Less technically, but still capable

Rivian’s dual-motor engine may sound less exciting on paper, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way.

Rivian R1T dual-motor review of the first engine of 2023

-Normal, Illinois

If you haven’t been paying close attention to Rivian’s lineup, it’s hard to understand why the new dual-motor setup is so important. After all, the R1T pickup and R1S SUV are already all-wheel drive, but for now, they’re powered by four advanced motors, one at each wheel.

So, when I got my travel papers to Normal, Illinois, home of Illinois State University, and the Rivian factory (and not much else) I thought to myself, “Will the less powerful Rivian R1T be just as good?” A quick drive of the older four-motor variant alongside Rivian’s new self-developed dual-motor model revealed that the answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Quick specifications 2023 Rivian R1T Dual Motor Performance
Motors Dual synchronous permanent magnets
Production | 665 hp / 829 lb-ft
battery 135.0 kWh (estimated)
ranges 352 miles (with 21-inch wheels)
Base price $73,000 + $1,800 destination
Sale date now

Fewer engines, more range

The good news here is that the dual-motor Rivian R1S and R1T enjoy a modest increase in range – for several reasons. First, the new “Enduro” all-wheel drive system was developed in-house by Rivian. Fitment takes place at the same manufacturing plant, just a few steps away from where the R1T and R1S are assembled. The Enduro drive unit may now start trickling into R1 trucks, but it’s already seeing service (albeit in single-motor, front-wheel-drive form) in Amazon’s delivery trucks. Compared to the single-motor-per-wheel all-wheel drive system developed by Bosch (called “Origin”), Rivian says the Enduro is 35 percent less expensive to implement, which is quite a big deal.

Enduro was developed after Rivian noticed how existing owners were using their trucks with four-wheel drive. It has more focus on the road. The drive unit drops directly into the same space as the quad-motor setup, but the stator and oil-cooled housing shed heat much better than the Bosch-based water-cooled quad-motor design. Rivian engineers say this better thermal efficiency directly contributes to the increased range of the dual-motor variants.

After that, all dual-motor Rivians will lock the rear axle while coasting to save power by default. True, four-wheel drive vehicles do this too, but only in “save” mode. Both of these features contribute to increased range, bringing the dual-motor R1’s EPA range to 352 miles with the 21-inch wheels equipped (341 miles with the larger wheels) – up from the quad-motor R1’s range of 328 miles. The arrival of the simpler powertrain also introduces the Max Pack battery, an exclusive dual motor that promises a range of up to 400 miles.

Naturally, two fewer motors means the Enduro doesn’t have quite as much power as its bigger brother, the Origin. New setting Just It makes 533 hp in base form and up to 665 hp and 829 lb-ft of torque in the Performance model, compared to the impressive 835 hp of the older Origin trucks. However, I highly doubt that Enduro-equipped Rivian owners will have problems coaxing their trucks through traffic.

Two to tango

I had the opportunity to drive the Enduro (dual motor) and Origin (four motor) models back-to-back on Rivian’s factory test course. I also participated in a drag demo of a Rivian R1T, also in Enduro form. Although my time behind the wheel was limited to maybe ten minutes with each truck, I was able to get the idea that Rivian’s new inboard system is every bit as good as the more sophisticated four-wheel drive setup.

The Performance model still hits 60 in 3.5 seconds, just half a second slower than the more powerful Origin model. In real-world driving, these differences are almost imperceptible. Both options feel equally fast and, more importantly, faster than almost anything else on the road. Even while towing 9,800 pounds, the R1 Enduro had more than enough power.

However, the way these two engines manage their massive power is completely different. Both designs use a torque vectoring system, where power can be managed from side to side. However, the Enduro’s technical limitations mean it uses a brake-based torque vectoring setup, where brake pressure is applied to increase torque to one wheel. By comparison, the Origin’s single wheel motors can apply torque with pedal demand.

We cruised around Rivian’s short off-road test track first in an Enduro-equipped truck, then in the four-wheel-drive Origin truck. At first, I couldn’t distinguish much between them; The two trucks felt about the same around most of the track. In other words, they were both exceptionally capable. But the real differences didn’t appear until the rock crawling portion of the trail.

Both options feel equally fast and, more importantly, faster than almost anything else on the road.

I stopped near the top of the hill, where the four wheels were hinged in very different positions on the rocky surface. The Origin drive system made quick work of the rocks, transferring power to the correct wheel and helping the truck make its way to the top. The Enduro’s dual drive took more effort for its brake-based system to get power and traction to the right wheel. There was more drama and more slippage. For off-road enthusiasts, the four-wheel drive truck is clearly the better of the two.

But overall, the twin engine does everything just like a four engine truck. It goes further and about the same speed, is cheaper to buy, cheaper to manufacture, and less complicated. They don’t even look different; The only visible sign between the two trucks are the Enduro’s sober silver brake calipers, compared to the bright yellow ones of the original.

Why buy a four-wheel drive?

As I toured a Rivian factory that built failed vehicles like the Mitsubishi Endeavour, I couldn’t help but wonder what the purpose of the four-engined truck was. Outside of the powertrain, the Enduro and Origin trucks were essentially the same; Same styling, same generous approach and departure angles, and even the same height-adjustable air suspension.

Although the quad-motor model performed slightly better off-road (in this initial test), that doesn’t mean the dual-motor is bad on dirt—the base Rivian R1 will still beat out practically every other off-road EV south of the Hummer. It’s just that a four-engine is a better off-road truck than an already very good dual-engine truck.

But does this matter to the average consumer? Probably not. Rivian says the dual-motor model has enough power for 98 percent of its customers, and I agree. I’m not particularly into high-performance off-roading, so if you are, I can’t imagine using a $74,800 luxury electric truck (with destination) to tackle high-tech off-road courses — plus an extra $5,000 if you are. You want that most powerful performance package. The four-wheel drive is less tempting for serious off-roaders at $92,650, but I suppose the GMC Hummer would be more ostentatious, and this is a nearly $100,000 truck.

In terms of customer handling, the Rivian R1 Enduro is a bit basic, but not in the way you’d think. The new version doesn’t bring anything new to the table here, but rather offers the same Rivian experience at a lower price. There’s no real loss with the switch to a dual-motor layout, but behind the scenes, it’s a significant milestone for the brand. When the smallest battery finally makes its way from Amazon’s trucks to the R1’s, Rivian’s entire promised model line will finally be complete.

Image source: Kevin Williams for Motor1, Rivian

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2023 Rivian R1T Dual Motor Performance
engine Dual synchronous permanent magnets
For sale 665 hp / 829 lb-ft
Driving type All-wheel drive
battery 135.0 kWh (estimated)
Speed ​​0-60 mph 3.5 seconds
efficiency 80 city/71 highway/76 combined mpg
EV range 352 miles (with 21-inch wheels)
Seating capacity 5
Towing a car 11,000 pounds
Base price $73,000 + $1,800 destination
Cutting base price $79,800

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