The Rivian R1T model line
—Launch Edition - $73,000, available now. Sold out
—Adventure - $73,000, available January 2022
—Explore - $67,500, available January 2022
I’m one of a handful of people who have driven both the R1T and GMC Hummer electric pickups, but it’s way too early to compare them. That’ll take days behind the wheel of each, driving in city, country and highways, charging batteries, loading their front trunks with groceries.
It’s already clear both deserve to be taken seriously, though.
My R1T drive encompassed busy surface streets, an idyllic small town and washboard dirt roads. The pickup was absolutely solid, not a squeak or rattle, despite being an early model from a company that never built a vehicle before.
An assembly line at Rivian’s electric truck factory in Normal, Il., Jan. 13, 2021. Shares in Rivian soared on their first day of trading, Nov. 10, 2021, hoisting the company’s market value well above that of large established automakers even before it begins significant production. (Lyndon French/The New York Times).....
The steering was firm and precise. The adaptive air suspension kept the R1T level in hard acceleration — 0-60 mph in about 3 seconds, a once unimaginable statistic that will become common as we become accustomed to EV performance.
There was nearly no road or wind noise, despite 20-inch wheels, all-terrain tires and a one-piece glass roof.
The Riv’s one-pedal braking — an EV-specific goodie that maximizes energy recapture during deceleration, slowing the R1T dramatically when you lift of the accelerator — is effective and intuitive. I got used to it in a few minutes, and would probably use it all the time if I had an R1T.
The R1T can tow 11,000 pounds and go 314 miles on a charge. A 400-plus mile package costs $10,000. Shorter range will be available later.
R1T facts and figures
—Electronically controller all-wheel drive
—Four motors, one at each wheel
—Front wheels: 415 horsepower/413 pound-feet of torque
—Rear wheels: 420 hp; 495 pound-feet
—Four drive modes
—Total system power 800-plus hp; 900-plus pound-feet
—3 second estimated 0-60 mph time
—Three-foot water fording
—11,000-pound towing capacity
—Independent air suspension
—Ground clearance: 8.9 inches access mode; 9.7-in. sport mode; 14.9 inches max
—Hydraulic roll control
—Length: 217.1 inches
—Width: 81.8 inches
—Height: 72.1 inches in park; 73.1 in sport; 78.3 off-road max
Vegan leather, real wood
The interior is comfortable and advanced, but not flashy. Vegan artificial leather covers comfortable seats. Heated and ventilated front seats are available.
The rear seat is roomy. There are storage bins under front and rear seats.
A full-length glass roof adds to the perception of space. It’s UV coated to screen out 99.9% of UV light, to reduce cabin heat on sunny days
A panel of natural-grain ash wood runs across the dash from door to door. The controls are simple. A 16-inch, landscape orientation touch screen in the middle manages most functions. A smaller screen in front of the driver provides speed, navigation and other information.
The R1T Launch Edition has a 1,200-watt Meridian sound system, recycled microfiber headliner, yellow interior accents and Chilewich floor mats.
“Gear Guard,” a Muppet-ish cartoon mascot that looks like he got lost on the way to a Grateful Dead show, personifies the R1T’s array of sensors, patrolling the touch screen when on duty, appearing to nap when the system is inactive.
The R1T has other unexpected features, including the gear tunnel, an 11.1 cubic-foot lockable secured space between the passenger cabin and bed that can hold anything from skis to a pull-out electric range and camp kitchen. A rechargeable flashlight stores in the door. The removable Bluetooth camp speaker incorporates a three-setting lantern and phone-charging USB ports.
Safety and driver-assist features
—Adaptive cruise control
—Lane change assist
—Lane keeping assist
—Blind spot alert
—Rear cross traffic alert
—Auto high beams
—Trailer reverse assist
—Forward collision alert
—Automatic emergency braking
—Emergency brake assist
Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.