It’s time to put the all-new 2022 Rivian R1T electric pickup truck on the Ike Gauntlet™ – the world’s toughest towing test. We are not taking it easy here. We are towing our 8,100 lbs trailer, and we are using the Rivian to bring the trailer up to the Ike Gauntlet and also to bring it home. Here is what happens.
Rivian R1T vs Ike Gauntlet
This Rivian is a Launch Edition and it is equipped with a large battery pack that is good for a total EPA driving range of 314 miles. Since the truck we are testing is also equipped with an Adventure package and 34-inch all-terrain tires – the driving range is around 280 miles.
As soon as we hooked up our trailer, the Rivian estimated the driving range at 135 miles. This is approximately one mile of range for every one percent of battery. Although Rivian does not state an exact battery capacity, it is estimated at 134 kWh. Naturally, the driving range will vary greatly depending on ambient temperature, road conditions, and the terrain.
Hauling this large and heavy trailer from Boulder, CO up to the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnels took about 81% of battery to travel approximately 70 miles and gain about 6,000 feet of elevation.
This is the world’s toughest towing test because it’s an 8-mile stretch of steepest allowable interstate highway at 7% grade. The maximum elevation is 11,158 feet above sea level. We run this test at a speed limit of 60 MPH.
On the way down the mountain, we gained 2% of battery by using regenerative braking. I expected to see a slightly larger energy gain, but a 2% gain means we put approximately 2.7 kWh of energy back into the battery. While the trailer brake gain was still set at 5 out of 10, I never saw a symbol in the gauge cluster that trailer brakes were being activated during the descent. There were a couple of moments when the Rivian lit up the brake lights when it considered that the regen deceleration was strong enough.
On the way up the mountain, the truck used 16% of the battery. Indeed, this is an extreme test. The R1T used approximately 21.44 kWh to climb the 8-mile grade.
When we test gasoline-powered pickups with the same trailer on the Ike Gauntlet, they show approximately 4.0 MPG going up the same stretch of highway. It means a truck like the 2022 Toyota Tundra can use about 67 kWh worth of gasoline energy to make the same climb.
We will have to wait until we can test the Ford F-150 Lightning and the GMC Hummer EV on this same test.
Pros: The Rivian R1T is a great pickup for towing trailers because it’s a heavy and stable platform. This truck weighs about 7,100 lbs. The height-adjustable suspension is very comfortable, even when loaded heavy. I did not experience any trailer sway. There is always more than enough power on tap.
Cons: Naturally, the driving range goes down significantly when towing heavy. We never saw the advertised 180 kW charging speed with this R1T. The charging speed during this test in real-world conditioned was relatively slow. If the charge rate can be improved, then the Rivian can be a very solid towing pickup truck.