer on mapped roads and makes the small adjustments necessary to keep the truck going in the right direction.

Score another point for the gas truck, although the hands-free driving has more to do with the brand technology than the electric vs. gas conversation.

Range anxiety becomes a reality in the F-150 Lightning

An EV charger.
An EV charger | Getty Images

Even though the GMC truck, powered by gasoline in this contest returns 7.6 mpg during the drive, the electric Ford F-150 barely made it 88 miles before requiring a charge. That puts the Lightning at an energy use of more than one kWh per mile, which is simply unacceptable.

In addition to sucking down the electricity much faster than anticipated, the data offered on the screen in the EV truck didn’t show accurate range estimates. This could be a serious problem if you were to get stuck between charging points, which can happen in an electric truck when the range calculations are incorrect.

Which is better for towing, a gas truck, or an EV truck?

2022 GMC Sierra 2500 HD heavy-duty pickup truck. Why does JD Power say it's the best option?
2022 GMC Sierra 2500 HD | GMC

It’s pretty easy to see that traveling with an electric truck can be a bit nerve-wracking and frustrating. Imagine stopping every 100 miles or less with a nearly-dead battery to recharge that battery. The Ford F-150 Lightning used during this contest comes with a quoted driving range of 320 miles, but while towing, that range was down to less than one-third of the entire range.

At the same point that the Lightning required recharging, the TFL Trucks driver of the GMC Sierra 1500 still had 129 miles of quoted driving range in his truck.

An additional issue for an electric truck

A white Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck is towing a trailer.
The Ford F-150 Lightning | Ford

If you watch the entire video below, you’ll notice, and it’s pointed out, that while hitched, the Ford Lightning with the trailer sticks out into a driving area while plugged into a charger. This isn’t an issue with gas trucks because it only takes a few minutes to fill up, but can you imagine leaving an electric truck plugged in overnight with the trailer sticking out into the driving lane?

Next, learn more about semi-trucks, or watch the video below with all of the information about the gas truck vs. EV truck going head to head.

RELATED: Which Truck Uses More Fuel While Towing: Hybrid or Diesel?