Motor Trend attached a 9000 pound trailer to the R1T to see how much range it was able to get.

They used a R1T Launch Edition equipped with the standard 135-kWh battery and 21-inch road wheel and tire package.

They found that during their trip their overall range was reduced by 45%, a bit better than Rivian's claimed 50%. The range went from 314 miles to as low as 170 miles.


The Big Tow Test
After two more days of testing around Tehachapi, it was time for the real test: returning the truck and trailer to Los Angeles. According to Google Maps, the most direct route to our destination was 123 miles. Given how hard we'd been working the truck the past few days, we weren't surprised to see the estimated range drop from 292 miles to 123 miles, but we weren't happy about it, either. That's just 39 percent of the EPA-rated range. And, you know, exactly how far we needed to go.

The good news was, we'd be losing a total of 3,829 feet in elevation over that drive, dropping from nearly 4,000 feet to just above sea level. The bad news was we'd need to climb over four mountain passes in the process, including one less than 10 miles from the destination when the battery would already be low. It really made us wish we had time to wait for the battery to get all the way to 100 percent, but 97 percent would have to do.

Just to make things more realistic, we decided to ignore the 55-mph towing speed limit. Most people do anyway, and it's not a thing in most states. We felt comfortable cruising in the 65- to 75-mph range with this load.

With a combination of gravity and carefully wielded regenerative braking, we were able to prove the range estimate entirely wrong, and 123 miles later, we glided easily into our destination with 47 miles of range remaining and the battery at 40 percent. Assuming again our energy usage remained about the same, this would indicate an actual range of 170 miles, again in line with Rivian's official guidance.

Trailer unhitched and driving mode switched back to the default All Purpose mode, our estimated range jumped to 90 miles.

The Takeaway
Towing roughly 9,000 pounds with a Rivian R1T reduced our driving range by 45 percent on average, slightly better than Rivian's estimate of a 50 percent reduction when towing the maximum 11,000 pounds the truck is capable of. Our range dropped from an EPA-estimated 314 miles to as low as 170 miles. For context, that's 30 miles farther than a standard Nissan Leaf can cover on a single charge but less than most other EVs.

For more context, keep in mind your results will vary greatly for all the same reasons they would when towing with a gas- or diesel-powered truck. How far you'll make it on a charge will depend on the weight of your trailer, the shape of your trailer and any load it's carrying, the roads you drive on, the speeds you drive at, and how you drive. Our blocky old van sitting high on a flatbed trailer was an aerodynamic brick, but the majority of our route was a gradual descent from elevation.

Of course, your range is also a function of the public EV charging network. If needed, we could've stopped at a public DC fast charger and juiced up the truck and extended our range significantly. This option currently has drawbacks, though. Unlike gas pumps, EV chargers are almost never built for pull-through traffic, making it difficult to park a vehicle with a trailer at a charger without unhooking the trailer. Second, even the best DC fast charging is still slower than a gas pump. Rivian says you can add 140 miles of range in 20 minutes, and as with all EVs, charging isn't linear, so it'll take more than 20 minutes to add the next 140 miles of range. Regardless, figure an hour to stop and charge, all said and done.

Yes, you can absolutely tow with an electric truck, but at least in the case of the Rivian R1T, expect to lose up to half your driving range as you approach its maximum towing capability, much as you would in a gas- or diesel-powered truck. If you need to tow more than 150 miles, plan to hit a public charger along the way and give yourself ample time to fill up.