Production pickup trucks, anyway.
For the first time in 17 years, there's a brand new Ford F-150 Lightning to talk about. This time around there are some exceptional differences compared to previous generations that wore the moniker, but one thing is still the same. It's a very fast pickup truck that still functions as a truck.
In case you missed our big reveal, here's a brief synopsis. Instead of being a dedicated high-performance street truck like the Lightnings of old, the new rig is all-electric and all-terrain, pumping out a maximum of 563 combined horsepower turning all four wheels. Details on the 2022 Lightning are available in our comprehensive debut article, but for the purposes of this feature, know that it's the most powerful F-150 to ever come from Ford, and it should hit 60 mph in around 4.5 seconds.
That means it will hold a spot among the quickest pickup trucks of all time, but where exactly does it land in that genre? Here's a brief walk down memory lane, featuring quick trucks of the past and not-so-distant past. If the new Lightning has a quicker 60-mph sprint, we label it a win. And as you'll see, it likes to win.
2001-2004 SVT F-150 Lightning: Lightning (New) Wins
0-60: 5.5 seconds
We'll start with the last F-150 to wear a Lightning badge because that's the comparison everyone will jump to first. With 380 horsepower from its supercharged 5.4-liter V8, this two-wheel-drive street truck could reach 60 mph in 5.5 seconds though traction was a big issue. A good driver with good grip could go a bit quicker, but sorry purists. We adore the first two Lightning generations but the new electric hauler owns both, in dramatic fashion.
2021 Ford F-150 Raptor: Lightning Wins
0-60: 5.5 seconds
Another obvious Blue Oval comparison will be with the high-performance off-road Raptor. Unless the two trucks are battling in a sea of sand dunes, the new Lightning should whip the Raptor pretty good, as it hits 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. Of course, that should change dramatically when the Raptor R and its supercharged V8 arrives next year.
2004-2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10: Lightning Wins
0-60: 5.3 seconds
Dodge's Viper-powered answer to the second-generation Lighting had gobs of horsepower – 500 to be exact. It also offered a six-speed manual transmission but it was saddled with excessive weight and as such, it also hit 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds though some automotive outlets ran a bit quicker. However, unrestrained on an open road, the SRT-10 set a speed record for pickup trucks at 154 mph. Acceleration wise at least, the new Lightning EV comes out on top.
2005-2006 Chevrolet SSR: Lightning Wins
0-60: 5.1 Seconds
Admittedly, the retro-weird SSR stretches the truck definition here, but it still had a cargo bed at the back. The last two years of production saw a power increase to its LS V8, maxing out at 400 hp when equipped with a manual transmission. Once again, 0-60 times couldn't break out of the five-second range, so another win goes to the new Lightning.
2021 Ram TRX: Draw
0-60: 4.5 Seconds
Perhaps you were expecting the Lightning to lose this matchup? Honestly, it all depends on the surface but officially, the TRX clocks a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. That said, we've seen this 702-hp Hellcat-powered monster beat all kinds of vehicles that should be faster. So our advice to the Lightning driver in a stoplight battle? Don't make any mistakes.
1991 GMC Syclone: Lightning Loses (Barely)
0-60: 4.3 Seconds
You didn't think we'd overlook the Syclone, did you? This little truck is now 30 years old, but if a new Lightning owner encounters one on the street, be prepared. The Syclone's turbocharged V6 and all-wheel-drive system are virtually dead equal to the new EV truck in a 60-mph sprint. Ford doesn't have a specific hard-and-fast 0-60 time for the Lightning, so if the final verdict is indeed 4.5 seconds then it's advantage Syclone, if ever so slightly. Not bad for a pickup truck old enough to remember the last few seasons of Cheers.
What about electric competitors?
It's true that we're only comparing the electric Lightning to combustion-powered trucks here. We're taking another deep dive on forthcoming EV competitors in a separate feature, where we look at more than just performance but we'll wrap this comparison with a word of warning to Ford. Yes, the Lightning is quick, but GMC claims the new Hummer EV will hit 60 mph in 3.0 seconds dead. Same for the Rivian R1T, and when the Cybertruck debuted in 2019, Tesla made a bold 60-mph claim of 2.9 seconds for the range-topping tri-motor version.
These would all be record-setting trucks, but alas, none have reached production yet. Rivian will likely be the first to market with the R1T landing possibly as early as June. The GMC Hummer should follow, but the Cybertruck is still something of a mystery. It's supposed to be on sale by the end of the year, but we've yet to see a production version so the Lightning's spring 2022 on-sale date could beat Tesla to the punch.