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Rivian R1T EV pickup: Why it's the ultimate vehicle, regardless of powertrain

Rivian is now building its R1Ts, and despite the hiccups they have done the impossible by creating an extremely impressive vehicle from the ground up. But it needs to build them faster, cheaper, and more profitably to sustain itself.

Here’s why car and truck fans should root for Rivian to do just that.

Video Transcript

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Hey, guys. Pras, here, joining you from lovely Brooklyn, New York, an industrial part of town here. I'm at the Rivian service center picking up this, the R1T pickup, Rivian's all-electric pickup here that's been getting all the buzz recently, right? Can this truck supplant the F-150, things like that?

We're going to test this truck, going to go through, take it through its paces, see what it's like to live with, see what it's like to possibly work with and travel with is part of the deal. So I'm picking it up here at the service center.

This is one of 24 service centers Rivian has across the country where they can service the cars, but then also where they actually facilitate deliveries. I'm about to hop in this track and spend a couple of days with it. And let's see how it is.

All right, we're in the R1T Rivian pickup now on the road here. I've had the truck for a couple of days now. And I want to give you some impressions here on our test drive. I'm in upstate New York. Very, very picturesque settings up here. Great, great place for the truck.

So where do we start? Like I said, we picked up the car from Brooklyn at the service center there. And here we are. You know, I think everyone at this point knows what the truck looks like on the outside.

It's a very, I think, I like the design, personally. I think they did a good job of capturing what a truck should look like versus what we think and what we envision the future of a pickup could look like. What would that be?

From a design point of view, what does that look like? Does it look like a totally different design than what you normally anticipate for an F-150 or a Silverado? Well, I think the sheet metal looks great, very nice job here. This is a actual production model. This is VIN, I think, 5,000-ish. This is one of the trucks in the 5,000-ish range of production.

I got to say, from a quality point of view, everything seems pretty good. There's no creaks or rattles or anything. It's pretty quiet in here. Interior fit and finish looks good. There's a couple of little things here that might be growing pains here for some of the assembly, right?

Some stuff is a little bit loose here. I've noticed some of the gap line, the gap panels are not totally consistent. But they're still pretty good, better than Tesla, to be frank, to be honest with you. But you're not going to notice those things, just want to point that out.

So back to the design. We were talking about what's it going to be like when you have a skateboard clean sheet design for a pickup. And what that allows you to do is this car, this truck has, I believe, like almost like a Tacoma-like footprint, a mid-size footprint. It feels about that size inside. The bed is probably on the smaller side.

But then you have stuff like the gear tunnel, right? That gear tunnel some people think is somewhat gimmicky or just, OK, great so nice place for storage. No, it is immensely useful.

You can store a lot of things in there. Most hilarious thing is kids love climbing into and climbing out of it. It's pretty funny. But it is extremely useful.

You can put in so much stuff in there. And it's locked away. And it's fine, very easy to access.

Of course, you have the front, the frunk, with its own interior storage space. And it's pretty large, not as big as the F-150's mega power frunk, but that's another thing. That's more the full size truck. And we'll get to the comparisons on those two later.

There's also the two different-- in the back, there's also an underneath storage in the bed that usually can house the full-sized spare, or you can use it actually as a kind of a cooler. You can put ice in there and you can drain it. Same with the front too. You can do that as well.

So, yeah, that's the exterior-wise. A lot going on there. And I think it's a handsome exterior. Inside, this is where Rivian has sort of upped the game in the sense that you're kind of knocking at the door of luxury, I think. Very nice materials, very nice wood finishes, and kind of soft touch materials, vegan leather everywhere.

This headliner is a-- feels like a microfiber or Alcantara. It's actually recycled towels. So it's, again, very eco-friendly. So, again, they're knocking on the door of luxury. Is it a Range Rover? Not, no, not there. But it's pretty close in terms of, is this like an Audi, Cadillac, BMW? Sure, sure. But we're talking about it's wrapped in the skin of an adventure vehicle.

So the inside is very nice. I like it. All right, enough of that, driving. What is it like to drive this truck that has-- and this trim, Adventure trim, has the quad motor. So there's a motor basically powering each wheel. And the standard battery, I guess, which is at this point is 314-ish EPA MPG with the standard tires.

We have the off-road tires here. And it's like, it's getting so that-- that's a bigger-- it's a bigger wheel. And it's a knobbier tire that's giving me around 270 miles per charge, or miles per full charge, which is pretty good. But, you know, 315 is-- that's much better.

Anyway, driving it around town on this air suspension that this truck has is extremely comfortable. It just soaks up everything in the comfort setting, right, the softest setting. You just feel like you're just floating above the air-- I mean, above the ground.

Very Land Rover-esque, to be honest with you. Well, if you were just in the Range-- the new Range Rover, this is a very comparable feeling. Now, it's sprung a little stiffly because it's more of an adventure truck. So they give you a bit more feedback.

So this is the thing, it's all-purpose mode. You can go off-road mode where it'll actually raise the vehicle I think 3 and 1/2 inches to like a total height of 15 inches, I believe, up above the ground. And we're going-- I was going on some loose gravel, some rocks, actually, off near a hike.

And this thing was just dominating it, right? I initially had it in all-purpose mode and it was kind of bouncing around and stuff, but it was fine. I put it in off-road mode, so it sort of raises it and it keeps, it gives it a softer, more, you get more rebound or more articulation, stuff like that it. It was just-- we were just floating over this rocky, gravelly terrain.

