Rivian R1T Long-Term Evaluation: Navigating the Progress of Electric Vehicles through 150 Tests and Beyond

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Rivian R1T
Rivian R1T (Credits: Motortrend)

Out of the more than 150 electric vehicles we have thoroughly tested, only three have managed to withstand the demands of our extended assessment. The first to finish our demanding 40,000-mile routine was the 2015 Tesla Model S, and it was followed by the 2019 Tesla Model 3. The most recent model in our long-term electric lineup, the Rivian R1T, is a prime example of the tremendous advancements made in the field of electric cars.

With four motors producing a powerful 835 horsepower, the R1T has an attractive body and an interior that stays away from some other EVs’ less upscale looks. This truck has gained a particular place in our hearts as one that we actually like spending time in, even without its 2023 10Best Trucks award.

We opted for a four-motor model equipped with the medium-sized 128.9-kWh battery, primarily due to availability, though a two-motor version has since been introduced.

Our R1T weighs about 120 pounds less on our scales thanks to its 20-inch wheels and Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain Elects setup, which is identical to our road test in the February 2022 edition but without off-road protection. At 7054 pounds, the R1T is the third-heaviest long-term test car on record, behind two heavy-duty diesel pickups, despite not being a lightweight competitor.

Rivian R1T
Rivian R1T (Credits: Motortrend)

Positive first impressions have been expressed, with special attention paid to the truck’s ride, which in the pickup category is usually a source of complaint. The most noteworthy cause of frustration in our R1T experience so far is the slight inconvenience of having to go through many menus each time we charge our truck painted in Red Canyon to find the odometer. We should have a rather uneventful extended stay with the Rivian if this is still the extent of our issues.

Senior editor Eric Stafford noted astutely that “Sitting at fast-chargers gives us extra time to find things to nitpick.” One such nitpick is the glass roof, which Rivian PR jokingly refers to as “SPF 1000.” Nevertheless, on a sunny 85-degree Michigan day, the solar gain proved adequate to warm the cabin, inspiring thought about the potential efficiency and weight benefits of a steel roof. These small complaints are nothing compared to the overall great experience.

On the R1T’s first trip to the remote northern Michigan Electric Forest music event, associate news editor Caleb Miller experienced both highs and lows. Miller was lucky that the gear tunnel was not searched for contraband by the local authorities because of the truck’s uniqueness, even though he had consumed more beer than allowed. The R1T proved its adaptability; it was like the car industry’s version of the Millennium Falcon.

But not everything went as planned; a portable camp speaker broke free from its dock, exposing a less enjoyable element of owning a Rivian: service.

The only place in southeast Michigan where Rivian is present is in one service center, and the earliest way to get the Bluetooth camp speaker fixed was to wait three months for an appointment. We could still drive the R1T despite the fact that there were three problems that needed to be fixed. Other issues were fixed under warranty, including the incapacity to save settings because of an incident involving the garage and the non-working right gear tunnel entrapment release.

Rivian R1T
Rivian R1T (Credits: Motortrend)

These kinds of problems are usually taken care of during routine maintenance, but Rivian’s service schedule is surprisingly laissez-faire, somewhat like a crockpot’s “set it and forget it” philosophy. In contrast to conventional car maintenance regimens, the sole advice is to rotate the tires every 5000 miles. This strategy, however unorthodox, fits Rivian’s viewpoint as a fledgling EV producer.

Although we haven’t yet put the R1T through its paces on long road trips, we have plans to do so, particularly over the approaching holiday season. The R1T’s performance has not been hampered by the charging infrastructure—or, rather, it appears to lack it. Its popularity can be attributed to its smooth driving, cozy interior, sensible design, and thoughtful features like the air compressor, gear tunnel, and frunk.

If you’re looking to compare the R1T thoughtfully to your half-ton, we suggest viewing it more as an exceptionally well-built truck than as just another pickup. We want to evaluate the R1T’s range while pulling other types of trailers in our next tests, but we don’t think this will highlight its advantages. Still, it gives us plenty of time to track down that elusive odometer.

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