Rivian finally unveiled the much-anticipated electric truck

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Rivian finally unveiled the much-anticipated electric truck

The Rivian R1T electric truck is neither too big nor small. It handles rock crawling and off-camber trails with ease, can zip from zero to 60 miles per hour on a dirt road in just a few seconds without the typical back-end slippage — although there is an option to provide that drifting effect — and it can crank through winding mountain roads, pushing the edge of each corner without body roll.

The company’s designers and engineers helped the truck steer clear of pretension by combining form and function from tip to tail. Some of the added surprises — the location of functional details like tie-downs, an air compressor and outlets — suggest that numerous Rivian employees tested the truck in real-world conditions, including camping, mountain biking and even more mundane tasks like grocery-fetching.

On a press drive over three days, a near-production-spec R1T proved to be the electric truck none of us knew we needed.

The result is a vehicle that feels right for all seasons and ready for anything. And, importantly, it’s a joy to drive.

Story Highlights

  • On its first try, Rivian produced the Goldilocks of pickup trucks.

  • It’s loaded with the kind of interior and exterior touches that put it firmly in the premium zone — and yet the Rivian R1T is no delicate flower.

That’s not to say every choice landed perfectly. There are a few hardware details and elements on the software user interface side of things that could use a nip here and a tuck there. I’m looking at you, odd notch that is maybe a pen holder, but certainly the soon-to-be dust collector by the wireless charging pad.

To be clear, far more time and miles are required to provide a full review. Still, as a total package, the Rivian R1T impresses.

What Rivian has accomplished with the R1T is no small feat. It’s difficult for established automakers to anticipate and then tick every box on consumers’ wish lists. It’s even harder to mass-produce that vehicle all while maintaining proper fit and finish. Rivian is in the rarefied position of aiming to bring the first electric truck to market in the U.S., making it a vehicle that drivers will covet and doing it to scale.

Rivian has delivered on the desirability and drivability fronts. Now it faces two more tests: production and delivery. It’s making progress toward those goals. The first production Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian blue” rolled off the assembly line earlier this month at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois, marking a milestone more than a decade in the making for the automaker and its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe.

The company, which started in 2009 as Mainstream Motors before adopting the Rivian name two years later, has undergone explosive growth in terms of people, backers and partners in the past few years. Rivian operated in secret for years before it revealed prototypes of its all-electric R1T truck and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show in late 2018.

The R1T that I drove was a Launch Edition version in glacier white and equipped with Pirelli Scorpion 20-inch all-terrain tires, putting it at about $75,000, excluding the $1,075 destination charge. The Launch Edition, which comes with special badging, is no longer available. However, Rivian’s “Adventure package” trim, which starts at $73,000, is nearly identical in terms of offerings. The Launch and Adventure editions, for instance, come standard with an off-road upgrade with reinforced underbody shield, dual front bumper tow hooks and air compressor, as well as interior accents, 100% recycled microfiber headliner and “Chilewich floor mats.”

Nuts and bolts Since then, Rivian has raised billions of dollars ($10.5 billion since 2019); expanded its Normal, Illinois, factory; hired thousands of employees (more than 8,000); landed Amazon as a commercial customer; and, most recently, filed confidentially for an IPO. In addition to its Illinois factory, Rivian has facilities in Palo Alto and Irvine, California; and Plymouth, Michigan; and an office in the U.K.