These vehicles encourage their owners to take them wherever their hearts are content with practical, innovative, and rugged rides.
OK, let’s talk about electric vehicle start-up companies…
The universe will be brimming with them soon enough. Not just here in the USA, but all over the world.
However, let’s start with the good ol’ U. S. of A. Somewhere out of the Midwest, to be precise.
Rivian is purveyors of battery-electric powered “adventure” vehicles. These vehicles encourage their owners to take them wherever their hearts are content with practical, innovative, and rugged rides.
You get a choice of a unibody mid-size pickup truck and a three-row SUV. That’s just for starters. From there, you choose from the number of motors you want your Rivian to be powered by – two or four. There are a few other color and wheel options to choose from, but its primary content is standard – and generous.
Now that you’ve configured your R1T – that’s the pickup truck – or R1S – the SUV – then, you practically do everything online – configure, reserve, set up financing, and sign everything off. Except for when your vehicle is delivered to you. Rivian does the final delivery at your home, office, or anywhere you choose. In some cases, you can come to their nearest Service Center, as well.
In my case, I visited my nearest Service Center near Minneapolis. Not to take delivery of the white R1T you’re seeing on this page. I was doing this story for that other publication – the magazine I’m Managing Editor of – on what Rivian is all about. The purpose of the visit was to learn about Rivian and its products. And, I learned a lot!
The idea of even doing this story came about a year ago when I started working with battery-electric vehicles for this website. Whenever I was recharging one of our test vehicles, I noticed a growing number of Rivian R1Ts charging alongside me. I chatted with their owners and noticed how approachable, enthusiastic, and down-to-Earth they were.
From these interactions, my interest was piqued. Because another indicator of a company “doing things right” in this business are its customers. It is the ultimate barometer of an automotive entity and the way they do business.
With all of that said, I figured that the best way to learn about a vehicle manufacturer is to experience one of their offerings. This is where that white R1T comes in.
If I understood correctly, the test vehicle I drove had the Quad-motor system. That translates into a total of 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque. Rivian claims that 0-60 times were timed as quick as 3 seconds. They also claim a maximum tow rating of 11,000 pounds.
However, if you choose to get the Dual-motor version, then your horsepower rating drops to 600 horsepower. Maximum tow rating does not decrease. These performance numbers are nothing to sneeze at.
Using the large center screen, you get a choice of drive modes in either the R1T or R1S. For starters, the All Purpose mode is preset for “adventure.” This mode offers traction on both axles and an aggressive regenerative system with one-pedal driving. Sport mode lowers the suspension and gives you more performance overall. Conserve mode gives you the maximum range and enables one of the axles for driving. Lastly, there is now a Snow mode which will come in handy here in our part of the country.
Each mode has a distinct driving personality. I found more flexibility in Conserve mode due to its lighter throttle, yet the All Purpose mode is where most drivers want to be, since it gives you the best of all worlds. Sport seems fun, but probably best used when there is no snow or ice on the ground – as in our case.
Another indicator if which drive mode you should be in comes down to battery usage and range. I found that in Conserve mode, the range jumped to 321 miles with a 98% state of charge. Switching to Sport mode dropped that range to around 291 miles. In All Purpose mode, it sat happily at around 300 miles at 98% state of charge.
The driving environment is very luxurious. Yet, you’ll be surprised – or, not – to find that the R1T’s cab seats five in luxurious vegan leather with other sustainable materials throughout the cabin. The cab itself is spacious and ergonomically fantastic!
The driver gets a completely digital instrument cluster that is clean, graphical, and informative. To the right is a large touchscreen that houses infotainment and vehicle functions. The navigation system has a very detailed 3D-type mapping with directional overlay.
As for buttons, controls, and switches, they have been neatly confined in other two sets of minimal controls on the steering wheel, on the left stalk, and the large touchscreen in the center. It seems all intuitive and clean at the same time. Shifting is done through the right stalk.
The one thing I appreciated in the R1T is the overall practicality if this pickup truck. The bed is just 54.1-inches long and offers unique functionality with its Gear Guard locking system. This helps in cargo management when you need to tie down your bicycle, for example.
The R1T and R1S has a generous front trunk that has a lower hidden storage space. In all, there’s 11.7 cubic feet of space in front of the cab to fill up – luggage, included.
However, the R1T’s best party trick is its Gear Tunnel. Located between the cab and bed, this full width storage space is designed for longer items, such as skis, camp chairs, and so forth, You can lead up the Gear Tunnel, as long as you are below the weight capacity of 250 pounds.
As for the exterior design – it is unique and will stand out in a crowd. The vibe is contemporary and future-forward. The headlamp units are vertical multi-LED units, augmented by a horizontal multifunction lighting unit. The rear horizontal taillights are a cool touch.
This vehicle wore aggressive Pirelli Scorpion all-terrain tires on equally aggressive alloy wheels. The light orange brake calipers are another cool touch.
Pricing for the R1T starts at $73,000. There was no specific pricing available for the actual vehicle I drove. A quick spin on the configurator estimated the price of this tester at around $90,750.
Before I summarize my experience in the Rivian R1T, let me say that I have always been skeptical of start-up automotive manufacturers. Yet, from what I experienced in my short visit at the local Rivian Service Center tells me that this is a company committed to doing things right while satisfying customers along the way.
The R1T is a good first offering for Rivian. It exceeded my expectations. Is it a perfectly executed battery-electric pickup truck? Not perfect, but it has a place for its customers who want to fulfill the promise of adventure set forth by Rivian.
As the company progresses with charging network expansion, opening more Service Centers creating more customer engagement, and so forth, Rivian has a fighting chance to level up with the legacy manufacturers. Just like everything else, this does not happen overnight. Rivian and the R1T are pretty much on their way.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Rivian
All photos by Randy Stern