The auto industry is dominated by major players like Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen; the realm of electric vehicles is no different. At the mention of sustainable trucks, peoples’ minds often gravitate to big brands like Tesla and Ford, but we would be remiss to neglect the efforts of Rivian.
Many people have never heard of Rivian, but we think it’s time to change that.
The company is a relative newcomer to the EV industry having been founded in 2009. It didn’t show off a prototype until 2011, and the first real iteration of Rivian vehicles wasn’t announced until 2018. Now, with the impending release of its first road-ready electric adventure vehicles, the R1T and R1S, Rivian is making waves, even securing a major order with Amazon.
In this article we’ll go over everything you need to know about Rivian’s attempt to break into the electric vehicle market, and whether its trucks are actually any good.
What are the Rivian R1T and R1S?
Well, as Rivian would say, they are “electric adventure vehicles.” But what does that even mean?
Essentially, the R1T is more like a traditional pickup — comparable to Ford’s F-150 Lightning — while the R1S is Rivian’s take on an electric SUV. The two are similar in design and aesthetic but have very different purposes.
The R1T has, in our opinion, the most appealing style of any fully electric pickup currently on the market. For those who find the Tesla Cybertruck’s harsh exoskeleton to be a cyberpunk catastrophe, Rivian’s R1T on the other hand adopts a gracefully sleek, modern, and subtle appearance.
It will start at $67,500 for the Explore edition, but the price can run as high as the mid-90-thousands with the extensive customization options currently available.
The R1S has the same theme as the R1T. Both Rivian models share a similar headlight design as well as the same traditional curves that other sports utility vehicles possess.
This fully electric SUV will begin at $70,000, but if you’ve got a taste for lavish add-ons, the price could reach as high as the high-80-thousands.
How will the R1T stack up compared to other electric pickups?
Before we even get into the meat and potatoes here, it’s worth noting that compared to Tesla’s Cybertruck webpage, Rivian provides significantly more key information about the R1T, while Tesla leaves consumers guessing. This will potentially make a huge difference for people on the fence between the two vehicles.
Now, let’s dig in.
Truthfully, R1T is not going to fulfill the most demanding needs of someone looking to push a traditional pickup truck to its limits. The R1T can tow up to 11,000lbs, so it really can’t compete with the upper-scale Cybertruck models which can do upwards of 16,000lbs. Still, R1T does have a higher towing capacity than F-150 Lightning which is only capable of 10,000lbs. If you plan on towing anything particularly hefty, R1T may not be for you.
R1T will launch with a 300+ mile range, but the release of a 400+ mile range R1T is expected in January of 2022. Compared to Cybertruck’s 500+ mile range, Rivian doesn’t really stand a chance in a test of endurance. But, R1T does equal the range of F-150 Lightning and the 400+ model will actually outgun the Ford.
In terms of acceleration, R1T can go toe-to-toe with the Cybertruck. The Tesla pickup is capable of going from 0 to 60mph in 2.9 seconds, while the Rivian can do the same in 3 seconds.
Read more: 10 of the fastest electric cars
For most people in the market for a pickup, the truck bed is an important area to consider about any model. R1T’s truck bed has 68 cubic feet of storage. This means the R1T has more bed storage capacity than Lightning (58 cubic feet), but about two-thirds the bed capacity of the Cybertruck (100 cubic feet).
All three truck models feature a dashboard dominated by a large screen that allows for easy interaction with the vehicle’s settings. The Cybertruck’s screen has a vertical orientation, but R1T’s is rotated horizontally.
The outlets located in the rear of R1T max out at 110V, whereas Cybertruck features 220V outlets. Even compared to Lightning’s 120V battery, R1T doesn’t quite match up. The R1T probably won’t be the ideal electric pickup for anyone who wants to power machinery using their vehicle.
Overall, R1T finds itself somewhere between F-150 Lightning and Tesla Cybertruck in terms of the most important features. Cybertruck is stronger than R1T in most regards, but considering that the price point for the Cybertruck will be about several grand higher, this disparity isn’t necessarily unexpected.
Is R1S a good electric SUV?
This is a hard question to answer considering that no one is innovating in the same way as Rivian. The R1S is actually more of a crossover between the Hummer EV and a Tesla Model Y. Here, we’ll compare the R1S to both of them to really gauge where it will fit into the market.
