Rivian R1T on Street Tires Went 60 Miles Farther in Our Highway Range Test

·3 min read
Photo credit: Roy Ritchie - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Roy Ritchie - Car and Driver

• We tested a Rivian R1T in November 2021 that went 220 miles in our 75-mph highway-range test.

• Recently, we ran a second R1T, this one on 22-inch street tires versus the all-terrain tires on the previous truck, and it did 280 miles in the same test.

• That’s a gain of nearly 30 percent, and another reminder of how important tires are when it comes to EV range, as well as to other performance metrics.

Welcome to Car and Driver's Testing Hub, where we zoom in on the test numbers. We've been pushing vehicles to their limits since 1956 to provide objective data to bolster our subjective impressions (you can see how we test here).

In case you needed another reminder about the importance of tires, here’s one with an EV-focused wrinkle: range. A Rivian R1T wearing 22-inch all-season tires went 60 miles farther in our 75-mph range test (280 miles) than a previous R1T on the 20-inch all-terrain-tire option. We've long appreciated that tires are one of the single biggest factors when it comes to various performance metrics (braking, cornering, acceleration), but EV range is definitely on that list, too.

We tested our first R1T in November 2021, where it went 220 miles in our 75-mph highway-range test. That was a Launch Edition and wearing 20-inch Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires. Recently, we ran a second R1T, also a Launch Edition, shod with 22-inch Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Seasons, and were surprised when it went 280 miles, nearly 30-percent further. Of course there are always other variables, but the tires seem like the big one in this case. If anything, we would have thought the 85-degree temperature during this most recent test would hurt the range versus the 57-degree day for the earlier run. As always, we set the climate control to 72 degrees in its auto setting during every range test. This latest R1T was also 137 pounds lighter, at 7036 pounds total.

It's somewhat confusing that no matter which of the three tire options it’s wearing, every R1T with the quad-motor and large battery pack (128.9 kWh) gets the same 314-mile EPA range figure on their window sticker, even though the 21-inch wheel-and-tire configuration is the one used for EPA testing. On its vehicle-configurator website, Rivian suggests that the 20-inch all-terrain tires will reduce range by 40 miles and that the 22-inch option will drop the range by 21 miles. That suggests the difference between the 20s and 22s on our two test vehicles should be 19 miles. But that is also likely assuming the lower speed EPA test cycles, and not our constant 75-mph highway speed.

Rivian isn’t alone, however, as most automakers tend to use the same fuel-economy and range figures across a model line with the same powertrain, even though there might be two or three different tire options that could cause sizeable real-world consumption and range differences. Tesla is the rare exception, going through the time-consuming and very expensive process to provide separate EPA ratings for each wheel and tire combination on its cars.

This latest test also showed the more traditional importance of tires; while braking was all but identical, we saw notable improvements in maximum cornering grip (0.84 g versus 0.80 g) and acceleration. The sprint to 60 mph dropped to 3.0 seconds flat (a 0.3-second improvement) and the quarter-mile to 11.5 seconds (a 0.4-second improvement), further cementing the R1T’s status as the quickest pickup we’ve ever tested.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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