2023 Rivian R1S

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
July 6, 2022

Buying tip

You don’t really need 835 hp. Wait for the 600-hp Dual-Motor model and save some money.

The 2023 Rivian R1S brings the concept of the adventure SUV to the EV market with style, power, and incredible capability.

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Rivian R1S? What does it compare to?

A three-row electric SUV, the Rivian R1S is a look at the future of the family vehicle. It sports mid-size proportions and comes outfitted as an all-wheel-drive adventure vehicle along the lines of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Range Rover. EV rivals include the Audi E-Tron, Cadillac Lyriq, and Tesla Model Y and Model X.

Is the 2023 Rivian R1S a good SUV?

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It’s a fine all-around vehicle, with billy goat off-road capability, electric efficiency, room for up to seven passengers, and immense power. It earns a spectacular TCC Rating of 8.4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2023 Rivian R1S?

Everything. It’s new from the ground up for 2023, though it shares its powertrain and skateboard platform with the R1T pickup. It’s essentially the same from the B-pillars forward, but its wheelbase is 14.7 inches shorter and it’s 16.3 inches shorter overall. It also adds an SUV body and a third row of seats in lieu of a pickup bed.

Rivian’s styling makes the R1S look like it’s ready for adventure yet approachable. It’s tall and boxy, with full-width light signatures front and rear. A pair of oval headlights bisect the front light bar, and the nose has a bit of an underbite with a pair of tow hooks positioned like lower eye teeth. A clean side profile, with large wheels and haunches, adds a muscular, stable feel.

The four-motor powertrain puts two motors on each axle to provide both all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. It makes a total of 835 hp and 908 lb-ft of torque. Powered by a 135-kw battery pack, it launches the R1S from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds and provides 7,700 lb of towing capacity. Future models will offer larger and smaller batteries, as well as a two-motor powertrain with about 600 hp.

It comes with a standard air suspension that varies the ground clearance between 9.5 and 15.0 inches, as well as a linked hydraulic anti-roll system similar to that used in McLaren supercars. Nine drive modes control the ride height, ride quality, throttle response, and stability control, and Rivian offers two regen modes that always apply some brake regeneration when the driver lets off the throttle. A tall ride height gives the R1S some jiggle and lean, but it’s mostly well controlled thanks to the relatively low center of gravity caused by the low-set battery pack. The ride is smooth, even with the available 22-inch wheels.

Inside, the R1S can accommodate seven adults, but second- and third-row passengers will lobby for leg room, and the far back folks will sit knees up. The driver monitors a pair of large screens for gauges and infotainment/vehicle controls. Entertainment options do not include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The look is simple, and the R1S uses sustainable materials that look good and are well assembled.

How much does the 2023 Rivian R1S cost?

Rivian enacted a big price hike before the R1S even hit the market. To start, the R1S comes only with the Quad-Motor AWD powertrain, Rivian’s Large pack battery, and the Adventure package. The starting price is $91,075, and it includes vegan upholstery that approximates the look of leather, a 23-speaker sound system by Meridian, a wi-fi hotspot, navigation, FM radio only, a removable camp speaker, a panoramic sunroof, and 21-inch alloy wheels. With the Explore Package, Dual-Motor powertrain, and the Standard Pack battery, all due later, the starting price will drop as low as $73,575.

It also comes with a full load of safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, and a driver-assist system that can take over the controls on mapped highways.

Where is the 2023 Rivian R1S made?

In Normal, Illinois.

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2023 Rivian R1S

Styling

The 2023 Rivian R1S has a welcoming but purposeful look that fits with its off-road prowess.

Is the Rivian R1S a good-looking SUV?

Like the related R1T, the R1S sports an unmistakable and purposeful look. Its squared-off profile fits with its incredible off-road ability and gives it plentiful interior space. The cockpit uses recycled materials and two large screens in the vein of many new EVs. We rate it an 8, adding two points for its exterior and one for the interior.

The R1S and R1T share a design from the B-pillars forward. They feature a nose with a top bar of lights, bisected by oval headlights with a happy vibe. The Adventure package features a pair of front tow hooks, and they team with the available 20-inch all-terrain tires to make the R1S look even more ready for off-road duty. The sides have little detail, other than a lower character line, wider hips, and flush door handles that pop out for use. The upright rear has a full-length taillight strip that echoes in red what the front light bar does in white.

The cabin exudes a modern, electric take on luxury. It features a recycled micro-fiber headliner, vegan upholstery styled like leather, and flooring made out of Chilewich, a material used for placemats that’s durable and easy to hose off. Like other EVs, it’s also rife with technology and large screens. A 12.3-inch screen sits in front of the driver and a 15.6-inch touchscreen dominates the center of the dash and controls many of the vehicle functions.

