Rivian R2 vs R3: Will one be ‘better’ than the other?

Rivian has finally taken the wraps off of the Rivian R2, its latest SUV. It’s designed to be smaller and more affordable than the much-loved R1S. But alongside the R2, Rivian also pulled off another surprise reveal — the new Rivian R3.

The Rivian R3 is even smaller and aimed at being even more affordable than the R2. In fact, while the R2 is only a little smaller than the R1S and still an SUV, the R3 isn’t really an SUV at all — it instead wanders into crossover territory. It’s designed to be Rivian’s answer to cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and, yes, the Tesla Model Y.

But if you’re looking ahead toward a more affordable Rivian, you might be wondering whether to save up for an R2 or an R3. No matter which you go for, you’ll have to wait — neither of the two vehicles is actually available for purchase. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start daydreaming about the vehicle you might want down the road. Here’s a look at the two cars, head-to-head, so that you can figure out which one to daydream about.

Design

The designs of the Rivian R2 and R3 are quite different; however, there are some similarities between the two that largely come down to Rivian preserving its brand identity. For example, both cars offer the buggy oval headlights that have become synonymous with Rivian. Both also have a long light bar at the back, though the light bars do look slightly different. On the R2, it wraps around the edges of the car, while on the R3, it only extends the width of the car.

Rivian R2
Rivian

Apart from that, much of the car design is different. The R2 is an SUV, and it has a boxier shape that means that it could easily be mistaken for the R1S, however, it’s not large enough for three rows of seating. The R3, on the other hand, is crossover size and looks much like a rally car, with an angled rear window and a small spoiler that follows on from the roofline. It definitely looks related to the R2, and while you could easily mistake the R2 for the R1S and vice versa, the Rivian R3 looks completely different.

The big difference in design comes down to size. The R2 is 185.6 inches long, 75 inches wide, and 66.9 inches tall, with a wheelbase of 115.6 inches. Rivian hasn’t released exact dimensions of the R3, however some sleuthing from Reddit user u/tgassap has revealed that the R3 will likely sit in at between 165 and 170 inches long. It also won’t have as much interior space.

Rivian R3X Front
Rivian

Rivian is also offering a performance edition of the R3, called the R3X, which is even more like a rally car. The R3X has the same overall design as the R3 on the outside but with some more interesting color schemes. Ultimately, there will likely be multiple color schemes, but the one that Rivian has shown off so far is a forest green color with orange highlights. It’s a super-cool look.

Interior and tech

Like the exterior of the R2 and R3, there are plenty of similarities between the interiors of the R2 and R3 — but some key differences too.

The R2 is built for bigger adventures, and in fact, has some interesting features like the ability to fold both the second row and first row flat down. Rivian touts this as allowing for enough room for people to sleep in the car using an air mattress. It’s a cool touch, and great for those who might want to take their car camping (really glamping, if you’re sleeping in an R2!).

Interior of the Rivian R2
Rivian

The interior of the R3 and R3X is also very Rivian — though there are differences between the two. The base R3 is more approachable than the R3X, with more neutral colors. The R3X is built for sportiness — and the model Rivian showed off has green and orange highlights, a confetti foam dashboard, and a rugged overall look.

All of the cars have a large infotainment system, with Rivian’s operating system built into it and a second display for instrument monitoring. None of the cars will support CarPlay or Android Auto unless Rivian radically changes its approach to car software. Rivian has said that the R2 and R3 both have the radar and cameras necessary for Level 3 self-driving tech that will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and even take their eyes off the road.

Performance

Like the R1S and R1T, the R2 and R3 will be built for a decent level of performance — or at least have the options for high performance.

Both the R2 and the R3 will be available in single-motor, dual-motor, or tri-motor variants. The R3X will be a tri-motor vehicle, however, it’s currently unclear if the tri-motor R3 is just the R3X, or if there will be a tri-motor variant of the standard R3.

Rivian R3 Rear
Rivian

Rivian has said that the tri-motor R2 and R3 will accelerate from 0 to 60 in “under 3 seconds.” However, that’s really all we know so far. We’re expecting the R3X to be the fastest of all the cars, but we’ll have to wait and see by how much.

Range and charging

Rivian has always been pretty strong in the areas of range and charging, and that’s expected to continue with the R2 and R3. Unfortunately, we don’t have specific figures beyond the fact that Rivian says the larger battery configurations of both cars will offer “more than 300 miles.” We’re really hoping that by the time these cars are finalized, all of the variants have at least 300 miles of range — if not, the lower-range models hopefully won’t be too far behind. When it comes to the R1S and R1T, Rivian has offered larger battery packs over time, with the newest Max battery pack hitting 400 miles on the dual-motor version of the R1S.

Side of the Rivian R2
Rivian

All of the R2 and R3 variants will come with a North American Charging Standard (NACS) port for charging, and by then, the R1S and R1T will too. Specifics around charging speed have yet to be revealed, however the upcoming models will likely have a similar charging speed to the R1S, which sits at 220 kilowatts. Hopefully, they’ll support speeds of at least 250kW, which means they’ll take full advantage of most Tesla Supercharger stations. Rivian says the vehicles will charge from 10% to 80% in “under 30 minutes.” That’s not actually all that fast, especially when you consider the fact that Hyundai and Kia both offer cars that charge to 80% in only around 18 minutes.

Pricing and availability

The price will be a big difference between the R2 and R3. Both vehicles are designed to be much more affordable than the company’s flagship R1S and R1T vehicles. Rivian has said that the R2 will start at around $45,000, but we’ll have to wait and see if that remains true by the time Rivian enters production. That figure is, of course, for the base single-model variant, and price will range up from there. Unfortunately, Rivian hasn’t made any estimates on the pricing of the R3 — beyond saying that it’ll be “cheaper” than the R2. We’re hoping that the car will start at around $35,000, which would be a relatively aggressive approach to making EVs more affordable.

Rivian R3
Rivian

Neither the R2 nor the R3 are available for order just yet. You can “reserve” an R2 for a refundable $100, though that does little more than give you a place in line to actually order the car. Rivian has said that the R2 will be available in “the first half of 2026,” with the R3 launching “after the R2.” It’s unlikely the R3 will be available before 2027. It’s possible that the launch will be quite a bit later, given the fact that the R2 seems to have gotten quite a few reservations, but it’s also possible that Rivian will try its best to push forward the R3’s release, given the amount of buzz it has generated online. The R3X likely won’t launch alongside the standard R3 and will instead be available at a later date.

Conclusions

Neither the R2 nor the R3 is necessarily better than the other — instead, they’re different. Metrics that might usually make one car “better” include things like range and performance, but we don’t know enough about range and charging just yet to make a call one way or the other. The other thing that might make one “better” is pricing — in which case, the R3 is better, as Rivian has confirmed that it’ll be cheaper than the R2.

Instead, the one that’s better for your needs likely comes down to the size of the car. If you want more storage and a higher ride, then the R2 will be a better car for you. If you want a crossover-size car with Rivian’s design sensibility, the R3 or the R3X is the way to go.

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