- The R1S is the second consumer vehicle from Rivian, a California electric car startup.
- The SUV makes 835 horsepower and can hit 60 mph in three seconds, Rivian says.
- It has seven seats and is a beast at off-road driving.
It is extremely difficult to start a new car company from scratch. It’s quite an achievement to land on the scene with vehicles that can convince buyers to give their hard-earned cash to an unproven upstart.
That’s exactly what California-based electric vehicle startup Rivian has achieved — first with the groundbreaking R1T pickup truck launched in September, and now again with the R1S, a fantastic large SUV that was set to make its way to reservation holders in August. should start to find.
If you’re looking for an electric vehicle that’s an off-road explorer, a thrilling sports car and a luxury family truck all rolled into one, the R1S deserves a spot at the top of your list. It is a vehicle-shaped multi-tool that is thoughtfully designed, packed with interesting features and highly capable both on and off-road.
What is the Rivian R1S?
Rivian specializes in rugged, high-end EVs for outdoor types, and the R1S is the second consumer model. It will eventually start at $72,500 for a basic version with two engines. But the first available model—which I rode at an event the company hosted last month—has four engines and costs $90,000.
The R1S shares a lot with the company’s R1T pickup, but closed off the truck floor for a third row of seats and a cavernous cargo area. It fits seven people and goes up to 316 miles when fully charged, the EPA says. This makes it one of the electric cars with the longest range on the market.
What’s it like to drive?
The idea that a bulky 7,000-pound SUV can go up to 60 mph in a solid three seconds sounds incredible. But that’s exactly what Rivian says the quad-motor R1S can do thanks to its 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque. Step on the accelerator and the SUV instantly shoots forward at a quiet speed that completely contradicts its colossal size.
Off the beaten track is where the R1S really shines. I took it on a challenging trail with jagged rocks, water crossings and incredibly steep inclines, and the R1S crushed all obstacles with ease. Thanks to an advanced four-wheel drive system (with one motor driving each wheel separately), the R1S rarely struggles to find traction. All that torque is useful for muscling over big rocks.
And a handful of off-road riding modes that tune the suspension, throttle and ride height for different types of terrain make hitting trails in the R1S idiot-proof.
How is the interior?
Inside, the R1S feels spacious and premium. The price is comparable to SUVs from BMW, Audi and Cadillac, so it’s as much about comfort as it is about capability.
The Launch Edition models I drove had plush leatherette seats and wood trim on the dash, doors, and elsewhere. Two panoramic sunroofs add to the feeling of openness.
In addition, the interior of the R1S is functional and versatile. The third row is surprisingly useful for adults. You can fold down the second and third rows to create a flat-floor cargo area that can accommodate a single bed. The cabin is packed with small storage compartments and
ports so no one needs a place to charge their phone.
The SUV’s expansive 15.6-inch touchscreen may be a turn-off for those who prefer physical buttons and buttons (like me). Almost every basic function in the vehicle runs through the screen, including the direction of the vents, which can make it difficult to change settings while driving.
But I have to hand it over to Rivian: both the main display and the digital meter cluster are easy to use and beautiful to look at.
It’s all in the details
Rivian took the opportunity to come up with a vehicle from scratch and got to work on it, choosing to ditch unnecessary conventions and instead include plenty of interesting features that you won’t find in every EV.
A built-in flashlight fits into the driver’s door, where it’s always charging. A wireless speaker/lantern combo slides out from under the center console for camping or tailgates. A nifty feature called Gear Guard monitors the area around the SUV using a number of cameras and records when it detects anything strange.
An integrated air compressor in some models allows owners to inflate tires or air mattresses on the fly. A frunk adds extra cargo space.
A starting price north of $70,000 is nothing to sneeze at. But my short time with the SUV has shown me that it is the best of all worlds, with excellent everyday usability, off-road capability and on-road performance. Its closest rival in the EV space, the Tesla Model X, costs $121,000 and isn’t suited to going off-road.
Obviously I’m not the only one in love with the R1S; the company is processing thousands of pre-orders and says new orders won’t be fulfilled until the end of 2023. Which brings me to its biggest flaw: it’s so compelling that you can’t buy one now, even if you’ve tried it.