The future of pick-ups has arrived. Pick-ups have historically evolved more slowly than passenger cars, yet Rivian’s R1T offers a clear-sighted view of how this sector will evolve in the coming years. This all-electric pick-up has no internal combustion compromises like transmission tunnels or low-hanging mechanical components to detract from its dynamics or off-road performance. Standing almost 15 inches above the ground, the boxy body is bookended by horizontal bands of LED daytime running lights, while the quad-bulb headlamps have a friendly robot vibe. Underneath, steel and carbon fiber cladding and skid plates join impact-absorbing aluminum honeycomb in fending off assaults from the great outdoors.

Rivian was founded 13 years ago, but this is the first model year of the first production vehicle. All things considered, it’s an astonishingly accomplished debut.

Staggering performance and off-road ability. When you look at those bluff proportions and consider it hosts over 7,700 batteries, it’s not surprising that this pickup weighs almost 7,000 lb. What’s truly astonishing is the way its quad-motor drive system seamlessly delivers over 800 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. Almost without breaking a sweat, the R1T will hit 60 from a standing start in just three seconds – supercars can’t live with that. Yet you also have over six inches of ground clearance adjustment courtesy of the air suspension, a 34-degree approach angle, and the option to fit monstrous 34-inch Pirelli Scorpion all-terrain tires on 20-inch wheels via the fittingly-titled Off-Road pack.

This monumental power is channeled via technologies like torque vectoring, active damping, and hydraulic ride control, with dozens of drive mode settings. Yet the R1T will still cover an EPA-estimated 314 miles – and if that’s not enough, a larger battery pack due later this year will boost the range to over 400 miles. Air suspension automatically adjusts the ride height when towing up to 11,000 lb.

An automotive Swiss army knife. Inside the driver’s door, a powerful flashlight is ready to be popped out for night-time exploration. Tap the back of the front-seat headrests and two cupholders emerge with space for flasks. There are also pull-out storage cubbies under the front seats and center console, while a hidden compartment behind the cab is accessed by drop-down powered flaps strong enough to use as steps. The list of innovations and thoughtful touches goes on, right down to expanding door and seatback pockets. The 51” by 54” bed accommodates a power tailgate, 120V outlets, clamps and tie-downs, LED bars, roof lights, and an air compressor.

Innovation also extends to the choice of cabin materials. The seats are clad in hardwearing synthetic leather, the headliner is made from recycled materials, and so are the floor mats on Adventure models. There are cameras on the front, rear, and sides of the car to help judge off-road progress, though frankly, we’d pity any rocks that get in the R1T’s way.

Packed with creature comforts. Electric vehicles are renowned for incorporating technology, and the R1T positively groans with toys, centered on a 15.6-inch touchscreen. Even the $67,500 Explore trim offers a heated steering wheel, plus a glass roof and heated seats with eight-way power adjustment up front. Move up to higher trims and you receive 12-way adjustment including power lumbar, ash wooden trim, a Meridian audio system including a subwoofer, and a power tonneau cover.

Safety is yet another strong suit, with automatic emergency braking and active lane control alongside adaptive cruise with blind-spot monitoring and automatic high beams. You can even initiate hands-free driving for up to 20 seconds at a time.

Final thoughts. As a debut product, the R1T is astonishingly accomplished, and something of a paradox. Few vehicles can travel this fast, let alone traverse the sort of boulder-strewn paths it can scamper across. It’s hard to think of another vehicle offering as many ingenious storage features, yet there’s no glovebox. The exterior is retro and futuristic at the same time, and despite weighing more than a small moon, the R1T offers a range that shames most modern EVs.

Of course, nothing is perfect – not even the Rivian. The lack of smartphone connectivity is baffling, the huge infotainment screen can be laggy (and it’s not especially intuitive to use), there’s little available safety data and the lack of grab handles will be keenly felt by smaller people. Yet these are minor quibbles, and worth accepting as the price of driving such a forward-thinking vehicle. Welcome to the future.

Check prices for the 2022 Rivian R1T »