Electrified vehicles are indiscriminate in their automotive conquest, even disrupting seemingly immutable segments like full-size trucks. Established automakers are cooking up battery electric variants of their half-ton pickups, while new players like Rivian are already delivering production models.
The Rivian R1T boasts impressive range, scintillating performance, and innovative features to attract both conventional truck shoppers and new adopters. RAM’s 1500 hangs with the internal combustion crew, touting a broad selection of powertrains, affordable trims, and more space. So which truck is the better buy? Edmunds’ experts compared them to find out.
Powertrains + Towing
Rivian plans to sell two variants of the R1T with three battery pack sizes, but at present, only the quad motor configuration is available. With a staggering 835 hp and 908 pound-feet of torque, the R1T dashes to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. Meanwhile, it can tow up to 11,000 pounds.
RAM offers the 1500 with both V6 and V8 gasoline engines paired with a 48-volt mild hybrid setup. Alternatively, buyers can choose a turbocharged V6 diesel or a supercharged V8 churning out 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. The supercharged TRX model hustles to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, while the 5.7-liter V8 variant can tow up to 12,750 pounds. The R1T’s performance advantage is stronger than the 1500’s towing edge, giving it a win.
Winner: Rivian R1T
Cost to Fuel + Range
Rivian’s R1T made headlines not only as the first all-electric truck on sale, but also for its range relative to current EVs. A standard pack battery with 260 miles will launch in 2024, but the large pack boasts 314 miles and the max pack carries the total range to 400 miles. In our real-world test of the large pack R1T, we scored 317 miles with a full charge. Better still, the EPA estimates an annual charging cost of just $950.
The RAM 1500’s fuel economy varies depending on engine and drivetrain, though most configurations return high teens to low 20s in combined mpg. The rear-drive diesel model sees 26 combined mpg and can travel 1,000 highway miles with the optional 33-gallon tank. In our test of a 4WD diesel truck, we covered 923 miles of mixed driving. At $2,350 annually, the diesel RAM is more expensive to fuel than the Rivian is to charge, but its incredible range warrants a win.
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 needs refinement. Rivian bills its R1T as a do-it-all in-betweener pickup. Larger than a Toyota Tacoma but smaller than the full-size RAM 1500, the R1T is more approachable, and yet substantial. Its design is futuristic and uncompromised, while its cabin is clean and upscale. The R1T rides quietly without internal combustion rumble, though its suspension feels firmer 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 just-right sized 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 showing its best (and most expensive) offering 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 $79,500. Both figures exclude a $7,500 federal tax credit. All R1Ts come well equipped with vegan leather seats and a 16-inch infotainment. They’re backed by a 5 year/60,000 mi basic, 8 year/175,000 mi powertrain warranty.
The least expensive RAM 1500 Tradesman is markedly less expensive, at $36,695, though a comparably equipped Limited Longhorn 4×4 narrows the gap at $62,275. If power is more appealing, be prepared to shell out $78,675 for the 1500 TRX. Though inventory is lighter in the current climate, you’ll be able to pick up your preferred 1500 well before the less expensive R1Ts. All RAMs come with an industry standard 3 year/36,000 mi basic, 5 year/100,000 mi powertrain warranty. Good things come to those who wait, and we think the Rivian R1T and its superior warranty are worth your patience.
Winner: Rivian R1T
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 perceived value: the RAM’s immediate convenience and lower cost of entry, or the Rivian’s break from fossil fuels and futuristic style.