Not everybody who buys Rivian’s R1T electrical pickup truck will drive it over basketball-sized rocks two miles above sea stage. However that have will be had on the North Fork Swan River path in Breckenridge, Colorado, which is the place the buzzy Amazon and Ford-backed startup gave The Verge and different media retailers one of many first probabilities to expertise the R1T — a modern, $67,500 luxurious four-by-four for affluent-but-still-outdoorsy sorts that’s lastly delivery to prospects after a number of delays.

For these casually maintaining with the growth in electrical automobiles, the R1T could ring a bell: it’s the truck that was introduced to a lot fanfare on the 2018 LA Auto Present by Rivian, which had beforehand been working in stealth mode since 2009. The corporate has since pounced on the joy and anticipation for its “electric adventure vehicles” (which embody the pickup and an SUV) and turned it into main monetary backing from Ford and Amazon, together with a deal to create a fleet of supply vans for the e-commerce large.

Two days with the R1T isn’t sufficient to say if this unbelievable effort will succeed or fail, however a whirlwind journey up into the mountains with the primary EV pickup to market did give me the sense that Rivian is aiming for a really particular sort of particular person, and that it has a really clear (and opinionated) image of what this new sort of electrical car ought to be.

The Rivian R1T in what could also be its pure habitat.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

Whereas the path took up the vast majority of driving time, I’ll begin with what it was prefer to drive the R1T on paved roads since that’s the place most vehicles are pushed. I obtained to expertise a variety of circumstances, from zooming up winding mountain passes to sitting in slow-moving development site visitors.

Rivian’s truck weighs round 6,000 kilos however is quicker and extra nimble than any automotive I’ve pushed. The R1T has 4 motors — one for every wheel — that may simply pin your head to the headrest for those who actually ground it. It’s lots of enjoyable (even for somebody like me who’s been accused of driving like a grandma), but it surely additionally serves a sensible objective; it’s a breeze to shoot up on-ramps or move combustion-powered automobiles on the freeway. That’s further true within the Colorado mountains, the place ICE automobiles will be starved for air as a result of elevation. I’d press the Rivian’s pedal and simply take off, all with out the roar of an engine — or the 3-second delay I’m used to as my 2008 Subaru Outback puzzles over what gear it ought to be in.

The R1T’s cockpit, with its panoramic roof and dual-screen setup.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

It’s additionally comfy and easy, with out being spartan like a Honda Factor or previous Jeep Wrangler. The R1T’s inside makes heavy use of an easy-to-clean (based on Rivian) vegan leather-based that looks like the true deal. The instrument cluster reveals you all probably the most related info, like velocity, drive mode, location, and vary, however manages to not be distracting when you’re really driving. Even the 16-inch heart display did not get in the best way of listening to the highway, and the dearth of bodily controls left loads of room for space for storing, together with a big mat the place you may toss something like a digital camera or your keys and a gull-winged heart console compartment.

Heart consoles are normally not value geeking out about, however this one was. The house in entrance of it additionally acts as a wi-fi charging pad.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

It’s straightforward to think about having a blast road-tripping within the R1T. The seats, together with the again row, are comfy, and also you gained’t have to fret about entry to energy for telephones and computer systems. The truck is filled with USB-C and 12V ports and even has a couple of customary 120V retailers (Rivian hasn’t actually stated whether or not the truck will be capable to energy an entire home in an emergency scenario, a function Ford says the F-150 Lightning may have). Plus, there’s tons of dry and lockable storage, from the frunk and kit tunnel to a cubby beneath the rear seat.

Oh sure, the gear tunnel: it’s a compartment that spans the width of the truck, the place you may throw your baggage, skis, and paddles (or actually anything you may consider). It’s sufficiently big for a human to squeeze into — a possibility that I simply couldn’t move up. It’s also possible to entry a minimum of a few of it from a hatch within the again seat of the R1T’s cab.

