None has ever off-roaded across the United States in a completely electric vehicle. That is, until now. A team of Motor Trend reviewers and Rivian engineers hatched a plan to bag this overlanding first. Aboard a pair of R1T electric pickups, the team covered 7,686 miles, traversing the entire Trans-America trail. This is the first electric trans-continental overland expedition–in history. Catch up on part one of their expedition here, or read on to find out the epic conclusion.
The Rivian electric 4×4 impressed the Motor Trend team
The experience Motor Trend reviewers were immediately impressed by the capabilities of the electric 4×4. The editors keyed in on two major aspects of the technologically-advanced Rivian that make it such a formidable off-roader.
The first important feature of the Rivian R1T is its quad-motor drive. The Rivian’s six-figure competitors, such as GMC’s Hummer EV and the Tesla Cybertric, feature two or three electric engines. The Rivian, on the other hand, boasts quad-motor drive. Why is this important? Torque vectoring. With Rivian’s proprietary algorithm, the R1T can put power to whichever wheel has the most traction. Unlike a locking differential, this advanced system adapts to any terrain, conserving power and pushing the Rivian forward as fast as possible.
The Motor Trend team may have expected the torque vectoring to help the Rivian at low speeds, like a locked differential. What amazed the editors was the Rivian’s ability to push itself through a tight corner on a paved road. They likened the fully-loaded truck’s performance to a sports sedan.
The Rivian R1T’s second impressive technological feature is its suspension. Like many electric truck prototypes, the Rivian offers adjustable-height air suspension. What sets the Rivian apart is its hydraulic damping on all four corners. This system adapts to the truck’s speed and the terrain. As a result, the R1T suffers very little body roll on paved roads and glides over difficult terrain.
The team was understandably nervous about recharging the Rivian R1Ts. But during their expedition they found a rhythm. Whenever the Trans-America trail crossed through a town, the team plugged in the trucks at a public charger, and took the chance to resupply.
The Rivian R1T turned out to be luxurious
The Motor Trend reviewers did not expect to be so comfortable on their overland expedition. Their Rivian R1Ts came with overland features such as expedition tents and a slide-out kitchen–all available through Rivian.
In addition, the reviewers were impressed by the ergonomics of the Rivian truck. They admitted that there weren’t many seats that remained comfortable for 14 hours off off-road driving. But the Rivian’s front seats exceeded expectations.
The team certainly met setbacks. In two locations, they broke aspects of the Rivian R1T’s suspension. But both times they were tackling off-road obstacles few stock vehicles could handle. The Rivian engineers fixed damaged components and gathered important data for improving the already impressive Rivian R1T.
Rivian introduced the first electric truck on the market. The startup beat out the Tesla Cybetruck and the Ford F-150 Lightning. But now Rivian has earned another first. The Rivian R1T is the first electric vehicle to Overland all the way from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Pacific.