5 Reasons to Avoid a Rivian R1S at All Costs (For Now)

You‘ve likely heard the buzz around the 2022 Rivian R1S electric SUV. On paper, its 316-mile range, 3-row seating for up to 7, and supercar-like acceleration seem to tick all the boxes for an eco-friendly family adventuremobile.

However, as an electric vehicle analyst who‘s pored over the R1S specs and research, I have reservations recommending the Rivian to buyers today. There are more compelling EV options available that match or exceed the R1S at lower price points.

Here are the 5 key factors that give me pause in suggesting the R1S:

  • Stratospheric base price of $78,000
  • Limited regional availability and dealerships
  • Slower maximum charging vs. rivals
  • Missing Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Disappointing cargo room behind 3rd row

I‘ll unpack the details around each below. But first, to understand my perspective, it helps to recap a few key things…

My Background Evaluating Electric Vehicles

I‘m Gabriel, lead industry analyst for EV Trendex—we cover the latest news and developments in electric consumer and commercial vehicles. I also advise auto manufacturers and component suppliers on technology roadmaps and sourcing strategies.

Personally, I‘ve owned and tested over a dozen EVs and hybrids over the past decade. My obsession is finding the optimal blend of sustainability, driver engagement, and value.

So in assessing any new entry to the increasingly crowded EV space, I apply in-depth scrutiny. The vehicle not only has to look exciting, it must deliver across crucial owner experience measures before I endorse it.

Unfortunately, the 2022 Rivian R1S comes up short in few too many areas right now. Let‘s examine why.

Reason 1: Stratospheric $78K Entry Price

There‘s no question the R1S turns heads. Its muscular, adventurous styling stands out from the crossover crowd. Inside, buyers are met with a minimalist-chic interior punctuated by sustainable materials like ash wood and vegan leather.

But with supply shortages causing delivery waits stretching beyond 2024 already, Rivian recently hiked the R1S‘s base price to $78,000—a whopping $26,000 increase versus its original target.

What else could you buy for $78,000? Plenty. That staggering MSRP buys you top trims of proven electric SUVs like:

  • Tesla Model X Long Range – $108,990
  • BMW iX xDrive50 – $83,200
  • Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV – $104,000

Note the additional range, luxury finishes, and brand prestige offered by this competitive set—all for less money in some cases!

Intriguing features of the Rivian R1S like its Gear Tunnel storage compartment simply don‘t compensate enough for the pricing mismatch at this stage.

For an unproven vehicle from a new manufacturer with no reputation for long-term reliability or service, Rivian’s $78K starting price for the R1S is extremely difficult to justify against established luxury electric SUVs. I advise waiting until cost declines at least 15-20%.

Reason 2: Regional Inventory Shortages

Part of what allows established automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi to command premium pricing is extensive distribution and servicing networks. Within 10-15 miles from your home, you can likely test-drive the latest models, have maintenance performed, and get questions answered by brand representatives.

Contrast that with Rivian‘s situation. The startup currently produces all R1 vehicles at its lone Illinois factory. Specific production volumes are sparse, but Q3 2022 output reportedly hovered around 7,363 units—total.

For reference, a single Tesla Gigafactory can manufacture over 500,000 cars per year. This enormous gap underlies the acute inventory challenges Rivian faces.

In terms of service footprint, Rivian claims around 100 service centers will support its vehicles by end of 2023. That still pales against ~1,300 global Tesla service centers and thousands of third-party repair shops supporting mainstream EVs.

The result?

Months-long delivery delays in many regions and limited servicing options once you receive your car. If something goes wrong out of warranty, good luck finding help quickly. For $78,000, buyers deserve better access and coverage.

Between low inventory allocations and service network holes outside large cities, buying a Rivian SUV guarantees headaches for several years compared to established automakers.

I advise holding off until production capacity hits at least 250,000 units annually if convenience matters.

Reason 3: Slower DC Fast Charging Than New EVs

Range anxiety has long inhibited mainstream EV adoption. But with recent battery chemistry improvements allowing 300+ mile capacities even in affordable models, concerns around running out of juice mid-trip have eased.

However, charging times can still vary dramatically between EVs—making route planning stops a headache. This issue stands out as another area where the R1S falls short of leading alternatives.

Review the charging profiles below:

Electric VehicleBattery SizeMiles of range added per 20 minutes DC fast charging
2022 Lucid Air113 kWh300 miles
2022 Mercedes EQS107.8 kWh168 miles
2022 Rivian R1S135 kWh140 miles
2021 Hyundai Ioniq 572.6 kWh211 miles

Surprised? On paper, the R1S‘s beefy 135 kWh battery trounces packs in competing luxury EVs. Still, in real-world charging sessions, its added range per 20 minutes significantly lags that of the Lucid, Mercedes…and even compact Hyundai!

