A New F-150 Variant Called “Thunder” Is In The Works

Introduced in 2020 for the 2021 model year, Ford’s latest F-150 pickup is the fourteenth generation of the venerable F-series pickup truck. Normally, new cars are fully redesigned about every 5 to 8 years, but the American truck market is hyper-competitive, so the lifespan of a pickup design is going to register on the shorter end of that refresh cycle.

In the meantime, to keep customers’ interest in the product high, automakers sometimes roll out new variants of their models mid-cycle. In the F-150’s case, we have already seen the Raptor and the Tremor, as well as the all-electric Lightning. Now, according to information from Ford Authority, Ford Motor Company has filed to trademark the name “F-150 Thunder” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

Ford Already Had a Thunder Pickup in Europe

The Ranger Thunder’s sport bar and tonneau cover. | Source: Ford

Filed last summer and published in January 2023, the application contains the goods and services description of “Motor vehicles, namely, automobiles, pick-up trucks, electric vehicles in the nature of automobiles, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles, and their structural parts.”

This suggests that the Thunder will be a standalone variant of the F-150 and not just an equipment package. Ford has never used the Thunder name on any package or trim in North America, but a Ranger Thunder was sold in European markets in 2020, about 18 months after the automaker filed to trademark the same term in Europe.

The European-spec Ranger Thunder was said to give a select number of customers an “edgier” look. The only available color was Sea Grey with ebony black and red accents. The interior received a similar aesthetic with ebony leather seats with red Thunder embroidery and matching stitching adorning the steering wheel, seats, and instrument panel. Rounding out the cosmetics was LED lighting throughout, a bedliner, and a powder-coated rolling tonneau cover.

More importantly, the Ranger Thunder was powered by the same 210 horsepower diesel engine used in the burly Ranger Wildtrak and Ranger Raptor trucks. While that’s less power than the turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that we have in the United States, it was nonetheless an improvement compared to regular global versions of the Ranger. Only 4,500 Ranger Thunder trucks were produced in total.

Details On The Thunder Are Scarce

Ford’s Ranger Thunder on the rocks. | Source: Ford

Right now, it’s unclear whether the F-150 Thunder might share the same grey/black/red color scheme of the Ranger Thunder, or whether any such model will come to fruition at all. But given the fact that a similar trademark led to a real-world product shortly thereafter, we remain hopeful. What would be particularly exciting is if the F-150 Thunder carried a version of the Raptor’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. Like the F-150 King Ranch, it would likely be detuned slightly from the Raptor configuation, but 430 to 450 horsepower would be nice without all the luxury trappings of the King Ranch. 

Tuner Steeda Is Using The Thunder Name, Too

Steeda’s “Thunder Edition” F-150 | Source: Steeda

Lastly, the F-150 Thunder is not to be confused with Steeda’s “Thunder Edition” of the F-150. Steeda is a Georgia-based tuner that’s a familiar name in the world of Ford Mustang performance. Last summer, they rolled out a regular cab, short bed F-150 powered by a 5.0-liter, V-8 Coyote engine, to which they added a Whipple stage 2 superchager, high-performance tuning, and a new exhaust system. Steeda’s Thunder throws down 775 horsepower and 685 pound-feet of torque.

You do have to wonder if Ford knew about Steeda using the Thunder name prior to Steeda publicly releasing the modified truck? It does create a layer of confusion should Ford make some Thunder of their own.

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Author: Richard Sachek

Richard's lifelong automotive journey started at an early age with building model cars. Upon getting his drivers license (and many speeding tickets), plastic models quickly morphed into the real thing. When not contributing to one of several digital automotive publications, Richard can usually be found hiking, camping, or skiing in his home state of Colorado.

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