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Rivian is one of the most exciting new car companies in recent memory. Assuming the startup firm makes it long-term, we will remember these early days. The Rivian R1T has conquered plenty of hefty off-road obstacles in its short time as the first production electric truck. Now the Rivan R1S is stepping off-road. In fact, the Rivian R1S just drove the Rubicon Trail, one of the toughest trails on the planet. 

Is the Rivian R1S good off-road? 

A blue Rivian R1S at a charging station in the desert at sunset. The Rivian R1S off-road capability was put to the test on the Rubicon trail.
Rivian R1S | Rivian

The Rivian driveline is a powerhouse off-road. The R1T conquered Hell’s Gate in Moab, has tons of cool off-roading features, and uses four electric motors paired with tech wizardry to send just the right amount of power to the wheel that needs it most. The R1S is set up with all the same power and tricks. Considering both the R1S and R1T share the same electric driveline, it should come as no surprise that Rivian’s SUV is a stout off-roader.  It’s so stout, in fact, that the Rivian R1S just did something no other EV has done yet. 

The Rivian R1S conquers the Rubicon Trail

Inside EVs reports that Rivian’s R&D team hit the trail early August 7 from the Loon Lake entrance south of Lake Tahoe. It took the Rivian team roughly eight hours to drive the Rivian R1S over a 12-mile jaunt, lumbering up steep inclines, boulders, and craggy sections, to reach the Tahoma staging area. 

Of course, Rivian brought the quad-motor Rivian R1S wearing 34-inch Pirelli ATs. While that is a pretty big tire, it’s impressive that the squad did this feat with such unaggressive tires. While the R1S has some normie tires, it got some other proper off-roading gear like a roof rack, rock sliders, and a front tow hitch receiver. 

How does the Rivian R1S range do off-road? 

Rivian says the posse took to the trail with approximately 80% charge. Despite the trail only being 12 miles long, the Rivian finished the trail with “under 10%” before chugging power at a level 2 charger at the end. Thankfully, Rivian did the math for us and found that the truck used 75% of its battery power to complete the off-road challenge, roughly the equivalent of three gallons of fuel. 

According to Green Car Reports, the official EPA estimated range for Rivian R1S is 352 miles on a full charge. Although, Rivian claims 390 miles of range. Either way, it doesn’t take much to see that the trail was demanding enough to nearly kill the battery in only 12 miles. While the battery wasn’t at full charge, even at 80%, you’d think it could do more than 12 miles of off-roading. 

What makes the Rubicon Trail so hard?

The Rubicon Trail is no easy task. Successfully navigating the Rubicon trail requires not only a good truck but also a skilled driver. The Rubicon is slap full of dangerous and challenging obstacles like tight turns, off-camber sections, boulders, and more. It’s very impressive that the Rivian could do it as a mostly stock SUV on fairly normal tires. 

What’s the main problem with EVs?

Without taking anything away from the R1S’ massive achievement, it nicely highlights why so many people are still struggling with EV adoption. Rivian is making an excellent product. In fact, many EVs, like the Hummer EV, the Ford F-150 Lightning, and the Hyundai EV6 GT Line, are great products. The problem has always been range and efficiency. 

Range is getting much better. Hell, my Mini Countryman doesn’t get 390 miles on a full tank. However, it would seem that conditions have to be juuuust right in order for Rivians to get that same distance. It can’t be too hot or too cold. You can’t drive too fast or too off-road. This happens with ICE vehicles too. But the effects aren’t quite as dramatic, and it doesn’t take half an hour (at best) to fuel up. 

I sincerely hope the EV range and charging issues are figured out. I mean, they almost certainly will be if they ever actually replace ICE models.. We’ll just have to wait on the right innovations to come along and catapult the EV segment into a truly viable future