Most mornings in the Nevada desert, the cool night air is replaced with glowing warmth regardless of the season. And most vehicles doing top speed runs on a dry lake bed reverberate the air with the sheer power of high-output engines and often minimal exhaust inhibition. But this was not the usual activity. Enter a dynamic duo of over 1,300 combined electric horsepower, my ideal two-car solution. Enter the Porsche Taycan and Rivian R1T.
I struggled to hold the camera steady as the Taycan blurred by at 140 mph. This is the Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, the slowest Cross Turismo Porsche makes, I might add. Still, it blew past the Rivian’s top speed of 116 mph indicated. The Rivian, however, is anything but a slouch. A truck weighing over 7,000 pounds that rockets to 60 mph in roughly 3 seconds and cruises flawlessly in triple digit speed is still easily impressive to anyone. Both vehicles ride on air suspension, comfortably damped when not in the lowest, stiffest mode.
The loose surface allowed for easily controlled rally-type stages to gauge the traction control, or lack thereof. We tested systems in each vehicle to see how much flexibility they provide. The Taycan is Porsche to the core, leaning into controlled slides with eagerness and ease. It holds strong and suggests its capability to effectively drive hard all day, at least until the battery gets low. But even then, the 270 kW peak charging speed is another significant benefit in real world use. The R1T also slides well, though ironically the sport mode with reduced traction control was more effective at drifting than the actual drift mode. This is due to drift mode being housed within the off-road section, leaving the truck in higher lift height. Rivian has announced a sand mode will be coming, but we have yet to see and test it.
The Rivian didn’t bother to flinch at anything we drove it through. Few vehicles can show versatility in use-case like the R1T. Just moments after hitting 60 mph faster than a Lexus LFA, we were crawling up deep dirt ruts of a hilly obstacle in the middle of the lake. Though not exactly a hardcore trail, it was more challenging than what most people would encounter. It allowed for heavy articulation and a showcase of the impressive approach and departure angles. Being as long as it is, the breakover angle can be a weak point, but we avoided beaching it. Barely.
The R1T’s air suspension can set the height between 7.9 and 14.9 inches ground clearance, a wide range of motion valuable for many terrains types. The truck will lower to improve efficiency, though again, the lowest settings create a much stiffer ride. But our drifting at medium height was plenty comfortable, as if that were an important metric for passengers mid-drift.
The Taycan family can be configured in a wide variety of ways, ranging from a RWD sedan with smaller battery to an absolute beast of the Turbo S Cross Turismo, an off-road capable wagon that can jet to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. The air suspension impressively allows for just over 2 inches of suspension travel, allowing lower ride height in efficiency settings and higher heights for soft-roading. In this case, however, we did a bit more than your average soft-roading.
Taking on unassuming routes was especially fun in the Taycan. The magic of the drive modes in the Cross Turismo allows it to extend suspension length to overcome most obstacles in everyday driving. Kyle approached the trail ascent slowly, in mild disbelief that he wasn’t going to scrape the earth away. But that’s one of the Cross Turismo party tricks. In lift mode on the suspension, the approach and departure angles seem to defy physics, or at least the preconceived notion of a hatchback-ified sports sedan leaving the tarmac.
Even the “road” – if you can call it that – that led us to and from the lake bed was slightly complicated. But in full height, the Taycan floated over the terrain. A 911 could never attempt the approach without constant fear of beaching, but the Taycan shows its colors in so many scenarios. Both vehicles crawled back to the pavement, where they immediately resumed their supercar capabilities.
The Taycan and R1T each have their unique strengths and limitations, but they exist in an age with Tesla domination by sheer numbers and the benefit of the Supercharger network. That being said, I surprised myself in considering the “ideal 2-car solution” to be these very cars. The incredible quality and capability of Taycan, even the 4, gives it an edge in my book. And the Rivian ethos is built on the off-road capability that can immediately switch to carving up a canyon road. In truth, both the Porsche Taycan and Rivian R1T can conquer much of the same terrain, but they have enough outlying talents in the Venn diagram of capability that I would simply need both.