There may not be a better time to be a truck enthusiast than now. A plethora of options in multiple sizes is now available. Even Jeep has waded into the pickup truck pool with the Gladiator, though one type of truck is still missing – the street performance ones. High-powered, low-riding pickups like the Ford F-150 Lightning aren’t a thing from today’s automakers and likely won’t be anytime soon.
A new interview between Muscle Cars and Trucks and the 2021 F-150’s chief engineer, Craig Schmatz, reveals the Dearborn-based automaker has no plans to resurrect the F-150 Lightning. Instead, Ford will focus on the success of the Raptor. According to Schmatz, Ford sees more people going off-roading than going street racing. He told the publication that few would want to compromise with a street truck, willingly sacrificing a truck’s appeal purely for high-performance reasons.
Let’s not forget that the Raptor’s success has spawned its competitor – the Ram TRX. However, the TRX is a step above the Raptor with its performance for now. The Raptor packs a 450-horsepower (335-kilowatts) twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 510 pound-feet (691 Newton-meters) of torque. The TRX borrows the Hellcat’s heart – the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 making 702 hp (523 kW) and 650 lb-ft (881 Nm) of torque. That certainly screams street-truck performance, though Ram is channeling that power to four large, knobby tires.
Aftermarket tuners will fill the void for street trucks, but their return straight from the automakers are unlikely anytime soon. The F-150 Lightning lasted just two generations, disappearing after the 2004 model year due to lackluster sales numbers. Today’s F-150 is also much larger than the last Lightning, which would require more power and engineering to motivate properly. Tightening emissions regulations makes these moonshots that much more difficult to achieve. The last thing Ford would want is a truck called the Lightning that lacked quickness.