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Rivian R1S review: king of the mountain

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The most important praise I can provide to the Rivian R1S is that it makes life simple. Exemplified by a latest journey I took to Large Bear with mates — previous to the record-breaking snowstorms that slammed Southern California — the R1S is without doubt one of the most comprehensively well-designed and engineered automobiles I’ve ever skilled. 

Rivian’s first sucker punch towards established automakers is the R1S’s styling. Being a from-scratch startup is without doubt one of the firm’s largest benefits, as there’s no design heritage that needs to be pulled from and no outdated platform or expertise that must be tailored with compromises.

This is without doubt one of the best-looking SUVs on sale — perhaps ever — with excellent proportions and attention-grabbing detailing. Its oh-so-cute face bucks the ever-growing development of vehicles and SUVs trying imposing and aggressive, and the physique has vast fenders and clear surfacing.

The R1S’s greatest view is the rear three-quarter angle, which showcases the chrome-accented roofline’s excellent curves. At 200.8 inches lengthy and 77.3 inches tall, the R1S is about the identical dimension as a brand new Land Rover Defender 110 and a smidge smaller than a Chevy Tahoe; its 121.1-inch wheelbase is 14.7 inches lower than the R1T pickup, and the R1S is 16.3 inches shorter total.

Its oh-so-cute face bucks the ever-growing development of vehicles and SUVs trying imposing and aggressive.

Practicality isn’t all the time boring

Inside high quality is impeccable. Rivian makes use of high-quality vegan leather-based, actual metallic, and open-pore ash wooden trim to nice impact all through the cabin, particularly within the flowing design of the dashboard. The driving place and look at out are unbelievable, and the R1S’s door panels are ergonomically excellent for resting your elbow on the highest of the door or the precise armrest. I personally love the tinted panoramic glass roof, which extends all the best way again to the usual third row, however some could also be delay by the dearth of a sunshade. Personally, I’d additionally spend the $2,000 to get the Ocean Coast white or Forest Edge inexperienced inside colour schemes, which actually assist make the cabin look extra attention-grabbing.

Heated and ventilated entrance seats, a heated steering wheel and second-row bench, a superb 19-speaker Meridian sound system, eight USB-C ports, a number of energy shops, wi-fi charging, and Wi-Fi connectivity are all commonplace. A detachable Bluetooth speaker is constructed into the middle console, and there’s an air compressor situated within the rear cargo space. The one characteristic I’m actually left wanting is massaging seats, which Rivian presently doesn’t supply. 

This is without doubt one of the best-looking SUVs on sale — perhaps ever

The interface of the R1S’s 15.6-inch middle touchscreen is snappy and straightforward to make use of, and I don’t encounter any glitches or different software program points which have plagued Rivians prior to now — chalk that as much as Rivian releasing constant updates about as soon as a month. Rivian’s infotainment nonetheless doesn’t assist Apple CarPlay or Android Auto but — neither is it prone to, at the least in response to comments made by CEO RJ Scaringe in a latest interview with Marques Brownlee — however this can be a case the place I don’t actually thoughts. The native navigation system is fairly nice, and Rivian affords built-in Spotify, TuneIn, and Tidal.

The R1S’s 15.6-inch middle touchscreen’s interface is snappy and straightforward to make use of.

Rivian’s infotainment is powered by Epic Video games’ Unreal Engine, and the graphics are fantastic. Not like with most different manufacturers, the display reveals totally rendered and animated photos of the car in its precise spec, and I recognize how the visuals change relying on the drive mode. The menus are simple to navigate, and there’s loads of nerdy data obtainable on the journey pc and efficiency pages. I do want there have been a kind of homescreen that might show a mix of various apps as an alternative of getting to modify between full-screen tabs to regulate nav or music. Local weather vent, steering wheel, and mirror adjustment are all performed via the display, which might be annoying.

Inside high quality is impeccable

Because of the large power-operated frunk and ample rear cargo space, I’m in a position to match six individuals within the R1S, together with a weekend’s value of baggage for every particular person, with out impacting outward visibility. Even my mates relegated to the third row have sufficient headroom and legroom and by no means complain about consolation, and there’s a separate local weather management panel for the second row.

