There’s something unparalleled about powering a four-wheel hunk of metal up a vertiginous mountain, crawling over boulders and making short work of ruts that would graveyard your traditional crossover. Dare I say Alpha Male Bolstering. Man and machine working in unison to traverse landscapes plucked from a spaghetti western.
We’ve done it in hulking machinery bearing Land Rover, Jeep and Mercedes-AMG badges, their locking differentials grinding in battle with huge V8s gulping gallons of petrol in exchange for inches of land cleared. But it’s quite a sensation to experience it in utter silence. The only sound the grinding of rubber against rock, of friction and labouring metal — the result of batteries and electric motors in place of an internal combustion engine: i.e. the Rivian R1T, the first electric
pickup in America being delivered to eager futurists. With 754 horsepower, 826 lb-ft of peak torque, and a 0-60 sprint of three seconds, Rivians R1T will put a smile on your face. Hence excitement is high from early adaptors for trucks like the R1T because EVs have the potential to not just equal their ICE-powered peers, but actually to leap them — thanks to all that juice, plus the ability to scale a 45-degree mountain, wade through a river more than three feet deep, and transport some 1,760-lbs of payload.
During our drive of the R1T we experienced exactly this, and were impressed with its innate off-road aptitude and general balance. This is aided by Rivians EV architecture, with a lower center of gravity than anything else drinking gasoline. The Launch Edition comes loaded with four motors and a 135 kWh battery pack that generates the Moab-chewing 754 horses and all that torque. Concerned with range? Don’t be, as the R1T also boasts over 300 miles of off-roading between recharges — and it can tow 11,000 lbs. While the R1T kills off-road, it’s no slouch on the tarmac.
Its absurd 3.0-second 0 to 60 launch guarantees performance unlike any pickup you’ve ever piloted. Combined with its low center of gravity and hydraulic anti-roll suspension system, the R1T drives better than any pickup this side of the Raptor. Plus Rivian stacked its launch vehicle with tons of goodies. There’s even an optional
tent and outdoor kitchen for plug-and-play adventuring. Sure, Tesla’s Cybertruck broke the internet (and its allegedly “shatterproof ” windows) when Elon Musk pulled the sheets off it back in late 2019, but it may be a minute before that totem of Tron design hits showrooms. Other ion-powered trucks like the Ford F150 Lightning and Hummer EV should be launching some time in spring. The Rivian R1T meanwhile is already being delivered into driveways. Other than its futuristic fascia, replete with vertical LED headlamps and horizontal lightbar, the R1T looks, drives and feels like a normal pickup. It makes just enough of a futurist statement without screaming Look at me! like Tesla’s entry.
In a segment as traditional as this, it matters. With over US$3 billion in announced investment, and contracts with industry titans like Ford and Amazon, it’s important to note Rivians foundation is rock solid. Unlike many startups whose future might be cloudy, Rivian is here to stay — and play.