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As an electric truck, the Rivian R1T has earned the praise of critics and owners alike. It makes up to 835 horsepower, and it can tow up to 11,000 pounds. The biggest perk about this battery-powered truck seems to be its off-road capability. But will you actually be roughing it in an R1T? This Rivian actually led Mr. Regular of Regular Car Reviews to draw a throughline to Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.”

Is the 2023 Rivian R1T good off-road?

In terms of off-road use, the Rivian electric truck truly shines. It has a Quad-Motor setup which allows the truck to spin on its axis. It also comes with air suspension, meaning it can adjust its ground clearance from eight to 14 inches. 

A Rivian R1T electric truck evokes feelings of Walden when it comes to off-roading
2023 Rivian R1T | Rivian

Not every Rivian R1T comes standard with Quad-Motor models. So if you really want an off-road truck, that might be the one to go with. Additionally, you get a hydraulic roll-control system instead of traditional anti-roll bars. Using this type of system allows the truck to keep body roll controlled without impacting the ride too much. 

When Car and Driver tested this truck out in Colorado, it seemed to do quite well for itself.

And that brings me to the comparison with Thoreau’s Walden. At what point are you so far removed from off-roading that it really can’t be considered off-roading?

What is Walden?

Walden is a book by Henry David Thoreau published in 1854. I’ll spare you an English class here by not going too in-depth. But it is essentially a book on self-reliance and personal independence.  It follows the transcendentalist movement that there is inherent goodness in people and nature. But society has corrupted it. 

A statue of Henry David Thoreau outside of his cabin at Walden Pond.
Henry David Thoreau | John Tlumacki via Getty Images

Thoreau wrote Walden by “isolating” himself from 1845 until 1847 at Walen Pond. But here’s the thing, he was not really isolated. Fellow author Ralph Waldo Emmerson owned the land on which Thoreau built his cabin. And, he was never really far removed from the modern comforts of the time. 

His mother helped him with things like food and laundry, and he often entertained guests. So while Walden is a great piece of American literature, I’m unsure if I would call what happened “roughing it.” You can see Mr. Regular’s review of the Rivian R1T here on the Regular Car Reviews Youtube channel.

Can modern technology detract from off-roading?

Part of the attractions of taking a vehicle off-road is the experience of roughing it. But with all of the technology put into the 2023 Rivian R1T, will you feel too isolated from the trail? Undoubtedly, if you go on extremely rugged terrain, you will still have to make calculations yourself. 

A 2023 Rivian R1T is parked on a dirt road as an electric truck.
Rivian R1T | Jamie Kelter Davis via Getty Images

But with all of the off-road systems seen in everything from Rivian trucks to Toyota, the vehicle is actually able to do a lot of the work itself. I can’t help but think that may take some of the challenges out of the 4×4 hobby. 

Then there’s the question of how many Rivian owners will actually off-road their electric trucks. These are pretty expensive pieces of machinery, and you might be worried about putting the R1T in legitimate danger. Still, in the video above, you can see Doug DeMuro putting this electric pickup to the test. And it appears to do just fine, even if the majority of models spend most of their lives on the pavement.

This article was updated on 4/16/2023