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Mercedes-Benz G580 vs Rivian R1S: rugged electric SUVs, compared

Range of Mercedes-Benz G580 vehicles
Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has finally unveiled the long-rumored and heavily teased electric G-Wagon. The new vehicle, officiallydubbed the “G580 with EQ Technology,” retains the beloved design of the G-Wagon, but with an interior refresh and, more importantly, an all-electric powertrain. But the vehicle goes up against tough competition — especially in the rugged electric SUV space. Perhaps the most-loved electric SUV so far is the Rivian R1S, a three-row SUV from a new startup that, for many, is the go-to option above a certain price range.

Now, of course, there are some big differences between the two vehicles. But is one better than the other? Here’s a look at the Mercedes-Benz G580 and the Rivian R1S, head-to-head.

Design

The designs of these two vehicles is radically different, but they do have some similarities. They’re both boxy and square, and are high enough off the ground to allow for some off-roading.

The front three-quarter view of a 2022 Rivian against a rocky backdrop.
Rivian

But that’s about where the similarities end. The Mercedes-Benz G580 retains that classic, rugged G-Wagon look, with a flat roof and barely a single curved line. It’s a good look. At the front of the car, you’ll find a refreshed grille with the Mercedes-Benz logo in the center and a few slots for air intake. It’s flanked by two circular headlights. Its dimensions come in at 182 inches long, 76 inches wide, and 78 inches high.

The Rivian R1S is a completely different beast. It doesn’t necessarily draw from a classic SUV — instead offering an all-new design that has become an instant hit. It has Rivian’s signature oval headlights on the front, with a large long light bar across the back. It’s also quite angular and square, though there aren’t quite as many sharp corners as on the Mercedes — it instead offers slightly rounded ones. The Rivian is larger than the G580 too. It measures in at a huge 201 inches long, 82 inches wide, and 77 inches high. If you’re looking for big, the Rivian is a better option.

Winner: Tie

Interior and tech

The differences extend to the interior too. The G580’s interior looks like a mash-up between other Mercedes-Benz EVs and the previous-generation G-Wagon. There’s a generally rugged vibe to it, with large handles and sporty-looking seats, but the car also offers a dual display setup at the front for infotainment and instrument monitoring, and there’s bright accent lighting throughout. The infotainment display sits in at 12.3 inches, and it offers support for CarPlay and Android Auto. You’ll get an option for a Burmester 3D surround sound system that supports Dolby Atmos.

Interior of the Mercedes-Benz G580
Mercedes-Benz

The interior of the Rivian R1S is also modern-rugged. The car has tough seat coverings and large displays for both instrument monitoring and infotainment, with the main infotainment display ciming in at a hefty 15.6 inches. Unfortunately, it does not support Android Auto and CarPlay — however, Rivian’s software is generally quite well-designed, especially compared to most of the legacy automakers. The interior of the R1S also offers something that the G580 doesn’t have — three rows of seats. This is a big deal for those with larger families or who want to be able to lug around more than five people — and it may put the R1S ahead for a set of buyers.

Winner: Tie

Performance

Both the R1S and the G580 are set to be powerful vehicles, but they offer slightly different features. The current iteration of the R1S is available in dual- and quad-motor variants, with a so-called “Performance Dual-Motor” version in-between. All variants are all-wheel drive, with the base dual-motor version accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and the quad-motor variant reaching that speed in only 3.0 seconds.

The 2022 Rivian R1S electric SUV's interior.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

The G580 is no slouch, but it doesn’t quite reach the level of performance of the R1S. Notably, the car is a quad-motor vehicle, no matter what trim you get. It delivers 579 horsepower and 859 lb-ft of torque, translating to a 0 to 60 time of 4.6 seconds.

Perhaps more importantly than the basic acceleration speed is the fact that the vehicle offers some interesting features for off-roading. It has a G-steering function that allows it to rotate on its axis, and it has virtual differential locking, allowing power to be routed to the individual wheels that need it to provide better traction.

The Rivian is faster, but the G580 has more performance-related features. This one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Range and charging

The cars are quite different when it comes to range and charging. The Mercedes-Benz G580 builds on Mercedes’ experience with making electric cars, but it prioritizes performance over range. To that end, the vehicle only delivers a range of 240 miles, which is a little lower than we would have liked. It charges at up to 200 kilowatts via DC fast charging, and Mercedes-Benz says it’ll get from 10% to 80% in a little over 30 minutes.

Mercedes-Benz G580 on a hill
Mercedes-Benz

The Rivian is a little better in the areas of range and charging. The lowest-range R1S is the dual-motor model with the Standard battery pack, and it delivers 270 miles. The longest-range is the Performance Dual-Motor model with the Max battery pack, which delivers an impressive 400 miles of range. Even the lowest-range model of the R1S has a longer range than the G580. The R1S charges at up to 220kW, which isn’t as fast as we might have liked, but it is slightly faster than the G580.

Winner: Rivian

Price and availability

The Rivian R1S is available now, and you can reserve one for yourself. It starts at $74,900, and ranges up from there depending on the range and performance options you go for.

The G580 is a little different. Mercedes has announced the vehicle, but it hasn’t yet announced exactly when it’ll go on sale, or exactly how much it’ll cost. It’s said to have a starting price of between $150,000 and $200,000 — so it’s likely to be much more expensive than the Rivian R1S. Still, considering we don’t yet know how much it will end up costing, this one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Conclusion

The Rivian R1S is generally a better vehicle. It’s bigger, has a third row, has a longer range, charges faster, and performs better. But, those things aren’t necessarily why you might buy a G-Wagon. The G-Wagon, for one, does have some interesting off-roading features — but more important is the fact that it has a certain style. If you’re wondering which vehicle is better, go for the Rivian R1S — but if you already know you want a G580, you probably won’t be disappointed when you buy one.

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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…
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