Despite the fact that no one will be taking any of these vehicles for a drag race any time soon, we all care about the acceleration of these electric SUVs. The Rivian R1S, which can do 0 to 60mph in 3 seconds, out-classes both the Model Y and the Hummer EV, each of which can only accomplish the same feat in 3.5 seconds. Here, R1S takes the cake.
In terms of range, R1S is capable of 300 miles or more on a single charge, but it falls short of the Model Y. Tesla’s offering boasts a range of 326 miles. Hummer EV matches R1S at 300 miles.
The R1S has four individual motors controlling the torque at each wheel. Hummer EV has three motors in its higher-end models, and Model Y only has two. All four vehicles have four-wheel drive, but the Hummer EV does have all-wheel steering — and innovative technology that allows every wheel to turn.
Rivian’s R1S and Tesla’s Model Y have space to seat 7 people, but the Hummer SUV EV only has a five-person capacity.
The towing capacity of the R1S and Hummer EV are comparable as they come in at 7,700 lbs and 7,400 lbs respectively (for the base models of each vehicle). Model Y clearly wasn’t engineered with towing in mind as its capacity is only 3,400 lbs.
In terms of price, the Model Y looks to be the cheapest overall with the entry price $52,490. Rivian R1S comes in at about $70,000 for the base model; however, the with add-ons and upgrades, the price can easily get above $80,000. The price of the Hummer EV eclipses both other vehicles at a whopping $79,995. If that price wasn’t high enough, you can upgrade the Hummer EV until it reaches an unbelievable $105,595.
It’s undeniable that each of these vehicles occupies its own niche in the electric vehicle market, but these comparisons do reveal several thought-provoking insights. Which one is “best” truly depends upon the consumer and what they see themselves doing with the SUV. Model Y seems to be a city vehicle with the ability for minimal off-roading, while the Hummer SUV EV exists on the other end of the spectrum — catering to those who are looking for a traditional adventure vehicle experience. R1S occupies a happy medium. It looks like a city car, can handle some relatively intense off-roading (it has 14-inches of ground clearance), and is suitable for families.
What makes Rivian vehicles unique?
Quite a lot actually.
These vehicles are specially designed to be the perfect outdoor tools. Unlike the Cybertruck, F-150 Lightning, Model Y, and others, the R1S and R1T both lean heavily into the outdoor adventure features.
For example, R1S and R1T are both available with uniquely engineered Rivian camping packages which include a three-person tent and cargo crossbars. One of our favorite features about the R1T is the optional built-in kitchen. This add-on slides out of the vehicle’s flank and comes equipped with a two-burner induction cooktop, a collapsable sink, and custom-molded insets for over 30 pieces of utensils.
Rivian’s vehicles also boast a bevy of safety features. While many of them are not necessarily ground-breaking, it’s clear that Rivian is seeking to be an industry leader in safety. With cameras and ultrasonic sensors, Rivian vehicles are capable of some self-driving, yet it remains the full extent of these features is still to be determined.
Notably, Rivian has adopted a minimalistic interior, a staple of Tesla’s vehicles, but it has taken a unique spin on the large touchscreen that dominates the dashboard. Rivian has opted to rotate it 90°, creating a landscape-oriented interface for users to interact with the vehicle.
While customers are free to decide which interior they prefer, we can’t help but think that Rivian’s aesthetic will be much more appealing to the average consumer than something like Cybertruck or F-150 Lightning.
Who are Rivian vehicles for?
Rivian’s space in this market is curious as it doesn’t occupy the most expensive niches, but it certainly isn’t the most budget-friendly vehicle either.
It seems that Rivian isn’t interested in appealing to people looking to do intense construction work or drive their EVs into the most precarious places.
Rivian actually wants the R1S and R1T in the hands of people seeking casual outdoor adventures.
These electric adventure vehicles are best suited for those that want to explore camping, basic off-roading, or wish to move outdoor equipment around. The adventure gear that comes with these Rivian EVs makes them great options for an extended road trip or a weekend foray into the wilderness.
The appeal of these vehicles is obvious, but the price tag attached could be a huge hangup for most people. The entry-level options are already quite pricey, and once you select the gear and other upgrades you want, they can easily become a hefty investment.
It’s clear that Rivian has designed the R1T and R1S with a distinct demographic in mind, but the actual demand for these EVs is yet to be determined.
Where can I get a Rivian?
Right now, those interested can visit the Rivian website to customize and reserve their own R1T or R1S.
The deposit amount needed to secure a reservation varies depending on the upgrades made to the unit during the configuration process.