The second and third rows fold nearly utterly flat, and the cut up tailgate makes loading and unloading simple — plus, with a 500-pound weight restrict, it’s nice for tailgating. You don’t get a gear tunnel like within the R1T, however each the cargo house and frunk have lined storage compartments. Third-row passengers have their very own armrests, cup holders, and storage cubbies, the door playing cards and seatbacks have intelligent pockets, and the entrance seats have hidden compartments beneath.

I’m in a position to match six individuals within the R1S, together with a weekend’s value of baggage for every particular person, with out impacting outward visibility.

King of the mountain

Good design nonetheless must be backed up by the driving expertise, and in that space, the Rivian excels. The R1S has an electrical motor at every wheel for a complete of 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque, making it the second strongest SUV on sale behind the Tesla Mannequin X Plaid. It takes simply three seconds flat for the R1S to hit 60mph, and the quad-motor setup allows fantastic torque vectoring that consistently adjusts how a lot thrust goes to every wheel independently.

There’s no synthetic “engine” noise piped into the cabin, with Rivian’s engineers opting to spotlight the great whirs genuinely made by the motors. However the R1S is simply as fulfilling toddling round city as it’s launching from stoplights and getting tossed into corners. Regenerative braking is robust sufficient for wonderful one-pedal driving, and within the Preserve drive mode, the R1S deactivates the rear motors for an excellent calmer expertise.

Rivian’s infotainment is powered by Epic Video games’ Unreal Engine, and the graphics are fantastic

Twenty-inch wheels with Pirelli Scorpion all-terrain tires are a $3,600 choice bundled along with underbody shields and a full-size spare tire, which is cash properly spent if you wish to maximize the R1S’s off-road capabilities. (To notice, 21s with all-season tires are commonplace, whereas 22s with barely sportier rubber additionally value $2,500.) The all-terrain tires have an excellent chunky tread and are snow rated, which implies I don’t have to suit chains when driving across the mountain, and so they’re greater than succesful sufficient for the overwhelming majority of off-roading that clients will do. Choosing the all-terrain rubber does include a success to effectivity: the EPA estimates a variety of 289 miles versus 321 with the usual 21s.

The all-terrain tires have an excellent chunky tread and are snow rated, which implies I don’t have to suit chains when driving across the mountain.

Rivian lately added a Snow drive mode to the R1 fashions through an over-the-air replace, and it makes a noticeable distinction. To make driving within the white stuff a a lot smoother, steadier, and simpler expertise, Snow mode softens pedal response and introduces a brand new low regenerative braking setting to scale back wheelspin. With Snow mode engaged, I encounter zero traction or slip points; even within the grossest slush and hilliest terrain, driving the R1S is easy. However it doesn’t matter what drive mode it’s in, the R1S all the time feels sure-footed and steady, and it’s onerous to think about one other car I’d slightly drive via an intense winter.

Good design nonetheless must be backed up by the driving expertise, and in that space, the Rivian excels

Air suspension is commonplace on the R1S, offering greater than six inches of selectable top adjustment and automated leveling for towing. In its highest setting, the R1S has 14.9 inches of floor clearance, greater than sufficient to bash over snow banks or crawl over massive rocks. The R1S’s variable energetic dampers have two totally different stiffness settings, and Rivian makes use of an electrohydraulic roll management system rather than conventional mechanical anti-roll bars to reduce lean and physique roll each on and off the highway.

Whereas the R1S feels a lot lighter and extra nimble than its close to 7,000-pound curb weight would counsel and its digital energy steering is among the many greatest on the market when it comes to suggestions, the R1S does have some trip high quality points not current in its R1T truck sibling. The R1S’s trip can get uneven over tough tarmac or growth joints, with occasional unsettling floatiness and porpoising.

The R1S does have some trip high quality points not current in its R1T truck sibling.

At the least the R1S is properly insulated and quiet at freeway speeds regardless of the chunky tires; solely a small quantity of wind noise enters the cabin. Rivian’s commonplace Driver Plus suite of driver-assist options consists of adaptive cruise management with steering help, automated excessive beams, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warnings and lane-keep help, ahead collision warning and automated emergency braking, trailer help, and rear cross-traffic alert. All of it really works pretty properly, although the Freeway Help perform that handles steering, acceleration, and braking on choose freeways might be overly delicate. Parking sensors and a 360-degree digicam system are commonplace, however the picture high quality is among the worst in the marketplace.

