The Rivian R1T is the coolest truck available on the U.S. market because it combines two of today’s hottest automotive trends — electrification and overlanding — and adds some deeply-satisfying gadgetry. Much of it is practical, some of it is over-the-top, but all of it is just plain fun. Let’s have a look at some of the novelty features that charmed me to bits when I drove the R1T last week.
I’ll begin by saying that a full on-and-off-road review of the R1T is coming soon. I’m taking my time on this one, partly because there are some technical things that I need to explain properly (a four-motor 4x4 system’s off-road performance is...different!), but mostly because I got side-tracked by a 1965 Plymouth Valiant. You know how it is.
Anyway, for now I’ll just tell you that one key thing that really sets the R1T apart is its cornucopia of gadgets. I must admit that as I discovered them one-by-one, my love for the truck grew.
In the driver’s door is a 1,000 lumen LED flashlight powered by the truck’s 7777th 21700 cylindrical cell. The flashlight recharges itself when slotted into the door. For those flashlight enthusiasts out there, I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure if the light is Type III hard anodized, whether it has a sapphire crystal lens, whether it has multiple light output levels and if those levels are achieved via PWM circuitry or constant-current regulation, if the emitter is a Cree XM-L or an Osram P9, or what the color temperature of that LED is.
I really should have done more research on that flashlight; I have failed you all.
On each side of the R1T, just behind the rear doors, are openings integrated into the bedsides. The openings provide access to an 11.6 cubic-foot cargo space:
Opening each door is as simple as pressing a D-shaped, flush-mounted electric switch atop the beside:
You can access that gear tunnel from inside the vehicle via the pass-through behind the rear bench’s folding center armrest.
The most impressive gadget is the truck’s “Camp Kitchen,” an available accessory on which Rivian cooked all of the meals during the press drive in Colorado last week.
The Camp Kitchen’s foundation is the Gear Tunnel Shuttle, a sliding tray that ejects from the gear tunnel, and that contains a leg to provide a 200-pound capacity to what would otherwise be a cantilever.
You’ll notice the two 120-volt power outlets up top; the Camp Kitchen plugs into these, and slides on/latches to the Gear Tunnel Shuttle. The kitchen contains two induction burners, a sink with a power faucet (the water pump plugs into one of two 12-volt outlets on the Gear Tunnel Shuttle), and a bunch of drawers for utensils.
It’s an awesome setup, and it’s modular, meaning you can take the stove off the shuttle while leaving the sink in place. Here’s a look at the T-slot system that allows the the Camp Kitchen to fasten to the Gear Tunnel Shuttle:
Rivian cooked tacos, chili, and a number of other dishes on the Camp Kitchen while I was with them in Colorado; it was all excellent, and I could see why someone would drop $5,000 on this accessory. It just makes the camping experience that much cooler.
A bluetooth speaker sits in a cave carved into the front of the center console.
Interestingly, there’s an electronic lock that prevents one from removing the speaker while the vehicle is in motion. This seems a bit unnecessary, but it’s all part of the Rivian’s high-tech vibe: add electric actuators everywhere.
Speaking of which: I don’t know what the thought process was behind choosing an electric latch for the center console lid; perhaps it makes it easily lockable? In any case, this seems like a pointless expense and potential failure mode; if the car is completely out of juice, can you just not get into that console? I don’t know the answer to this, and yet I’m totally onboard with the feature. It’s just satisfying to lightly press that switch, and hear the electric latch release the lid. And I have no idea why.
The Rivian R1T is essentially a mobile power bank, and luckily, it’s a generous one, willingly distributing its electrons to every electronic device that wants them. That is to say: The truck offers a bounty of power outlets.
There are the USB-C outlets on the backs of the front seats. There are two more USB-C outlets below the second-row screen:
There’s a 12-volt power source hidden at the base of the center stack just ahead of the center console.
Even the frunk has a 12-volt outlet for when you want to plug something in while tailgating (nosegating? frunking?)
In the bed, there are two sealed 120-volt outlets:
There are more USB-C charging ports in the center console cubby, there’s a wireless charging pad just ahead of the cubby, and there are 12-volt outlets in the gear tunnel:
I’m sure I forgot a bunch.
I have to admit that I have a thing for hidden storage compartments in cars. Whether it’s the Saturn Vue’s little wallet-holder on the bottom of the dash just above the driver’s left knee, the old Chrysler minivan’s passenger-side under-seat storage bin, the Dodge Dart’s under-seat cushion storage, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s inside-rear-seatback storage, or the Dodge Journey’s second-row under-floor bins, I just love a nice clandestine bin.
The Rivian R1T has a number of them, though my favorites are the small storage bins below the two front seats. There’s also plenty of room under the truck’s rear bench, though that’s a fairly conventional storage.
The Rivian R1T’s key fob is a carabiner, which can hook to your backpack, beltloop, or whatever — no need to loop your keys around a separate carabiner like I know many of my friends do.
If you’re an outdoorsperson who worries about breaking or losing their key fob while hiking, kayaking, or whatever — or if you like to run and don’t want to hide your key near your truck or have it in your pocket — then the R1T’s wrist band will come in clutch. You don’t need to charge it, since it’s just a Near Field Communication transponder; simply bring the top of the band close to the door handle, and the vehicle will unlock.
In the image below, you can see me pulling a little fan icon on the 16-inch infotainment screen to the left; this aims the HVAC vents shown towards the driver.
Are electric vent shutters helpful? Only if you’re trying to move a vent that’s out of reach (how often do you do that, really?); otherwise, it seems fairly pointless. But hey, I was entertained by it, and I’m writing about it now, so that’s enough of a reason to include it.