Like it had no problem, no problem at all. I mean, it was-- and I can only imagine taking a really hardcore off-road situation what this truck would be like with, you know, essentially real torque vectoring, meaning each wheel can spin independently on its own and give it enough power on its own, depending on the situation, software, whatever reading the-- reading the ground. You have immense grip, immense contact. There's no slippage really, right? So that was pretty impressive.

Back to being on the road, you know, you can put it in a sport setting. Right now, I'm in all-purpose, but in sports setting, it'll lower the truck and-- I'll put it right now-- and it'll unleash sort of the full power of this truck. And we're talking about, and I'll put it in my article, it's something like 800, 900 horsepower, right? I'm talking about 0 to 60 time in the 3's. This thing can dust a lot of sports cars, a lot of sports cars.

And with its air suspension quad motor setup, it is basically-- you feel like you're glued to the-- I feel like I'm glued to the ground. I mean, it's like it's on rails. And we're just kind of straight-line darting over the ground here on flat, flat surface.

Going into curves, it's carving the curves. It's absolutely unbelievable that a truck that's, like, 8,000-ish pounds, I believe, is-- can drive the way it drives. I mean, we're just going to carve into this turn, feel a little curve here. I feel like I'm in a 911, maybe. You know what I mean? I'm pretty high up here, but it's not pushing too much. Yeah, there's a little bit of give here, but it's not understeering too much. It's just carving through.

So, yeah, this truck, it can do it all. I'm not the first to say that. I'm not the first to be impressed by a truck that, the first effort by a new company that's maybe 15 years old or so, 10, 15 years old, right, a startup company. CEO RJ Scaringe, this is what he wanted to do for many iterations. But they figured it out.

And here we are. It's really difficult, right, to make anything like this and make it good and make it compete against what the traditional automakers have to offer. And this is where-- so it's this truck's winner. I totally agree. Yeah, I'm not saying anything different than what anyone else has said. It's quite amazing.

In this trim-- Adventure trim, quad motor, the different options we have here-- we're talking about $100,000-- close to $100,000, you know? This is the one big problem with the EVs is they're so expensive right now. Now, I'm actually in a very nice one. This is the going rate.

This is what you've got to pay to get in one these trucks, right? So there's a question of value, is it worth it? And if you have the money, I would say, sure. But I had to also say, what else is out there? And there's the F-150 Lightning, which we also drove.

And that truck is extremely impressive. It's not quad motor, it's dual. It's a full-size pickup. It's not as fast as this one. Let me tell you, it's pretty quick, but it's big. And Ford is talking about how you can get into the Pro model for around 46, 47 before federal tax credits kick in.

So we're talking about it, you know? And then I would say optioned up, an XLT optioned up, Lariat optioned up to this spec would probably earn similar pricing-- $70,000, $80,000, I guess, so, you know, it's knocking on the door of Rivian.

So from a value point of view, the F-150 has it. But I think overall package-wise, I'm not-- I love the F-150 Lightning, but it's just too big for me. It's a big truck. It's a big footprint. It always has been.

For bigger families, maybe they would like that. For work, for guys who go to worksites, I mean, that's better for them. But I got to tell you, I think that this is the right size package.

And I think if I was-- if it was my money, I would go with the Rivian, even though I love the F-150 Lightning's, all the different features that it has in terms of the ability to power a jobsite and do the V2G, or Vehicle to Grid, charging that this truck can't do. People try to tell me, oh, it's a software update. This thing can power anything. It's like, no, it can't.

It doesn't have the actual infrastructure, architecture in the truck to actually do a full back and forth load, right, electrical load. It has its own outlets here. And it can power some equipment and some, maybe some power tools. But it's not a full-on power generator where the Lightning can actually light your home when you connect to it to your circuit breaker via the Sunrun equipment. This truck's not trying to do that.

And I'm not saying that-- I'm not saying it should. This truck is basically saying, I'm going to take, we're going to-- for its buyers, they want to go on adventures. They want to go on trips. They want to do awesome stuff. They want to be able to use the-- this car has a built-in air compressor, right? So you can air down tires, air them back up, pump up your bike tires, all this stuff.

You can buy all kinds of equipment for it to attach a tent to the back and everything on top of the bed. This truck is a fun adventure vehicle, not meant to be a work truck. And I think there's a big market there for that. And then Ford has dome market for its fans and then people that want work trucks. This is not a work truck.

So, look, this-- I think we should be excited for the future of electric vehicles. I know a lot of people are sort of sad about the end of gas-powered, ICE-powered vehicles. I love a nice high-revving motor myself with a manual transmission. Don't get me wrong. But if this is the future, it's fricking awesome. It's amazing. This is an amazing daily driver. And guess what? You're not spewing out CO2, right?

So maybe there's a way we can sort of live in this world where we can shift a lot of the daily driving commuting stuff, long trips to electric if possible. And that, of course, means we have an EV infrastructure built out, charging infrastructure. But let's say that happens, you have these cars for things like this, commuting, but also some longer trips, fun trips. And then you have your gas-powered cars, maybe they're classics and maybe they're fun cars to drive on the weekend and we're not damaging the environment too much.

Anyway, that's a different story. This is the F-150-- sorry, this is the Rivian R1T quad motor Adventure trim. Mighty impressive effort here. If I had the money, I'd buy one. I don't.

Hopefully in the future, we'll see them able to survive, you know, get profitable, and make those R2 vehicles, those cheaper vehicles, with the Enduro dual motors. I'd be very intrigued to try those out. And then that would be volume play and a play that maybe I could do. So, anyway, thanks again, guys. This is Pras in the Rivian R1T pickup.