Weekend Wheels: The 2023 Rivian R1T is a blend of timeless utility, futuristic performance

The company is expanding and its opening vehicle paints a picture of a promising future.

Weekend Wheels: The 2023 Rivian R1T is a blend of timeless utility, futuristic performance

The 2023 Rivian R1T is the only vehicle of its kind on the market today. It's a brand new vehicle, so it needs to appeal to as many people possible. It must be familiar to newcomers in the electric vehicle segment (EV), quick enough to satisfy EV enthusiasts, useful for those who want a pickup, capable of performing off-road, and comfortable enough for daily commutes. All of that and more.

It was surprising how familiar something so new felt. The Rivian's learning curve is so unobtrusive that it quickly makes what appears to be alien on first glance feel like a second home. I had the Large Pack, which came with 20-inch all terrain tires. This translates into a range of 289 miles in normal driving mode. The Conserve mode will net you another 20 miles.

The model I owned had four motors, one per wheel. This means that acceleration is almost immediate. It's a thrilling experience to accelerate from a stop and reach 60 miles per hour within 3.5 seconds. The car is also comfortable to drive in everyday traffic. The R1T's hydraulic roll control suspension is similar to that found in McLaren Supercars. This makes for excellent handling when taking sharp turns. The steering is heavier than expected, but not obtrusive.

The truck has eight different drive modes. Each one changes the calibrations of the motors, suspension, ride height, and power delivery.

The handling of a truck in the Conserve mode is similar to any other truck. By switching to the energy-conscious mode, both back motors are turned off, so it's like driving my front-wheel-drive, two-door GMC Sierra. It's a strangely comforting sensation.

This truck's storage capacity is far greater than its mid-size appearance. The truck's bed offers 22.6 cubic feet in cargo space. Its Gear Tunnel, an extra cargo area located between the backseats and the bed, adds another 11.7 cubic foot. Not to mention the storage bins underneath the rear seats.

It was great. I did not have the time to go off-roading, but it got me to the other end just fine.

It is a great piece of tech, but if you leave it on default settings, the driver assistance will beep continuously at you as soon as your car backs into a parking space. You can adjust these settings to suit your needs. You can also see on the driver's display what cars are around you. It will show you where they are relative to you, when they pass you by, and if they are in your blind spots.

Seats are comfortable as you would expect from a car in this price range. The R1T is equipped with heated and ventilated front seats as well as heated steering wheels. The R1T has dual-zone climate controls for the front seats, and an extra zone for rear passengers.

A small nitpick about climate. You have to open a menu in the middle screen, and then drag the air flow symbol using your finger. This seems to be the least useful of all the technological advances that the Rivian has. It is easier to adjust something with an analog dial than it is to have a menu.

It's also pretty inefficient. During the week I spent with the R1T I averaged 1.73 miles per Kilowatt-hour, or 57.8kWh per 100miles. A kWh measures how much energy you use over time. A Tesla Model Y or Hyundai Ioniq 5, for example, both get 3-4 miles per kWh. I therefore used twice as much energy in order to drive one mile as other EVs. This is largely a matter of how you drive and the weather, climate, and other factors. But it also has to do with how much energy your car uses.

With my 135-kWh pack and energy consumption, I can expect to travel approximately 233.55miles before charging.

It is easy to charge it at public charging stations. According to the company, adding 140 miles takes only 20 minutes. If the station is cooperative, it is possible to add around 100 miles. The availability of fast chargers is limited in my city, and level 2 chargers are often "down for maintenance".

You don't have to worry because most of you will be charging your EV at home. And you won't use the entire R1T range on a single journey. If you are planning a roadtrip, be sure to check the charging infrastructure along your route.

You'll get some strange looks when you drive this. All week I received some looks and pointed fingers. They would ask what it was and I had to repeat it a few more times. Then they'd ask if Ford or Toyota made it, but I said it was a brand new company. Just be prepared to talk about it.

You may have heard that reservations holders were forced to wait for months or even years before they could take delivery of their R1T. However, this wait is now much more bearable. According to their site, you can get a 1-4 month lead time if you pay a $1,000 deposit.

It's meditative to get into the car and drive. There's no need to press a button or turn a knob. Few manufacturers offer this.

The R1T begins at $73,000. It doesn't compete directly with the R1S, except if you count it. The Ford F-150 Lightning in its higher trims is the closest competitor, but it's still a full-size truck.

Rivian is under a great deal of pressure, as a publicly traded company. It is undergoing massive supply chain problems and production growth pains. It fell short of its goal to produce 25,000 vehicles last year. In a filing on April 3, it stated that it has produced 9,395 cars so far in 2023. It said it is on track to reach its year-end goal of 50,000.

If the R1T represents the future of the company, I am excited to see them in the streets.