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2022 Rivian R1S

Driven: Electric Rivian R1S Is an All-In-One Performance Family SUV

The future of SUVs? It's electric

  • All-new electric SUV
  • EPA estimate of 316 miles of range
  • Blazing 0-60 mph acceleration in about 3 seconds
  • Seating for up to seven people

What is the R1S?

You like SUVs, right? They're pretty cool. But what if instead of having a carbon-emitting gasoline engine under the hood you made the whole thing electric? Enter the all-new 2022 Rivian R1S.

A complement to the R1T pickup, the 2022 Rivian R1S is an all-electric SUV with three rows of seating and serious off-road capability. It's about the same length as a Dodge Durango and is meant to do all the stuff you do normally with an SUV — commute to work, take your family up to the lake, call your best friend while stuck in traffic and complain about your inconsiderate in-laws — with no compromise in utility or performance. If anything, it improves on those aspects compared to the typical gasoline-powered SUV.

What does the R1S have for power?

At launch, the R1S will come with what Rivian describes as the Large battery pack and a four-motor setup — there's one motor powering each wheel, which means the R1S has standard all-wheel drive. Different batteries and two-motor setups will become available sometime in 2024.

This battery and motor combo produces a whopping 835 horsepower and 908 lb-ft of torque. With this high-horsepower setup, the R1S is righteously quick. Rivian says accelerating from 0 to 60 mph takes just 3 seconds, and we believe that claim is pretty realistic. That means this family-oriented SUV is just as quick, or even quicker, than dedicated performance SUVs such as the BMW X5 M.

How much range does the R1S have?

According to the EPA, the R1S in its launch configuration (four motors and the Large battery pack) will get 316 miles of range on a fully charged battery. In Edmunds' EV range testing, we've confirmed that the similar R1T pickup truck can match its range estimates with relative ease. Unfortunately, the heavy nature of such a large vehicle means it uses quite a bit of electricity for a given driven distance. The EPA's estimate for energy usage is 49 kWh per 100 miles. To put that in perspective, a Chevrolet Bolt EUV gets an EPA estimate of 29 kWh/100 miles, and a Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance gets an estimate of 41 kWh/100 miles. The lower the number here, the better and the less you'll pay to "fill up" your EV over time. And the R1S has one of the highest numbers of consumption for an EV to date.

Later on, the company says it will introduce additional versions, including a more affordable R1S with dual motors. This will have a Rivian-estimated 260-plus miles of range with the Standard battery or 320-plus miles with the Large battery.

Recharging can be done at home or at public charging stations. Rivian says the R1S can handle DC fast-charging capability of more than 200 kilowatts. That's quite quick and can potentially add up to 140 miles of range in 20 minutes, Rivian says. The company also offers its own 11.5-kW home charging station that it says can add up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging.

2022 Rivian R1S

Can the R1S go off-road?

Oh yes. The R1S' adjustable air suspension raises or lowers the vehicle's ride height to suit driving conditions. Fully raised for off-roading, the R1S has a maximum ground clearance of 15 inches. Off-road pickups such as the Ford F-150 Raptor have around 12 inches of ground clearance, so clearly there's a lot of potential there. And while it shares all of its suspension components with the R1T pickup truck, the R1S has a shorter wheelbase and less rear overhang, which means a better breakover angle and a better departure angle — so you're less likely to get it hung up on off-road obstacles like deep ruts or big rocks.

Adjustable drive modes is another cool aspect of the R1S. You can select modes such as Off-Road Soft Sand and Off-Road Rock Crawl that automatically adjust the SUV's suspension, power output and traction control settings to maximize its off-roading capabilities.

How comfortable is the R1S?

If you're in the driver's seat or riding shotgun, the R1S is extremely comfortable. Both front seats are well padded and road imperfections are shrugged off with ease. You can drive the R1S over the toughest of terrain and be relatively at peace on the inside. This is true off-road too, where the utter lack of powertrain noise contributes to an at-one-with-nature vibe. Disturbing nature in your gasoline-powered rock crawler? How dare you. The R1S feels more elegant in the mud, less disruptive and less stressful.

The second row of seating, however, is a bit less calming. Riding in the back seat of the R1S both on- and off-road, we discovered a bouncy ride that passengers will experience on anything but the smoothest terrain. There's also a bit of electric powertrain noise coming from underneath the seats that upsets the serenity of the experience. This bumpy ride is particularly noticeable when the R1S is equipped with its more aggressive all-terrain tires. So, if you don't plan on spending much time off-road, we recommend going with the pavement-oriented all-season tires for a better ride quality.

