I drove 2 of the coolest big electric SUVs you can buy. See how the $96,000 BMW iX and $92,000 Rivian R1S stack up.
I drove 2 of the coolest new electric SUVs you can buy: the BMW iX and Rivian R1S.
They're both expensive, aesthetically striking, and quick beyond belief.
But these big EVs offer distinct strengths.
In 2023, almost every type of vehicle you can imagine is available without tailpipe emissions — if you're willing to pay a hefty premium over a conventional car.
I drove two of the coolest large electric SUVs — the BMW iX and the Rivian R1S — to see how they stack up.
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I found that they each have distinct strengths, but they're both fabulous options for buyers with deep pockets, large families, and a soft spot for the environment.
Read more: The $96,000 electric BMW iX's luxurious interior will make you forget all about its weird looks
Let's start with some basics about these two EVs.
The iX is BMW's first electric SUV for American buyers. A 2024 model costs $87,100 and up.
The 2022 iX xDrive50 I tested last year came out to around $96,000, with features that included a sporty appearance and an upgraded interior.
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Likewise, the Rivian R1S is the California startup's second consumer vehicle and first SUV. (It also sells an electric delivery van.)
The limited-run Launch Edition model I drove last year is sold out. A similar R1S costs $92,000 today before any special features or other options.
(Cheaper R1S models are on the way, too.)
The cars have a number of similarities.
Both are much speedier than you might expect based on their bulky size. That's due to their high-powered electric motors and the instantaneous, gut-punching acceleration that EVs typically deliver.
Rivian says the quad-motor, all-wheel-drive R1S boasts 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque, allowing it to rip to 60 mph in an astonishing three seconds.
Read more: I tested the coolest electric SUV you can buy. Take a full photo tour of the Rivian R1S, which has 3 rows and 316 miles of range.
In the iX, pushing the throttle with slightly too much enthusiasm sends the car rocketing forward and thrusts you deep into your seat.
BMW says the iX reaches 60 mph in just over four seconds. That's absurdly quick for such a hefty vehicle.
Like the R1S, the iX comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Both deliver well over 300 miles of driving range, according to estimates from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
And they both turn heads, but they're aesthetically striking in very different ways.
Read more: I drove luxury Tesla rivals from BMW and Mercedes — here's why I'd buy the BMW iX over the competition
The R1S looks boxy and friendly, while the iX looks angular and a little angry. If the latter were a Transformer, it would definitely be one of the bad guys.
The BMW and R1S also have vastly different strengths that largely reflect contrasts between their core customers.
As a brand, Rivian is all about getting into nature and supporting crunchy hobbies like camping, biking, and skiing. Consequently, the R1S is an off-road beast.
Thanks to an adjustable-height suspension and a smart four-wheel-drive system, the SUV tackles treacherous climbs and scary obstacles without breaking a sweat — even with a total off-roading noob like me behind the wheel.
It offers several off-roading modes that dial in the suspension and other settings for different activities and terrains — from rock crawling to drifting.
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Cameras point every direction outside the vehicle, which helps you place your tires precisely on any terrain and see what's ahead.
Switch on a feature called Gear Guard, and all those cameras will keep an eye on your SUV while it's parked.
That brings me to the other main highlight of the R1S: Its innovative design and outside-the-box features make it feel like a cutting-edge vehicle from a startup.
The back of the R1S fits a twin-sized air bed, and there's even a built-in air compressor to pump it up. (Or do other things like inflate your tires.)
Every Rivian comes with a flashlight that pops out of the driver's door, where it's always charging.
Likewise, Rivian includes a bluetooth speaker under the center console that owners can whip out during beach bonfires or camping trips.
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Owners can unlock and drive their Rivians using a smartphone app, a key card, a carabiner-style fob, or a waterproof rubber bracelet (for taking along on outdoor adventures.)
The R1S's airy, minimalist interior feels refreshingly uncluttered.
Instead of the usual smattering of buttons and knobs, the R1S invites drivers to control practically everything from its massive touchscreen.
Personally, I would've liked some physical controls for things like the air vents and A/C, however.
In addition to its vast amount of rear cargo space ...
Read more: I drove Mercedes-Benz's $135,000 Tesla rival and experienced the electric, screen-filled future of luxury SUVs
... the R1S offers a front trunk. That's something you don't get in every EV.
The iX's standout feature is its luxurious interior.
The R1S also feels high-end, but not in the same opulent way that the BMW does.
Slip inside and you're cradled by plush, leather seats — which came with massage functionality in my test car.
And there's rich leather all over the place, like on the doors ...
... and center storage cubby.
All the frequently used controls feel remarkably sturdy and well-made, from the seat adjusters …
… to the hefty glass dial between the front seats ...
... to the knurled, satisfying volume knob.
The iX I tested had swanky, gold-colored accents sprinkled throughout the interior.
It came with two crisp screens stylishly suspended above the dashboard on a single, curved panel.
Compared with the R1S, technology and software take a back seat in the iX, which some buyers will surely prefer.
Speaking of, the BMW's palatial back row features its own climate controls and plenty of USB ports.
Pretty much the only issue with the iX's interior is its weird, hexagonal steering wheel. A circle would've worked just fine.
Both of these SUVs are awesome picks for those who can afford them. It all comes down to personal preference: Do you the prize old-school luxury of the iX, or the ruggedness and bleeding-edge tech of the R1S?
Read the original article on Business Insider