Home » Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Rivian With A Ram Revolution-Style Third Row, Except Bigger

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Rivian With A Ram Revolution-Style Third Row, Except Bigger

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With almost all new car debuts, there’s a great deal of hyperbole, yet based on looks alone the new electric RAM Revolution pickup seems to be living up to the hype and has captured the hearts and minds of many here at the Autopian.

Screenshot (275) Stellantis

The claims of the RAM’s performance as an EV cannot be verified yet, but we will say that one of its supposed ‘industry first’ accomplishments might be suspect.

The pioneering feature in question is right in the truck’s description: it purports to be a ‘three row’ pickup truck. We were wondering how Stellantis was able to make space where none appears to exist, and based on photos the answer seems to be that they just plain didn’t. We’ll reserve final judgement until we try it, but the ‘jump seats’ on the back wall of the cab seem to offer the kind of passenger space that one gets in the back of something like a Lotus Evora or a Maserati Merak. You will need to be lacking in any form of legs to be able to fit, even if you shove the other two rows closer to the windshield. These seats appear to make the joke third rows in something like an old BMW X5 look like the back seat of a Rolls Phantom.

Screenshot (276)Stellantis

Certainly the concept of a pickup that also can truly carry seven or eight people seems intriguing, yet to accomplish this feat in a truck that stands a prayer of being short enough to fit in a typical garage seems unlikely. However, my guess is that most buyers will rarely have to carry three rows of people AND a full bed of cargo simultaneously. I have access to no market research, but living in a major metropolitan area I find that many people would want the versatility to change their vehicle magically from a pickup truck to a big SUV to suit their needs at that particular moment. I think I can make that happen.

One place to gain inspiration from is designs for station wagons or SUVs that could sort of convert to pickup trucks. This concept was last seen on the GMC Envoy XUV where the roof over the cargo area could electrically slide away to give you an unlimited ceiling in back. The design was actually copied by a car from fifty years before: the Studebaker Lark Wagonaire. Neither of these cars lived up to sales predictions, probably because they really didn’t offer a good compromise for truck and wagon.

Screenshot (274)Flickr Creative Commons

However, the sliding part is what I think is key to the solution. As a testbed for our idea, let’s start with a truck that features a unified body and bed design, the Rivian R1T. It’s a four door, two-row pickup truck with a normal (if small) sized bed.

Rivian R1t 2022 1280 0aRivian

Our model, which will be called the R1L, looks just like the standard model except for a raised roof rack-looking box on the top and some rails on the sides of the pickup bed (note that the front part of the rails is actually filled in).

Img20230108 17244502 2Rivian

Let’s say you want to carry a few extra kids to a soccer game or take a few extra coworkers to lunch- right now. Pop out your phone, go the Rivian app, and hit PASSENGER COMPARTMENT EXPAND.

Screenshot (121b)

If the bed is empty, the rear window and back wall of the cab start to electrically slide back, and an extension of the roof slides out of that raised roof box. Eventually this section stops moving around halfway back of the bed. The big, gaping holes on the sides of this extension are then filled as glass windows electrically raise out of the side of the bed to seal off the area.

Img20230108 17244502 3Rivian

Let’s take another look at the steps:

Img20230108 17184146Rivian

Inside, flip forward the rear seats (second row) and you’ll see that the front part of the bed is now inside that car and ready for your dirty junk to be placed into:


Or, you can lift open the floor of the bed to reveal a carpeted area, as well as side panels that flip out to cover the possibly filthy sides of your formerly outdoor bed:


The carpeting is on the back of seats that open up for your full sized third row. Note that those flip-out side panels feature little armrest ‘fins’ as well as switches for lowering the side glass on those filler windows; if you’ve ever ridden in a third row of a vehicle in Arizona you’ll appreciate the opportunity to roll down your goddamn windows back there.

Img20230108 17204470 2a

The only real compromise now is that the bed of your truck is about half what it was before, however if you really DO need to carry a full bed of cargo with your seven passengers you could get a fold-up cage to turn the lowered tailgate into an extension of your bed space.

Also, the Rivian’s famous ‘pass through’ hole is gone, but the space is still accessible by folding the rear seats forwards (this area becomes the footwell for the third row when deployed).