Loads of room to crawl round in (however NOT to experience in).
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

Paint me like considered one of your frunk ladies.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

The truck additionally comes with adaptive cruise management, which might make lengthy drives and stop-and-go site visitors extra bearable, and a set of driver help options referred to as Driver Plus. On pre-mapped stretches of freeway, the truck can take over steering duties, conserving you within the heart of the lane and even making an attempt to comply with curves. In my (very temporary) testing, it dealt with fantastic going round curves, however a message did pop up on the display warning me that I might should take over at any time. It does, nevertheless, nonetheless require that you just preserve your palms on the wheel. If it has to warn you thrice to concentrate, Driver Plus mode will flip off, and also you gained’t be capable to flip it on once more till you place the truck in park.

The load of the R1T’s 135kWh battery pack is unfold out alongside your complete size of the truck, serving to it keep away from some conventional truck issues. I didn’t expertise any of the fishtails that I used to cope with after I owned a Chevy S10 or after I drove a mid-2000s Ford Ranger. That weight additionally retains the Rivian planted when going into curves, with out the physique roll that generally comes with larger automobiles. Regardless of the R1T’s quickness and high-tech options, it nonetheless drives like a truck. The excessive carriage means you experience fairly excessive up, and you’ve got to concentrate on the quantity of house you’re taking over on the highway. Whereas the R1T isn’t any Escalade or Tundra, it nonetheless towers over all however the largest sedans.

Prefer it or not, the R1T will most likely develop into the usual level of comparability on the subject of speaking about electrical vehicles as a result of it’s the primary one to make its approach into prospects’ palms. That doesn’t imply that it gained’t should compete in opposition to vehicles from Ford, Tesla, and others, but it surely does imply that its idea of an EV truck being one thing for well-to-do outside fanatics might be going to be one which sticks within the minds of shoppers. If an electrical truck comes out that may’t do 0-60 in shut to a few seconds, that’ll virtually actually get introduced up in opinions as a result of the R1T can do it. Up till this level, the expertise and traits of an EV with a truck mattress have largely been theoretical, which made expectations extra fluid. After driving the R1T, although, I can say it was precisely what I imagined an electrical truck feeling like given what I find out about EV automobiles and common vehicles.

Sadly, the one factor I’ve to maintain imagining is the charging expertise, as I by no means obtained to plug within the truck. Rivian’s excuse for this was that journeys to a fuel station wouldn’t be a part of a press drive of a brand new fuel automotive. I might (and did) argue that for those who have been driving a fuel automotive for 3 days you most likely would fill its tank in some unspecified time in the future, however so far as I’m conscious none of us obtained to expertise charging the automotive outdoors of the handful of miles we gained from regenerative braking. Every evening, Rivian whisked the vehicles away to be cleaned and charged up for the following day’s adventures.

The vehicles starting their nightly exodus.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

All I can communicate to is what it’s prefer to open and shut the door to the usual CCS1 charging port. Just like the hood, gear tunnel doorways, and tailgate, it may be opened both with a bodily button, or utilizing the touchscreen. (The hood and cost port door will be closed utilizing the touchscreen as nicely.) Rivian additionally advised me that for those who begin driving with the cost door open, it’ll shut routinely. That looks like an unbelievable luxurious to me. I all the time overlook to shut the charging door on my plug-in hybrid Ford Fusion.

The frunk, gear tunnel doorways, and charging port will be opened and closed from the touchscreen.

The Rivian’s air suspension going from low to excessive, sped up 4 occasions.

Since Rivian charged the vehicles for us in a single day, I by no means had any vary anxiousness with the R1T, even whereas we have been off-roading. Our check mannequin was able to going 314 miles on a full cost, however I don’t assume I ever noticed it dip beneath 90 miles, even after a full day of driving.

Past providing ample vary, Rivian is accommodating adventurous drivers with 5 drive modes, which you’ll freely swap between: there’s All Goal for paved and dust highway driving, Off-Street for when issues get rocky, Sport for those who’re on the lookout for velocity, and the aptly named Preserve and Towing modes. The Off-Street mode additionally has profiles like rock crawl, rally, and auto that change numerous issues, just like the experience peak (which might go from 7.9 inches to 14.4 inches utilizing the air suspension), braking habits, suspension stiffness, and extra.

