2025 Rivian R1S First Drive Review: Cutting-Edge Again

Rivian R1S electric SUV splashes through mud puddle.
Rivian R1S electric SUV splashes through mud puddle.

You can’t tell by looking at them, but the model-year 2025 Rivian R1S SUV and its longer-wheelbase pickup truck counterpart the R1T have significant updates you can appreciate behind the wheel. New motors, new suspension, plus wiring and software changes make these already-excellent electric vehicles better to drive and ride in.

Rivian is calling the 2025 R1s its “second generation.” That’s a little wack and inconsistent with industry vernacular in my humble opinion, but I guess such distinctions are kind of arbitrary anyway. Maybe somebody wanted to be able to tell investors “Look, we made it to generation two!”

Corporate operational improvements are, in fact, a significant theme in 2025 Rivians. Namely: This version of the vehicle is easier to build. By consolidating some of the R1’s computer systems, essentially packing more functions into fewer control units, assembly is quicker and fewer parts are used. More than a mile and a half of wiring and a wheelbarrow’s worth of various computers are chucked out with this version of the R1S and R1T.

Fewer things to connect and install on the assembly line means plus manufacturing efficiency, minus operating costs. Theoretically, such changes could improve serviceability too. Indeed, one of Rivian’s reps showed me a chunky control unit mounted by the battery that replaced two even bigger pieces on the previous vehicle. “Accessing these used to be an eight-hour job, now it only takes one.” That’s encouraging.


Servicing is where I have the most skepticism about super high-tech off-roaders. The 2025 R1S and T don’t even have physical fuses anymore—super-tiny fuses that live inside microchips do the job of voltage protection now. These “eFuses” are certainly not unheard of in computing but I can’t say I’ve seen them in a car before.

Rivian’s people are, of course, adamant that the consolidation of computer functions won’t translate to multi-system malfunction spillover should something fail. The Luddite in me sees five computers doing the job that 20 used to and I think “doesn’t that mean one thing breaking will lead to three adjacent issues,” but systems are supposedly still segregated enough to avoid this.

If problems do arise they can be diagnosed, and sometimes even resolved, over the air. And since so many of a Rivian’s systems talk to each other, you get a much more holistic assessment than you would trying to describe a car’s problems with sound effects from your mouth on the phone with the AAA guy. But I was relieved to learn that local offline diagnosis is also possible and that there’s still an OBD port you can plug into.

New Tricks and Functionality

The 2025 Rivian R1 has some quicker max-acceleration claims than last year’s model, but the most user-appreciable improvements are in the vehicle’s ride quality. Both the smoothness of the suspension and general noise, vibration, and harshness in the cabin felt very inoffensive for an off-road capable machine with this much weight.

I can’t say I really had a problem with the R1S’s ride when I first drove it in 2022, but there did seem to be less head-swaying and lingering aftershocks from potholes and speed bumps in the 2025 truck. More than a couple of my colleagues from other publications validated my impressions. Tom Moloughney from State Of Charge, who actually owns the previous R1S and drives it regularly, went so far as to call the new vehicle’s ride “much better.” I know he wasn’t blowing smoke because we weren’t even within earshot of any PR reps.

It makes sense—Rivian’s adjustments in this area were significant. While the suspension hardpoints are the same, damping settings, bushings, motor mounts, drive modes, and behavior of the novel hydraulic antiroll unit have all been tweaked.

I wouldn’t say the ride is quite as silky smooth as what you might expect in a six-figure luxury sedan; the post-pothole bounce still lingers in some situations. But for a 6,000-pound SUV, I have no real complaints about chassis comfort. What’s really more impressive, though, is the range of personalities granted by the R1S’s unique underpinnings and intelligent calibration.

<em>Andrew P. Collins</em>
Andrew P. Collins

The R1S’s behavior changes dramatically between modes. In All-Purpose mode, it’s comfy and responsive. In Sport, it’s sharp. And the off-road settings really let it shine. Rally mode with stability control partially engaged makes the vehicle almost unsettlingly easy to drive like an absolute maniac and quickly reel it back to friendly behavior. Drift mode with stability control off rewards more right-foot bravery with ridiculous slides. More on that in a few paragraphs.

A unique hydraulic anti-roll system also plays a big part in the R1’s breadth of behaviors. Instead of using physical sway bars connecting the left and right sides, Rivian runs fluid. The pressure of that fluid can be changed, essentially giving the vehicle an almost infinitely adjustable anti-roll characteristics. In sporty modes, the pressure cranks up giving you the effect of a super-stiff sway bar. In comfort modes, it relaxes, and can even effectively disconnect for maximum articulation.

