"The best pickup truck we have ever driven." This is our previous description of the 2022 Rivian R1T, and now it can receive higher praise as the 2022 MotorTrend Truck of the Year.
Ever since Tesla redefines electric vehicles with the 2013 Model S, which won the Car of the Year Award, we have been waiting and wondering whether the EV formula will inevitably be applied to America’s best-selling car category: pickup trucks. At first it was a matter of time. , But recently, this is a question of whose. In the past few years, credible challengers have emerged, and enough of them have sufficient financial support and technical expertise, and we realize that we will soon have answers to both questions.
If the Rivian R1T were just a reliable pickup truck, and it was also an electric car, it would win praise, but it was much more than that. Rivian is not satisfied with simply installing one or two electric motors under the hood or box of a traditional pickup truck, but uses this opportunity to re-examine what a modern pickup truck might be.
Gone are the days when pickup trucks were just tools. Today, and for most of this century, they are all types of family cars, luxury cars, off-road vehicles, lifestyle cars, and performance cars. Each of these new use cases requires us to reconsider the definition of "pickup truck", but mainly through ways of broadening our understanding, rather than fundamentally challenging it.
By rethinking how to make pickup trucks, how to advance, how to drive, how to use space, how we interact with it, and how to expand its target audience, Rivian has forced the industry and the market to reassess expectations. However, R1T is more than just an intellectual exercise; according to the traditional definition, its core is also a good truck. Both make it our truck of the year in 2022.
Proper proportions play a key role in balancing R1T's innovative design and traditional sensibility. Without the necessary EV light strips before and after, the R1T looks more like a pickup rather than a sci-fi movie prop. But with these bars, especially its "stadium" headlights, it can be immediately identified as EV and Rivian.
However, instead of screaming in front of you, the designers of Rivian chose simple elements—the lights—to convey everything you need to know about the truck. The results also cleverly show that the huge grille is not a necessary element of good truck design.
Internally, Rivian cleverly balances the modern and simple EV aesthetics with the material quality required by the price and the functional requirements of a "real" pickup. Although we do not agree in principle to give up almost all basic functions to the touch screen interface, we recognize that this is a popular trend. Rivian performed well.
The complete integration of the trailer brake controller into the screen and steering wheel buttons is a particularly clever new thinking, it will not hinder the function. It is also used to pack portable Bluetooth speakers and lanterns without sacrificing the necessary internal cargo space, and to provide access to the innovative gear tunnel through the cab.
The most important thing is the thorough modern and modest use of colors and textures on the dashboard, doors and seats, revealing a new attention to detail. Sitting in the R1T feels like sitting in a $70,000 car, no matter what its power is, who made it, or what body style it has.
The "skateboard" layout that places the battery and electric motor in the frame between the wheels was pioneered twenty years ago, but the R1T was the first truck to seriously explore the possibilities offered by this structure.
Rivian is as effectively fixed to the frame as traditional pickups. A simple method could have been used to bolt the traditional cab and box to the top. Instead, the company designed a combined cab and pickup box, opening up new design opportunities. Doing so allows Rivian to use clever storage solutions, such as transverse gear tunnels and integrated trunk covers, while giving up relatively little bed space. More importantly, the designer can combine these two functions while maintaining the proportions of the classic pickup truck, and still provide convenient seats or pedals on both sides of the truck through those small access doors.
Likewise, Rivian further explores the technical possibilities offered by its electric drivetrain. Many companies have talked about independent motors for each wheel and the traction and stability advantages they can provide. But Rivian was the first production car to bring this concept to the market and eliminated it.
Direct, fine-grained control of each wheel allows the R1T to use any available friction, regardless of the surface. On winding roads, the truck’s instantaneous torque vectoring makes it more manoeuvrable than any other pickup on the market, more like a high-performance luxury SUV. When off-road, it can dig sand, slosh in the dirt, and climb over rocks like the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, but the ground clearance, breakthrough angle and departure angle are better.
A fully independent suspension with air springs, active dampers and new cross-linked hydraulic anti-roll bars facilitate most functions. It can change all aspects of wheel driving in real time, which allows the R1T to change from being manipulated like the Ranger Rover Sport SVR to crawling like a jeep by pressing the digital buttons.
However, it’s really worth noting that even though Rivian clearly designed the R1T for play, its engineers did not neglect the truck’s working capacity: the 1,760-pound payload is directly between the best medium-sized trucks and entry-level full-size trucks. Just like the size of R1T. However, its 11,000 pounds of towing capacity is comparable to a full-size truck, and its stability, acceleration, and braking capabilities are impeccable when towing up to 9,000 pounds in our tests (the most we requested).
Of course, if it doesn't have the scope to complete the work, these are irrelevant. Rivian's 135 kWh battery (133 usable) provides 314 miles of range, which is more than enough for most road trips and off-road adventures. It can now charge at 190 kW, the promised wireless upgrade to 300 kW charging, and Rivian's continuous efforts to install chargers on trails, campgrounds and parks means that range is not a real issue.
