• Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks

The Rivian R1T checks almost all boxes and could very well attain dominance in the electric pickup truck market

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The Rivian R1T has taken the pickup truck segment by storm. And, this isn’t an exaggeration. The decade-old startup has managed to bring out a truck that has covered almost all the bases quite well. It’s strong on power (800+ horses), performance (0-60 mph in three seconds), range (400 miles), technology (tank turn, gear guard, etc.), and even towing capacity (11,000 pounds). Even though EVs are the future, a lot of people have still not warmed up to the idea of them for a variety of reasons. The Rivian R1T, however, is that EV you tell those people about and they’ll feel a little more confident about them. Despite there being a plethora of electric trucks in the market now - the Ford F-150 Lightning, the GMC Hummer EV, and the Tesla Cybertruck, to name a few – here’s why the R1T will be the one standing tall.

Orthodox, But Futuristic Looks

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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Looks are subjective, so to each his own, but the Rivian R1T manages to bring the best of both worlds together. It retains the same orthodox shape of a traditional pickup truck, unlike the Tesla Cybertruck, but doesn’t look as plain-Jane, unlike the F-150 Lightning. You’ll find two vertical-slotted headlights with an LED bar running the width of the truck up front. The DRLs surrounding the headlights serve as turn indicators, whereas the wide LED bar doubles up as a charging light when plugged in.

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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The square wheel arches with black plastic cladding, flush door handles, and 20-inch wheels lend a sporty side profile. You can even opt for bigger 21- or 22-inch wheels. There’s a LED strip at the rear that spans the entire width of the truck, just like the one on the front fascia. You’ll have to shell out top moolah to get the electrically operated Tonneau cover. Inside the bed, you have household-style outlets. Underneath the floorboard, the automaker has placed a full-size spare wheel. There’s an onboard air compressor here as well. All said and done, the truck bed is just 4.5 feet, which can be a deal-breaker for some folks.

As for its dimensions, the Rivian R1T is 217.1 inches long, 79.3 inches wide, and 73 inches tall. The wheelbase measures 135.8 inches and it can sit up to 14.5 inches off the ground.

A Camping-Ready, Overlanding Truck

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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This is something you won’t find in any other truck out there. The R1T comes with a gear tunnel behind the rear seats that can be accessed from both sides of the truck by pressing the buttons placed on the bed rails. Each door can bear a weight of up to 300 pounds, which means you can climb on it, sit on it, and keep heavy things that don’t take up a lot of space while camping.

Yes, the gear tunnel is pretty cool and has varied uses, but the coolest use is it being turned into a portable kitchen! The automaker will offer a slide-out camp kitchen. that includes a countertop, a two-burner electric cooktop, a four-gallon water tank, sink, and a 30-piece dishware set. If you’d like this on your R1T, you’ll have to pony up an additional $5,000. Along with this slide-out kitchen – or without, it’s up to you – you can opt for a gear tunnel shuttle, which slides out from the passenger side and comes with 12-volt and 110-volt outlets.

Offers More Space Than Rivals

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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Speaking of the space the truck offers, you get a massive frunk that offers 11 cubic feet of space. That’s more than the main cargo area of some cars! In all honesty, the frunk capacity is less than the F-150 Lightning and the GMC Hummer EV – 14.1 and 11.3 cubic feet, respectively – but what it loses in the frunk department, it gains with the gear tunnel. The gear tunnel, on the other hand, offers 11.6 cubic feet of space. It is wide and long enough to accommodate suitcases, duffle bags, and whatnot.

