Rivian’s new electric pickup truck is rated for more horsepower than a Ram 1500 TRX, and twice as much torque as the new Toyota Tundra. But the Rivian electric truck is also limited by its battery range. So does the 2022 Rivian R1T make a good tow vehicle? Check out the results of its brutal Rocky Mountain towing test.
The Rivian electric truck has an 11,000 lbs towing capacity
The Rivian R1T is the first electric pickup truck on the market. What’s more, the new Rivian is the first mass-produced electric vehicle with four separate motors.
Each one of the Rivian’s motors can make more than 200 horsepower. As importantly, the truck is engineered so all four motors can draw maximum power from its battery simultaneously–when needed. Therefore, the Rivian R1T earned an 835 horsepower rating. In addition, it has 908 lb-ft of torque on tap.
This quad-motor drive makes the Rivian a true supertruck. It can do something called torque-vectoring: putting power to the wheel with the most traction in real-time. Torque-vectoring helps the Rivian off-road and also allows it to power through a corner by pushing with its outside wheels. MotorTrend also found the Rivian electric truck could corner like a “sports sedan.”
MotorTrend tested the Rivian’s 0-60 mph time at 3.1 seconds, making it the world’s quickest truck by a longshot. It is unsurprising that the Rivian electric pickup’s tow rating equals many full-size V8 trucks: 11,000 pounds.
Rivian’s electric pickup truck is a great tow vehicle
The Fast Lane (TFL) Truck is located in Boulder, Colorado. These independent reviewers test every truck’s towing ability on “Ike’s Gauntlet.” This is a Rocky Mountain Interstate Highway pass with a 7% grade that goes on for eight miles. The top of the pass runs through the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel 11,158 feet above sea level. TFL Truck runs the entire test at 60 MPH while pulling an 8,100 pound trailer.
If any test could destroy the all-new electric truck, it would be Ike’s Gauntlet. But TFL truck found the R1T to be a “great pickup for towing trailers.”
“The height-adjustable suspension is very comfortable, even when loaded heavy. I did not experience any trailer sway. There is always more than enough power on tap.”TFL Truck
One technological advancement that comes standard on the Rivian is air suspension with hydraulic dampers. This means that the truck not only offers 6.5 inches of height adjustment, but its dampers are fully effective at every height. Possible heights range from “slammed” with 7.9-inches of ground clearance to “lifted” with 14.9-inches of ground clearance.
The Rivian’s suspension also allows it to auto-level its load and adjust in real-time. This is one of the reasons TFL found the truck to be a great tow vehicle. Another reason the electric truck makes such a stable tow platform is its weight: the Rivian R1T weighs 7,100 pounds.
Can the Rivian R1T tow for long distances?
The Rivian electric truck, like all current electric vehicles, has an Achilles Heel: its range. Towing an 8,100 pound trailer can slice its range in half, and recharging is often slower than advertised. It is not great at towing for long distances.
The specific Rivian R1T that TFL Truck tested had a 280-mile driving range. When they hooked the truck up to the 8,100 pound trailer it used about twice its normal power to drive around town: the R1T’s estimated range fell to 135 miles. Temperature and road conditions further affect the pickup’s range.
During the grueling climb up Ike’s Gauntlett, most modern trucks fall to 4.0 mpg. So on the long climb, even a turbocharged V6 truck goes through 67 kWh worth of gasoline. The Rivian R1T by comparison went through about 21.44 kWh of energy while climbing the same pass. That said, that 21.44 kWh was 16% of its overall battery.
While the Rivian R1T came back down Ike’s Gauntlet, its regenerative brakes were able to put 2% of its charge back into its battery. The regenerative brakes worked so well, the truck never needed to fire up the 8,100 pound trailer’s brakes.
“Naturally, the driving range goes down significantly when towing heavy. We never saw the advertised 180 kW charging speed with this R1T. The charging speed during this test in real-world conditioned was relatively slow.”TFL Truck
Overall, the Rivian R1T did a great job hauling a heavy trailer over a punishing mountain pass. Unfortunately, it went through a lot of juice doing so. Even worse, electric vehicles can take hours to fully recharge.
The R1T might be a perfect way to pull your toys to the mountain or the lake–if you live nearby. But this generation of the electric truck is not a great long-distance hauler.