(Rich Demuro)– The first thing you notice about Rivian’s all electric pickup truck is the unique styling. I call it “retro modern.” You either love it or hate it.
Rivian is a California car making startup that just began deliveries to customers. They tell me they have a waiting list of about 50,000 customers and it could take up to a year to get one.
“We have tech; we’re a tech company, but also we produce vehicles that bring you into the outdoors,” explained Lilly Macaruso, a special vehicle engineer at Rivian.
I attended a preview event at an airstrip in Santa Clarita, CA. There, the company had several Rivian’s available for potential customers to look at, and for some lucky folks, including myself, to test drive.
“People are looking to it and excited because of the fact that it gives you an option,” said Marcaruso.
The R1T is a rugged pickup, and, other than its silent operation, hard to believe it’s fully electric. It can go upwards of 300 miles on a charge.
There’s some autonomy built in as well. I tried the highway assist feature that keeps the vehicle in your lane and adjusts the speed to stay a certain distance from the car in front of you.
Unique features are everywhere on the R1T, including a premium wood dashboard, vegan “leather” seats, a pull-out Bluetooth speaker under the center console and a pull-out flashlight in the door – it’s always charged up and ready to go.
There’s also a gear tunnel between the cabin and the bed that lets you securely store your stuff.
“You can put a camp kitchen in it… you can put your luggage in it. You can even put your snacks in it so it’s not on the floor while you’re taking a road trip,” explained Mancaruso.
The truck can tow 11,000 pounds and there’s even an available air compressor in the bed. As for the build quality – it seems excellent. I jumped up onto the doors that hide the gear tunnel and the car felt solid.
Of course, driving the Rivian is where the experience really shines. I took it on an on and off-road course designed by the company. It included pavement, dirt roads, steep inclines and giant holes and grooves in the ground. It was super unsteady, and the truck handled it all with ease.
The truck can even adjust its height from 8 to 15 inches.
Did I mention it can go 0 to 60 in 3 seconds? We tested this out on the airstrip, and it felt like we were taking off. You hold one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator to prep the car for blast off, then release the brake and you go – fast! Don’t try this at home!
Overall, after driving the Rivian R1T I see what all the fuss is about. Not only do the trucks push the limits of what’s capable with electric, but they also challenge the notion of what an electric car can be.
The R1T starts at about $67,500 and goes up from there. The company is also working on an SUV and their own “adventure” charging network, which will place chargers closer to the activities that people might do in Rivian’s, like off roading, camping and hiking.