The Rivian R1T electric truck was a near-perfect rig for the 2021 Rebelle Rally

Final yr, I drove a pre-production Rivian R1T pickup truck in the Rebelle Rally, a week-long off-road occasion the place you employ a compass and a map to hit checkpoints all through the desert. That truck was spectacular, however removed from full, which is why my navigator Rebecca Donaghe and I went again to the 2021 Rebelle Rally in a barely extra full instance of Rivian’s all-electric truck. Lengthy story quick: The Rivian R1T is probably the most succesful inventory pickup truck I’ve ever examined.

My Rivian had the 135-kilowatt-hour battery pack. Over seven days of competitors plus one pre-drive day — or “prologue day” — I averaged 192.5 miles of driving per day. The shortest day was a 91-mile stint by way of the dunes of Glamis, California, whereas the longest was the 245-mile prologue, which was largely spent on pavement.

The Rebelle Rally does not enable any GPS units, only a map and a compass.

Nicole Dreon/Rebelle Rally

Rebecca and I stored observe of our vary utilizing a share system, the place ideally 1% equaled about 1.5 miles. Within the dunes of Glamis we have been solely in a position to eke out 1.1 miles per 1%, however throughout different levels, we noticed 3 miles per 1%, generally extra. When all was stated and completed, and we transformed the mathematics again to miles per full cost, we averaged 227.6 miles of vary.

The EPA charges the 135-kWh R1T at 314 miles of vary when outfitted with the 21-inch wheels. Rivian stated to count on a ten% to fifteen% lower in vary with the 20-inch wheels our truck wore. That meant my take a look at truck ought to’ve been good for 266 to 283 miles per cost in splendid situations. Dropping simply 14% to twenty% of that whereas off-roading — together with a punishing day within the sand dunes — is critically spectacular.

I actually anticipated the vary to be so much worse. I drove the Rivian over rocks, by way of sandy washes, on gravel roads and in delicate sand and by no means as soon as did I fear about whether or not or not I used to be going to make it to the tip of the day’s stage. In truth, although I charged the R1T daily because of Renewable Improvements’ Cellular Power Command truck, I did not need to. However when somebody involves the desert with a 53-foot trailer with hydrogen gasoline cells able to offering 500 kilowatts of charging energy, it might be dumb to not use it as typically as potential.

Richard Giordano/Rebelle Rally

When the primary Rivian R1Ts head to clients in January, drivers can choose for a bigger battery pack with 400 miles of vary. A smaller, 250-mile pack can also be within the works, as is the Rivian Adventure Network of chargers put in at key off-roading places all through the US.

In fact, in terms of piloting an electrical truck off highway for seven days, vary is just a part of the equation. You want the entire chassis and powertrain to be prime notch, and throughout the board, the R1T is sort of unstoppable. The Off-Street driving mode might be cut up into Auto, Rock, Rally and Drift settings and the carbon fiber-protected skateboard platform beneath makes it straightforward to slip the R1T over obstacles.

The R1T’s air suspension can elevate the truck to a most of 15 inches of floor clearance, that means I might simply drive over rocks that may normally require trickier crawling. This additionally provides the truck a 35.5-degree method angle, 30.0-degree departure angle and 26.4-degree breakover angle, which beats nearly each truck on the market — Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, hell, even the Ford F-150 Raptor on its 37-inch tires. The one truck that does it higher is the Jeep Gladiator Mojave with its unimaginable 44.7-degree method.

My Rivian got here shod in 275/65-series Pirelli Scorpion all-terrain tires and I stored the stress excessive, to lower rolling resistance. The Scorpions are normally set to 48 psi for avenue use, however I stored it round 35 psi more often than not, airing down to twenty psi after I hit the delicate sand of Huge Dune, Dumont Dunes and Glamis. These Scorpions took the whole lot I might throw at them with out a hiccup. I even slammed the rear driver’s facet tire towards a hidden rock and thought for certain I might gotten a flat, however no, just a bit nick within the sidewall. No huge deal.

Because the R1T has over 800 horsepower and greater than 900 pound-feet of torque, I might just about simply energy out of any impediment. Once I wanted final punch, I might hit Sport mode, mash the throttle and go go go — therefore the Rivian’s 0-to-60-mph time of three seconds. Actually, although, the moment torque made the Rivian nice for off-roading, the place low-speed energy is vital.

Typically you must dig.

Caleb Wallace/Rebelle Rally

A troublesome rally

Although my basic takeaway of the Rivian R1T is optimistic, we had various points throughout the rally. Issues began the day earlier than the rally when one of many air suspension’s actuators started to leak. On the second day, a tough hit pinched the kinetic strains and we misplaced each compression and rebound for the entrance suspension. Unable to repair this on the go — we had the components however lacked the data — Rebecca and I ran all day with the truck in limp mode, defaulting to front-wheel drive and a most velocity of 32 mph. Nonetheless, we have been in a position to hit sufficient checkpoints to be in third place by the tip of the day.