You won't sneak up on any animals driving like this, but sometimes rally driving is more fun than safari. <em>Andrew P. Collins</em>
You won't sneak up on any animals driving like this, but sometimes rally driving is more fun than safari. Andrew P. Collins

There are also some great updates to the user interface, which you’ll be able to appreciate no matter how quickly you’re inclined to melt the R1’s expensive tires. The main gauge cluster and menu environment has adopted a modern cel shading-style animation aesthetic that’s really cute and clean. Made utilizing the help of Epic Games and the Unreal engine, Rivian infotainment and dash controls now have a cartoonish vibe that feels very 2024. If you’re already driving a Rivian, you’ll be able to get this update too as an over-the-air download.

I already mentioned that the exterior design is basically unchanged. “We love the face we have created, and don’t have any intention of moving away from that,” said Rivian’s main designer Jeff Hammoud. But there are some changes to the wheel selection. The 21-inch option is gone, but you can now get this cool monoblock-looking 22s with a detachable aero disc.

And while certain trims will ship with certain wheels, Rivian’s people confirmed you can buy wheels separately to pick your preference or update an older model. I asked about moving to smaller ones to make room for more tire sidewall, but a 19-incher is the smallest that will fit over the brake “and even that’s cutting it close,” I was told.

New Motors and Batteries

Rivian’s people told me that reducing noise was a top priority for this revision of the vehicle’s motors. They still managed to make the vehicle faster, too. Batteries have been made more efficient using new chemistry.

Practically speaking, here’s how they break out from a power and performance perspective.


Total Horsepower

Total Torque

0-60 Claim

We'll have to wait for more real-world testing before we can speak comprehensively about charging speeds, but Rivian claims it can "add 140 miles of range in about 20 minutes," though of course that will depend on many factors. The R1 is CCS native, and NACS (Tesla) compatible with an adapter for DC charging.

Here are the list prices for R1S and R1T models slated to come out this year. I would expect there to be destination charges added to these, plus of course your tax, title, and registration costs. The quad-motor variant will probably not be available until a month or two into the 2025 calendar year.



R1T Truck

Driving Experience: Dual-Motor vs Tri-Motor vs Quad Motor

We established that Rivian has three motor configurations, which are effectively the R1 trim levels. Speed increases as you add motors, ranging from practical to preposterous.

I spent a little time in the base dual-motor on the road, the tri-motor on- and off-road, and in the quad-motor on a prepared drag strip. Reserving the right to re-assess with more seat time, I’ll say that the “slowest” is plenty powerful. It felt totally confident, competent, and even quick when I asked it to be. The tri will be the most fun if you can afford it, and the quad only makes sense if you have a burning desire to own the best of everything… or an unquenchable thirst to reign absolute terror at red lights and roads resembling rally stages.

Booting the right pedal in the dual-motor gets you merged expediently. Unless they own high-end EVs or supercars, your passengers will think “Wow, that’s quicker than I expected a nearly silent three-row SUV to be.” Launching in the tri-motor is exhilarating. Woo-hoos will be incited easily, even without activating launch control. The quad, claiming a quarter-mile in under 11 seconds, can produce roller coaster acceleration forces that leave stomachs behind and jaws unhinged.

Rivian’s official stats are 2.9 seconds to 60 mph with a tri-motor and 2.5 in a quad. The company’s vehicle dynamics lead Luke Lynch told me he’d clocked an unofficial 2.43-second(!) sprint to 60. I did two pulls in two quad-motor 2025 Rivians, clocking 3.2 seconds to 60 in an R1S and 2.7 in an R1T. That was on a super-sticky prepped race track with factory PS5 ultra-high-performance tires. The first, slower run felt fun; the sub-3-second run was a little tough on the guts. Having driven more cars than I can count, I reckon 0 to 60 around five seconds feels fast, around four feels really fast, and around 3 is viscerally uncomfortable. But some people are into that.

I think we can acknowledge the irony in a company that crows about social responsibility and also gamifies driving like a lunatic. I'm sure this launch control mode will only be used at sanctioned race tracks. Yep. <em>Andrew P. Collins</em>
I think we can acknowledge the irony in a company that crows about social responsibility and also gamifies driving like a lunatic. I'm sure this launch control mode will only be used at sanctioned race tracks. Yep. Andrew P. Collins

I don’t doubt that the vehicle can do 2.5, but as a consumer, you should understand that those times can vary a lot depending on how quickly you get your foot off the brake and what kind of conditions you’re driving in, even using the launch control system to walk you through the four-step blast-off: (wheel straight, hold brake, hold throttle, release brake.

But raw acceleration is not the only advantage of having more motors. When the vehicle’s able to control power to the wheels individually, it can do more precise torque vectoring which will get you better control in corners and off-road situations. And that can come in handy a lot more often than breakneck sprinting speeds from a stop.

Off-Road and Rally Driving

I was able to take a few short laps with tri-motor R1S SUVs, as both a passenger and driver, around various stages and obstacles at the famous DirtFish rally school outside Seattle. I learned one thing I expected: Low-speed crawling traction is very good with all-terrain tires. The R1S tri plodded through deep puddles and clambered over major dirt lumps without drama. What surprised me was the vehicle’s eagerness to fling itself sideways, and the ease with which it could be reeled back in, in Rally and Drift modes.

