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Driven: 2022 Rivian R1S – New Kid on the Block

One of the benefits of the industry’s shift to electric vehicles is that it’s opened the door to new competition to the legacy makes. Hot on the heels of Tesla, Rivian is looking to gain a foothold in the market by concentrating on two of the largest segments, pickups, and SUVs. The first model offered by the company is the pickup, the R1T. It’s now followed by the sport/ute derivative the 2022 Rivian R1S, which boasts three rows of seating for up to seven passengers.
Rivian R1S 42 photos
Photo: Rivian
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Instantly recognized by its vertical oval headlamps, the Rivian R1S is a large SUV with a sleek, squared-off profile that has Range Rover overtones. In fact, the R1S, which costs upwards of $78,000, hopes to offer the kind of luxurious yet capable off-road experience in electrified form that you’d expect from the legendary British make.

Other styling cues that you’d expect to find on a Range Rover are incorporated here including a clamshell design to the rear gate, meticulous attention to interior materials and craftsmanship, and an abundance of advanced on- and off-road technology.

Riding on a 121.1-inch wheelbase, the Rivian R1S measures 200.3 inches in overall length. Our test vehicle, the top-spec large-battery pack equipped Adventure series, rides on a 22-inch wheels. Powered by four electric motors, two each on the front and rear axles, the system delivers total output of 835 horsepower and 908 lb-ft of torque.

The 163-kW battery pack is said to have a range of 316 miles (509 km), though Rivian cautions that the larger wheel and tire package can have as much as a 21-mile (34 km) impact on that distance. A dual motor setup with just one motor on the front and rear axles with the large battery pack delivers 320 miles of range, while the smaller standard battery pack with the same drivetrain is good for 260 miles (418 km).

The massive output is evident when you depress the accelerator. Rivian says the quad-motor setup is good for 0-60 mph acceleration of 3 seconds, giving new meaning the term neck-snapping acceleration. The Rivian moves swiftly off the line and gets up to speed with a minimum of fuss. Thanks to the electric drivetrain, the only noises you’ll hear are the distant thrum of the tires over changing pavement and a bit of wind noise from the outside rearview mirrors. Much of that is easily drowned out by the excellent Meridian sound system with 23 speakers.

2022 Rivian R1S
Photo: Rivian
Rivian has dialed in aggressive regenerative braking in standard mode, it’s almost enough for one pedal driving. You’ll only need to touch the brakes lightly to bring the vehicle to full stop. An even more aggressive regen braking setting allows for true one-pedal driving. Both modes are easily accessed and quickly changed through the large center touchscreen that has many of the functions including a wide array of off- and on-road drive settings at your fingertips.

Equipped with four motors, the Rivian can instantly send maximum torque to just one wheel, providing the ultimate in off-road capability. The air suspension, which can adjust by as much as six inches in setting, takes full advantage of the vehicle’s maximum 15-inch ground clearance. It provides a smooth supple ride on-road while being able to tackle rugged terrain with aplomb.

While it’s every bit a serious off-roader, the Rivian R1S is equally at home at the country club or a night out on the town. The interior features high-quality materials including open-pore ash veneers on the door inserts, steering wheel and dashboard. Buttons and switches are kept to an absolute minimum and yet the interior doesn’t feel as stark as some of its EV rivals.

There’s a 12.3-inch digital display in front of the driver and the 15.6-inch center touchscreen that dominates the dash. The gear selector is located on a steering-column mounted stalk opposite another stalk for the lights and wipers. Rivian uses two unique scroll and press controls on the steering wheel to manage a variety of functions selected through the center touchscreen. Among them are settings for the outside rearview mirrors, tilt and telescope on the steering column and audio system control.

2022 Rivian R1S
Photo: Rivian
Thanks to its rather conventional profile, the Rivian R1S offers an abundance of room for both passengers and cargo. The flat floor gives the interior a spacious feel and the first two rows have plenty of leg and headroom. The small third row is better suited to small children, although it can accommodate an adult on short trips.

If you have plenty of gear to haul, the R1S offers 17.6 cubic feet behind the third row, which expands to a respective 46.7 and 88.2 cubic feet of cargo area as the second and third rows are folded down. There’s also bonus storage of 11.1 cubic feet beneath the hood up front.

The Rivian starts at $78,000 for the standard battery pack dual motor model and moves up to $84,000 when the longer-range battery pack is added. Our top-of-the-line test vehicle with the quad motor arrangement and large battery pack has a base sticker of $92,000.

It may seem like an astronomical price, but in a world where luxury SUVs of this caliber often cross the $100k barrier, the 2022 Rivian R1S is a competitively priced and welcome alternative in this segment.
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