Only Available Electric Truck With Four Motors

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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The Rivian R1T is underpinned by a skateboard platform and comes with a quad-motor setup as standard – one electric motor on each wheel – that puts out 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque combined. The F-150 Lightning features a dual-motor setup, the GMC Hummer a tri-motor setup, and the Bollinger B2 two electric motors. The Tesla Cybertruck is announced with a tri-motor setup in its best avatar, but Musk confirmed that a quad-motor Cybertruck is in the works. The automaker will most likely drop the single-motor setup, since none of its chief rivals offer less than two motors, in favor of a top-spec four-motor model. But, we’ll take this with a pinch of salt till the reservations for the quad-motor Cybertruck open. The Lordstown Endurance is the only other truck that is set to come with four motors, but can it take on Rivian R1T? We’ll have to wait and watch.

As for its performance specs, Rivian claims that the R1T can sprint to 60 mph from rest in three seconds and to 100 mph in seven seconds. Car and Driver, however, could do it in 3.3 seconds Nevertheless, it is pretty impressive for a truck that weighs 7,173 pounds!

The R1T also comes with eight drive modes and Rivian showcased how each of them performs:

  • Sport Mode
  • Off-Road Drift Mode
  • All-Purpose Drive Mode
  • Off-Road Auto Mode
  • Off-Road Rock Crawl Mode
  • Off-Road Rally Mode
  • Conserve Mode
  • Towing

Could Be The Most Efficient Electric Truck

The 2020 Rivian R1T Electric Truck Middle Fingers Tesla with a 3-Second Sprint to 60 mph and 400 Mile Range Exterior
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The Rivian R1T will be offered with a choice of three battery packages – 105 kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh. The 135 kWh battery pack is what’s available as standard for now, and it offers an EPA-estimated range of 314 miles. The ‘Max Pack’ 180 kWh battery pack offers 400+ miles of range, but it is a $10,000 option. It was supposed to debut in early 2022, but Rivian has pushed it to 2023. Rivian also plans to introduce an entry-level 105 kWh battery pack as well and estimates a range of around 230 miles. Expect the starting price to come down once this battery pack is introduced.

The Rivian truck supports fast charging up to 160 kW. This means you can add about 200 miles of range in just 30 minutes. An 11 kW onboard charger is present that helps rapid charging with a Level 2 charger.

Towing Capacity Better Than Other Electric Trucks

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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The Rivian R1T can tow up to 11,000 pounds and will haul up to 1,760 pounds. Now, this is on par with the likes of the Ford F-150, the Ram 1500, and the Chevy Silverado 1500, all ranging in the same ballpark. If you talk about electric trucks, it beats the F-150 Lightning (max up to 7,700 pounds/10,000 pounds with the additional package) and the GMC Hummer EV, which can tow up to 7,500 pounds. The Tesla Cybertruck has a claimed max towing capacity of 14,000 pounds, but we’ll wait for the production version to come out. The range is definitely going to take a big hit if you’re towing at full capacity, but that’s something that’s a problem with all EVs. It’s a major drawback that we’ll have to live with until charging times are reduced drastically and you have charging stations in abundance like you have gas stations today.

Biggest Touchscreen On An Electric Truck

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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It isn’t uncommon for EVs to have cabins that are heavy on technology features, and the Rivian R1T is not an exception either. It comes with a 15.6-inch touchscreen on the center console that controls literally everything. This is bigger than the Hummer EV and the F-150 Lightning’s touchscreens, 13.4- and 15.5-inch touchscreens, respectively. The Cybertruck is expected to feature a 17-inch touchscreen, but until it arrives, the Rivian will have the bragging rights.

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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Right from your HVAC controls, to opening hoods and gear tunnel doors, to adjusting the mirrors and steering wheel, everything is done with the help of the touchscreen. Some settings can be tweaked using the rollers on the steering wheel, but to assign a function to them, you have to revert to the touchscreen. However, the infotainment system doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto! No matter how well-loaded the infotainment system is, this will be quite a bummer. Apart from this, there’s also a removable Bluetooth speaker in here with a dedicated slot to park it in. It charges when placed in its slot.

Truck With The Shortest Turning Radius!

