When Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla would build a truck, many people pictured the classic pickup silhouette with a few fancy 21st-century touches. Instead, what Tesla revealed in November 2019 was something like a stainless steel battle machine, a truck that looked more prepared for urban combat than a trip to Home Depot.
Given the audacious looks of the Cybertruck, styling may prove to be the biggest consideration for buyers weighing Tesla’s truck against the other fully electric pickups on the market, such as the more traditional Ford F-150 Lightning.
- The Ford F-150 Lightning is a full-size, two-electric-motor truck with an enormous price range across four trim levels, from the entry-level, $40,000 F-150 Lightning Pro to the tricked-out, $90,000-plus F-150 Lightning Platinum.
- The Tesla Cybertruck is a full-size pickup with three main configurations: a $39,900 single-motor model, $49,900 double-motor upgrade, and a super-powerful, triple-motor $69,900 top-end truck.
Both trucks carry an enormous range of both capability and price, making it tricky to find an apples-to-apples comparison between Ford and Tesla. The $70,000 triple-motor Cybertruck boasts ridiculous range and acceleration specs (500 miles, 2.9-second zero-to-sixty time) that blow away anything Ford offers with the electric F-150, while the $90,000 Platinum Ford offers creature comforts unavailable in the sparse, rugged Cybertruck.
So, for comparison’s sake, let’s look at the entry-level models of both vehicles, since both start with an MSRP right at $40,000. This makes it easy to see the relative strengths and weaknesses of both.
Using Ford’s configurator, I built a Ford F-150 Lightning Pro with many common bells and whistles. Tesla’s website does not currently allow users to build and configure the Cybertruck, so for that vehicle, we’ll have to refer to the basic specifications.
If you’re trying to pick between these trucks, here’s everything you need to know about how the trucks compare in terms of stats, features, and everything else you’ll want to know to make your decision.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: PRICE
The basic trim levels of these trucks begin with nearly identical $40,000 price tags. Configuring my Lightning Pro with features such as the Max Trailer Tow Package and Tow Technology Package bumps the price to $46,109.
An important caveat: Ford electric vehicles remain eligible for the $7,500 federal tax incentives, though Ford is quickly approaching the 200,000-vehicle cap where the credits begin to phase out. Tesla, because it has been selling EVs longer, is no longer eligible. You won’t be able to claim a federal tax credit for buying one, although many state rebates remain.
At the high end of the range, Ford’s models carry the fatter price tags. The F-150 Lightning XLT begins at around $3,000 more than the mid-tier dual-motor Tesla, while the fully-loaded Lightning Platinum costs more than $90,000, or $20,000 more than the starting price of the baddest Cybertruck.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: RANGE
If you’re shopping for range, Tesla is the choice. The entry-level Cybertuck claims 250 miles on its battery, 20 more than the comparable F-150 Lightning. The $50,000 double-motor Cybertuck has a 300-mile range. That’s the name number offered by Ford’s Extended Range Battery option. However, choosing the option for greater range bumps the cost of the Lightning XLT and Lariat to $72,000-plus and $77,000-plus, respectively.
The $90,000 Platinum Ford also claims just 300 miles. No Ford offering comes anywhere close to the 500 miles of the three-motor Cybertruck.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: TOWING
These two trucks are in a towing dead heat. The Standard-Range F-150 Lightnings can tow up to 7,700 pounds, while the 300-mile Extended Range battery bumps that figure to 10,000 pounds. The single-motor Cybertruck pulls 7,500 pounds, while the dual-motor model can tow 10,000 pounds.
The separation comes with Tesla’s three-motor model. That Cybertuck tows 14,000 pounds, far and away the most of any model here, making it an attractive choice if you’re pulling a huge amount of weight.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: PAYLOAD
Tesla has the edge here, claiming 3,500 pounds of maximum payload for all three versions of the Cybertruck. Ford can offer only 2,000 pounds with its Standard Range trucks and 1,800 pounds for Extended Range models.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: BED SIZE
Tesla calls the back of its Cybertruck the “vault,” because it can be enclosed by a rolling shutter-style covering to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics. The vault measures 6.5 feet long, which bests the 5.5-foot bed in the back of all F-150 Lightning models, though Ford could opt to roll out longer bed options later.
