Rivian R1S vs Volkswagen Scout EV SUV: Which Electric Adventure Wagon is Right for You?

With gas prices fluctuating wildly and climate change concerns mounting, more car shoppers find themselves considering an electric upgrade these days. For active families or outdoor enthusiasts wanting to go green, two promising new battery-powered SUV options are generating lots of buzz:

  • Rivian R1S: Launched in early 2022 by the startup automaker out of California, this electric SUV combines supercar acceleration with outstanding off-road talent. It may be pricey, but delivers unmatched capabilities for going off the beaten path.
  • Volkswagen Scout EV SUV: Part of VW‘s ambitious electrification strategy resurrecting the classic American Scout marque for a new sub-brand of EVs designed and built in the USA. While full details are still under wraps until its 2026 launch, Volkswagen promises similar adventure-ready credentials at a more budget-friendly price.

As potential customers, understanding how these upcoming electric SUV alternatives differ helps ensure you pick the optimal zero-emissions ride for your needs and budget. This comparative guide breaks down all you need to know around performance, real-world range, interior space, advanced features, off-road talent and ultimately what wagon best motivates you to ditch gasoline forever.

From Humble Roots, Rivian Forges New EV Paths

Founded in 2009 by MIT engineering grad and automotive enthusiast Robert "RJ" Scaringe, Rivian exhibited early promises debuting an electric sports car concept to the LA Auto Show in 2011. However, behind the scenes, Scaringe realized pursuing his true passions for sustainability and the outdoors required much more hardcore capabilities.

By 2017, Rivian emerged from stealth development mode unveiling R1T pickup and R1S SUV models engineered specifically for off-road performance without relying on fossil fuels. Powerful yet efficient drive systems, specialized monitoring software, and reimagined vehicle architectures allowed these trucks to greatly surpass traditional combustion-powered offerings mired by mechanical compromises.

From its manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, Rivian relies on enlightened technologies like IoT sensors and data analytics to optimize production quality and flexibility. This cushions against supply chain issues allowing the company to scale according to demand. Early work with Ford provided critical insights before Rivian secured major direct investments from Amazon and other backers totaling over $10 billion to date.

While not yet profitable on over 10,000 vehicles delivered, Rivian continues working toward a 25% profit margin at scale. With the R1T pickup already a runaway hit and the related R1S SUV equally enabling active families to roam off the beaten path, Rivian‘s future shines bright. Now the question becomes whether its first-mover advantage enables fending off upcoming EV rivals?

Volkswagen Bets Big on Scout EV Brand for American Adventures

Producer of the iconic VW Beetle and Bus, Volkswagen remains one of the automotive world‘s giants bringing advanced engineering expertise dating back over 80 years. While pushing aggressively into electric vehicles across global regions, the automaker saw particular opportunity leveraging beloved American nameplates dating back to its 1960s ownership of Scout off-road vehicles under the International Harvester brand.

In 2022, VW CEO Scott Keogh masterminded a plan to resurrect Scout as a dedicated sub-brand of battery-powered adventure vehicles. By acquiring the naming rights then committing to establish an all-new US production facility with billions in investments, Volkswagen demonstrates tremendous confidence in Scout‘s EV potential.

Slated to begin manufacturing in 2026 at its modern factory in South Carolina, VW plans to launch both Scout SUV and pickup truck models. These zero-emissions vehicles will build upon the brand‘s off-road heritage melding iconic styling cues with VW‘s latest drivetrain, battery and interior designs optimized specifically for the North American marketplace.

Early concept images reveal styling reminiscent of Scout‘s 1960-70s heyday influencing modern EV crossovers. Volkswagen promises similar off-road talents to compete directly against innovators like Rivian. The open question is whether VW‘s vast manufacturing scale and the lower cost structure of its versatile MEB platform allows Scout models to achieve 80-90% of Rivian‘s hardcore capabilities at substantially lower MSRPs? We dig into that equation more next.

Rivian R1S Defines the Electric Adventure SUV Benchmark

As the first EV manufacturer exclusively targeting adventure vehicles for both work and play off the pavement, Rivian engineered the R1S SUV released in early 2022 to impress on all fronts.

Available in three dual/quad motor configurations, output ranges from 533 hp to a pavement-scorching 835 horsepower with up to 908 lb-ft torque. Despite tipping scales over 5,700 pounds, the R1S can out accelerate most sports cars with 0-60 mph runs as quick as 3.0 seconds!

Yet its party tricks amount to much more than just straight-line speeds. With quad-motors enabling torque vectoring at each wheel, the R1S handles corners with grace belying its size. Formula 1-inspired hydraulic suspensions smooth bumps and articulate up to 14.9 inches delivering rock crawling skills that redefine what‘s possible in a battery-powered SUV.

Rivian R1S Specifications
Drive ConfigurationsDual / Quad Motor AWD
Horsepower Range533 hp – 835 hp
0-60 mph Acceleration3.0 – 4.5 seconds
Top Speed125 mph
Range (Large 180 kWh Battery)260 – 390 miles
Maximum Charging Speed140 miles in 20 minutes
Ground Clearance14.9 inches
Wading Depth3+ feet
Max Tow Rating7,700+ pounds

With its sophisticated traction and terrain management software build off-roading DNA into every R1S’ computer systems, few vehicles of any type can compete against Rivian’s SUV traversing the untamed wilderness while protecting occupants in an impenetrable passenger capsule.

