I drove two awesome new electric SUVs: the Rivian R1S and the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV.
They're both stunning in different ways, but I'd pick the Rivian if given the choice.
The R1S is rugged and loaded with cutting-edge features, while the EQS SUV delivers old-school luxury and total comfort.
On the face of it, the Rivian R1S and Mercedes-Benz EQS may seem pretty similar.
They're large, new, battery-powered SUVs with up to seven seats and steep price tags.
But under the surface, these two green family-haulers couldn't be more different.
I came away impressed after driving both, but found that their different strengths make them perfect for vastly different buyers.
Let's start with the highlights of the R1S, the California startup's hotly anticipated second model that came out last year.
Rivian's whole brand revolves around getting outdoors — kind of like the Patagonia of the auto biz — and the R1S fits right in with that theme.
It's aimed at folks who love skiing, camping, biking, and the like — or at least those who aspire to.
On an off-road drive, the $90,000 R1S Launch Edition I tested scrambled over boulders, across streams, and up steep, slippery hills without any fuss.
That's thanks to a whopping 835 horsepower, 908 pound-feet of torque, plus a sophisticated all-wheel-drive setup underpinned by four motors — one driving each wheel independently.
A whole slew of off-road drive modes can raise the SUV and change its accelerator's feel to match various terrains.
Plus, cameras pointing in every direction outside the vehicle help you place your wheels precisely and see what obstacles lie ahead.
After an off-road jaunt, you can use the SUV's built-in air compressor to air up the tires to roadgoing pressures. Owners can also use it for bike tires, inflatable kayaks, and more.
That brings us to the other big thing I want to highlight about the R1S: It feels like a cutting-edge vehicle from a startup.
From a forward-looking design to fanciful features, Rivian pulled out all the stops to make its first SUV feel different and special.
Apart from the air compressor, other unusual features include a flashlight that slots into the driver's door …
… and a wireless speaker/lantern combo that neatly stows away between the front seats.
The R1S's cavernous cargo area can fit a twin-sized air bed — and a Camp Mode can level the vehicle on uneven surfaces.
You can unlock and drive the R1S in four different ways, but don't expect a regular old key.
Instead, Rivian offers a waterproof wristband (for taking along on outdoor activities), a carabiner, a key card, and a smartphone app.
Inside, you get a minimalist interior that feels more like a light, airy Apple store than a conventional car.
And instead of regular buttons, you get a sprawling touchscreen that controls the drive modes, air conditioning, and practically everything else.
It can be frustrating to rely on a touchscreen for everything. But I'll grant that it's graphically impressive and contains interesting features like a security system and a pet mode that keeps the air conditioning on.
The Mercedes EQS SUV, on the other hand, emphasizes comfort, class, and old-school luxury over newfangled features and muddy activities.
The Benz is more country club, while the Rivian is more Yellowstone. Although, if we're being honest, there will be plenty of pricey Rivians at country clubs too.
I drove a well-optioned EQS 450 4MATIC SUV that came out to $135,000, around $30,000 above its starting sticker price.
The EQS SUV's plush seats support you and keep you comfy on long drives.
And its whole interior exudes luxury.
There's tons of leather and suede …
… sturdy, well-built controls …
… swanky, shiny trim …
… and colorful lighting strips snaking their way throughout the cabin.
My tester came with the $2,000 Executive Rear Seating Package.
It adds squishy pillows, a touchscreen in the armrest, and heated rear seats.
It also came with the optional "Hyperscreen," a $7,300 option that adds three screens under a single, impressive piece of glass.
The R1S is nice too, but not in the same traditionally opulent way that the EQS SUV is.
That pampered feeling lingers when you get moving. The EQS SUV glides over bumps and remains whisper quiet, even on the highway.
All that luxury comes at a high cost of $104,400 to start. Compare that to the R1S's base price of $78,000 for a base variant that's coming out later on.
But the deciding factor for anyone on the fence between these two tremendous SUVs may just be availability.
As Rivian works to accelerate production, the R1S is backordered into oblivion. Aside from that, it's still my personal choice thanks to its cutting-edge feel and rugged capabilities, which fit nicely with my outdoorsy hobbies — or at least those I aspire to have.
Read the original article on Business Insider