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Rivian R1T America’s Next Great Electric Truck

2021 was the year of the electric truck. We’ve seen the introduction of GM’s electrified next-generation Hummer and the Ford F-150 Lightning, and word has it more will be released in the near future. Despite the impressive media rollouts, these long-anticipated models are still many months away from production. However, all eyes will be on Rivian in the coming weeks as they celebrate their successful IPO with the production release of its premiere production model, the Rivian R1T. 

The Rivian R1T is a different pickup truck than the market is used to seeing. It subverts the usual hypermasculine, strap-on-a-toolbelt-and-get-to-work designs that are found in modern pickups. While the silhouette of the car is very similar to the bulk of the F-150 Lightning, the design language is very different. This is particularly true for the front of the car. The car’s signature headlight design, dubbed “stadium lights,” is instantly recognizable on the road, along with the light bar that wraps around the front. In addition, the car almost entirely omits a front grille that is so common in modern pickup trucks. The grille is cradled by two smaller lights above the two tow hooks, one of the many features of the car that drives home the utilitarian values from which the car was made.

Rivian R1T Gear Tunnel // Photo Courtesy Rivian

The body shape also diverges from the norm. Instead of the usual boxy design, most American trucks employ, they utilized one that is slightly more curved and sleek. The lines are gently curved, the angles are more rounded, and the door handles and charging port fit seamlessly into the frame of the car, making the vehicle feel as though it would not be out of place in the Star Wars universe.

The R1T also has a surprising amount of storage space. Aside from the generous amount found in the truck bed, the R1T has storage space underneath the hood where the engine would be in a gas-powered truck, as well as a sneaky compartment behind the rear doors that Rivian calls the Gear Tunnel that goes straight through the body of the car. 

The interior features were designed with sustainability in mind. The seats are made out of faux leather and the dashboard and steering wheel are made from reclaimed wood. Also, in place of a dashboard, everything from navigation and music, to climate control, and even changing side mirrors are done through the touch screen control center.

Photo Courtesy Rivian

The specs are pretty impressive as well. The car is blisteringly fast off the line. The R1T does 0-60 in 3 seconds flat, which is just a hair slower than a Porsche 911 Turbo which clocks in at around 2.7 seconds. This lightning-fast acceleration is due in no small part to the R1T’s electric powertrain.

Of course, it still is a pickup truck, so in a true utilitarian fashion, the R1T has eight different driving modes, including extensive off-road options, supported by a quad-motor four-wheel-drive system that utilizes a motor on each wheel. The fully electric truck also boasts up to 800 horsepower that can tow upwards of 11,000 pounds and carries a payload capacity of 1760 pounds. Most importantly, perhaps, is the battery life. While the regular models promise around a 300-mile driving range, there are optional packages that can bring the range up to 400 miles, which is great for those using the truck for towing heavy loads, as that drains the battery more quickly. 

Photo Courtesy Rivian

The Rivian R1T is very much a luxury car. At $67,500 for the base model, or around $60,000 when you include tax incentives, it is considerably more expensive than the no-frills Ford F-150 Lightning model at $40,000, but also much less than the $100,000-plus price tag of the currently available GMC Hummer EV. Rivian also offers an “Adventure Package” starting at $73,000 with a few luxuries that the base model doesn’t provide, including power seat adjustment, power flatbed cover, and improved audio. 

At its core, the R1T is a car made for the backcountry adventurer. Along with the exceptional off-road capabilities, the R1T has optional packages for the wilderness-seekers that include a tent, roof rack, and camp stove setup, complete with a kettle, pots and pans, an electric stove, as well as a sink and faucet with a four-gallon water tank.

Photo Courtesy Rivian

While it may not be for everyone, the car is undeniably cool. Not only because of its insanely fast acceleration, the sustainable production, or even the fact that you can cook a stove-cooked meal from the back of your truck in the middle of nowhere, but also because it looks like an electric truck is supposed to, and I, for one, can’t wait to see it zooming past on the highway very soon.


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