Beyond conquering backcountry exploration, the R1SPleases for daily commuting too with room for five to seven and smart details like a gear tunnel for stowing dirty gear outside the cabin. All backed by an impressive 260 to 390-mile battery range per charge cycle.

For all its leading-edge capabilities, Rivian‘s bleeding-edge development does come at a cost – with R1S pricing set at a lofty $78,000 and up. This positions the R1S as quite an aspirational purchase, motivating rivals to target similar off-road aptitude at more family-friendly deals.

Scout EV SUV Seeks Electric Adventure Thrills for the Masses

As one of the auto world’s largest manufacturers, VW Group derives certain economies of scale advantages when developing new vehicle models. By dedicating an entire US production facility and sub-brand to resurrect Scout for American-focused EVs, Volkswagen can bake in optimal designs leveraging lessons learned across regions.

VW indicated its Scout SUV will share a variation of its advanced MEB platform already underpinning affordable EVs like the popular ID.4 crossover. With capabilities to support RWD/AWD configurations up to 300+ kW power outputs and 125 kWh battery capacities, MEB-based Scouts should deliver compelling performance.

In terms of styling profiles, early teasers depict the heritage-inspired boxier proportions Scout models were known for though with modernized detailing along fenders and fascia. The render below provides our speculative vision of how Volkswagen could transform 1960’s Scout charms into a modern battery-powered form.


*Scout EV SUV Rendering (Credit: TopElectricSUV)*

While pure conjecture until production versions debut around 2025, we expect Scout EVs will draw heavily upon Volkswagen’s next-generation EV components entering the market over the next few years:

  • 82-120 kWh Solid-State Batteries providing ~300 mile minimum range
  • Dual/Quad-Motor AWD Drivetrains outputting ~400 hp / 500+ lb-ft torque
  • 800V Electrical Systems enabling 200+ mile/30 minute fast charging
  • 12” Infotainment Screens with Over-the-Air Updates
  • Interior Space Optimized for 5+ Passengers plus Gear

Blending these cutting-edge technologies into adventure-oriented packages could allow Scout to deliver great off-road capability (if not quite Rivian-level talents) at prices aligning more closely with top-trim ICE SUV models – likely starting around $40,000.

Comparing Electric Adventure SUV Options

Until Volkswagen reveals its production EV models wearing the iconic Scout badge, only time will tell whether it can truly take on off-road freaks like Rivian blow-for-blow. But on paper, the early potentials appear intriguing.

Reviewing some key specification comparisons in the table below highlights advantages each vehicle looks to leverage at this stage:

SpecificationRivian R1SScout EV SUV*
Base Price$78,000$40,000 (Expected)
Battery CapacityUp to 180 kWhUp to 120 kWh (Expected)
Driving Range260 – 390 miles300+ miles (Expected)
Accel. 0-60 mph3.0s – 4.5s~5.0s (Expected)
Max Tow Rating7,700+ pounds5,000+ lbs (Expected)
Ground Clearance14.9 inches9-12 inches (Expected)

*- Scout EV SUV projected specs based on VW targets

The R1S looks most advantaged for maximum suspension articulation clearing rocks or ruts thanks to its dedicated off-road platform. Superior torque vectoring traction and acceleration also help justify its premium pricing.

In contrast, Scout’s familiar styling on a modernized EV crossover body hits the sweet spot on costs while likely trailing Rivian only slightly on outright capability metrics. Just how many owners will pay twice as much money to access that last 10-20% of hardcore talents remains the open question.

Both vehicles will continue advancing before showrooms open. But the Scout EV SUV stands a fighting chance to shake up America’s electric off-roader options in a few years, giving Rivian owners a long awaited run for their money.

Parting Thoughts – Scout Strategy Should Pay Off Over Time

When aiming to balance family budget against your appetite for adventure, Volkswagen’s Scout EV SUV holds intrigue as an affordable emerging rival to category pillar Rivian.

While its R1S SUV today clearly outguns any would-be competitors on off-road mastery thanks to targeting capabilities beyond what typical owners require, Scout’s 2026 arrival timing may prove perfect.

By then, Volkswagen’s next-gen EV components reach prime time allowing Scout models to deliver great range, power and tech for thousands less. When efficient hybrid-solid state batteries and advanced driver assistance features become more mainstream, VW can dedicate those cost savings into maximizing Scout’s unique style and rugged talents at a value price point.

Only hands-on testing will reveal exactly how close to Rivian’s benchmarks Scout gets, but its DISTINCT personality beyond just copying Rivian gives it strong odds of carving out an expanding niche in America’s EV future. Saving $40K upfront while still accessing 95% of the daily drivability / weekend warrior talents forecast should resonate widely once production Scout EVs hit thetrail.

In the meantime with Rivian R1S waitlists growing, jumping on early reservations promises rewarding off-grid adventurestoday without relying on fossil fuels. Just don’t be shocked as Volkswagen’s plans suggests the electric off-road wars only heat up further in coming years!

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