The company has invested big in technology and that is evident. Back in 2019, Rivian showcased how the Tank Turn. As the name suggests, the truck turns on a dime, just like a tank. This is possible because the R1T comes with four independent motors. The motors on one side of the truck spin forward and on the other side, in the opposite direction. However, it can only be used on slick surfaces like dirt, gravel, and grass. Mercedes also recently showcased a similar technology that will make its way into the EQG, which is the electric G-wagen.

More Technology - K-Turn and Gear Guard

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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Last year, we got to know that Rivian has also filed for a technology called ‘K-Turn’. Unlike the Tank Turn, the K-Turn brings the steering input into the equation because the figures filed with the patent show that the steering wheel needs to be turned a little more beyond the steering lock point. Instead of counter-spinning the motors on each side, this feature inputs forward torque to the front wheels and backward torque to the rear wheels. This way, the rear wheels can be kept static while the front wheels slip out of place and direct the vehicle in the direction of the steering input. The benefit of this is that the truck’s orientation can be changed in minimal space.

Unlike the Tank Turn which can be activated only on grass, gravel, dirt, and other similar surfaces, you’ll be able to use the K-Turn on most surfaces. This will make life easier when parking in tight spots or maneuvering in congested places.

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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As for the Gear Guard, it is similar to Tesla’s Sentry Mode. and makes use of five cameras out of the 11 present on the truck to provide a 360-degree view of the truck. The cameras start recording a video when someone is less than a foot away from the vehicle. An animated character shows up on the touchscreen system to warn people with ill-intention that they are being recorded. The Gear Guard system also comes with a cable that can be used to tie stuff in the trunk. The steel braided cable’s plugs/cutouts are in the bed right under the air compressor. It doesn’t have a key or something; it gets locked when the truck is locked. If something goes wrong, the alarm goes off and the owner is notified on his Rivian Mobile App.

The R1T Is Cheaper Than A Tesla Model Y!

Why the Rivian R1T Will Be The Benchmark for All Electric Trucks
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The Rivian R1T is offered in two trims – Explore Package and Adventure Package. It starts at $67,500, which isn’t too bad considering even the Tesla Model Y starts at $65,990. The Rivian truck is also eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, which can effectively bring down the price to $60,000. This makes it cheaper than the Tesla Model Y, which isn’t eligible for any credits.

Even though it is fairly loaded even in its base model, the Rivian R1T comes with a lot of optional accessories and goodies. We recently took it upon ourselves to build the most expensive R1T you can buy from the factory, and here’s how much it costs - $103,965.

To give you an idea, we started our build with the Adventure Package trim which starts at $73,000. Mind you, we added whatever was possible since the whole idea of this exercise was to see how expensive the Rivian R1T can get. Here’s a list of all the optional stuff we added:

  • Max battery pack option – $10,000
  • Exterior shade (Compass Yellow/Rivian Blue) – $2,500
  • 20-inch All-Terrain Dark wheels – $3,500
  • Full-size spare – $800
  • Off-Road upgrade – $2,000
  • Interior Forest Edge theme - $2,000
  • Rivian Camp Kitchen x Snow Peak – $5,000
  • Three-Person Tent – $2,650
  • Rooftop Bike Mount – $250
  • Snowboard/Ski Mount – $320
  • Kayak Mount – $220
  • SUP/Surfboard Mount – $300
  • Wall Charger – $500
  • All-Weather Floor Mats – $175
  • Off-Road Recovery Kit – $600
  • Field Kit – $150

Final price – $103,965

This doesn’t include the $7,500 federal tax credit that the R1T is eligible for. If you deduct the full $7,500 credit, then the R1T can effectively cost you $96,465; still under $100,000! To put things into perspective, the top-spec F-150 Lightning starts at $90,874 before options and before federal tax credits, whereas the GMC Hummer EV top-spec starts at $104,650 before options, but isn’t eligible for the tax credits.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Managing Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - siddhantdhimaan@gmail.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a managing editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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