Skip to main content

The Rivian R1T is about as advanced as pickup trucks get. As an EV, it’s a large, intimidating truck with tremendous power and cool physical features. While overall, R1T owners express satisfaction with the model, one feature has them wondering why Rivian made it so complicated

Changing the air vents on the Rivian R1T isn’t easy

Changing the airflow from the in-dash air vents is a simple task. Traditionally, a car’s vent featured a tab, slider, or wheel to adjust the volume and direction of airflow emitting from it. However, adjusting airflow is not that easy in the Rivian R1T. 

The Rivian R1T’s entire climate control system requires using the center touchscreen. The touchscreen controls everything from turning the system on or off, adjusting the temperature, switching from windshield defrost, floorboard heat, and blowing air out the in-dash vents. Using the touchscreen for these tasks is intuitive, but changing the airflow direction from the vents is challenging. 

Along with being far removed from the simplicity of manually aiming the vent fins, the system is quirky. The Rivian Owner’s Forum contains a few examples of the truck’s climate control system behaving unexpectedly. Problems range from limited air output to a required combination of selecting controls to enable them. 

Why do automakers insist on making things more complicated?

Automakers strive to make their cars unique to stand out from the competition, but why make simple tasks complicated? The problem is nothing new, dating even back to power windows, for example. They’re nice until the driver shuts off the car to pump gas before you decide you want your window down. Without the old-fashioned window crank, you’re stuck sitting in a hot car or standing outside awkwardly until they’re finished. 

Despite some frustrations, the Rivian R1T is a really cool truck

Frustrations aside, the Rivian R1T is a really cool truck. Owners report that the truck’s off-road tires and substantial weight give it a planted feel while driving in inclement weather. Rivian says the R1T can ford water more than 3 feet deep, has 14.9 inches of ground clearance, tows up to 11,000 pounds, and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 3 seconds. 

In addition, the R1T has a 1,764-pound payload capacity and 62 cubic feet of cargo storage. To keep your gear safe, Rivian includes Gear Guard Security. The security system features a steel braided cable to lock your items stored in the bed or on the roof. There are also five onboard cameras and the animated Gear Guard character on the center display, keeping a watchful eye. 

Many items smaller than bikes, like backpacks, snowboards, and golf bags, will fit inside the Rivian’s gear tunnel. The gear tunnel, located behind the rear seat, spans the truck’s width with exterior doors on both sides. There is access through the rear seatback. However, it’s only large enough to get your arm in, and retrieving anything sizable is impossible. 

In addition to secure storage, the gear tunnel houses the optional camp kitchen. The kitchen features an electric stove top, a sink with water storage, a countertop surface, and a 30-piece dishware set. It also comes mounted on a shuttle system that, used separately, allows easy access to gear stored deeper in the tunnel. 

With so many outstanding features, it’s a shame that Rivian overcomplicated a simple task like directing airflow from the vents. Time will tell if future software updates correct the quirks or if Rivian will opt for a more manual style. Either way, If you’re in the market for an EV pickup truck, the Rivian R1T should be on your short list of contenders.