If someone were asked to design the ultimate electric vehicle for the U.S. market, something like the Rivian R1T would surely be the result.
The first truck from the American startup automaker combines the popular pickup body style with a roomy, premium interior and the power of a muscle car.
More power than any muscle car ever, in fact. The R1T Launch Edition that went on sale this fall has a four-motor drivetrain with a combined 835 hp, which makes it the king of performance pickups, too.
It's also equipped with a computer-controlled air suspension system that can lower the vehicle to give it the driving dynamics of a sports sedan, or raise it to deliver over 14 inches of ground clearance and extreme off-road capability. All this with a driving range of 314 miles per charge and a maximum tow rating of 11,000 pounds, just not at the same time.
Rivian wanted to make a statement and threw the kitchen sink at the R1T. Literally. The midsize truck offers an optional Camp Kitchen with sink and stove that slides into the unique Gear Tunnel storage area that runs through the vehicle between the cab and bed.
The R1T Launch Edition starts at $73,000, but a $67,500 model will be added to the lineup that checks out at $60,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit is factored in. While that may not make it a vehicle for everyone, it's not much more than the average price paid for a conventional pickup these days.
It's also going to be some time before most interested customers can get their hands on one. Rivian has only built several hundred so far and will have to navigate the ongoing parts supply issues as it ramps up production next year, but with backing from Amazon it is in it for the long haul.
Whether these early trucks stand the test of time as far as reliability is concerned is yet to be known, but the R1T has pushed the limits of what a vehicle -- electric or otherwise -- can be, and it's the one that I'd tell you to go for a test drive in right now if given the opportunity, and that makes it the best vehicle I drove this year.