With the Rivian R1T EV scheduled to hit the market in September 2021, and then IPO at $80 billion, it is high time we see some test drive videos. Motor Trend has reviewed nearly every new vehicle since 1949. The Motor Trend team took the market’s first electric truck out for a week. Find out why the Rivian truck review concludes, “this changes everything.”
Hydraulics For Perfect Damping At Any Speed, And Any Height
Motor Trend’s Aaron Gold and Christian Seabaugh drove a pre-production Rivian R1T electric truck, both on-road and off-road. The two editors immediately honed in on two technological advancements that give the Rivian R1T unprecedented driving characteristics.
Several upcoming electric trucks, such as Tesla’s Cybertruck, offer air suspension. The Rivian enhances this premium setup with a system of interconnected hydraulics to provide damping and roll control. The driver only needs to set the R1T’s drive mode and the truck adjusts its damping to the speed and terrain.
According to Gold, the R1T can blast around paved twisties and, “in on-road mode, there’s almost no body roll in the corners…we were driving it like a sports sedan, but we’ve got four people in the cab and a bed full of stuff.” And eliminating body roll is critical for a vehicle with a claimed 3-second zero to 60 mph time.
Off-road, the same truck can rise to 14.4 inches of ground clearance and “drives over whatever you point it at.” During the Rivian truck review, Seabaugh specifies, “A lot of air suspensions get really flimsy off-road too because you raise the ride height, you lose a little bit of your damping. But I think, thanks to those hydraulic elements of the suspension, the ride quality is maintained throughout.”
Rivian R1T: Defined By Four-Motor-Drive
The second technological advancement that the Motor Trend team pointed out is the R1T’s drivetrain, defined by four electric motors. A four-motor drivetrain is unprecedented in the electric truck market: even the upcoming Hummer EV SUT only offers three motors.
The main benefit of four motors that Motor Trend noticed was the R1T’s “torque-vectoring superpowers.” With Rivian’s algorithm, the R1T can adjust each wheel’s power output–and speed.
Off-roaders have been pursuing faster torque-vectoring for years. ICE torque-placement technology ranges from 4WD to AWD, aftermarket limited-slip differentials, and even fully locking differentials. But these systems suffer from delays caused by clutches or viscous couplings.
The Motor Trend reviewers noted, “the Rivian R1T offers real-time torque vectoring, delivering power precisely to the corner where it’s needed.” The result is that “off-roading in the R1T is a mind-bender…its four-motor drivetrain sensing slip and meting out power to each wheel as needed.”
The R1T’s torque-vectoring system is so instantaneous that it benefits the truck’s handling at high speeds too. For example, during their Rivian truck review, the Motor Trend team attempted to break the vehicle lose in a corner and could not. Instead, they “felt the R1T’s torque-vectoring superpowers at work: the outside-rear motor powered up and brought the R1T’s nose around, and we blasted out of the turn…it’s a sensation we’ve experienced in only a handful of cars, and never in a heavily laden pickup truck.”
The Rivian Truck Review: This ‘Changes Everything’
Gold says of driving the R1T, “It was being a sports sedan and a pickup truck–at the same time!” The team concluded that the R1T left them hopeful for “the prospect of what electrification can do for one of America’s most popular vehicle segments.” Watch the test drive below: