- The Tesla Cybertruck debuted in late 2019.
- CEO Elon Musk compared it with both the Ford F-150 and the Porsche 911.
- The F-150 is the bestselling pickup truck in the US, and the 911 is the best sports car money can buy.
- The Cybertruck actually could combine the best of the F-150 and the 911.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk rarely holds back.
So when the Tesla Cybertruck was unveiled last year, the design blew minds — nobody expected a wildly futuristic pickup made from stainless steel. It looked like it was ready to take on space travel, which makes sense, given that Musk has said he wants to use his other company, SpaceX, to help him retire on Mars.
Musk riled up pickup partisans when he compared the Cybertruck to the market-leading Ford F-150. And he also tweaked the sports-car world when he said that his electric pickup could outdo the Porsche 911.
But how does the Cybertruck really stack up against these legends? As it turns out, I’ve driven the F-150 last year, and I recently drove a pair of 911s.
Here’s the tale of the tape:
Let’s start with America’s truck — the Ford F-Series, of which the F-150 is the full-size offering, has been the bestselling vehicle in the US since Ronald Reagan was president.
The F-150 can trace its heritage to the F1 of 1948.
Of course, the real comparison for the Tesla Cybertruck is with Ford’s F-150 Raptor, the high-performance variant of the pickup.
Ford sells nearly a million F-Series pickups annually, with the F-150 leading the charge. Customers don’t always buy basic “work” trucks — my last F-150 test vehicle was a well-equipped 2019 F-150 Limited, that stickered at $74,180.
Pickups are now quite plush, in terms of their interior appointments. One can buy an F-150 that checks off boxes once reserved for luxury cars.
The F-150 4×4 SuperCrew has a nice, roomy back seats with plenty of room for full-size adults to stretch out.
Luxe up front, but the F-150 is still a pickup, so it’s business in the back. The aluminum construction that Ford controversially switched to in 2014 has held up well — this is an incredibly capable truck.
Climbing in and out of the bed is made easy by a stowable step and grab bar.
Ford offers numerous engine options in the F-Series. I tested a high-output variant of the 3.5-liter V6: The turbocharged mill cranks out 450 horsepower with 510 pound-feet of torque. That beats the 5.0-liter V8 engine by a notable margin (395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque).
The power is routed to the four-wheel-drive system by a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy is so-so, at 17 mpg city/21 highway/19 combined. But the Raptor-grade motor yields a 0-60 mph time of just over five seconds. Acceleration is sort of staggering for a truck that weighs in at almost 5,700 pounds and can tow 12,000 pounds.
Weirdly, I had trouble running the gas out of my tester, though I didn’t take it on an extended road trip.
For the driver, the cockpit combines functionality with a relaxing experience. The F-150 is large, but it isn’t difficult to handle.
The F-150’s infotainment system runs on what is by contemporary standards a modest 8-inch central touchscreen.
The Sync 3 system is generally superb, with excellent navigation, easy Bluetooth device-pairing, USB integration, and a SiriusXM introductory subscription. Bonus points for the wonderful Bang & Olufsen premium audio setup.
There’s no question that the F-150 is still king of the pickup-truck hill, so it’s no surprise that Tesla has challenged it. You go after the best! But in 2020, the F-150 is scheduled for a redesign, so the best is about to get better.
From four-wheels and a truck bed to two doors and an engine in the back — we’re shifting gears from the greatest pickup in human history to the finest sports car ever made: the spectacular Porsche 911.
Hard to believe the 911 has been around since 1963 — and is basically unchanged in terms of the core design.
The 911 is all-new for 2020 — the official designation is “992” and remarkably, Porsche has improved the car, setting a fresh standard for a machine that was no stranger to standard-setting.
Unlike the F-150 and the Cybertruck, the 911 is a proper sports car — and that means a cozy cockpit that’s built for speed. Although it’s also surprisingly comfortable.
The back seat?: Forget about it. And cargo capacity is exceptionally modest.
The 911’s powerplant is the legendary boxer flat-six, mounted over the rear wheels. Porsche tunes this engine to serve up a range of horsepower output, depending on trim level.
So let’s be real. The F-150 is a big pickup. The Cybertruck is also a pickup. True, the Raptor is hot to drive. But the 911 exists to drive.
Take on the Porsche 911?!?! What was Elon thinking? Well, he was being smart. The 911 is the finest sports car money can buy. If the Cybertruck could steal its thunder, what a selling point!
When the Cybertruck landed, the design was divisive.
The Cybertruck doesn’t really have an antecedent, although the concept was teased in 2017 when Tesla showed the world its Semi.
The actual, mind-blowing Cybertruck didn’t arrive until late 2019. To say that it evoked a polarizing reaction would be a major understatement.
Tesla challenged the F-150 to a tug-of-war — and the Cybertruck won!
The Cybertruck also outran a Porsche 911 in a drag race. The 0-60 mph dash could be achieved in 2.9 seconds with a triple-motor configuration, and the Cybertruck’s range is pegged at 500 miles on a single charge.
Not everything was a triumph for the Cybertruck on its debut. The special window glass was supposed to be shatterproof, but it couldn’t handle a demonstration and cracked.
The Cybertruck is made of stainless steel. Tesla calls the bed a “vault.” It has a retractable cover and built-in slots to enable customization.
Tesla has said that the Cybertruck could tow a segment-leading 14,000 pounds, but heavier-duty traditional pickups can tow more.
The Cybertruck’s interior should follow the philosophy that Tesla established with the Model 3 sedan: ultra-minimalist, with but a single screen in the dash controlling most vehicle functions.
The Cybertruck, when Tesla starts delivering them, would have access to the company’s vast Supercharger network.
The Cybertruck is like nothing anyone has ever seen before. It looks like it’s on loan from the future. It also represents a new direction for Tesla. And to be honest, it’s so radical that it could legitimately combine the Ford F-150 and the Porsche 911 in a way nobody expected but that only Tesla could pull off.
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