The Rivian’s interior overhead lights don’t have a separate button, nor do the lights themselves act as clickable mechanical switches; they’re just touch sensitive. Again, is this necessary? Probably not. Are there reasons why one might prefer the feedback of a mechanical switch? Sure. But making a compelling product isn’t just about including strictly necessary features. Rivian is trying to give the R1T a high-tech vibe with features like this, and I must say: It’s working.
The Rivian R1T has a front trunk with 11 cubic feet of capacity — enough to carry three pretty large bags or one Rivian engineer.
At the base of the frunk is a foldable false-floor. On the rear vertical wall are two spots designated to attract the magnets integrated into the floor.
The false floor simply folds, then pivots up; the magnets hold the floor against the rear wall, providing access to the frunk’s full depth.
Under my test truck’s false floor were the Rivian’s charger and a Gear Guard cable (more on those in a bit).
Opening the tailgate involves pressing a button on the top of the driver’s side bedside, towards the back of the truck (you can see this in the power tonneau cover section below). Once you’ve done that, there’s a mechanical handle at the bed floor’s left corner (see below); lift it, and a big under-bed-floor storage bin opens to reveal a full-size spare.
Locking the truck would lock the tailgate and make this latch inaccessible, making this a good spot for securing valuables, though unless those valuables were small, you’d have to remove the spare.
The Rivian R1T has a large rectangular plastic spacer between the bed floor and tailgate. Equipped with rollers underneath on the aft end and hinged underneath at the forward end, the spacer’s rear edge rolls down the front of the tailgate as the tailgate opens. Once the gate is flat, the spacer falls into a recess in the bedliner, cleanly filling the gap between the bed and tailgate.
The gap exists because of a “gooseneck” hinge design intentionally meant to increase the total floor length to seven feet with the tailgate down (with the tailgate up, the R1T’s bed length is under five feet).
When closing the tailgate, I found that the spacer often jammed as it interfered with the under-bed storage bin lid. The issue was that the right side of the under-bed storage lid struggled to latch (this happened on multiple trucks). I had to push hard on the right side of the under-bed storage lid to get it to latch so I could close the tailgate.
At launch, all Rivian R1Ts will come with an air compressor built into the bedside. Simply plug in the 20-foot hose (which is housed in the driver’s-side gear tunnel lid), set the compressor to the desired pressure, and click play.
The compressor will cut off as soon as whatever you’re pumping (a car or bicycle tire, an inflatable raft, etc.) has reached the desired pressure.
The R1T comes with something called “Gear Guard.” Just below the air compressor outlet (see the image in the section above), you’ll see two small square covers with lock icons. These covers are hinged, and accept the gear guard cable shown below:
With the truck locked, the truck won’t release the cable, making this a good way to secure a bike, tool kit, or whatever.
Even if a thief stops by with a big set of bolt cutters, the Gear Guard system includes a remote monitoring system that uses the camera on the back of the cab (shown at the top of this section) to notify you if someone’s tampering with your possessions.
The gear guard system isn’t the only way to tie down your gear. There are loops inside the bed, and slots atop the bedsides:
I’m not entirely sure what all you could use these slots for, but Rivian highlighted that the cross bars that fasten atop the cab will also fasten here atop the bedsides. Here are the cross bars on the cab:
Here they are on the bedsides:
And here they are holding up a tent:
The R1T’s door handles pop out when the vehicle is unlocked, and flip back flush with the door panels when the vehicle is locked or when it’s driving, offering aerodynamic advantages. Flush door handles are becoming more and more common; I think they give the vehicle a clean look, and there is of course some novelty associated with watching your handles disappear. And this truck is all about novelty.
While off-roading, the Rivian truck’s cameras came in clutch. The ones on the front of the side mirrors helped me locate my front tires to avoid (or deliberately climb) obstacles.
The cameras on the rear of the front fender flares aided in determining how far my rear tires were from big rocks, helping me decide when to begin a tight turn to avoid nicking a wheel.
Then there’s the front-facing camera located low in the vehicle’s front grille opening.
Camera resolution for my pre-production test truck’s front-facing camera was surprisingly poor.
If you want to protect your in-bed gear even more than Rivian’s Gear Guard system can, just fold out the power tonneau cover by clicking the button on the rear of the driver’s side bedside top:
The cover stows away cleanly at the intersection of the bed and cab.
To get access to the R1T’s high voltage charge port, you simply place your finger on the three lines on the front driver’s side fender flare, just beside the orange reflector. This swings open the charge port door.
When charging, the ring around the charge port turns green, and the light bar at the front of the truck flashes green.
This isn’t really uncommon, especially among unibody SUVs and trucks, but a hidden hitch gives the R1T a clean look when it’s not towing (the truck is rated to tow up to 11,000 pounds). Seriously, check this out:
I refuse to call the Rivian R1T a rolling Swiss Army Knife, because that’s an incredibly trite expression, but the thing is riddled with fun gadget-y features, and also just straight-up style. Seriously, look above at the stacked projector beams and LED DRL that make up the headlight unit. And check out the real wood on the dash:
Heck, even the carpets look good!
I haven’t even touched on the powertrain, air suspension, or drivetrain. More to come on those fronts, but trust me when I say it all just adds to the vehicle’s badassery.
The Rivian R1T may not have a removable top (an engineer told me that removable roof pieces are under development), but in some ways it shares an off-road vibe with the white-hot Ford Bronco, and it shares an tech-y vibe with a Tesla Model X. Combining those two vibes into one vehicle yields the coolest vehicle on the U.S. market. I’m convinced of it.