Skip to main content

New Rivian R1S: Everything new in the second-gen model

Second-Gen Rivian R1S

The Rivian R1S is arguably the best large electric SUV out there, especially for those who want three rows of seats and are willing to pay a premium. The vehicle offers a rugged build, excellent software, a great range, and a sleek design. Only around two years after the original Rivian R1S began rolling out to first buyers, Rivian has launched a new, second-generation version of the vehicle.

But what’s actually different about the new Rivian R1S? At first glance, it more or less looks the same — so should you trade in your first-gen model for a new one? Here’s a look at everything new in the second-generation Rivian R1S.

Design and interior

The overall exterior design of the Rivian R1S is more or less the same. That’s a good thing. Personally, I love the look of Rivian’s cars, and plenty of others do too. It’s stylish without being too serious — and the buggy oval headlights on the front are unique and fun.

There are some minor design tweaks though. There are new wheels and tires available to the car, including new 22-inch aerodynamic wheels with a Pirelli-designed tire for increased range. There’s a performance-focused option too — a 22-inch wheel with an Ultra High-Performance Michelin tire, available on quad-motor versions of the vehicle.

Second-Gen Rivian R1S interior design

The frunk of the vehicle is a little smaller, and that seems to be owed to some components being moved from other areas of the vehicle to the front.

Also at the front are new lighting elements, including a new Adaptive Drive Beam feature that reduces glare automatically for oncoming drivers. And there’s a new RGB light feature that can use the front light bar to indicate things like charging status.

There are a number of interior design changes though. Rivian has released two entirely new premium interior designs, with new interior paint and new trim options. And, there’s now an electronically tinted glass roof, instead of the permanent tinting that came on the previous-generation’s glass roof. Rivian has also added new interior storage compartments, which fixes a major complaint of the interior of first-gen models.

Tech and infotainment

Perhaps the biggest changes come down to the tech under the hood. For example, there’s a new heat pump that Rivian says will warm the interior of the vehicle much faster than the previous-generation model, while using less energy.

There are more convenient ways to get into the car too. Rivian has added new ultra-wideband support to the vehicle, allowing Apple users to use Apple Car Key in the Apple Wallet app. This feature is also available on select Pixel phones, and is expected to roll out to more Android phones in the future.

Second-Gen Rivian R1S infotainment system

There’s new tech powering the infotainment system and software too. Rivian has reduced the number of electronic control units, or ECUs, to only seven — down from 17 in the first-gen model. At the same time, it has improved on the computational performance of each of these ECUs.

The software has new design elements too, including a new drive mode screen that runs on Unreal Engine for stunning visuals. Other new software features are bundled into a subscription that Rivian calls Connect+. The subscription will get you access to video streaming through Google Cast, along with the ability to sign into many content subscriptions, like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Alexa.

Even the wiring in the Rivian R1S has been refined. According to Rivian, the vehicle’s new electrical architecture has allowed Rivian to cut 44 pounds of weight in wiring alone, which can help improve the range of the car while also reducing production costs.

Second-Gen Rivian R1S front seats

Rivian is taking its autonomous driving system a little more seriously too. The new R1S has 11 cameras and five radars dotted around it, and the system can perform 250 trillion operations per second (TOPS). Rivian puts this into context by claiming that the cameras can see 10 seconds ahead at highway speeds, which is very impressive, and gives the car plenty of time to make critical decisions.

Rivian is following Tesla’s lead in capitalizing on its self-driving tech too. The company has launched Rivian Autonomy Platform+, which is a premium version of its autonomous tech. For now, Rivian says that the features in the tech will be available at no additional cost, with the first new feature being a Lane Change on Command feature, which will be available via a software update in the summer. More features will roll out, and I expect Rivian will start charging for them at some point soon.


Second-Gen Rivian R1S on a road

There are new performance options on offer by the Rivian R1S too. The vehicle is still available in a dual-motor variant, which can deliver 665 horsepower, and accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds, if you go for the Performance variant.

New for the second-gen model is a new tri-motor variant powered by Rivian’s new drive unit, which delivers 850 horsepower, and gets to 60mph in a very quick 2.9 seconds. And there’s also a new quad-motor version, which offers 1,025 horsepower and reaches 60mph in only 2.5 seconds. That’s huge for such a big, heavy vehicle. The tri- and quad-motor versions of the car even have a launch mode, and offer Rivian’s new drive unit that houses two motors and is used in the rear of the tri-motor version and both the front and rear of the quad-motor version.

Range and charging

The Rivian R1S continues to offer a solid range, though it’s not all that different from pervious models.

The base model of the R1S is a dual-motor variant with the Standard battery, and it’ll get 270 miles of range. Step up to the “Large” battery, and you’ll get 330 miles, while the “Max” battery gets a hefty 410 miles. The tri-motor version only comes with the Max battery pack and offers 380 miles of range. The quad-motor variant also only comes with the Max battery; however, we don’t yet know its range. We can expect it’ll be lower than the 380-mile tri-motor R1S, but hopefully not too much lower.

Pricing and availability

Along with the new features, Rivian has raised the price of the R1S a little. The new version of the vehicle now starts at $75,900, which is for the dual-motor Standard battery R1S. Prices range up from there, to $105,900 for the tri-motor variant. We don’t yet know final pricing for the quad-motor R1S.

Deliveries of the new R1S vary a little depending on the version of the vehicle you go for. The dual-motor variants will start shipping between August and September, while the tri-motor variant will ship between September and October. The quad-motor R1S, according to Rivian, will begin deliveries in 2025, but we don’t yet know when in 2025.

Overall, the improvements to the R1S are meaningful and helpful — and while we would have preferred no price bump, the vehicle is still the best electric SUV in its price range.

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
Rivian R1T electric pickup to roll out June 2021 as Illinois factory sets up
rivian r1t electric pickup truck mb 4

The Rivian R1T electric pickup truck will start rolling out to customers in June 2021, with the R1S electric SUV to follow a couple of months later in August 2021.

Rivian revealed when the deliveries for the two electric vehicles will start in an email sent to prospective customers, TechCrunch reported, with the dates confirmed to Digital Trends by a company spokesperson. The email was the first to provide a specific window for the release of the R1T and R1S, for which production was supposed to start this year but was delayed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more
The electric Rivian R1T pickup will be able to pull a 180 like a tank
Rivian R1T on a beach

Rivian has developed a "tank-turn" function that will give the R1T the ability to perform a 180-degree turn on its own axis, without moving forward or backward. The truck's quad-motor electric drivetrain makes this cool feature possible.

Most tanks can spin around because their left and right tracks are individually operated. Spinning the tracks on one side forward while simultaneously putting the ones on the other side in reverse allows the vehicle to rotate on its own axis. Cars can't do this because all four wheels turn in the same direction -- you're either in drive or in reverse, not both.

Read more
New Rivian video showcases its electric trucks’ camping credentials
Rivian R1T

Cooking in the Wild

Rivian is far from the only startup developing high-end electric vehicles. But instead of a sports car or luxury sedan, Rivian decided to build a pickup truck and SUV with genuine off-road capability. What do you do with that kind of vehicle? You take it camping, of course.

Read more