One other actuator leak led to extra issues. Due to an apocalyptic mud storm and a required self-camp evening, we ran three days with our driver’s facet higher management arm banging on the body of the truck earlier than we have been in a position to get the R1T to mechanics. We have been nonetheless in a position to scrap our method out and in of rivalry, however gave up quite a lot of factors within the course of.

The rally resulted in Glamis, California, on the largest dunes in North America. To say I had a nasty driving day right here may be the understatement of the yr. I bought us caught twice and got here down exhausting on the plastic skid plate, damaging the cooling pump for the batteries. We additionally had some navigational errors, and on the finish of the competitors, got here in fifth place within the 4×4 class. Not the end we wished, however not less than we received a person stage on Day 6, proving the Rivian might maintain its personal on this super-competitive rally.

Nicole Dreon/Rebelle Rally

Racing the R1T wasn’t a complete piece of cake, although. For instance, let’s discuss dune driving. Within the Glamis dunes, the Rivian was a bit tougher to drive than your common Jeep Wrangler or Toyota Tacoma. Initially, the truck is heavy — about 7,000 kilos, and that is earlier than you load up any gear. Within the dunes I needed to carry a bit extra velocity than I wished simply to remain on prime of the delicate sand. On prime of that, when cresting a dune in a automotive with a fuel engine, I can simply elevate off the accelerator and coast excessive. Within the R1T, as quickly as I lifted, the regenerative braking kicked in and tried to carry me to a cease. The Rivian has three completely different regen ranges, however even at its lowest I nonetheless needed to preserve my foot on the throttle. It isn’t tough, just a bit bizarre for a seasoned off-roader.

Sluggish, steep descents additionally took some rethinking. You’ll be able to put a gas-powered truck in low-range four-wheel drive and use the crawl ratio to maintain you shifting slowly down a hill with out using the brakes. However throughout the rally, I tackled 4 or 5 extremely steep descents very first thing within the morning when the truck had a virtually full battery capability. I lifted off the throttle to sluggish the truck down with brake regen, the R1T’s model of low vary, nevertheless it hardly slowed in any respect. With a virtually full battery there was simply no place for that vitality to go. I ended up utilizing the mechanical brakes much more than I might in any other case need to.

An excellent truck

The Rivian R1T has utterly modified my thoughts about what a unibody truck with an unbiased suspension can do. Regardless of my pre-production truck’s troubles, the R1T is by far probably the most succesful inventory truck I’ve ever pushed and except you are bombing by way of the dunes, it is very easy to drive. Positive, there are some drive modes to select from however there are not any mid-trail hiccups like, “Oops, I needs to be in low-range four-wheel drive right here,” or “I ponder if I ought to use my differential locker on this part?” The truck’s immediate torque and fancy-pants traction management system do all of the give you the results you want.

One factor to like concerning the Rivian R1T is the ample cupboard space. Positive, the mattress is just 4.5 ft lengthy, however that was sufficient to hold two full-size spare tires, a flooring jack, a field of instruments, a field of spare components and 5 liters of water. We used the 11 cubic ft within the gear tunnel to retailer our six Maxtrax restoration boards and a bag every of non-public objects. The extra 11 cubic ft within the frunk saved a couple of spare components, sleeping baggage, two Rumpl blankets, a set of fresh garments, Rebecca’s pillow and two baggage of rally swag. This left sufficient room within the rear seat for an ARB fridge, our first assist package and a bag of meals and water bottles. In case you have quite a lot of gear, the R1T can deal with all of it.

Fifth place within the race, first place in my coronary heart.

Richard Giordano/Rebelle Rally

However once more, this truck is not good. The skid plate is plastic and held in with plastic tabs. This isn’t practically sufficient safety for the cooling pump that regulates the battery temperature. Additionally, there is not any approach to see your present tire stress nor are there any off-road pages within the infotainment system or auxiliary gauges that give data on battery temperature, pitch, roll or present battery utilization. The local weather controls are all on the display screen, too, so even directing airflow requires the motive force to take their eyes off the highway. Oh, and the electrical latch on the middle console is simply fixing an issue that does not exist. A mechanical latch right here can be less complicated and higher.

For its half, Rivian stated tire stress monitoring shall be accessible as an over-the-air replace and the corporate is actively exploring including off-road information in addition to a beefier skid plate. Rivian can also be analyzing the rally automobile’s efficiency to find out how the R1T may very well be improved going ahead.

Nonetheless, not many vans can contact the Rivian in terms of off-road prowess. Proper now our EV charging infrastructure leaves so much to be desired, however the R1T has loads of vary for day journeys. You would possibly have to plan your tour a bit extra, however imagine me, the R1T’s driving expertise is price it. I might fortunately marketing campaign one once more. | The Rivian R1T electrical truck was a near-perfect rig for the 2021 Rebelle Rally


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