Electrified vehicles are indiscriminate in their automotive expansion. First, it was hatchbacks and sedans, then SUVs. Next up: the pickup. Electric variants of light-duty pickups are being developed by a number of automakers, but there’s one electric truck that’s already on sale: the all-new Rivian R1T.
Hailing from this nascent American company, the R1T boasts an impressive range, scintillating performance and innovative features. But how does it compare against a conventional truck? Edmunds compares the new R1T against one of its top-rated trucks, the Ram 1500, to find out.
Powertrains & Cost to Fuel
The Rivian R1T produces a staggering 835 horsepower thanks to four electric motors, one at each wheel. That power comes on instantly and helps the R1T cover 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds in Edmunds’ testing. For now, this is the only R1T configuration available. Recharging can be done at home or at public fast-charging stations, and the EPA estimates that it will cost just $950 in electricity to drive for a year on average.
Ram gives you more choice for powertrains. There’s a base 305-horsepower V6, a 260-horsepower turbocharged diesel V6, a 395-horsepower V8 and, for the top TRX trim only, a 702-horsepower supercharged V8. The TRX is the quickest of the bunch and hustles to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. But it’s also a gas guzzler, costing an estimated $6,250 a year to refuel. The most fuel-efficient Ram 1500 is one with its diesel engine, but it will cost about three times more to refuel than the R1T.
Towing & Range
Currently, Rivian is offering the R1T with a large battery pack, with an EPA-estimated 314 miles, or a Max battery that’s good for approximately 400 miles. Edmunds conducts its own real-world range test, and we were able to drive a test truck with the large battery 317 miles on a full charge.
This is plenty of range for an EV but it’s still a laggard compared to the Ram 1500. A rear-wheel-drive model with the diesel engine can potentially travel about 1,000 highway miles with the optional 33-gallon tank. That said, at current national diesel prices, that fill-up would cost you about $165.
Towing will be easier with the Ram 1500 too. It has a higher maximum towing capacity when properly equipped — 12,750 pounds compared to the R1T’s 11,000 pounds — and is better suited for long distances because of quicker and less hassle-prone refueling.
Winner: Ram 1500
Styling & Comfort
With pickups filling the single-vehicle role for more families, it isn’t enough for a truck to haul and tow competitively — it also needs refinement. Rivian bills its R1T as a do-it-all pickup that’s larger than a Toyota Tacoma but smaller than the full-size Ram 1500. Its design is futuristic, while its cabin is clean and upscale. The R1T rides quietly without internal combustion rumble, though it has a firmer ride quality than some competitors.
The Ram 1500 helped pioneer the modern luxury pickup. With an aerodynamic aesthetic and attention to detail, the 1500 exudes civility. Inside, the Ram offers generous passenger volume and supple seats. Ride quality is perhaps best in class and cabin volume is subdued. The smaller Rivian is easier to maneuver and more distinctive, but the Ram is more comfortable. This one’s even.
Value & Warranty
Like many automotive startups, Rivian is offering its most expensive model first. Customers can order a standard-battery, dual-motor R1T for $67,500, though deliveries of this configuration aren’t scheduled until 2024. If you want one sooner, the quad-motor will cost at least $85,000. All R1Ts come well equipped with vegan leather seats and a 16-inch infotainment screen. They’re also backed by a long five-year/60,000-mile basic and eight-year/175,000 mile powertrain warranty.
The least expensive Ram 1500, the Tradesman trim, is markedly less expensive at $37,695. But spec out a comparably equipped Limited Longhorn 4WD and the price increases to $61,775. If power is more appealing, be prepared to shell out $78,675 for the 1500 TRX. Though inventory is reduced in the current climate, you’ll be able to pick up your preferred 1500 well before the less expensive R1Ts. All Rams come with a three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
There’s a case to be made for the familiarity of a conventional truck. But good things come to those who wait, and we think the driving future is brighter with the Rivian R1T.
EDMUNDS SAYS: It’s a victory by the thinnest of margins, but we put the Rivian R1T just ahead of the Ram 1500. The right truck for you will depend on your needs: the Ram’s immediate convenience and lower cost of entry, or the Rivian’s break from fossil fuels and futuristic style.