In 2019, Rivian introduced that the truck would have a “tank turn” feature, letting it mainly do donuts whereas staying in a single place. That function has since been delayed, so I didn’t get to strive it out (a disgrace, as it might’ve helped me keep away from a 4 level turnaround).

I’m the kind of individual that Rivian appears to be concentrating on with it’s adventure-focused advertising and marketing; I spend virtually each weekend climbing, biking, or kayaking after I can. So I used to be extraordinarily excited after I was advised that we’d be performing some “serious off-roading.” I did additionally surprise how severe it might actually be — this was a press occasion in spite of everything, would Rivian actually be throwing us at hardcore trails, probably risking their vehicles? (Not that shedding a truck could be devastating to an organization that’s raised $10 billion {dollars} in funding.)

Apparently, sure. I don’t need to faux like we have been doing hardcore rock crawling, however we actually obtained to see how the truck dealt with steep, unfastened climbs, water crossings, and conditions the place we have been driving at an excessive angle over very uneven floor (although I don’t assume we ever lifted multiple wheel off the bottom). And the R1T dealt with all these issues superbly.

One thing that I believed quite a bit all through the day was “this feels like it should require skill.” As a substitute of worrying about conserving the engine on the proper RPM so I’d have sufficient torque to clear the following impediment, I simply pressed the accelerator and we went ahead. There have been many occasions that, had I been driving a fuel truck, I possible would’ve needed to again as much as get a little bit momentum going, which I by no means needed to do within the R1T. The Rivian was tall sufficient that it might drive over many of the rocks we encountered — and that was in its “high” experience peak setting of 13.1 inches, not even the “max” setting of 14.4 inches.

Wanting again on the path we drove to get to one of many summits.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

With that stated, there have been moments that I (an individual who solely often off-roads) was nervous: among the aforementioned intense angles left me gripping the colloquially named “oh shit” handles, which backseat passengers even have entry to, and did their job nicely. Additionally, I all the time hate it when the sky’s the one factor you may see out of the windshield. However the truck by no means felt like it was breaking a sweat, particularly when going downhill — I simply saved my foot off the pedal and let the regen braking preserve me at round 4mph. It was a lot simpler than the engine braking I’m used to, the place it’s a must to resolve between going 10 in second gear, and 35 in third.

One of many quietly spectacular moments for me was close to the start of the path; it was comparatively steep and, as I found, completely iced out. We stopped the truck to change drivers, and after I obtained out to let the opposite journalist I used to be driving with take the wheel, I discovered simply how slippery the path was in a hilarious style.

Often when driving you are concerned about black ice, not mud-colored ice.

I believed that, since we have been ranging from a lifeless cease on an intense grade, the R1T’s entrance wheels would a minimum of slip on the ice a bit earlier than it discovered its footing, very like I did (particularly since a Rivian engineer advised me that it sends extra energy to the entrance wheels than the rear in rock crawling mode). As a substitute, it simply drove proper over the slippery floor prefer it wasn’t there.

In fact, the truck isn’t magic, and there may be nonetheless some stage of talent required for those who’re going to be doing tough trails. We managed to tear a gap within the sidewall of our tire, and needed to do a really dusty spare swap. Fortunately, the truck is ready to maintain a full-size spare, tucked away within the mattress (including one is an $800 choice for the 20-inch all-terrain tires we have been utilizing throughout the check drive), so we have been in a position to get proper again to driving fairly shortly. Apparently the rock we hit was problematic; the Rivian of us stated they’d gotten flats there earlier than with a earlier group. There was additionally a fairly technical climb the place we had a spotter serving to us out, as a result of the entrance and facet going through cameras the truck is provided with might solely achieve this a lot.

