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Ford Should Build an F-150 Lightning Raptor Sooner Rather Than Later

Ford Should Build an F-150 Lightning Raptor Sooner Rather Than Later

It’s the only way to compete with the Rivian R1T

  • The long-rumored gas-powered F-150 Raptor R is on its way.
  • But we find ourselves wondering why, especially when the R1T exists.
  • We think an F-150 Lightning Raptor makes a lot more sense.

Ram pulled a blinder when it released the TRX. A pickup truck with a 702-horsepower supercharged V8, who could have seen it coming? Well, even if Ford did, it was left playing catch-up. The F-150 Raptor R, the much-rumored supertruck that will feature a version of the supercharged 5.2-liter V8 from the Shelby GT500 under the hood, is well on its way. Obviously it's here to go toe to toe with the TRX, but a new foe has appeared in the form of the Rivian R1T.

The Rivian R1T is the first fully electric pickup truck to make it into consumers' hands, and with a 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds, it's also the quickest truck we've ever tested. The TRX needed 4.2 seconds to do the same. Even though drag racing isn't what trucks were made for, these performance metrics illustrate the gulf between internal combustion engines and EVs when it comes to, well, performance.

Now, we aren't saying Ford shouldn't build the Raptor R. If it's a last hurrah Ford wants, then a 700-plus-horsepower V8 stuffed inside an F-150 sounds like the perfect grand finale. What we are saying is that a Lightning Raptor (or a similar, childishly named equivalent like Zeus) should be at the top of Ford's list of priorities right now. It's the only feasible way the F-150 will compete with the R1T and, to a lesser extent, the 664-horsepower Silverado EV RST that was recently announced.

Right now, the most powerful F-150 Lighting consumers can get their hands on (or, rather, reserve) is the dual-motor, extended-range-battery version. In that spec, the Lightning kicks out 563 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque. While likely powerful enough, it's not a shine on the Rivian or the RST-spec Silverado EV, and if there's one thing we know about Ford and Chevy, it's that they constantly have to one-up each other. We like their classic throw-your-cards-on-the-table type rivalry, and we see no reason why electrification should stop it.

So what would this theoretical Lightning Raptor look like? Well, for starters it would have more power. Something that starts with a 7 makes sense, just to put that pesky Silverado in its rearview mirror. Then it would get all the upgrades you'd expect of an off-road-biased truck. That means trick suspension, a higher ride height, knobby tires, and clever off-road traction management systems that take advantage of the instant torque granted by electric motors.

The Lightning already has an inverter on board for powering accessories, too, so overlanding or camping would be a cinch. As for recharging, let's not forget that Ford has a massive stake in Rivian. Being able to use the Rivian-only Adventure Network for charging when you're out in the sticks wouldn't just be helpful, it would be necessary. Don't think Ford wants to compete with Rivian? Think again. The Blue Oval has its own customer base to satisfy, and if it wants to keep the brand's faithful happy, it's going to need a showstopper sooner or later. We just hope it's sooner.

Edmunds says

Rivian has shown us that electric pickup trucks can be good, if not great. We want to see legacy automakers show us what they can really do.