Rivian R3 and R3X Electric Crossovers Surprise and Delight

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Written by Paul Strauss | March 8, 2024
Rivian R3 and R3X Electric Crossovers Surprise and Delight

During this week’s reveal of the hotly anticipated Rivian R2 mid-size SUV, Rivian CEO and Founder RJ Scaringe took a page from the Steve Jobs school of product announcements and gave us “one more thing” at the end of the presentation. In this case, it’s actually two more things—the Rivian R3 and R3X, and they’re both looking droolworthy. Situated somewhere between a hot hatch and a crossover, these small EVs tick a whole lot of boxes.

I’ll start with the R3X because it’s the model I’m most excited about. Its shape is reminiscent of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s sharp-edged 5-door classics like the Volkswagen Golf Mk1 and the Lancia Delta. However, it rides higher and appears larger than those. The rally-friendly R3X has three electric motors for optimal traction and performance, along with oversized tires, off-road wheels, thick lower-body cladding, and more ground clearance than the standard Rivian R3.

Inside the R3X, you’ll spot a mix of materials Rivian calls “rugged playful,” including eye-catching woven textiles, anodized metals, and sustainable materials. The prototype being shown off has caramel brown seats in leather or synthetic leather, perforated with oval eyelets. Both the R3 and R3X have flat-bottom and top steering wheels, and this model has a red 12-o’clock indicator, a feature used by rally drivers to help with directional orientation.

The R3 can be configured with a single rear motor, dual-motor for AWD, or tri-motor with two motors in the back and one in the front for AWD plus added performance. Its style is a little more urban than the R3X. It rolls on smaller, more energy-efficient tires and has a sleek, modern look resembling Rivian’s other offerings. Like the R2, the R3 will be available with two sizes of battery packs. The larger pack will offer more than 300 miles of range and 0-to-60 times under 3 seconds.

That holds especially true for the minimalist interior, shown here in a largely monochrome color scheme with just a splash of copper. The dashboard is clean and simple, with a small digital instrument cluster and a larger touchscreen that floats off of it. There are few physical controls – a pair of contextual control dials on the steering wheel provide haptic feedback. Rivian says it will feature a new autonomous driving system that will use multiple cameras, radar sensors, and a powerful computer to provide self-driving capabilities.

Rivian designed the R3’s back section for flexibility and getting the most out of outdoor adventures. The second-row seats fold perfectly flat into the floor to maximize storage space or even provide a spot for a couple of sleeping bags inside the cabin. A large glass roof floats overhead so you can enjoy the night skies in comfort. I love that the rear liftgate lets you open the window separately for easy access and allows you to carry stuff that sticks out a bit.

Rivian has yet to reveal detailed technical specs or pricing for the R3 and R3X, but with the R2 targeted for 2026 deliveries, it’s possible that these smaller models won’t arrive until late 2026 or early 2027. The R2’s starting price is $45,000, and Rivian says the R3 will have an even lower starting price point – presumably under $40,000. I’m guessing that a fully-loaded R3x will come in somewhere around $55,000, but it would be amazing if it was less than that – because I really want one for myself.

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