The Rivian R1T might be one of the most excellent examples of how electric vehicles are inherently more advanced than an internal combustion engine with similar specs. Motortrend got their hands on one of these beautiful trucks and did a review which made me rethink exactly what an electric vehicle, and specifically an electric adventure vehicle, could be.
First, let’s talk about the design of the R1T
You may have noticed that it doesn’t look like a door stop. I like that. Admittedly, I am a bit conservative when it comes to vehicle design, so the Tesla Cybertruck was never meant for my market.
In my opinion, the R1T still looks like a truck. That’s a big selling point for folks who are not considered early adopters. It will be interesting to see how the conventional design and unconventional technology attracts buyers with different preferences.
Rivian somehow made the face of the R1T still look tough and aggressive while using oval-shaped cartoon eyes for headlights. The relatively bland styling from the A-pillar back leads into a similarly unexciting rear end. Anyone else getting Lincoln Aviator vibes with those tail lights?
Moving into the interior one would be greeted by a familiar television interface and monochromatic, minimalist design. Many manufacturers are putting panoramic sunroofs into their vehicles, and Rivian is no exception. However, I’m not complaining.
Rivian states they designed the front surround to “feel like a solid piece of furniture”. Incorporating natural-grained ash wood into the dash and around the center display is certainly on-brand, but the pictures make it look so pristine that I wouldn’t want to risk soiling the interior of my nice truck. My concern is customers ordering the Adventure trim would be the ones who would never use it for adventuring.
Performance that’s made to conquer
Enough about looks. Let’s get down to what really impresses me about this truck. Performance. That’s right, when it comes down to it, exactly how adventuring an adventure vehicle can get is more important than its photogenic potential.
I mean, there’s no way Jeep sells Wranglers based on beauty, right?
Unfortunately, Rivian has limited the number of journalists who can experience this truck at any one time, so we have yet to test out all of these specs. Based on Rivian’s website and Motortrend’s review, here’s what we can deduce:
The Rivian R1T utilizes four electric motors, and if you know anything about electric vehicles you can already see where this is going. A dedicated electric motor per wheel means the onboard computer can utilize witchcraft to make this hefty three-and-a-half-ton beast perform like a zippy and well-balanced sports sedan. 0-60 in 3 seconds? Yes, please.
Taken off-road, the real-time torque vectoring seems to provide excellent control on rough, slippery, or loose surfaces. Locking differentials and engaging a crawler gear ratio is unnecessary with this truck, just point and go.
Regenerative braking has four modes and can be set to maximum, which is excellent for descending perilous grades, all while putting a bit of go-go juice back into the battery, which is EPA rated for 314 miles of range. Rivian is currently looking to add a 400+ mile battery pack sometime in 2022. Of course, no one is achieving these numbers out in Mojave, but that’s enough range to get out there, have a bit of fun, and get back home.
One thing I do like is the multiple tire options that you can choose for your R1T straight from the factory. I would plan on using this as an adventure truck, so 20” all-terrains would be my choice, but consumers can also opt for either a 21” road tire, which offers better range, or 22” sport, which improves handling on tarmac.
The Rivian also doesn’t have any low hanging bits like a driveshaft or exhaust pipes, but even if it did, you can adjust the ride height from the standard 7.9 inches to an astonishing 14.4, which is three inches more than the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. That kind of difference is bound to make a man self-conscious.
But, what about my stuff?
For the expeditionary individual, what good is all that power and performance if you have nowhere to store your tents, rucksacks, grills, and adult beverages? Fear not, because the Rivian R1T has a 54 by 51-inch bed, which is short by pickup standards, but plenty for most people.
If you are particularly into overlanding, Yakima and Rivian designed a tent specifically for the R1T that you can secure to the bed via the cargo crossbars. Rivian claims it is a three-person tent but we all know what that means: one person is comfortable, the second is taller than six feet, and the third sleeps in the cab.
In addition, Rivian included an 11 cubic foot front trunk and a nifty gear tunnel storage compartment beneath the B-pillar that is 11.6 cubic foot. That’s a lot of trail mix. Or if you prefer your wilderness meals curated over an induction cooktop, you can opt for the Camp Kitchen, which comes complete with a cookware set and four-gallon water tank so you can wash said cookware set.
If there isn’t a marketing tagline that says, “Rivian R1T – you can adventure with everything including the kitchen sink” then I’m not sure what they’re doing.
In total, the Rivian R1T boasts 68 cubic feet of storage, which is almost very nice.
Electricity isn’t just for city folks anymore
I expect that the Rivian R1T will be an extremely capable adventure truck, and a capable adventure truck that looks good and is all electric. That is a combination that is difficult to find, although I imagine that further electrification of the American car market will make it the rule, not the exception.
Overall, although we haven’t had the chance to test one out in person, I am incredibly impressed with the R1T’s specs and am excited to see what this company does. The adventure-vehicle brand positioning is compelling, hence why SUVs sell like hotcakes, but Rivian takes it a step further by going all in on the “forever adventurous” mantra that seems to define not only their cars but their entire business model. The more I learn the more I hope that Rivian does well in the coming years and spreads their influence through the vehicle market.