2022 Rivian R1S

How's the R1S' interior?

The R1S is a three-row SUV with seating for seven. The 60/40-split second-row seats and 50/50-split third-row seats can fold nearly flat, with a small step up from the rear cargo area for storage of large items. The seats are plenty comfortable and more than spacious enough in the second row for adults. The third-row seating is best for kids. A panoramic all-glass roof enhances the sense of airiness. However, there's no cover or screen for the roof, so you get direct sunlight midday whether you want to or not. Even through a tinted piece of glass, that can add to cabin heat.

Besides being spacious, the R1S' interior is seriously high-class. Initial build quality seems excellent, and there were no noticeable squeaks or rattles during our first drive of the R1S despite some serious off-roading and driving on poorly maintained roads. Upscale materials are used on almost every surface with soft padding for your elbows in all three rows. The interior design seems to focus on minimalism by doing away with buttons, and aesthetically, that's very pleasing. It can create a difficult learning curve for some cabin controls, but it certainly feels nice on the inside.

How's the R1S' tech?

As the interior centerpiece, there's a 15.6-inch horizontally oriented center touchscreen that controls almost all of the cabin's functions. For the driver, there's also a 12.3-inch information screen ahead of the steering wheel. Rivian says the R1S supports over-the-air update capability, which means it can automatically incorporate improvements or new features without you having to go to a dealership or service center. There's also onboard Wi-Fi, six USB-C charge ports and a wireless phone charger.

Connecting a smartphone requires that you use Bluetooth. There's no way to connect by USB, and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration isn't available. That means you can't display and use your phone's apps right on the center touchscreen like you can with most other vehicles. There's onboard navigation, music and other available features, but the lack of full smartphone integration is still a letdown.

Advanced driver aids are also here. Rivian calls its system Driver+. It's standard on the R1S and provides features such as adaptive cruise control (maintains a driver-set distance between the R1S and the car in front), a forward collision mitigation system (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios) and lane keeping assist (steers the R1S back into its lane if it begins to drift over the lane marker).

Rivian's lane keeping assist system is limited to specific mapped areas like larger freeways, so it might not function on smaller roads near home. We tried out the adaptive cruise control system and steering assist on a highway and found the systems to operate adequately. The adaptive cruise control system maintained a proper distance from the vehicle ahead, but the lane keeping assist turned off several times when it couldn't differentiate between an asphalt repair groove and a painted lane line on the highway. Hopefully over-the-air updates will improve this system in the future.

2022 Rivian R1S

How's the R1S' storage and towing?

There's a big front trunk that can hold 11 cubic feet of stuff; that's about the same size as a compact sedan's trunk. There's also a smaller rear storage bin that you can use to store or hide items. Several small storage spaces in the R1S' interior will help you organize your handheld stuff, including third-row cubbies that will easily fit an iPad and pop-out cupholders in the front row. Rivian says maximum cargo space is a substantial 104 cubic feet.

Rivian also says the R1S will be able to tow up to 7,700 pounds when properly equipped. That's similar to the capabilities of a midsize pickup or luxury SUV and enough to pull a decent-size travel trailer or boat. But based on our prior experience, we've learned that towing with an EV can be a challenge. The significant reductions in range while towing, plus the logistics of recharging while hooked up to a trailer, can put a damper on making long-distance towing a reality.

What are the R1S' trim levels?

While different versions of the R1S will be available in the years to come, the Launch Edition will be the first one to hit the market and to show up in customer driveways. On top of including the four-motor setup, the Launch Edition comes with the Large pack battery with an estimated range of 316 miles, 21-inch wheels with all-season tires, wood interior panels, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, an onboard air compressor and a power liftgate. Rivian also gives buyers a long list of optional adventure products in its gear shop including rooftop tents, off-road-oriented tires, reinforced underbody skid plates, tow hooks, an off-road recovery kit and various roof cross-bars.

2022 Rivian R1S

Edmunds says

The 2022 Rivian R1S has the space and capability to match existing gas-powered midsize three-row SUVs plus impressive acceleration and off-road ability. Comfortable seating, a high-tech interior and upscale materials will all keep the family happy on even the longest of road trips. While it might be worth considering the BMW iX or the Tesla Model X, only the R1S Rivian has the advantage of genuine off-road capability.

2022 Rivian R1S