<em>Andrew P. Collins</em>
Andrew P. Collins

On a W-shaped dirt loop in light rain, I was able to step the R1S’s tail out so effortlessly that it was honestly kind of weird. After, like, three turns and 30 seconds of driving I was able to casually link drifts! I mean, we’re talking about a three-ton, three-row machine here and I’m no Ken Block.

But even after just a few minutes of familiarization, I felt like I could toss the thing around with enough confidence to try pulling stunts with my wife onboard. And impressing your love interest is the real reason we buy vehicles like this in the first place, right?

For real, though. It was almost like the right pedal was linearly controlling the yaw—power and countersteering increased the height of the roost, and gently lifting immediately returned the SUV to civility.

And my old Montero feels closer to rolling over on an off-ramp at five mph below the speed limit than the new R1S did flinging dirt on free tires at full tilt.

Where I’ll Scrutinize

I noticed a few pieces of skewed plastic on several test cars that Rivian’s reps would write off as pre-production imperfections. I’m not talking about egregious panel-fitment issues, just some trim that looked a little more wiggly than I’d like. The quad-motor R1S we launched at the drag strip looked like it’d been painted in a rush and was already shedding weatherstripping from the roof. But I’m not really inclined to hold that against the company; that particular rig’s already had a hard life as a test buggy.

What I did find mildly annoying was the responsiveness of some controls and displays. The R1S’s rear hatch is powered, but it takes just a smidge too long to lift after you hit the button. Much worse: Rivian’s moved to a push-button interior door exit rather than a mechanical lever—one of the most loathsome trends in the car biz right now. Instead of just pulling a handle like we’ve been doing since Tin Lizzie, you’ve got to hit a button, wait for a micro-moment, and then the door opens. It’s fast, but it’s non-instantaneous enough to be irksome. And there were at least a couple of instances where I’m sure I hit the button but it didn’t register. Automakers, please, just leave the mechanical linkages here.

Rivian added some nice stitching to the interior door cards for this version. But these opener-buttons can go to hell. The physical lever is still in place on the front doors, apparently as an emergency redundancy, which makes the button feel even dumber. <em>Andrew P. Collins</em>
Rivian added some nice stitching to the interior door cards for this version. But these opener-buttons can go to hell. The physical lever is still in place on the front doors, apparently as an emergency redundancy, which makes the button feel even dumber. Andrew P. Collins

Another thing I couldn’t adapt to in a day of test driving was the ergonomic setup between the steering wheel, center screen, and my seating position. I could not find a position that didn’t have the steering wheel partially eclipsing the main gauge cluster. It didn’t make the car undrivable, but it was odd. Especially since I’m six feet tall, a height a lot of automotive ergonomics tend to be optimized for.

The large center screen is flat against the dash to allow equal access for driver and passenger, which makes sense. I found it, somehow, not quite compatible with where my eyes wanted to land when looking for information. It’s not something you’d necessarily need to look at often, but there was enough of a strain to bother me.

That said, the UI is nice and I do really like both the aesthetic and breadth of info available in the main screen.

I only saw two UI hiccups between test-driving a handful of R1Ss. At one point the navigation deleted the blue highlighting on the route I was on, and at another, as I scrolled through the ambient lighting options, the little on-screen animations skipped some frames glitching just enough to break their spell of coolness.

As far as back and butt comfort, the seats are good, not great. Though they do look awesome.

Early Verdict: A Good SUV Got Better

Rivian has made some meaningful and appreciable updates to the already-cool R1 for 2025. It rides better, the UI is nicer, and it’s been physiologically simplified. The design’s aging well and will continue to do so. Rivian’s accomplished something truly impressive in creating a look that’s both minimalist and characterful—two concepts that are difficult to marry. It also looks distinctive and powerful without being aggressive or obnoxious, another tight line to walk.

<em>Andrew P. Collins</em>
Andrew P. Collins

Dual-motor units should be available to buy by the time you’re reading this, with tri-motors expected to come out in August and quad-motors (price TBA, but it’ll be high) slated for early calendar year 2025. But it holds its own against other luxury SUVs and flat-out smokes them in some categories. Good luck flinging a Grand Wagoneer around a rally course, and even the most extreme Range Rover can’t catch this in a straight line. If you’re willing to take a leap on a new brand, the updated R1S makes a stronger-than-ever case for checking out Rivian and going electric.

Base PricePowertrainHorsepowerTorqueCurb Weight0-60 mphGround ClearanceOff-Road Angles (in tall suspension mode)Seating CapacityCargo Space

EPA RangeMax TowingQuick TakeScore

2025 Rivian R1S Tri-Motor Specs