The complete-size spare and stablization-platform-equipped jack helped us get again on the path.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

The R1T’s suite of cameras may help you see upcoming obstacles, and get a really feel for the place your sidewalls are.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

The R1T can deal with unpaved terrain, however Rivian additionally says it desires the truck to take a look at dwelling within the woods. I’m not likely the suitable particular person to say whether or not it achieves that or not — for my part new and glossy issues look misplaced in nature (truthfully, something made by people is stretching it). I believe it matches in with nature much better than, say, the chrome steel, trapezoidal Cybertruck, although the mountain goats we noticed on the journey didn’t appear to like seeing six or seven Rivians in a row, as they shortly made themselves scarce.

Like Patagonia (a comparability Rivian’s CEO has made earlier than), I can see the R1T’s design and driving expertise interesting each to those that choose town and to people who find themselves solely barely joking by calling themselves hiker trash. Although it’s actually not going to be a car designed for these trying to journey on a funds given its beginning worth of $67,500. Even factoring within the possible $7,500 federal EV tax credit, that’s an costly car for most individuals, particularly those that are extra enthusiastic about spending time outdoor than being historically employed. Increased-end fuel vehicles can attain comparable costs, however you may get into them less expensive: Ford just lately introduced it’s Maverick pickup truck, which is considerably much less luxurious than the R1T, but in addition comes with a hybrid drivetrain and begins at round $20,000.

There are a couple of nitpicks I had with the R1T. The dearth of CarPlay or Android Auto is a bummer, although it might be considerably mitigated by the truck’s built-in navigation and Spotify app. The build-it-yourself method has labored for Tesla, so Rivian may very well be fantastic if it actually nails the UX.

It’s lots of enjoyable watching the vents transfer, however I want I might simply do it manually.

Some heating and cooling buttons would even be a lot appreciated although. Because it stands, the local weather controls reside solely in software program. The display can be not laggy, per se, but it surely may very well be extra responsive. It’s value noting, although, that it was working pre-production software program, and that Rivian can all the time make enhancements with over-the-air updates. Rivian must hurry on these updates if they need them carried out earlier than vehicles begin making their approach to prospects, as production R1Ts are currently being built. A Rivian consultant advised me that the truck’s pc has “supercomputer” ranges of energy, which wasn’t evident by way of the UI (like it’s with Tesla’s means to play AAA video games), although the Driver Plus system possible pushes the {hardware} tougher.

I additionally discovered that the dearth of a conventional step-up truck bumper made it a bit tough to simply soar up into the mattress and seize one thing, although after I talked about this to a Rivian worker they stated that they’d been utilizing the gear tunnel door for that objective. Whereas that positively works, having to open the door after which shut it once more is a little more of a ache than simply grabbing onto the tailgate and hoisting your self up.

So, after happening what was mainly the most effective check drive ever, who do I believe the R1T is for? It looks as if a sensible choice for many who prefer to go off-roading, as my expertise reveals that it’s able to some fairly excessive stuff. That’ll additionally make it a sensible choice for campers, particularly those that take less-traveled roads to get to wherever they’re staying. Rivian clearly has these of us in thoughts — the truck’s storage is nice for many who prefer to deliver a lot of luxury items with them to the outdoors, and the corporate has even teamed up with Yakima to create a rooftop tent for the R1T. Plus, with the R1T being a truck, it’ll be good for many who simply desire a mattress for hauling outsized gadgets, bikes, or issues that might be lots of work to wash out of a automotive like potting soil or Christmas bushes.

Rivian says the gooseneck hinge permits for the 4.5-foot lengthy mattress to be expanded to 83.6 inches.
Photograph by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

As for many who continuously tow issues, the R1T may be a blended bag. Whereas it’s rated for 11,000 kilos, Rivian says that truly pulling that a lot weight will lower your vary in half. Even with the $10,000 max battery pack choice, which Rivian predicts will get you “400 plus” miles, that’s not a ton of vary. The truck is probably not an awesome match for those who usually carry lengthy objects, like tandem kayaks or development supplies; with the tailgate closed, you’re solely a 4.5-foot mattress, and even the intelligent tailgate extension mechanism solely will get you 7 ft of ground house. And, once more, there’ll most likely be lots of people that the R1T appeals to who merely can’t afford it.

