2022 Rivian R1T First Drive Review: The Electric Truck Revolution

The 2022 Rivian R1T is the first mass-produced electric truck to hit the US market, but that’s hardly the most interesting thing about it. Despite its electric powertrain, the R1T is unlike any pickup we’ve ever driven – part truck, part sport sedan, and 100 percent amazing. It’s anticipated that pickup buyers are too conservative to embrace electrification, but after our first drives at the pre-production Rivian R1T, both on-road and off-road, we think it’s the electric truck that will give them the go-ahead. will convert into believers.

There’s so much we want to tell you about the Rivian R1T that it’s hard to pick a place to start, so let’s start with the basic layout. Sizewise, the R1T is a twinner, slotting somewhere between a midsize pickup like the Chevy Colorado and a traditional half-tonner like the Ford F-150. The size and compact bed of the Rivian R1T mimic those of “lifestyle” trucks like the Honda Ridgeline and Hyundai Santa Cruz, but it will weigh 11,000 pounds according to Rivian and rock crawl like a Jeep Gladiator, according to us. And it jets around corners like no pickup truck ever does.

Four Motors, No Waiting

The killer apps of the Rivian are its powertrain and suspension setup. The R1T features a four-motor, four-wheel-drive system with height-adjustable air suspension and interconnected hydraulics for damping and roll control. Like many EVs, it is very Quick: Two motors on each axle deliver 415 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels and 420 horses and 495 lb-ft to the rear, and Rivian claims a 0-60 time of 3.0 seconds. We haven’t given R1T to our Test team yet, but we think that number is very likely.

The motor that powers each corner also means remarkable agility on-road or off-road. With each wheel driven independently, the Rivian R1T delivers real-time torque vectoring, delivering power to the corner where it’s needed, with no delay to shut off the clutch or couple viscous couplings Is. Rivian’s electric truck takes full advantage of this by providing a plethora of drive modes and submodes that prove just how programmable and adaptable the platform is.

Rivian R1T on-road: The beauty of torque vectoring

The standard on-road drive mode is aptly called All-Purpose, and even if you’ve never switched the Rivian R1T from this default setting, you’ll find it remarkably fast and definitely. The R1T jet takes off from traffic lights, rides comfortably, and keeps a quick, steady line through sweeping curves. If you’re concerned about increasing the range of the R1T’s estimated 300-mile range (a 400-mile battery pack is also coming), the R1T can be switched to two-wheel drive to save power.

We were enjoying the Rivian quite a bit as we went through a sort of experiment: we activated Sport Mode, pushed hard enough in a sharp turn to stimulate a little understeer, and then strangled. We felt the R1T’s torque-vectoring superpowers at work: The outer-rear motor powered up and brought the R1T’s nose around, and we blasted out of the turn like the Millennium Falcon—and it was the four occupants in the cab. With, several hundred pounds of gear in bed, and all-terrain tires. It’s a sensation we’ve only experienced in a handful of cars, and never in a heavily loaded pickup truck.

Rivian R1T Off-Road: Tread lightly and quietly

The R1T has a different set of drive modes for off-roading, and they allow the driver to increase suspension and reduce throttle response to various degrees. This allows the same truck to fly tip-toe through paved curves over obstacles that can stop even a Jeep Wrangler. Unlike an internal combustion off-roader, the Rivian doesn’t have a driveshaft and low-hanging bits like differential and exhaust pipes, just a sleek, flat undertray from which the wheels and their attachments stick out. Ground clearance starts at a very usable 7.9 inches and expands to 14.4, the latter exceeding the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon’s dirt truck by 3.3 inches. The R1T also has a built-in air compressor, so you can air tires for off-roading with the knowledge that you can easily pump them back up for pavement.

