Rivian, an EV startup, is slowly becoming a reality. According to the company, 2553 vehicles were built during the first quarter. A few thousand customers have received their pickups. The R1S SUV is now on the ground. The R1T Launch edition was tested earlier in the year. We have now driven the R1S SUV through New York’s Catskill Mountains. We were impressed by the pickup’s acceleration and confidence, as well as its luxurious interior. We were not surprised to see that the SUV shares many of the same characteristics as the R1T or R1S.
However, the R1S is missing one of R1T’s most unique features, the horizontal gear tunnel that runs horizontally between the pickup bed and rear doors. This not only draws attention but also provides a lot of useful space. Rivian moved both the rear wheels of the SUV forward to the location of the pickup’s gear tunnel, reducing the wheelbase by 14.7 in. The R1S measures 200.8 inches in length and is comparable to mid-size three-row SUVs. Its proportions remind us of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Standard equipment on the R1S includes a seven-passenger configuration. This is made possible by a third-row bench seat with three places and the third row with two people. The legroom in the second and third rows is not as generous as those found in the Suburban. Rivian was able to make the seats versatile, with both the second and the third rows folding flat to create a cargo floor.
R1S Horsepower & Range
The R1S that we drove was the only available powertrain at the time: a quad motor setup with a 128.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This charged the electric motors and makes 835 horsepower, the same as the R1T. Although the numbers of the SUV aren’t the same as the truck’s, they have a slightly better EPA range (314 miles vs 314 for T) and a smaller towing capacity (7700 pounds vs 11,000 for the pickup). Rivian claims that there will be more powertrain options in the future. These include a larger battery pack, as well as a cheaper and less powerful dual motor drivetrain.
Driving the R1S Off-Road & On-Road
The R1S rides well and has a solid feel on the roads. The steering is heavy and has a lot of body roll. We tested the R1T at 7172 pounds. The pickup has a lot of weight, but it’s not heavy enough to push you back in your seat. The pickup was able to sprint to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. We expect the SUV to achieve the same result.
Rivian considers the R1S the better off-roader due to its shorter wheelbase, and better departure angle than the pickup. Rivian claims that the air suspension can be adjusted to give it 15.0 inches of ground clearance and can withstand water as deep as 39 inches. On an off-road course Rivian had created, we bounded over boulders and navigated rutted trails. We also crossed several creeks. The R1S proved to be capable and easy to drive. However, the R1S’s ride quality is noticeably lower in taller suspension settings.
Although we experienced issues with the central touchscreen during our first encounter with the truck’s interior, the R1S’s screen was flawless throughout our ride. Rivian claims that the company releases over-the-air updates at least once per month that aim to improve functionality or add features to vehicles. These updates won’t change the fact that everything is controlled by the screen, including the air-vent adjustments and drive modes. Although we would prefer a few more buttons and knobs on the screen, the interior is clean and well-designed.
The Wait and the Price
Many people who have placed orders for Rivian vehicles may only have seen pictures online. The sheen of the Rivian doesn’t fade when you see it up close. We would hope so given that pricing starts from $91,075. The R1S is an expensive electric SUV, but it’s very capable and elegantly designed. It’s also very enjoyable to drive.
Rivian hopes to increase production in order to meet its goal to build 25,000 electric vehicles by the end of the year. However, the company claims it has received 90,000. orders for both R1 and R2 models so that leaves many people waiting. Rivian estimates that you will not receive your EV until the end of 2023 if you don’t order it now. The $1000 deposit is refundable. You can decide if it is worth the wait. However, buyers will not be disappointed when their R1S arrives.