The R1S does have a Tesla-like motion-activated Gear Guard sentry perform that displays and data what goes on outdoors of the automobile, saving movies to the onboard pc, and there’s an excellent cute Sasquatch mascot to go along with it. A brand new lawsuit has simply been levied towards Tesla for the inappropriate sharing of movies taken by the cameras of householders’ vehicles, as they’re accessible by workers — Rivian says that the Gear Guard’s movies aren’t shared with the corporate or any third occasion, and house owners can add additional privateness protections by limiting location information.

Utilizing a DC quick charger, the Rivian’s 135kWh battery pack can achieve 140 miles of vary in 20 minutes.

The R1S’s vary estimates are correct, if a bit conservative, and the navigation system can robotically direct you to a charging station or decide an alternate route for higher effectivity. Utilizing a DC quick charger, the Rivian’s 135kWh battery pack can achieve 140 miles of vary in 20 minutes or go from 10 p.c to 80 p.c cost in round 45 minutes.

The second evening at our cabin, I plug the R1S into a daily wall outlet utilizing the included weatherproof cost cable; left to cost in below-freezing temperatures within the snow and sleet, the R1S gained 20 miles in a single day. The earlier evening, when left outdoors in the identical circumstances with out being plugged in, the R1S misplaced about 10 p.c of its cost.

The R1S’s trip can get uneven over tough tarmac or growth joints

Rivian’s smartphone app can management many main capabilities of the R1S, from locking and unlocking and checking cost standing to preconditioning the local weather management and sending navigation routes straight to the automobile’s infotainment. (The cabin preconditioning is especially pretty in winter, because the Rivian’s flush door handles can get annoyingly frozen shut.) The important thing fob seems to be superior, with a design that doubles as a carabiner, however the buttons are onerous to learn at evening, and I all the time maintain it the flawed method. Leaving the important thing at house and simply utilizing my telephone is extra interesting to me anyway. 

The inside is impeccable.

Vary estimates had been a bit conservative.

In a category of its personal

The quad-motor R1S begins at $93,800 together with a $1,800 vacation spot cost, with the All-Terrain Improve and $1,750 Glacier White paint on my R1S including as much as a $99,150 as-tested worth. Rivian will quickly begin deliveries of the dual-motor R1S, which makes use of electrical motors constructed in-house by Rivian. The 600hp dual-motor R1S begins at $79,800 and makes use of a smaller battery pack that has a 260-mile max vary, however the bigger 340-mile pack that comes commonplace on the quad-motor R1S is obtainable for an additional $6,000. Rivian additionally lately launched a brand new Efficiency dual-motor mannequin that provides 700hp and a zero to 60mph time of three.5 seconds for a $5,000 improve over the usual giant pack dual-motor mannequin.

The R1S’s vary estimates are correct, if a bit conservative

It helps that the R1S has no actual competitors. The electrical Mercedes-Benz EQG and Land Rover’s Vary Rover and Vary Rover Sport EVs gained’t be unveiled till subsequent yr, and the GMC Hummer EV SUV is extra like a supercar than an precise sensible car. (Plus, the Hummer doesn’t have a 3rd row, and the EQG gained’t both.) The unbelievable BMW iX is priced competitively to the R1S, but it surely’s solely received two rows of seats and minimal off-road functionality — and very divisive seems to be. Mercedes’ EQS SUV is obtainable with a 3rd row, but it surely’s rather more luxury-oriented and much more costly than the Rivian, with a beginning worth of over $105,000. Kia lately unveiled the superior three-row EV9, which will likely be extra inexpensive than all of these different SUVs, but it surely’s nonetheless months away and can have tamer efficiency.

However I don’t suppose the onset of extra direct opponents will uninteresting the Rivian’s shine. Its mixture of on-road efficiency, off-road functionality, and considerate design is exceptional, and as a primary effort from a brand new automaker, it’s much more spectacular. Extra R1 variants and updates — each {hardware} and software program — will likely be rolled out within the coming months, and Rivian is presently engaged on new, extra inexpensive mannequin strains that will likely be in-built Georgia. Within the meantime, the R1S will proceed to reign as king of each the literal and figurative mountain.

Pictures by Daniel Golson for The Verge

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