September 30, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Rivian’s R1S: An electric SUV for those with an adventurous lifestyle

Rivian's R1S: An electric SUV for those with an adventurous lifestyle
Zoom / After building the R1T Adventure Truck, Rivian continued with the R1S SUV.

Jonathan Gitlin

Last September we drove one of the new Rivian electric trucks and found its R1 platform to be highly efficient on and off-road, with an impressive level of engineering that made Driving to the top of the mountain is almost effortless. It’s been a tough few months for the electric car maker since then Supply chain issues delaying deliveryAnd the Former CEO suing discrimination, and Annoyed by the shareholders rather clumsy price hike.

But Rivian is still very well funded, and its plant in Normal, Illinois, is finding its feet in building electric trucks as well. Amazon delivery vans. Now another EV based on the R1 is entering production – the R1S SUV.

Like its truck sibling, the R1S is a nice looking thing, especially compared to the more aggressive SUV coming out of Detroit. This is partly due to the design of the lights, which should light up your car pareidoliaand partly to what passes now for the relatively low hood height, with curved edges finding preference over sharp creases at the corners.

It's hard to avoid seeing a face here.
Zoom / It’s hard to avoid seeing a face here.

Jonathan Gitlin

Nevertheless, the R1S remains a great SUV. It’s the same width as the R1T (81.8 inches / 2078 mm), but at 200.8 inches (5100 mm) long, the R1S is 16.3 inches (414 mm) shorter, with most of that difference (14.7 inches / 374 mm) outside the wheelbase. As a result, there’s no longer a gear tunnel – the innovative cargo area that lives under and behind the R1T’s rear seats – but you do get a third row of seats, which folds flat with the floor when not in use.

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Under the hood is a large powered stowage box that, just like on the R1T, has 11 cubic feet (313 liters) of storage space. Open the separate tailgate – the bottom can support up to 1,000 pounds (454 kg), so feel free to sit on it – and there’s 17.6 cubic feet (498 liters) of cargo capacity that increases to 46.7 cubic feet (1,322 liters) If you do not need to use the third row seats. For really big loads, fold the middle row down too and enjoy 88.2 cubic feet (2,498 liters) of storage.

As with the truck, the interior is an elegant setting. I’m particularly impressed with the recycled wood trim, as well as the thoughtful approach Rivian took to placing USB-C ports and storage areas. Visibility from the driver’s seat is good, without many blind spots, but some readers may be turned off by the full-touch user interface for the infotainment system and the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

The cabin can do with grab handles for easier boarding, and once again, the EV maker created a full-length glass roof that doesn’t have a canopy. Rivian says panoramic glass blocks 99.9 percent of UV rays as well as heat, but it would be nice to have some retractable fabric that can block it all when the owner desires. A passenger sitting in the middle row on the right side of the car might also be impressed by the reflections from the dashboard, I found out.

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The family resemblance between a truck and an SUV is more than just a deep look; Mechanically, the R1S we drove in New York is essentially the same R1T we drove in 2021. Our test R1S featured an 835 hp (623 kW), 908 lb-ft (1,231 Nm) four-motor configuration, paired with a 135 battery pack kilowatt-hours.

The front drive unit generates 415 hp (310 kW) and 413 lb-ft (560 Nm), with the rear drive module contributing 420 hp (313 kW) and 495 lb-ft (671 Nm). Each drive unit contains two motors, one for each wheel, so the powertrain does not require a conventional differential to distribute torque from one side to the other.