Can you really consider something to be a working lunch if you didn’t really eat anything during that time? Probably not, but when you have an appetite for experiencing one of the most talked about EVs to hit the streets, that’s got to count for something, right?
Last week, Rivian helped me satisfy this craving by giving me the opportunity to stop by their Brooklyn Service Center and spend a few minutes behind the wheel of their electric adventure truck, the Rivian R1T.
The day started off like any other Monday. Waking up, getting ready, and grabbing my quick breakfast, which is usually optional. (I had a bagel.) I packed my camera gear into its bag, hopped inside a Volvo XC90, turned the ignition knob and began the hour and a half long commute down to Brooklyn from my home across the Hudson.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I showed up. From the outside, the Rivian Service Center (which I’ll shorthand as RSC going forward) was definitely similar in size and structure to it’s surrounding warehouses that it could arguably get lost in the mix. However, unlike the other buildings whose windows and bare brick walls were covered in the signature NYC graffiti, Rivian’s location stood in stark contrast. Quite literally. The brick facade was painted completely black, and you wouldn’t really know you’d reached your destination unless you noticed the yellow compass logo and brand name on the side of the building.
Although, if you’re like me and trying to find a parking in the city, you’d be hard pressed to take a lap around the block, where you’d then notice, behind the building, a gated parking lot filled with brilliantly bright, brand-new R1Ts waiting to be delivered to their new homes. Granted, there is a smaller lot out front for visitors to park, but many of the spots available were equipped with EV charging, and I did not want to ICE anybody out.
Naturally, I shot a text over to the man who arranged this opportunity, Rivian’s Automotive Communications Manager Shaheen Karimian, and he greeted me outside pointing out some room near the door where I could park.
After some light banter, we stepped inside the Guest Lounge at the RSC.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to stop by the Rivian’s Venice Hub–a community space in Los Angeles that the company opened up at what used to be Ray Bradbury’s home–you’ll immediately discover a similar vibe. A quaint, minimalistic, natural, welcoming environment furnished with just the basics and enough to keep yourself and your kids at ease and entertained while waiting for your car to be serviced.
The service area was a tidy and organized space with five service bays. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos of the space as customer vehicles were already in the shop, hoisted up on the jacks.
We made our way out to the back lot and I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an R1T for what amounted to roughly an hour’s worth of NYC idling in traffic. Either way, it was an educational and enjoyable experience.
First Impressions: Rivian R1T
The Rivian R1T is enigmatic in its ability to somehow qualify as a small-ish pickup, yet have a massive presence. Here you can see it in Canyon Red on the All-Terrain Tires, perfect for the sort of adventurous living that the brand markets its cars for.
First thing you notice when you step into the R1T is its ride height. And I’m not just talking about its adjustable air suspension that can go from 6.5 inches off the ground to 15 inches off the ground. (Although, I will note that it helps that the car does have a kneel or parked height that can make it more accessible for occupants to get into the car.)
The driver is seated high, in a commanding position with great visibility. Interior controls are all within hands reach, granted they’re pretty much all on the center screen. Touchscreen is quite responsive and the UI is very smooth, even if Brooklyn’s shoddy cell service prevents you from playing an ASADI track on the system’s native Spotify app. We’ll go more into these details when we get a chance to have a proper go at the car.
From my brief experience in the driver’s seat, it’s safe to say that the Rivian R1T’s interior is thoughtfully designed to be a reflection of where this truck is meant to shine–under the sun in the great outdoors. The roomy interior leaves much to be explored, with its useful cubbies and bins to its camp speaker that doubles as a lantern, and makes you feel easily at home in this space.
On the Road
But the thing is…you’re not at home. As commodious as the cabin is, we can’t lose sight of the fact that it is in fact a truck meant to help you commute, roadtrip, off-road, and just stay “adventurous forever,” as Rivian would say.
I can’t speak to much of a driving experience, but what I can say so far is that I’m impressed by its dynamism. It is incredibly balanced, “as all things should be.” But in a way that positions it to be the perfect all-around car–a nod to its engineering and drive modes. A soft, quiet ride can be enjoyed in its standard drive modes, even on the streets of New York.
The all-terrain tires don’t penetrate the cabin with the sounds of their rotations, neither does much of the street noise seep in. That’s thanks to the acoustic glass laminate in the windshield, double paned front-row windows, and extra attention given to sound dampening, something that EVs have to give a little extra focus toward in general.
While Teslas of today can roughly put you on the surface of Mars (just on the Nav, sorry), Rivian’s air suspension undulates the many craters found on the streets of New York. So although I didn’t get the chance to properly take the R1T off-road, I did essentially have the opportunity to take it on a pseudo-rock crawl.
Drive modes can be adjusted while the car is in motion, and it does in fact help the air suspension to conform to the selected drive mode with more ease. However, one thing I did notice was that the truck does tend to self-level when stopped, which may be something unexpected for the driver. At least, it was for me. It’s a bit curt in its self-leveling motions, but I’d imagine that over-time that could be refined to be smoother.
In its lowest ride height is its Sport Mode, which from the exterior, on the All-Terrains, looks hilarious, but from the interior gives you a sporty-SUV feel. Pushing the pedal to the metal, and you can understand why everyone in the auto-industry is excited by this thing. A roughly 7,000-lb vehicle being able to go from naught to 60-mph in 3.0-seconds? Insane. Fun. But insane. I had a very short stretch of on-ramp to test this, and didn’t quite get it up to 60, but you do get pushed back into your seat as you feel the car lurch forward to meet its goal.
Perhaps some day soon I’ll have the opportunity to test its full potential, but just from this taste, I can reasonably conclude that there is something special about this truck; something that words will not be able to do justice when the time comes for me to write about it at length.
Future Plans @ Rivian
As Rivian’s Service Center in Brooklyn is officially up and running, and deliveries to East Coast customers are under way, Rivian is expecting to open its Brooklyn Hub sometime soon. The Brooklyn Hub will be located at 360 Wythe Avenue, and similar to the Hub in Venice, it will be a community space open to members of the public to enjoy and take part in scheduled events connected to Rivian’s sustainability and community goals.Published in