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2024 Rivian R1T Electric pickup pioneer

Benjamin Yong Darpan, 27 Mar, 2024 02:54 PM
  • 2024 Rivian R1T Electric pickup pioneer

Rivian is a verified trailblazer in the auto industry. It was the first manufacturer to produce a zero-emission pickup for the consumer market. Headquartered in California with tech offices here in Vancouver, its first foray into the space is notable.

The R1T is offered alongside the R1S SUV, identical to the B-pillar forwards. The truck truly manages to stand out on the road, boasting unique oval LED headlamps connected to a horizontal light bar. The rounded elements of the nose contrast against the rest of the body’s rectangular shape. Thick protective cladding runs all around the bottom of the vehicle, and at the rear, there’s a complementary wrap-around taillamp bar. A pair of polished tow hooks integrated into the front bumper above the matching skidplate.  

One of the biggest attractions is the Gear Tunnel, a massive 328-litre storage compartment behind the rear doors. Accessed via two motorized panels on either side, when both are lowered, you can see clear through, making this a great place to stash skis, snowboards, or any other long and awkwardly shaped items.

Buyers can equip up to 22-inch wheels — our Quad-Motor loaner rode on 20-inch All-Terrain Dark split five-spoke alloys shod in rugged Pirelli Scorpion rubber, part of the All-Terrain Upgrade also bundling underbody protection and matching spare tire (+ $5,800).

The minimalistic interior combines leading tech and a sustainable, attractive aesthetic. The seats are comfortable and upholstered in easy-to-clean and visually interesting faux leather. The microfiber headliner overhead is made out of 100 percent recycled materials and feels upscale.

Operating the Rivian requires a fresh approach, particularly for those without EV experience. Virtually all functions are handled through the 15.6-inch central touchscreen. I sat puzzled in the driver’s seat before realizing that changing the side mirror position required first tapping on the user account menu button and then using the steering wheel thumb control to perform the actual adjustment.  

Occupants won’t be left wanting for comfort and convenience. The front seats can fold virtually flat to facilitate catching Zs when parked, and all rows have sufficient legroom. The bed volume is 828 litres, 311 litres in the frunk, and the aforementioned 328 litres in the gear tunnel.

Even furry companions will enjoy the journey thanks to a Pet Comfort mode that maintains a comfortable temperature inside. At the same time, the people have stepped away, and a special message pops up on the main display, assuring onlookers all is well.

Currently, the R1T is offered in either Quad or Dual Motor AWD flavours and, new for 2024, with four different battery sizes (note that the automaker has removed the grade-topping Max Pack option for the former powertrain, and whether it returns remains to be seen). As mentioned above, Darpan was given the opportunity to try the Quad AWD, which outputs a mighty impressive 835 horsepower and 908 lb-t of torque.

The accompanying 135-kilowatt-hour Large Pack battery allows the approximately 7,000-pound behemoth to travel over 500 kilometres on a full charge. Using a Rivian Level 2 48-amp charging station at home, expect a full top-up to take around 12 hours. Plugging into a high-output 350-kilowatt Level 3 public source should get the reserves from 10 to 80 percent in the neighbourhood of 40 to 45 minutes.

Considering the gargantuan performance lurking beneath the bodywork, the vehicle behaves remarkably tamely until the go pedal is pressed to the floor. There are multiple dynamic modes that alter throttle response, suspension height and dampening, drivetrain layout, and more. In town running errands? Conserve switches to front-wheel drive mode and hunkers the stance down for better aerodynamics and overall efficiency. Hitting the trail? Off-Road Rock Crawl is capable of independently sending torque to each corner to maximize grip.

Given its large dimensions, handling is sharper than expected, thanks to a slick hydraulic roll control replacing a conventional mechanical anti-roll bar. And when you do utilize a heavy foot, hold on to your hats. Blistering is the only appropriate adjective to describe the acceleration feel. We didn’t do any hauling, but the towing capacity is rated at 11,000 pounds.

The Rivian R1T (and R1S) is built in Normal, Illinois. The company also has plans to make a smaller, more affordable mid-size EV crossover, dubbed the R2, out of a new factory in Georgia starting in 2026.

Highlights (as tested):  

MSRP: $139,600

Motor: four electric motors

Horsepower: 835 (net)   

Torque (lb-ft): 908 (net)

Gearbox: one-speed automatic

Layout: all-wheel drive   

Fuel economy: 3.7 Le/100 km mixed city/highway (manufacturer estimate)

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