Rivian R1T – An Excellent All-Round Electric Pickup
Marketing would tell us that each startup automaker is going to launch an excellent vehicle from the first try. In reality, that rarely happens, either due to the lack of resources, talent or just a streak of bad luck. History books are filled with expected game changers that ended up in the trash bin.
Rivian R1T is not part of that history. In fact, it managed to build one of the most remarkable pickup trucks in recent memory, right from the start.
The outer box – proper pickup chunky, with modern additions
At first glance, the Rivian R1T does not stray away from the usual pickup silhouette, retaining familiar proportions of well-established players in the game. This is a first good sign, pointing at potential workhorse capabilities of the R1T – and not labeling it as a parade-only worthy truck.
Modern elements are blended throughout the design. A large LED light bar rests across the back and is complimented by the exhaust-like shaped lower bumper areas. Instead of exhaust pipes though, you’ll find another set of rear lights.
Rivian R1T adventure models come with the Tonneau bed cover, which keeps everything you store in the bed nice and hidden from outside interference. Press on the button near the bed rail and the tailgate opens. The other button on the bed rail will prompt the Tonneau cover to retract, granting you full access to the truck’s bed.
While some people want crossbars over their truck bed to mount bikes or surfboards, for those who rather not have them, they’re extremely easy to remove. Just pull on the side tabs of the rails and they will come right off.
The R1T comes equipped with 21-inch wheels, or you can opt for the smaller 20-inch set with beefed up offroad tires. Behind the rectangular wheel spokes, the sporty Rivian badged calipers pop out. Moving forward, you are met by the flush mounted door handles which will pop out with the help of its karabiner like key.
A pickup with a trunk
Directly behind the rear doors you will find the first cool gimmick of this truck – the gear tunnel. While basically it’s a cargo area spreading the width of the truck, set behind the rear seats and in front of the truck bed, it’s fitting for numerous purposes.
First, since it’s waterproof and rubber-packed all around, you don’t have to worry about throwing in dirty, muddy tools to wash them later. Oh, and it is spacious: you can snuggle a grown person in there. And no, you cannot get stuck inside the gear tunnel, as it features emergency door releases on the inside.
The electric Hummer may crab-walk and the Ford F-150 Lightning may power tools from its battery. But the Rivian R1T cooks – or rather brings the kitchen along for the ride. Available as option, the Camp Kitchen will fill the Gear Tunnel. It comes equipped with two cooking elements, a 4-gallon sink and a generous 30-piece set of cooking equipment.
A different take on the front fascia
If the rear and sides don’t hint much as to the electric nature of the R1T, the front is a completely different story. A huge light bar extending into the side panels is only broken by two vertically oblong headlights. The center part of the light bar turns green when charging and dims slightly when using the turn signals. Furthermore, the lack of a wide, large radiator grille cements the fact that there’s no combustion happening beneath the hood of this pickup.
Instead of an oversized grille, Rivian R1T’s optional off-road package beefs up the underside with better rock dodging steel and additional towing points that could easily hold two or three times the max weight of the R1T.
Thanks to low-mounted batteries and the lack of a conventional engine, the Rivian R1T comes with more storage space up front. The hood opens either by pressing the button beneath the front lip, revealing a decent amount of cargo space in the “frunk”. The floor inside can fold up and sticks together via clever magnets, revealing even more room for storage. Want to close the hood? Just press the button again and the fully powered hood will close.
What about the inside?
Most of the interior of the Rivian R1T comes standard in black, part of the Black Mountain trim with black wood trim and upholstery. Optionally, buyers can have tan wood trims and white upholstery with the Ocean Coast trim. Forest Edge trim is a third option which brings brown wood trims and green upholstery. Regardless of the chosen trim, Rivian also delivers on its promises of eco-friendliness.
Seats are wrapped in “vegan leather”, also known as the impossible leather. Most would simply call it “vinyl”, but marketing did a good job with their strategic terminology. Regardless of the trim, all seats come with nice patterned stitching.
Regardless, the overall feeling inside the cabin hints at luxury rather than just blunt function. Surfaces feature a mix of wood which doesn’t hurt the eyes when mixed with the ambient lighting. The headliner is made from 100% recycled material and the floor mats are free of leather or wool, being also easy to clean.
Get comfortable in the highly supportive adjustable seats and you are hit with a clear Tesla-like feeling. The vast majority of adjustments, from the rake and height of the steering wheel, climate controls, suspension, lighting, etc., are all done via the 16 inch horizontally placed touchscreen. Additionally, the 12.3-inch instrument cluster provides a wide range of information when driving, including an 80s like animation of the R1T passing around other computer-generated vehicles.
While Rivian may have copied Tesla’s implementation of large touchscreens, it does a better job when it comes to sound insulation. There are only 67db of noise heard at 70mph, compared to the 70db in Tesla Model 3. Sounds from bumps, joints and road are dampened properly, especially for a truck.
Since most people like to listen to music while working or camping, Rivian took care of this aspect by installing a removable Bluetooth speaker behind the central console. Just pop it out and take it with you wherever you are going.
Let’s talk power
A lack of power or driving capability would easily erase all the efforts Rivian put on the inside and outside of the R1T. Fortunately, this electric pickup does not come up short when it comes to performance at the wheels.
Thanks for its hefty battery bank, the R1T stands at portly 7173lbs, bordering the heavy-duty pickup segment. To carry all that weight around, Rivian installed an 835hp electric drivetrain fueled via a 128.9kWh battery pack. There are 7776 cells inside the battery, with one extra cell placed separately from the others, in the form of a 1000-lumen rechargeable torch.
From a standstill to 60 mph, Rivian R1T needs only 3.3 seconds – making it the fastest accelerating production pickup in the world. By the 9 second mark, the speedometer reads 100 mph and the quarter mile mark is passed after only 11.9 seconds. To achieve this supercar level of performance, Rivian installed an electric motor on each wheel, which also feature a role in the Tank Turn feature – soon to be added to the production.
The wicked acceleration of the electric motors give the R1T impressive, sports car-like acceleration on the straights. The electric pickups needs only 3.3-seconds to blast to 60 mph and levels out at 111mph. Yet, the road conduct of the R1T is even more impressive than its acceleration. Front and rear independent suspension boosted by adapted dampers and hydraulic anti-roll systems (found also on McLarens and banned in motorsport) keep the Rivian R1T driving more like a luxury sedan than a working mule.
Even when setting the suspension to Stiff Mode, the R1T is not more unforgiving than your average internal combustion pickup truck. Like a custom lowrider, the R1T’s ground clearance can be increased via the air suspension, offering 6.5 inches of vertical adjustment. In short, you need to really push the pickup to the grip limit if you want to witness considerable body roll.
According to the EPA, this electric pickup has an expected range of up to 314 miles. Although, opt for the bigger all-terrain Pirelli rubbers and your range will plummet to only 220 miles. Furthermore, towing a hefty trailer can half that range. Good news is on the horizon though as Rivian aims to provide a bigger 172 kWh battery starting in 2023 to increase range under workload conditions.
Conclusion: A near perfect first attempt at an EV truck
While it does still suffer from the curse of battery density, not making it ideal for long range towing, the Rivian R1T has been widely regarded as the best electric pickup truck. Given its extremely versatile body, innovative features, quality fit and finish, attractive design, outstanding power output, amazing acceleration, the Rivian truck is hard to ignore and worth a look if you’re open to buying an electric truck.