Strange as this solution might seem, it could offer enough to fit the needs of the typical suburban buyer most of the time. I truly hope that the new RAM really does live up to its industry-first passenger count claim, but if it turns out to realistically be less than promised then maybe someone else can use an idea like the above make the true three row pickup a reality.

all illustrations by The Bishop


The Ram 1500 Revolution Is A Three-Row EV Wondertruck For The Future – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines The Perfect Little Escape Pod-Car For Your Big Truck – The Autopian

Does A Daydreaming Designer’s Semi Sleeper Concept from 1990 Make Sense? – The Autopian


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41 Responses

  1. What’s with the short bed? And what kind of towing range will this have
    The Ford lighting can’t go 100 miles pulling a 20 foot travel trailer,what use is that.

  2. Looks like the option could also require tonneau cover removal to increase available space for the seats and to reduce the not-insignificant number of moving parts. Trading the gear tunnel and cover for this option seems like a fair tradeoff, though. I do think that using the gear tunnel for legroom is an excellent way to make a more usable rear seat than a lot of three-row SUVs.

    This would sell really well, I assume, at least until people started reporting problems with deployment or leaks (not your fault as designer, just the likely use of the cheapest labor and materials, as well as misuse by consumers). One could also imagine a three row big ute that has this setup, but fixed, rather than slide-out. Also popular.

    1. Drew- I think the retractable tonneau would need to be attached to the moving back wall so that it can contract as the rear wall moves.

      Leaks and such will always be an issue to deal with, but looking at the complexity of many retractable hardtop mechanisms I would think this could be a cakewalk by comparison.

      1. I’d just avoid the issue of making sure the tonneau cover retracts as it moves and gain that small amount of space for the seatbacks and such. It wasn’t a complaint.

        And, yeah, this is definitely simpler than a lot of retractable hardtops, but I do suspect that the consumer tolerance for maintenance and leaks on this would be lower. EV buyers love to talk about how little maintenance there is, so I suspect they’d dislike it. That said, the market shifts and changes, so I could be wrong. In any case, it is a clever solution and would certainly be worthwhile for a lot of people.

      1. Up next, the Bishop designs a single-seat vehicle that can attach to a number of seat or cargo pods, keeping the driver separate from all passengers and cargo.

  3. It seems like a silly exercise on face value but honestly one of the biggest problems with trucks is owning one with a big family. If you want or need a truck for whatever reason and you have 3 plus kids or a big dog and kids or something you are stuck. My sister has 4 kids and a dog, she drives a sienna but her husband drives an F150. If they need to put the boat in they have to travel in the truck and jam in there, and as big and commodious as the F150, is it’s not ideal for 2-3 hours. My sister in Law has 4 kids and they had to look hard to find a 6 seat Tundra (1st gen) for something they could take to the beach and fit all their boards. They also need something with 4-wheel drive, but only occasionally so owning a 4wd 3 row doesn’t make sense compared to their odyssey. I feel for my friend when he takes his 3 kids with him overlanding with me in his Tacoma. His Tacoma is perfect for him, or he and a few of the family, but it’s a tight squeeze for the whole crew, but he does it. I’ve seen at least 2 dozen 6 door conversion trucks out here in the west.

    If you think about the problem it makes a lot of sense, if you have 4-5 kids and you like RVing, for example, you need a pretty sizable trailer, which means a heavy trailer, which means you need something with a sizeable tow rating…which puts you at pickup trucks exclusively.

    And honestly, bench seat trucks are getting more rare. With these new midgate trucks, If you could get away with it legally, it would be a huge benefit to offer a 3rd row option of some kind. This idea looks like it would eat into the usability of the truck most of the time, but something like a 1st gen 4Runner where you could get a cap and new midgate with some extra seats would be ideal.

      1. I am amazed that the big SUV’s have not been brought back. My grandfather drove a 89ish squarebody 3/4 ton suburban with a 454. I loved that truck but the WNY winters pretty much disintegrated the body.

      2. Many years ago I had a guy working for me who was a “good Catholic” and as a result had his fourth kid while working for me. (Last I heard, he was up to six kids). Anyway, he went the conversion van route to shuttle the litter around.

        Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter are the modern equivalents. I know someone with a very large blended family that bought a custom Sprinter for road trips. Maybe Rivian will release a passenger version of the Amazon delivery truck in the near future.

