It’s no secret that Rivian is one of the hottest automakers to emerge from the long list of startups making their EV industry debut. The Rivian R1T stands out as one of the most thoughtful and exciting electric trucks. Yet, the more conventionally-styled EV Rivian SUV, R1S, deserves just as much industry praise.
In 2018, Rivian said that its two cars share 91% of their components — the only difference is the truck bed. Substituting it for a trunk and extra row of seats, the R1S feels longer and sportier than the pickup. The distinctive stadium-style lights and bold light bar remain a fundamental design feature on the car’s front end. A clear glass roof adds a skylight for passengers.
The R1S is quite powerful, with a 0–60mph time of 3.0 seconds. This lightning-fast time is due in no small part to its more than 800 horsepower drivetrain that delivers more than 900 lb-ft of torque. Yet, while these performance specs are noteworthy, they don’t tell the whole story.
While most performance EVs rely on dual-motor or even tri-motor powertrains to provide that extra jolt of power, the Rivian R1S uses a quad-motor system that attaches a motor to every wheel. It also provides enhanced traction control through “torque vectoring,” a system that delivers precise power to each wheel. It makes the SUV just as much a powerhouse on the highway as off-road. It also has a wading depth of more than three feet, a maximum tow weight of 7,700 pounds, and the ability to rock crawl at 100% grade.
The R1S also has robust battery capabilities. Outfitted with a 128.9kWh, the athletic SUV has a 316-mile range, two miles more than Rivian’s pickup and well within striking distance of the Tesla Model X. The fast charging capabilities of the R1S offer speeds of up to 190kW, faster than the average 150kW capability of most cars.
In addition, Rivian is taking a page out of Tesla’s playbook, developing a charging network to support its vehicles. Rivian charging stations will reach speeds of up to 200kW, and the company will add 300kW capabilities once battery tech catches up.
The interior features vegan leather in earth tones that adorn the upholstery and flat-bottomed steering wheel. Light-colored woods frame the drivers and infotainment displays. The R1S boasts a spacious interior that can comfortably seat seven passengers, thanks to its flat floor. The car also enjoys tons of storage space, totaling 104 cubic feet, including its 13 cubic foot trunk, additional cargo space with the seats down, storage space underneath the floor, front trunk storage, and space in the center console.
Pricing for the R1S starts at $72,500. While Rivian has seen a slow rollout of both the R1S and its pickup counterpart, the expanding startup secured a $5 billion manufacturing facility in Georgia that will create nearly 7,500 jobs.
The R1S represents a more modest and traditional approach to automaking. While the Rivian truck was a novel idea, the R1S is a more measured response. While the pickup has undoubtedly stolen the automotive limelight, the R1S is worthy of the same success.