2022 Rivian R1S Is Attractive, Capable, and Full of Potential

The electric SUV model from emerging carmaker Rivian is impressive both on and off-road, much like its R1T truck. However, be ready to wait and pay.

Rivian, an electric vehicle company, is gradually moving away from being simply a promise. A few thousand clients have already received delivery of their R1T trucks, according to the manufacturer, which claims that 2553 cars were constructed during the first quarter of this year. The R1S SUV is now also beginning to see the first deliveries. Earlier this year, we tested the R1T Launch Edition, and we’ve since driven the R1S SUV in the Catskill Mountains of New York. We were thrilled by the pickup’s blazing acceleration, assured handling, and opulent cabin from our first encounter with it. We weren’t shocked to see that the SUV has many of the same characteristics as the R1T given the parallels between the R1T and R1S.

However, one of the nicest aspects of the R1T is absent from the R1S: the gear tunnel, which spans the truck horizontally between the pickup bed and the rear doors and not only attracts admiring glances but also adds a surprising amount of practical space. That’s because Rivian shortened the wheelbase of the SUV by 14.7 inches and relocated the rear wheels forward to the location of the pickup’s gear tunnel. The R1S is similar in size to many mid-size three-row SUVs at 200.8 inches, and its proportions resemble those of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

A third row with two seats and a second row with three seats gives the R1S a basic seating capacity of seven people. Don’t believe that this is a substitute for a Suburban because there isn’t a lot of legroom in either row. However, Rivian did a wonderful job with the flexibility of the seats, since both the second and third rows can be folded flat to provide a practical cargo floor.

R1S Range and Horsepower

The quad-motor arrangement with a 128.9 kWh battery pack powering the electric motors, which produce a combined 835 horsepower—the same as the R1T—was the only powertrain offered originally for the R1S that we tested. However, the stats for the SUV differ from those for the truck since it has a lower towing capacity of 7700 pounds and a little greater EPA range (316 miles opposed to 314 for the T) (compared with 11,000 pounds for the pickup). Rivian claims that a number of additional powertrain combinations, such as a bigger and smaller battery pack as well as a less costly and less potent dual-motor drivetrain, will be available at some time in the future.

Driving the R1S On-Road and Off-Road

The R1S has a grounded feeling on the road, and the ride quality is firm. Given that the R1S’s reported curb weight of 7000 pounds, the steering is highly weighted, and the body roll is much more muted than you might anticipate from a car this large, tall, and heavy (the R1T we tested tipped the scales at 7173 pounds). If you give it the beans, there’s a decent bit of squat, and the surge of torque is enough to knock you back in your seat. We timed the pickup’s acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, and we predict that the SUV will follow suit.

According to Rivian, the R1S is the better off-roader of the two due to its shorter wheelbase and better departure angle than the pickup. Rivian asserts that it can cross water up to 39 inches deep and that the air suspension may be lifted to offer up to 15.0 inches of ground clearance. On an off-road track Rivian had set up, we jumped over rocks, through rutted paths, and across a few creeks. Despite the ride quality getting notably less compliant in these higher suspension settings, we still found the R1S to be competent and simple to wheel.

In contrast to our initial encounter with the truck, when we experienced troubles with the huge center touchscreen, the R1S’s screen performed flawlessly during our journey. According to Rivian, it releases over-the-air upgrades at least once every month with the goal of enhancing the cars’ functioning and introducing new features. The fact that the screen controls everything, including the air-vent settings, driving modes, and much more, cannot be changed by these upgrades. Although the inside is elegant and made of materials that are pleasant to the touch, we would have liked to see at least a couple more tactile buttons and knobs.

The Wait and the Price

Many people who have ordered a Rivian might have only seen internet images of the car. Fortunately, the luster remains intact when you approach closely. And we would surely hope so, as the starting price is $91,075. The R1S is an expensive electric SUV that is also a very competent, convincingly posh, and tastefully styled vehicle.

Rivian is making an effort to increase production in order to meet its target of producing 25,000 electric vehicles by the end of the year, but given that the firm reports having received 90,000 orders for (both) R1 models, there are still a lot of people waiting. According to the Rivian website, if you purchase one today, you won’t have it until late 2023. The $1,000 deposits are refundable, which is a good thing. You must determine whether the wait is worthwhile, but customers are not likely to be dissatisfied once they receive their R1S.

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