It is probably not an awesome choice for folks craving for the small vehicles of yesteryear both, as a lot of my household and pals do. I obtained to speak to the Rivian’s CEO, RJ Scaringe, at a campfire-side dinner, and after getting our introductions out of the best way I advised him about my clan’s pleas for a single-cab, 6-foot mattress truck. He mainly advised me that he heard me, however that the corporate is at present making an attempt to make issues that enchantment to lots of people. He advised me the identical factor after I requested about whether or not the truck may very well be towed flat behind one thing like an RV — the present mannequin can’t, but it surely’d be attainable to make one. It will simply rely on whether or not there have been sufficient folks enthusiastic about that type of factor to make it worthwhile.

Talking of that dinner, all of the meals we ate have been cooked on the $5,000 camp range that stows away within the gear tunnel, (which does imply you’re down one storage compartment). The camp range is fancier than the classic green Coleman stove: it will get electrical energy from sockets constructed into the sled that it rolls out on, and makes use of induction burners as an alternative of fuel. It additionally comes with a set of Snow Peak dishes, silverware, cookware, and low gear. Whereas I didn’t get to prepare dinner on it, I can say that Rivian’s cooks have been in a position to make some fairly nice meals utilizing the system, although I’d chalk lots of that as much as their talent slightly than tools.

Regardless of that, Rivian could wrestle to get traction with truck fanatics. It’s a market with lots of model loyalty (there’s a category of truck house owners who’re so happy with their chosen model that they buy bumper stickers making enjoyable of anybody unfortunate sufficient to drive one thing else), and the R1T doesn’t have the type of macho-rugged appears of among the different mid-size vehicles. Regardless of being across the similar measurement, it didn’t look notably aggressive or commanding subsequent to a two-door Tacoma, and that’ll be much more true when evaluating it in opposition to, say, a lifted F-250. Whereas these forms of vehicles don’t enchantment to me, they’re clearly standard: dual-cab, short-bed vehicles are some of the top-selling vehicles in America, and electrification doesn’t essentially line up with the picture these automobiles undertaking. The R1T is compelling to drive, however that’ll solely assist if persons are keen to offer it an opportunity.

Rivian doesn’t assume that is an insurmountable drawback. Among the of us I talked to thought the corporate would be capable to win over individuals who wouldn’t have essentially thought of a truck earlier than, and have been comfy with not capturing your complete truck market (and thus not having to transform the hardcore truck folks). Plus, they assume among the creature comforts may very well be interesting: Rivian says that the truck is designed to slot in the typical American storage, one thing that a lot of modern trucks can’t do. In different phrases, Rivian goes after the categories of people that purchase Subarus and Land Rovers, slightly than Power Wagons.

The truth is, after I pressed Rivian about whether or not it anticipated actually outdoorsy folks to be drawn to its vehicles, the corporate admitted that only a few R1T house owners have been more likely to take their vehicles on the kind of trails we went on — although it suspected that extra Rivian house owners would take it on bumpy, barely rocky dust roads that ended up at a campsite than, say, the kind of one that bought an H2. Rivian additionally suspects that its prospects can be a self-selecting group — the individuals who purchase Rivian’s branding and ethos can be the kind of individuals who need to spend so much of time outdoor, based on the corporate.

I really noticed this primary hand — a park ranger from White River Nationwide Forest joined our off-road group, and by the top she stated she was satisfied and was a minimum of contemplating shopping for an R1T. The occasion, which felt like a camp (or perhaps glamp) getaway greater than a media occasion, satisfied me that lots of people at Rivian beloved the outside like I do — many of the staff I talked to had a minimum of one pastime that concerned spending time in nature.

Now these staff should show that there are extra folks like them which might be keen to purchase their automobiles. That may be simpler if potential prospects obtained to have the identical expertise I did; each a part of it, from driving on mountain pathways, to chatting with Rivan’s CEO round a campfire, to crawling by way of the truck’s gear tunnel, was actually an journey. However, as with most adventures, it’s onerous to think about it being my on a regular basis life — and that’s a little bit how I ended up feeling in regards to the R1T itself.


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