The automobile magazine MotorTrend on Monday named Amazon-backed startup Rivian’s first electric pickup R1T “2022 Truck of the Year,” a prestigious recognition rarely awarded to upstart automakers but increasingly so with the rise of electric vehicles.
Last month, the publication selected Lucid Air, made by Silicon Valley startup Lucid Motors, as “2022 Car of the Year” from a lineup of other popular luxury EVs made by Tesla, Mercedes and Porsche.
Rivian R1T stood out in the pickup truck category among finalists including the electric GMC Hummer, Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz.
R1T is the first mass-produced electric pickup in the market. The only similar offering out there is the electric GMC Hummer, which entered production last month. Other highly anticipated electric pickups, including Lordstown Motors’ Endurance and Tesla’s Cybertruck, have yet to reach the market.
MotorTrend said R1T excelled in all of its six key criteria: design advancement, engineering excellence, efficiency, performance of intended function, safety and value.
The magazine’s editors praised Rivian’s ability to combine innovative vehicle design and the functionalities of a traditional pickup truck into one. Unlike the hyped Tesla Cybertruck, R1T purposefully retains the classic look of a pickup. “Take away the de rigueur EV light bars front and rear, and the R1T looks like a pickup truck, not a science fiction movie prop,” MotorTrend said.
It’s also packed with impressive specs you would expect in a $74,000 pickup truck: 11,000-pound towing capacity, 1,760 pounds of payload and a maximum range of 314 miles powered by a 135-kWh batter.
MotorTrend also noted Rivian’s engineering excellence with the “skateboard layout” design seen in many electric vehicles.
“Constraints on designers and engineers are suddenly different, granting freedom to try new things. Some won’t, at least not at first. As we’ve already seen from GMC and Ford, they’ll incorporate a frunk (front trunk) where the engine used to be and convert the rear suspension to independent, but otherwise it’s still the same a body-on-frame contraption,” the magazine said. In contrast, Rivian “engineered a unitized cab and pickup box that opens up new design opportunities,” such as R1T’s transverse gear tunnel.
“As the first all-electric pickup truck to market, the R1T manages to achieve all of this without offending historic truck-buyer sensibilities. For these reasons and more, MotorTrend is honored to name the Rivian R1T our 2022 Truck of the Year,” MotorTrend group head of editorial Ed Loh said in a statement on Monday.