    1. Once you have 4 or more kids, there really aren’t a lot of great options. A minivan or larger crossover can work, so long as your only taking luggage and even then you are limited. The suburban, expedition max, and the long wagoneer are the only things on the market that can seat six comfortably fit all their luggage and have room for other stuff as well as some towing capacity left over, but that would still be pretty limited depending on the weight of the passengers.

      In my blended family of six we sometimes use my truck which can seat six uncomfortably and sitll have room for stuff, but anything more than an hour or two is hard. Our last (relatively short) driving vacation we ended up just taking two vehicles as was the easiest/cheapest option.

    2. I hate to be that guy but a 2CV was a 5-person car when I was a kid and it was fine.
      Fat, cosseted and consuming may be the American way but it’s not the only way.

  4. Back in the day the adults just threw 8-10 of us kids into the bed of the pickup and away we went to t-ball practice and Charles Edward Cheese’s fine establishment.

    1. Ah yes. I remember spending a lot of time as a child in the bed of a pickup truck. The best was riding back home in a slow drizzly rain at about 55 degrees F. At least the truck had plywood racks that provided some modest wind protection.
      That kind of parenting would have sent dad right to jail today.

    1. ok im here- I would never suggest cancelling the OG Rivian pickup since I think for a lot of people that’s all they’d need, and this version would cost thousands more.

  5. What happened to bench seats. I remember as a kid quite a few families at school who had four kids had Toyota Hiluxes and Mitsubishi L200’s with a front bench seat. It must have been a squeeze, but you stick the smallest one in the front middle…… car seats… argh safety ruins everything.

  6. I like it. I think it makes a lot of sense. I think it would make even more sense applied to a 2-door pickup with a full-sized bed (remember those?).

  7. This is why I own an Excursion. 4 kids. A 10k dump trailer/RV/towable thing. It’s basically the only option unless you stuff everyone into a bench seat truck, and even those are becoming quite rare. It’s horribly inefficient. It’s rusting apart. But until the new Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, it was the only option that allowed you to haul 7+ people and able to tow 10k.

    I would buy the heck out of something like this as long as it wasn’t as ugly as the Envoy XUV.

  8. I like the expanding cab concept. My ideal truck would have a large flat floor behind the front seats (sort of like the Ram Mega cab, but with a truck that isn’t excessively long). How about designing it so the second row seats fold flat (like a minivan) and the 3rd row seats fold upward to the side (like a Honda Element)? I figure if the cab were expandable by two or three feet, the average full-size four door pickup truck could have a flat space large enough for most people to sleep.

  9. I have 4 kids and currently drive a model 3. I’d love to have an electric pickup to replace it (or an id buzz to replace my telluride family car) but nobody is making anything with a bench up front. I could really use something like this design!

    1. Superfast- HA! You think you’re the first person to say that to me today? My engineer on a project here at my Actual Job two hours ago- “how the FUCK am I supposed to make this work?”. At least you’re polite.

      1. I’m an automotive engineer.

        No interaction with the Design department goes unpunished.

        I once nearly rage-quit after being told to make a supercharger “look more functional”.

        1. Captian Muppet- I’ve actually had that happen with a client. Spent forever trying to get something to look clean and seamless and at the presentation they wanted more exposed bolts to be ‘techy looking’.

  10. Great job… I love your articles.
    The 1997 Skoda Felicia Fun also had this feature… I’d love to this properly scaled and executed for the US market. (this one looks a little flimsy)
    They didn’t figure out how to seal this for weather, either. I’ve been sketching this one for a while, trying to figure out a clean way to seal this in both configurations and still have a clean looking design either way.

    1. dfcarsnguitars- that car was one of the inspirations as well, just not with the fabric roof and sides which just ain’t gonna fly in our pushbutton society. Looks pretty flimsy indeed, but combined with the XUV roof idea it could possibly work.

    1. jkcycle- I can’t do a targa over the third row since I need the structure. I could put a glass roof panel in the center that might be able to remove if that works as a consolation. Also tried to make the design allow for a standard front sunroof as well so you can see the ‘roof box’ does not extend over the front seats.

      1. I bought a used F150 with the panoramic sunroof/moonroof. I’d pay $1000 to NOT have that bloody, great hole in the structure of the cab. It rattles, and it induces wind noise into the cab, whether the flimsy cloth cover is open or closed. I never open the glass because the noise and turbulence make it uncomfortable.

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