Our Rides: Rivian Is Ready for Adventure

Rivian R1T. Photos by Randy Stern
Rivian R1T. Photos by Randy Stern

What is Rivian?

You may have seen their pickup trucks and SUVs on the road. The oval-shaped vertical headlamps are one way to tell a Rivian from the rest. However, this start-up vehicle manufacturer is just starting to gain its footing in the Upper Midwest.

Based in Irvine, California, Rivian manufactures their R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV at the former Diamond Star/Mitsubishi assembly facility in Normal, Illinois. This is a company that is making a commitment towards creating vehicles from the ground up in this country.

The idea came from its founder Robert “RJ”  Scaringe, who began the company in 2009. He took on the Rivian name two years later. It was not until 2017 when we saw the first glimpse of the two vehicles that were slated for production later. It took until June of 2021 for Rivian to deliver their first production unit – an R1T.

Currently, all sales are done online through their website. There are no retail facilities to visit. You can schedule a Mobile Drive with Rivian, where a vehicle can be delivered to your location as a way to see if this is the right vehicle for you. If so, then you can go ahead and reserve your Rivian. After your reservation is accepted, then you are invited to configure your vehicle, go through financing options and complete the sale prior to delivery. Once your Rivian is ready, the vehicle will be delivered to your home.

In the Twin Cities, there is a place where Rivian has set up shop with a Service Center. Located in Saint Louis Park, the Service Center opened a year ago for servicing of current owners’  vehicles and the preparation of new units to be delivered to customers. Miranda Jimenez, Communications Manager at Rivian states that the Saint Louis Park facility is the “first Service Center in the Midwest outside of their Normal, Illinois factory.” The facility measures out to over 20,000 square feet and is equipped with four vehicle lifts for servicing Rivian vehicles.

Not only does the facility services customer vehicles, it also serves as the service location for Rivian’s Electric Delivery Vans that Amazon currently utilizes. Jimenez also said that the Rivian facility houses the company’s “Service Operations, vehicle Operations, and Delivery and Mobile Operations teams for the region.”

Soon, you can actually do a Demo Drive of a Rivian at the Saint Louis Park Service Center. You may also soon take delivery of your new vehicle at the same location.

Are the vehicles worth the online sales process? Well…yes.

To find out, I took an R1T out for a short drive. I got to experience the four-motor drive system and the variable modes you can put this in. All Purpose mode fits the “adventure” model Rivian is promoting. It offers traction on both axles and an aggressive regenerative system with one-pedal driving. Sport mode lowers the suspension and gives you more performance overall. There is now a Snow mode which will come in handy here in our part of the country. Conserve mode gives you the maximum range and enables one of the axles for driving.

The R1T’s cab seats five in luxurious vegan leather with other sustainable materials throughout. The driver gets a completely digital instrument cluster that is clean, graphical, and informative. To the right is a large touchscreen that houses infotainment and vehicle functions. The navigation system has a very detailed 3D-type mapping with directional overlay.

You get a lot of practicality in the R1T. To start with, the 54.1-inch-long bed is functional and offers a Gear Guard locking system to tie down your bicycle or anything inside. The Gear Tunnel offers a width-wide storage for long items, such as skis, up to 250 pounds in weight. The front trunk offers 11.7 cubic feet of storage, including a hidden lower compartment. In all, the Rivian R1T offers up to 62 cubic feet of storage from front to back.

As far as battery range is concern, that depends on which drive mode you are in. In Conserve mode, we saw it jump to 321 miles with a 98% state of charge. Sport mode will drop that range to around 291 miles.

Pricing for the R1T starts at $73,000; $78,000 for the R1S. Do not be surprised if you configure one for over $90,000.

By the way, did you know that Rivian is hiring? According to Jimenez, they are “hiring for around a dozen roles at this location in vehicle service” at the Saint Louis Park facility. From what I’ve seen, it looks like a good place to work.

In fact, Rivian already has a network of Belonging Resource Groups – their term for Employee Resource Groups. The one for LGBTQ employees called Rainbow Rivianites.

For a start-up electric vehicle company, Rivian looks like they have a good grasp at what they need to do to meet the customer’s needs. The vehicles offer a solid approach to sustainable adventure. We are seeing plenty of R1Ts and R1Ss on the road right now – and that number will grow. 

Would you consider a Rivian electric pickup truck or SUV? They’re taking your reservation now.


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