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2023 Rivian R1S

Performance

The Rivian R1S is a lightning-quick adventure vehicle.

Is the Rivian R1S 4WD?

The 2023 Rivian R1S comes exclusively with a quad-motor powertrain with two motors on each axle that provide all-wheel drive and rear torque vectoring.

How fast is the Rivian R1S?

It’s blazingly fast with its most advanced Quad-Motor powertrain, which is the only way to get a 2023 model. The four motors combine to spit out 835 hp and 908 lb-ft of torque. Rivian quotes a 0-60 mph time around three seconds, despite a three-and-a-half ton curb weight, but the top speed is limited to just 110 mph. The SUV’s electric torque is more immediate than any internal combustion engine, and the copious torque makes passing as simple as a slight throttle kick at any speed. The R1S earns two points for its immense power and another for billy goat off-road capability for a total of 8.

Regenerative braking is always at play in the R1S. Standard mode applies a little more 0.2 g of braking whenever the driver lets go of the throttle, while High mode applies just over 0.3 g, both of which provide immediate drag that can bring the vehicle to a stop. Any time the driver hits the brakes the vehicle only uses the mechanical brakes, so there is no awkward hand-off between the two.

The R1S comes with nine drive modes, five of which are standard modes and four others that work as subsets of the Off-Road mode. The latter include All-Terrain, Soft Sand, Rock Crawl, Rally, and Drift.

Rivian outfits the R1S with a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link independent rear suspension with air springs at all four corners and a hydraulic roll control system like one used by the supercar maker McLaren. In fact, McLaren engineers worked on it. Instead of anti-roll bars, the hydraulic system helps mitigate body lean, which is important in such a tall vehicle. Each drive mode has an associated ground clearance, and some modes allow use of additional clearances. The standard height in All-Purpose mode is a rather tall 11.5 inches, though that can be somewhat deceiving because, as an EV, the R1S has no differentials or mufflers to hang down underneath.

The ride height lowers to 10.1 inches in Conserve modes, and it can drop to a low of 9.5 inches in Sport mode, which is still an inch taller than the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s standard ground clearance. Rock Crawl mode raises it to 13.1 inches and drivers can pick a taller mode that takes it all the way up to 15.0 inches. It takes a few seconds to pump up the ride height when the taller modes are chosen.

Even with the 22-inch wheels, the R1S always offers a smooth ride. However, with a wheelbase a foot shorter than the R1T, the R1S isn’t quite as composed. It’s more prone to jiggling and side-to-side motions, but it’s still comfortable. Sport mode is preferable on road because it lowers the ride height and stiffens the suspension to do a better job of controlling those movements.

R1S off-road capability

Without those dangly bits underneath, the R1S has an advantage off-road because it can clear higher obstacles, especially with its very tall 15.0-inch ground clearance. The Adventure trim, which is all you can get this year, also has reinforced underbody panels to better protect against bottoming out. The immediate torque of an EV powertrain isn’t a problem either, as some of the off-road modes, especially Rock Crawl, dull throttle response. That’s further aided by the High regen mode, which helps drivers go slow and steady when needed, stopping easily during tricky maneuvers, such as when crawling slowly downhill or over rocks. Here, regen is effectively a low-gear crawl mode.

The R1S’s design also gives it an off-road advantage versus the already capable R1T. The short front overhang, shorter wheelbase, and SUV design give it a 35.6-degree approach angle, a 34.3-degree departure angle, and a 29.6-degree breakover angle, all of which are competitive with the best off-road SUVs. It also boasts more than three feet of water fording capability, which is very deep.

In addition to its off-road prowess, the R1S can tow 7,700 lb, as much as a V-8 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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2023 Rivian R1S

Comfort & Quality

The Rivian R1S has lots of space and cool cargo features.

The R1S makes good use of its space for people and cargo, offers cool features, and comes decked out in high quality, modern materials. That earns it a 9 here.

The R1S’s front row has plenty of room in every dimension, and front riders sit on comfortable seats with 8-way power adjustments. While the seat adjustments are handled via controls on the sides of the seat bottoms, the power telescoping steering wheel and side mirrors are controlled through the touchscreen. It’s not too hard to find those controls, though, as a touch of the seat controls brings them up on the screen.

The second row slides forward and back via handles along the seat bottoms or buttons at shoulder level to provide good leg room to go with its generous head room, and three can fit across better than in most SUVs. However, second-row leg room gets tight when anyone sits in the third row. Adults could fit in all seven seats, but second- and third-row leg room will shrink, and perhaps disappear when anyone in any position is 6-foot or taller. Like all SUVs, the third row also has low-set seat bottoms that lack the thigh support needed for comfort on longer trips.