Off-roading in the R1T is a mind-blowing. It runs smoothly and quietly, with its four-motor drivetrain sensing slip and powering each wheel as needed. There is no crawler gear ratio to engage, no gap to lock, no anti-roll bar to release; Just drive and apply the appropriate throttle, and the R1T just drives at whatever you point at it, with eerie smoothness and silence—the loudest sound we heard was the crunching of pebbles under its tires. The R1T’s superhero regenerative braking system also makes sure it slows down as well, so the R1T doesn’t run into sharp downgrades.

Rivian’s regenerative breaks probably deserve their own separate story, but we’ll give them a paragraph here. The R1T has four user-selectable levels of regeneration. Drivers who are not familiar with or comfortable with one-pedal driving – an EV feature whereby the driver is required to operate only the accelerator in most situations, as electric motors slow the vehicle down when lifting – it in low or medium The engine is slow compared to braking in a R1T gasoline powered car. We preferred Maximum mode for off-road driving, however, as it allowed us to have precise speed control without worrying about locking the wheels, as we might do with friction brakes. On the open road, max mode equals going too hard on the binders, so we dialed back to high. The R1T’s regenerative brake setup is powerful enough to stop the truck, and we only needed the brake pedal for panic stops.

a place for your belongings

Obviously, we were very well blown away by the way the Rivian R1T drives, and we think most pickup buyers will be too. But there are other impressive aspects to its personality, and one is storage. The Rivian’s powertrain is arranged like a skateboard. Keeping a traditional pickup size left room for a large cargo bay under the power-powered hood. There’s also a full-width (transverse!) pass-through, called the Rivian Gear Tunnel, behind the rear seats and in front of the bed. Among the things you can fill it with is an optional ($5,000) kitchen that can be outfitted with a full set of Snow Peak utensils and an induction range. And the bed offers a lockable tonneau cover—electrically powered, naturally.

In contrast, there’s a slight lack of internal storage for small odds and ends, but for the most part we liked the R1T’s cab, especially the comfortable front seats and excellent visibility. The rear seat is tight and not particularly comfortable, so it’s best for short trips.

Potential Fault: Rivian R1T’s User Interface

If there was one thing about this truck that gave us pause, it’s the user interface. The Rivian has taken a Tesla-like approach, minimizing the use of physical switchgear in favor of touchscreen menus and multi-purpose buttons on the steering wheel. Even the air conditioning vents have to be adjusted through the screen, a Tesla Model 3-aping feature that seems nifty at first but quickly reveals itself as a huge pain in the back – Who wants to swipe through the climate menus just to adjust a vent?

We loved the screen’s crisp graphics and smooth animations, but the menu system has a high learning curve. On several occasions we found ourselves unable to adjust the cruise control speed because the steering wheel buttons were still set to adjust the mirrors and steering column. Some of our staff (mainly younger ones) had no trouble sifting through the menu, but others found it overwhelming. That said, we drove pre-production trucks whose user interface was still being updated and finalized. The engineers at Rivian were eager for our feedback, and we expect the software in production trucks to be more user-friendly.

2022 Rivian R1T: It Changes Everything

Our first drive of the Rivian R1T impressed us not only with the truck but by the prospect of what electrification could do for one of America’s most popular vehicle segments. The Rivian R1T feels like the vehicle of the future, but it also feels like it’s pretty well grounded in the here and now. It tackles tough terrain as well as or better than an internal combustion pickup, and the combination of pavement handling prowess and off-road finesse is simply unmatched in any other current truck. If the Rivian R1T is the future of pickup trucks—and we certainly think so—then the future can’t come too soon.

2022 Rivian R1T Specifications
cost $67,500-$73,000 (est)
layout Front- and Rear-Motor, AWD, 5-Pass, 4-Door Truck
motors 2 x 208-hp/207-lb-ft front plus 2 x 210-hp/248-lb-ft rear AC permanent-magnet electric, 835 hp/908 lb-ft (comb)
transmission 1-speed auto
curb weight 7,000 lb (est)
wheelbase 135.9 inches
l x w x h 217.1 x 79.3 x 69.5-75.6 inches
0-60 MPH 3.0 sec (mfr est)
EPA fuel economy not tested yet
on sale September, 2021

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