In the case of the 2022 Rivian R1T electric pickup, delivering a truck that drives like no other—see our First Drive review for more—required designing a suspension that works like no other. Well, it actually works a lot like the suspension of the McLaren 720S in that it includes hydraulic cross-linking of the adaptive dampers. The Rivian’s setup also shares the concept of using ride-height-adjustable air springs with several higher-end trucks and SUVs. But combining these elements gives the Rivian R1T several key advantages.
Designing an electric “adventure vehicle” with sufficient range to encourage true overlanding necessarily requires a big battery pack, which drives a high curb weight. A high payload capacity is also essential to accommodate gear and fellow adventurers, and variable ride height is key for conquering the toughest trails. Air springs are the best way to accomplish these goals, but as they inflate—whether to compensate for load or to increase ground clearance—the spring rate increases.
Ride quality is determined by how well each corner’s shock damping and spring rates are matched, so maintaining reasonable ride quality with variable-rate springs obviously requires variable-rate dampers.
Meanwhile, limiting body roll on pavement while enabling extreme suspension articulation off-road requires some sort of variable roll control system. Rivian’s hydraulic cross-linked suspension, designed and tuned in-house, employs variable-orifice valves to match the damping and spring rates while balancing roll control and articulation needs without adding heavy, costly, (and sometimes power-consuming) variable-rate or disconnecting anti-roll bars. Here’s how Rivian’s system works: For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.