By now, chances are you’ve seen many videos from owners and reviewers highlighting the towing abilities of the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning. You probably have an idea of how good these electric pickups are at towing.
However, we’re pretty sure you haven’t seen these trucks going head-to-head in an unusual towing test: a 30,000-pound tractor pull trial at Truck Mania in Sacramento, California. The contest consists of towing a 30,000-pound (13,607-kilogram) sled on a dirt track with the objective to cover the longest distance possible.
Yes, you read that right, the sled’s weight exceeds these trucks’ max tow rating by more than 300 percent—the Rivian can tow 11,000 pounds (4,989 kilograms) and the Ford 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms).
Needless to say, this is a trial neither the F-150 Lightning nor the R1T were tested for by Ford and Rivian, so Edmunds‘ Ryan ZumMallen was in uncharted territory with this one. Ford told him they haven’t tried this before with the F-150 Lightning so they couldn’t give the team pointers.
He did manage to go through with it because these particular vehicles are owned by Edmunds and not loaned from automakers. However, Ryan and the crew had to ask for special permission to risk nearly $165,000 of the company’s assets with this stunt, which they thankfully got.
We say thankfully because the F-150 Lightning and R1T put on a great show and surprised everyone with their capability. During the first tests, it was clear that the quad-motor Rivian R1T is superior to the dual-motor F-150 Lightning at this game.
The Rivian’s extra 255 horsepower and 133 pound-feet (180 Newton-meters) of torque clearly made their presence felt, as did the off-road tires—the Ford ran on street tires. Another thing going in the R1T’s favor is the higher curb weight of 7,150 pounds (3,243 kilograms), compared to 6,745 pounds (3,059 kilograms) for the F-150 Lightning.
The Ford’s wheels spun a lot more than the Rivian’s, whose smart torque vectoring system proved better at distributing torque between the four wheels to ensure superior traction at all times. The off-road tires obviously helped a lot, too.
Ryan was surprised to see that the extreme towing trials only ate about 1 percent battery range each run, but the big question was whether the electric trucks would be able to replicate the good results achieved during testing in front of the Truck Mania Tractor Pull crowd. Watch the video at the top of this page to find out.
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