With only full electric power, the R1T is the most energy-efficient pickup truck on the market. Compared with the best internal combustion engines that convert chemical energy (gasoline, diesel, natural gas) into the same energy, electric motors are better at converting electrical energy into work. With the R1T's 74/66/70 mpg-e EPA rating, no gasoline, diesel or hybrid truck can compare to it.
Other electric vehicles are more efficient, but it is important to consider their capabilities. No other electric car on the market today can tow or tow anywhere like the R1T, and no other electric car can power or use many motors like this truck. Doing more work requires more energy. In this case, R1T's range and efficiency have left a deep impression.
Building any new electric vehicle from the ground up is a huge challenge, and because of the expected wider range of functions, building an EV pickup truck is even more so. When the weather is reasonable, the car must let you reach your destination mainly on paved roads. Trucks must do this while also allowing you to haul heavy cargo; pull large and heavy trailers; and stay away from paved roads. More importantly, it must complete all these tasks while providing the same cruising range as an electric car. In view of this, R1T is indeed an amazing achievement.
Although Rivian deliberately designed the R1T to attract a wealthier, active lifestyle audience rather than a blue-collar crowd, the truck is not limited by this decision. As evidence: it can haul hay bales and pull horse trailers, and it can conquer the famous Hell Vengeance Trail in Moab. As a truck, it determines its expected function.
Similarly, as a luxury car valued at $74,075, the quality of materials and structure is commensurate with the price, and so is the design applicable to them. The technology, from entertainment to active safety features and wireless software updates, is the same technology provided by equally expensive cars and SUVs. The driving experience is better than any truck and as good as many sporty luxury SUVs.
It is as effective as the lifestyle tools that Rivian promotes. Equipped with a standard gear channel and power trunk cover, it can be prepared for any camping trip, but buyers can install pull-out camping kitchens and bed-top tents further away from the factory. The built-in air compressor and detachable speaker/lantern make it easier to set up a campsite. Once you flush the tap from Rivian, it can valet parking in the city center, golf club or your favorite high-end restaurant.
No matter how you compare, the value of R1T is tenable. Comparing it with the only other electric truck GMC Hummer EV pickup on the market, the Rivian has stronger traction, stronger traction, beautiful interior, more storage space, better driving performance, better ride and handling, but The speed is slightly slower and straight, and the cost is tens of thousands of dollars less.
It keeps pace with traditional pickup trucks of the same price and is equally competitive. We will emphasize this again: the quality of the design, engineering, materials and technology provided is as good or better than any other high-priced pickup truck you can buy today, not to mention the breadth of driving experience and capabilities.
The list of R1T's active and passive safety devices, under the Driver+ nomenclature, is impressive. What's more noteworthy is that every point of it is standard. Many trucks do not provide this amount of equipment at any price, and no other trucks provide all equipment as a standard.
From basic knowledge such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking to highway driving assistance like Autopilot, R1T will try to support you at any speed, even when towing. The clear presentation of what the truck computer "sees" on the front, back and sides reassures the driver that it is focusing and preparing to help. Rivian's decision to include a camera facing the driver to ensure the responsible use of these assistants and full autonomy in the future is equally commendable.
The long-term concept of frame design for truck design in the context of commercial work limits the freedom to fundamentally redesign the appearance and layout of such vehicles. Previous attempts, whether Chevrolet El Camino or Honda Ridgeline, have not seen the commercial success of traditional pickup truck designs, and the innovations introduced by these and similar vehicles have not been widely adopted by standard holders. Although its price point does not support the former, R1T has a unique advantage. The latter can be realized in a way that is suitable for every road of the truck.
The major truck manufacturers are not ready to conflate profit, reliability and tradition, but embrace these ideas on mature petrol and diesel-powered pickup trucks with body frames. Easy to manufacture, subject to less and less supervision, and as a huge profit center, traditional pickup trucks provide enough power to provide customers with more profit filling functions, but they will not invest in truck design and design methods. Costly rethinking was built.
However, with so many automakers turning to skateboard-type electric vehicle platforms, opportunities have emerged. The restrictions on designers and engineers are suddenly different, giving freedom to try new things. Some won't, at least not at first. As we have seen from GMC and Ford, they will add a frunk (front luggage compartment) where the engine was previously and convert the rear suspension to a standalone, but otherwise it will still be a body frame device . However, others will draw inspiration from R1T, and the initial persistence may be the same. Skateboarding is a blank canvas, and Rivian shows how to seize the opportunities it offers without offending the sensitivity of historic truck buyers.
2022 Rivian R1T showed the world a new way to make pickup trucks and a new way to think about truck design, engineering and use cases. It hardly gave up any ability in this process. It shows us that pickup trucks can be suitable for those who never want pickup trucks. It shows us that they are not just tools for leather lining, and commercial applications are not the only starting point for envisioning new trucks. Most importantly, it shows us that they can be electric cars-and can do better.
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