Rivian R1T electric pickup: details, specs and first-drive review

We get behind the wheel of Rivian's Ford F-150 Lightning rival, now in production in the US

Rivian R1T

US startup Rivian kickstarted the electric pickup arms race when it unveiled the R1T at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, giving Elon Musk’s Tesla Cybertruck a rival from the off. The 5.5-metre long R1T has five seats, a 1.37-metre load bed and offers a range of between 260 and over 400 miles, as well as 200kW rapid-charging capability.

Every R1T comes with all-wheel drive thanks to a choice of either dual or quad-motor powertrains. As a result, despite the electric pickup’s significant 2.7-tonne weight, base models can go from 0-60mph in just four seconds, while those with four electric motors will do the same sprint in as little as three seconds.

As well as rapid acceleration, the R1T also promises strong off-road capability – a key requirement for US pickup customers. Adjustable air suspension allows for a maximum ground clearance of 360mm, with the truck boasting a one-metre wading depth. The R1T also features numerous driver-assistance systems, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning and Rivian’s ‘Driver+’ system, which can steer and adjust the speed of the truck by itself.

While the fledgling brand has promised some smaller electric cars are on the horizon, so far its lineup consists of the R1T and its SUV sister model, the R1S. Customer deliveries of the R1T started in the US in October 2021, with the R1S going into production later this year.

However, Rivian doesn’t currently have plans to launch in Europe, and hasn’t confirmed it’ll produce right-hand drive versions of the R1T or R1S. The R1T did make an appearance at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed, though it’s more likely its SUV counterpart would go on sale in Europe, serving as a rival to the Tesla Model X and BMW iX. The UK has also been mooted as a potential location for a Rivian factory in the future.

Rivian R1T first-drive review

For our first time in the R1T, we drove the top-of-the-range, Quad-Motor Large Pack model featuring a 135kWh battery to power its four electric motors. According to US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) testing, this version is capable of 314 miles on a charge, but there are both cheaper and longer-range versions of the truck now available in the US. 

Meanwhile, our R1T’s four-motor setup produces 753bhp and a whopping 1120Nm of torque; offering some context to that three-second 0-60mph time we mentioned earlier. But it’s not just the supercar acceleration that surprises; the R1T is agile and nimble, with the turning circle of a city car, this 2.7-tonne truck handles almost like an electric sports car. 

It glides along the road like something much smaller in size, helped by the torque vectoring system that precisely adjusts the amount of power each wheel receives to ensure smooth and steady progress on almost any terrain. Rivian intends for this type of slower (but no less impressive) off-road ability to be the R1T's real calling card, rather than its straight line speed. But that's one aspect we haven't been able to properly sample yet.

Inside, the R1T feels a lot more upmarket compared to the rather utilitarian surroundings that existing diesel pickup-truck drivers are accustomed to. There are vegan leather seats and an impressive dual-screen dashboard layout: one 12.3-inch unit for the driver and a massive central 15.6-inch screen for the infotainment. Above you, a big panoramic glass roof keeps the interior feeling light and airy.

Then there’s the 1,755 litres of storage space on offer. The majority of that comes from the 1.37-metre-long load bed with two 120V outlets. You also get a 314-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, and the R1T’s signature 'gear tunnel' that stretches the width of the truck behind the rear seats. This area is perfect, Rivian says, for storing skis or other long items, and can even be fitted with a camping kitchen if the customer wants. The R1T can also tow up to 4.9 tonnes, and has a maximum payload of 798kg.

Though being one of the more upmarket options in the pickup world, the R1T starts at just $67,500 (£55,660), with top-spec models currently retailing for $95,000 (around £78,300) at the time of writing. Sounds a lot for a pickup, but rivals like the Ford F-150 Lightning and Hummer EV can be just as pricey, if not more so.

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