Rivian R1T ready to roam as America's $72K electric adventure camper
The first wave of all-electric pickup trucks is nearing its official kickoff as Rivian plans to begin delivering R1T trucks next month. Before it does, it has made good on its promise of building the e-pickup into a 400-mile truck camper that explores and base-camps on pure battery power. The newly launched Rivian Adventure Gear line lets buyers add a bed-mounted rooftop tent, slide-out kitchen, Snow Peak cooking set and other accessories, creating an all-terrain electric RV for as little as $72K.
Rivian has advertised the R1T as an adventure truck ever since it made it public and even showed it with a rooftop tent (RTT) during its 2018 debut. It quickly followed up at Overland Expo West 2019 with a full overlander variant with slick, all-electric kitchen. This week, it added the tent, kitchen and other handy off-road adventure gear to its online configurator and reservations system, signaling the launch of the most capable all-electric camper in the US.
The most basic part of any RV is overnight shelter, and Rivian delivers that with a custom version of Yakima's SkyRise HD Medium rooftop tent. The tent folds out to sleep up to three people, surrounding them with mesh-covered windows and doors with rollable weather covers. The tent package also includes Rivian's crossbars for easy mounting. The crossbars support a dynamic load of 250 lb (113 kg) and easily move between the R1T bed and roof.
You could add a rooftop tent to any pickup truck, but what pushes the R1T into RV territory is the available slide-out kitchen, which integrates more neatly than any aftermarket kitchen you could secure to the bed. Rivian's kitchen has evolved modestly over the past two years and looks the part of a polished, production-ready piece of camper kit. The dual-burner 1,440-W induction cooktop wires into the onboard EV battery to cook meals without flames. The sink next to it is hooked to a 15-L water tank for washing dishes and rough, dirty hands. Both fold down into the face of the slide-out so that the entire bundle can push away into the R1T's gear tunnel.
The rear of the kitchen includes a drawer stack, which, for those who order early, comes stocked with 30 pieces of Snow Peak kitchenware neatly arranged in no-rattle inserts. The kitchen locks into the gear shuttle below it and removes whenever owners want a slide-out gear platform without the kitchen equipment.
Those who balk at the $5,000 kitchen price tag might prefer to buy the $1,500 gear shuttle on its own and use it as a table for a portable stove, cutting board, etc. With a 200-lb (90-kg) capacity, it won't have any problems getting the job done. The shuttle also includes 110- and 12-V outlets and will be compatible with future accessories, according to Rivian.
Other Rivian adventure gear includes an off-road recovery kit, all-weather floor mats and a clever field kit that tucks away neatly in the door console. The field kit comprises 130 pieces in total, including a full first aid kit and survival gear tools like a firestarter, Lifestraw, emergency blanket and duct tape.
The only piece of the original R1T overland puzzle Rivian doesn't yet sell as part of its adventure gear lineup is the Dometic fridge/freezer it stored away in the frunk of the 2019 Overland Expo concept. So buyers will have to add their own fridge or cooler to keep fresh food and cold drinks at the ready.
We played around with the R1T configurator to put together both a base-level camper and a more fully equipped version specced how we'd do it without budget constraints. Our base camper, pictured above with the gear shuttle/table deployed, starts off with the 300-mile-plus (483-km-plus) R1T Explore edition at $67,500. Only light paint options are available without extra charge, so we went with the "LA Silver" over the "Glacier White." The 21-in wheels with road tires come standard.
Add $2,650 for the Yakima tent and $1,500 for the standalone gear shuttle on which to cook and work, and we arrive at a nice, basic camper truck for $71,650, before fees or taxes. Those who don't consider it a camper without a more complete kitchen can substitute the standalone gear shuttle for the $5,000 kitchen package and get a ready-to-cook camper truck for $75,360. Factor in the $7,500 EV federal tax credit, and you can knock those prices down to $64,150 and $67,860. So that's less than $65K to start for a capable all-terrain light camper that's also a very nice electric truck.
Our budget-be-damned R1T overland camper build still starts with an Explore edition, since the upmarket Adventure version brings more aesthetic and convenience upgrades than we need for this particular comparison. Throw in $10K for the 400-plus-mile (644-plus-km) battery upgrade to give it some extra legs on destination-unknown journeys. Then there's $1,800 for all-terrain tires on 20-in wheels, $2,000 for the off-road upgrade package with skid protection and tow hooks, and $800 for a full-size spare. The blue paint costs $2,500.
Bring on the Yakima RTT, kitchen, and an air compressor accessory package with 20-foot (6-m) hose that lets us fill all four tires from the standard onboard compressor. Rivian sold us with how neatly the $150 field kit fits into the door, but we'll bring our own recovery gear rather than dropping $600 on Rivian's package. That's a grand total of $92,460 before fees or taxes, down to $84,960 with the full $7,500 fed tax credit. Now we're rolling out onto wide open BLM lands with this beauty:
Those who prefer the added interior space and hard-wall protection of a slide-in camper will probably have to wait a bit, as the R1T's 4.5-foot (1.4-m) bed is smaller than the 5- to 8-foot (1.5- to 2.4-m) beds standard on existing pickup trucks. We do know of at least one planned Rivian-specific slide-in camper, and with the R1T launch nearing, we'd imagine others are in the works, as well. Although, with up to 11,000 lb (4,990 kg) of towing, R1T owners might be better off sleeping in a camping trailer, with the caveat that maxed-out towing will cut range roughly in half. But there are a lot of nice off-road trailers that weigh far less than 11,000 pounds.
With or without camper equipment, the R1T is a capable on/off-road explorer that includes the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive performance of a quad-motor powertrain with more than 800 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque on tap. The standard air suspension system adjusts ride height between 7.9 and 14.4 in (20 and 37 cm), and the truck can splash through waters up to 3 feet (91 cm) deep.
Rivian initially planned to start deliveries of the sold-out R1T Launch Edition trucks this month, but it pushed them back until July and plans to continue until Spring 2022. Deliveries on new preorders, including those with the 400-mile extended-range battery, are scheduled for an early 2022 start. In August, Rivian will venture out on a nationwide drive tour, offering preorder holders the opportunity to get behind the wheel.