The Lightning’s overall wheelbase measures 145.5 inches. Cybertruck comes in a little longer at 149.9 inches.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: FRUNK SIZE
The F-150’s hood opens to reveal a cavernous front trunk with 400 liters of cargo space. The Ford frunk also includes multiple power outlets, including USB-C and USB-A ports as well as four 110-volt residential power outlets for one of the Lightning’s key features: using the truck’s battery for residential power.
Tesla has not released an exact volume for the Cybertruck frunk, though it is expected to be smaller overall.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: INTERIOR
On the inside, these trucks are night and day. True to Tesla’s trademark look, the Cybertruck’s interior is nearly devoid of buttons and levers. It contains little but a steering yoke in place of the traditional wheel and a 17-inch touchscreen display to handle all vehicle functions. The F-150, meanwhile, also features a huge display in the center console, but it is also chock-full of physical buttons on the steering wheel and elsewhere.
The F-150 Lightning seats five people, while Cybertuck’s interior says it will fit six. Ford promises an 18-speaker B&O stereo; the specifics of Tesla’s audio system are not yet available.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: OFF-ROAD
The Cybertruck’s sci-fi looks help it to achieve impressive numbers off-road, with up to 16 inches of ground clearance plus a 35-degree approach angle and 28-degree departure angle. The F-150 Lightning can hold its own off the pavement but isn’t truly built for that life.
The Cybertruck’s maximum wading depth is not specified, but CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that the truck will be able to cross rivers and streams and “even float for a while.”
- Approach angle: 35 degrees
- Departure angle: 28 degrees
- Breakover: Unknown
- Max ground clearance: 16 inches
- Max wading depth: Unknown
Ford F-150 Lightning
- Approach angle: 25.4 degrees
- Departure angle: 24.2 degrees
- Breakover: 17.8 degrees
- Max ground clearance: 8.9 inches
- Max wading depth: Unknown
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: DRIVER ASSIST
The uber-luxe Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum (but not the less-expensive trim levels) comes standard Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 with BlueCruise and Active Park Assist.
BlueCruise, which is only for limited-access highways, allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel as long as they keep watching the road. Ford’s Active Park Assist feature can scan for parking spots and then park the truck in a suitable parallel or perpendicular spot while the driver supervises, handling steering, shifting, braking, and accelerating.
Like all Tesla models, the Cybertruck will come with the Autopilot feature. The basic version of Autopilot is a driver assist system that allows the vehicle to keep itself within its lane of traffic and automatically brake or accelerate within that lane depending upon the flow of traffic. The $10,000 “Full-Self Driving” upgrade will, Tesla promises, allow the truck to drive itself entirely at some point in the future.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: MISCELLANEOUS
For Ford, the difference-maker is two-way charging. A host of plugs found all around the F-150 Lightning allows you to use the pickup truck as a backup battery for your entire home. Ford claims that a fully-charged F-150 Lightning has enough juice to keep an American home running for three days. Tesla does not offer two-way charging in any of its vehicles, so if you need energy when your home’s power goes out, you’d better have a generator.
The Cybertruck’s Mad Max styling and worldview means the truck has many features the more traditional F-150 cannot match, such as the ability to float or bulletproof windows. But its biggest leg up? It’s the charging, stupid. Tesla’s sprawling network of proprietary Supercharging stations outpaces Ford’s BlueOval charging network, making it easier for its drivers to go more places without waiting in line to plug in.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: WARRANTY
Ford offers the F-150 Lightning with a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. In addition, an electric vehicle component warranty covers eight years or 100,000 miles. Tesla has not released specific warranty specs for Cybertuck, but the company’s Basic Vehicle Limited Warranty covers its vehicles for 4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first, and its Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranty typically covers eight years or 100,000 miles.
Both companies cover reduced battery capacity to a minimum of 70 percent of the original capacity over their respective warranty periods.
TESLA CYBERTRUCK VS. FORD F-150 LIGHTNING: AVAILABILITY
This may be the biggest advantage for Ford in this electric truck showdown. Tesla originally planned to produce the first Cybertrucks in 2021 and roll out more models in 2022. However, production has been delayed multiple times. For now, production has been delayed into early 2023. Buyers can place a fully refundable $100 deposit for the Cybertruck on Tesla’s website.
Ford, meanwhile, will start delivering the F-150 Lightning this spring. But if you haven’t already placed a reservation on Ford’s website or directly with a Ford dealer, be prepared to wait. The company says it has already fielded around 200,000 reservations, so new orders most likely will not be filled until at least 2023.