Clearly, hardware capacity alone doesn‘t determine charging speeds. Battery chemistry, thermal management, and charging algorithms play pivotal roles. On these fronts, Hyundai‘s trailblazing 800V system and Lucid‘s in-house tech set new benchmarks—leaving the Rivian lagging.

For road trip warriors or commercial drivers logging daily miles, I suggest cross-shopping options like the 300-mile Ioniq 5 that minimize charging connections. Don‘t settle for the R1S‘s relatively pokey replenishment without evaluating all aspects of real-world charging performance.

Reason 4: Lackluster Infotainment & No Smartphone Integration

Hop inside the oh-so-sleek R1S interior, and you quickly notice something missing: no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support on its central touchscreen.

That means no native smartphone mirroring for navigation, music, messages, or voice assistance the way other new vehicles enable. You‘re limited solely to Rivian‘s in-house software, ecosystem, and services.

Reviews hammer the R1S infotainment as "frustrating"—an overly complex mess lacking the intuitive organization CarPlay and Android Auto provide. Menus sit buried under layers of laggy touch commands. Customization options feel sparse. And integration with apps and data sources most drivers rely on daily gets ignored.

Meanwhile, value-packed electric crossovers like the $30,000 Chevy Bolt EUV offer compatibility with both major mobile platforms. That‘s standard fare even on much cheaper internal combustion vehicles now.

So why force a proprietary experience missing popular features in a $100,000 luxury SUV? The decision baffles. And hints Rivian‘s designers exist in an insulated bubble divorced from real-world tech expectations.

For those needing idiot-proof navigation, versatile device integration, and smarter voice control on the go, I have to wave buyers away from the R1S‘s technology misfire.

The R1S‘s disjointed, confusing infotainment system doesn‘t deliver the seamless smartphone connectivity drivers expect in 2023. Skip and stick with known quantities until Rivian gets with the times.

Reason 5: Surprisingly Limited Cargo Capacity

With its tough, jacked-up profile, the R1S appears the perfect fit for active families constantly hauling sports gear and bulky accessories for weekend trips. But cargo dimensions tell another story.

The R1S boasts an ample 104 cubic feet of total cargo volume with all rear seats folded. However, space behind the 3rd row measly measures 17.6 cubic feet.

How does that compare against other 3-row electric SUVs?

Electric 3-Row SUVCubic Feet Behind 3rd Row
2022 Rivian R1S17.6 cu ft
2022 Tesla Model X32 cu ft
2022 Mercedes EQS SUV21 cu ft

The R1S sits at the bottom for luggage room and versatility if you plan to use those rearmost seats for passengers. You can basically forget fitting bulky items like golf clubs without collapsing the 3rd row first.

So while Rivian touts the vehicle‘s storage tunnel and multi-configuration cargo, deviations from conventional layouts mean real-world utility takes an L versus rivals.

Given Americans‘ insatiable appetite for hauling oversized stuff, the cramped, compromised R1S cargo hold fails to satisfy. Families should measure twice and consider more pragmatic electric SUV options before taking the storage plunge here.

Don’t let the rugged looks fool you: with all three rows upright, the R1S can‘t swallow much gear. Look elsewhere if travelling heavy regularly.

The R1S absolutely pioneers features like tank turns and off-road enhancements unexpected in its category. As production scales, pricing should moderate, technology matures, and Rivian cements itself as a competitive force among EV startups.

But for impatient early adopters today, flaws around availability, charging, usability, and cargo flexibility shine too brightly to ignore. You can find similar or better electric SUV values without the question marks:

The Tesla Model X offers more range, performance, tech innovation, and utility at a now lower cost. Reliability data spanning years also inspires far more confidence.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E charms with equal verve minus the financial sting. And backs its style with Ford’s vast service network.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 brings forward-looking design, ultra-fast charging, and a $47K starting price tag making it the smarter long-term asset buy.

In short: Rushing out to snag a Rivian R1S given lingering uncertainties requires serious FOMO. Savvier electric SUV shoppers should enjoy test driving the new kid on the block—but hold off on purchase until economic and practical factors line up more competitively.

For now, restraint patience pays when exploring this bold segment’s options.

Data Sources: Rivian Q3 Production Reports, EV Specification Databases, Individual Automaker Financial Filings

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