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Rivian R1T first impressions: Teleport from sports car to luxury to off-road

When the Rivian rolled up to our house for delivery last week, it was the first Rivian I had seen in the wild. WOW, I was pleasantly surprised by its striking and imposing look. Like the Lucid Air I saw in Santa Clara, the Rivian R1T just looks like it’s from the future. 

If you are a sci-fi fan that enjoyed Star Trek, then you are familiar with the teleportation device that, with the press of a button, can send a person from one location to another. The Rivian R1T might just be the first teleportation device available here on earth. 

When you hit Rivian’s “Sport/Stiff” setting, it teleports you into a sports car. 

The suspension, which is derived from technology used by McLaren, allows the truck to remain level and reduce body roll, and it shows. I’ve never driven a McLaren, but I have spent a lot of time in the Ferrari Maranello and a 911 Turbo and truly, the R1T is right up there on a winding road. Of course, it won’t outperform today’s super sports cars but consider the 0-60 in three seconds. Consider the handling with the R1T’s 135kw battery providing a low and balanced center of gravity complemented by the air suspension that deploys all sorts of trickery to lessen roll and maintain composure, and you have a pickup truck that handles like a sports car.

Rivian R1T
Rivian R1T In Front of Historic Timberline Lodge Mt. Hood

I ripped through twisting mountain roads with a smile from ear to ear. 

It was time to hit the teleporter button again and beam over to a puddle-laden dirt road in the Pacific Northwest rainforest. In Off Road Rock Crawl, the suspension just soaks up the bumps. Off-Road suspension is the polar opposite of the stiff sports suspension. I was tempted to go faster but found the mode limits the speed to 20 MPH. Coming on a hill climb, with 835 horsepower and 908lb-ft of torque, the Rivian R1T just levitates. The tire cameras are particularly helpful as it was clear that only side-by-sides had dared to challenge this section of trail. While traversing the unpaved roads, the most common expression by dirt bikers and Can-Am drivers was the expression, “what is that?” and, “huh?” The avant-garde truck turned heads as it ripped up and down the hills. 

Rivian R1T

One more press of the teleportation button sent me to a swanky luxury vehicle with dazzling interior ambient lighting, wonderfully textured wood, and a premium sound system that was begging for cranking up the volume. 

The interior has plenty of storage. The back seats have enough space to stow computers, backpacks, and even camping equipment. The center console is cavernous and can also hold multiple bottles and snacks, but it is almost too cavernous and I definitely can see things getting lost in it. 

The front seats have a storage compartment right under the front, for easily accessible pens, chapstick, and an epi-pen (which I find very helpful) to grab at a moment’s notice. But I was left wanting a small glove box to put insurance and registration or the handful of parking permits that one accumulates for offroading and state parks. 

Rivian R1T

Most of the decisions Rivian made show the thoughtfulness of a manufacturer with experience, but a few decisions leave me scratching my head. I don’t understand why the lighting is default set to off. It adds so much flavor to the interior by highlighting the beautiful black wood we selected. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss this feature. I don’t understand why Rivian doesn’t set the sound system to Rock or Hip Hop as the default, because that simple tweak makes the sound system go from good to great. I don’t understand why Rivian doesn’t have Active Lane Keep assistant comparable with, say, BMW, in its driving assist features. The truck has warnings for lane keep, but that’s not quite the same as the car actively keeping itself between the lines with steering assist. I do think it would enhance the safety of the vehicle to have an Active Lane Keep assistant so that one can confidently handle screen inputs while knowing the vehicle will keep it within the lines. 

These are all things that can be fixed with software and I hope Rivian does update to give us these options soon.

electric Truck
Driver+ Display

In my view, the Driver+ is one of the few flaws. First of all, the Driver+ can only be engaged on major freeways, and that’s it. Furthermore, while using it, I question if it’s safer than driving conventionally. My second time using the Driver+, I came across a dangerous situation while it was raining. Either the sensors got wet or the Rivian R1T could no longer see the lines, but whatever the reason the vehicle disengaged in the middle of a hard corner. While in our BMW X7, this would mean the steering would stay at the same angle from which you entered the corner. However, in the Rivian R1T, it forces the steering wheel to 0°, which can send you into adjacent lanes if you are not careful or attentive. I suspect Driver+ can be enhanced with over-the-air updates, but for now, it’s a subpar feature in an otherwise exceptional vehicle.  

Wrap up on Rivian R1T

Each day, I am learning more and more about the vehicle. I’ve racked up over 600 miles in the first week of ownership, and I look forward to sharing additional insights (pros and cons) from my experiences. Stay tuned.

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Avatar for Jared Briggs Jared Briggs

Jared Briggs is a writer, student, and tech enthusiast who enjoys everything car-related. Currently, he drives a Fisker Karma and Rivian R1T to and from the Portland area. He has loved cars ever since he was a toddler when he pushed around model Ferraris and Porsches and learned to drive on an Xbox steering wheel. When he is not writing he is probably offroading, modifying his Fisker Karma, or exploring the PNW.