The R1S’s greatest strength is its cargo space and utility. It has a decent 17.6 cubic feet of storage space behind its third row, and that’s supplemented by an 11.1-cubic foot front trunk, albeit with a high liftover.

Flip down the third-row seats using handles on the outer edges of the seat backs and the R1S opens up 46.7 cubic feet of cargo space, and that expands to a healthy 88.2 cubes with the second and third rows folded down. The third-row seats fold 

Rivian makes the cargo area more usable with four movable tie-downs on tracks, two 120-volt power outlets, a split tailgate, and an air compressor to pump up bike tires and such. Rivian even provides a portable “camp” speaker in the center console that can pump out the tunes for a tailgate party.

The cabin’s modern textures look high-end and they are well assembled and quite functional. A few too many of the controls are run through the center screen, though, including the air vents, and the adjustments for the outside mirrors and steering wheel.

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2023 Rivian R1S

Safety

Rivian packs the R1S with safety features, but it hasn’t been crash tested yet.

How safe is the Rivian R1S?

The R1S has a wide range of safety features, but neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested it yet. We’ll wait until those ratings come in to give it a score here.

Rivian outfits the R1S with nine exterior cameras, one interior camera, 12 ultrasonic sensors, four corner radar units, and one forward radar unit to give it a full boat of active safety features. It comes standard with adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic high beams. It also has a surround-view camera system and front and rear parking sensors.

Rivian’s Driver+ system works much like Cadillac’s Super Cruise to operate the steering, brakes, and throttle on mapped highways. While it requires hands on the wheel, they are detected either by torque sensors or haptic feedback, which requires the driver to only touch the wheel, not apply torque to it.

The upright body shape gives the R1S excellent outward vision.

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2023 Rivian R1S

Features

The 2023 Rivian R1S is pricey, but it’s also loaded up with features, technology, and capability.

A price change before it arrived sapped the R1S’s value, but it’s still well equipped, has good in-vehicle technology, and comes with a generous warranty to earn an 8 here.

The Rivian R1S is currently only offered in Adventure trim, but a more affordable Explore version is due this model year. Both currently only come with the  Large Pack battery and the Quad-Motor AWD powertrain. 

Standard equipment with the Explore package includes navigation, a camp speaker, a wi-fi hotspot, a panoramic sunroof, an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, vegan leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, an onboard air compressor, and 21-inch alloy wheels with low-rolling resistance all-season tires. 

Some of the features it lacks are notable, namely AM or satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Rivian figures drivers will use the built-in Spotify and TuneIn apps to access AM radio and other audio choices.

Gear Guard also comes standard. It uses four of the cameras to take videos if anyone comes near the SUV when you are away from it. The videos can be loaded to a thumb drive and presented to the police in the instance of theft or vandalism.

Rivian’s standard warranty is a good 5 years or 60,000 miles with 8-years/175,000-mile coverage for the battery pack and powertrain, but it doesn’t include any maintenance.

Which Rivian R1S should I buy?

Anyone who orders now won’t get their R1S until late 2023, so buyers can be more practical and order the Dual-Motor Explore model set to arrive in 2024. It will have “only” about 600 hp, which is still more than enough, and it will save you plenty of money. It will cost $73,575 if it arrives with the Standard Pack or $79,575 with the Large Pack.

How much is a fully loaded Rivian R1S?

Rivian is launching the R1S in its maxed-out Adventure trim configuration, which throws the full kit at the SUV and costs $91,075. The Launch Edition version with special Launch Green paint is no longer available. The Adventure package adds front tow hooks, cooled front seats, a 23-speaker Meridian sound system, ash wood interior trim, and reinforced underbody panels. A 180-kwh Max pack battery will add $6,000 when it arrives in the first half of 2023. The 20- and 22-inch wheels and tires also add either $2,500 or $3,500.

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2023 Rivian R1S

Fuel Economy

Large and heavy, the R1S still manages to exceed 300 miles of electric range.

Is the Rivian R1S efficient?

The Rivian R1S’s 135-kwh battery pack gives it 316 miles of electric driving range. 

The MPGe ratings aren’t nearly as efficient as lighter vehicles. The EPA rates it 73 MPGe city, 65 highway, 69 combined, and it averages 2.04 miles per kwh, which is down by about a third compared to smaller EV crossovers such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E. That earns it a 9 here.

The range also depends on wheel and tire choice. It gets the full 316 miles with the 21-inch low-rolling resistance tires. Opt for the 20-inch all-terrains and it loses 20 miles of range, while the 22s cut 20 miles of range.

The R1S uses a 400-volt architecture that the company says allows DC fast-charging of up to 220 kwh. Rivian claims it can accept 16 miles of charge per hour from a Level 2 240-volt outlet.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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8.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 9
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