Buying an electric vehicle used to mean choosing from battery range, performance, utility or luxury. You might’ve found a car possessing two of those attributes, but rarely all of the above.
But the BMW iX and Rivian R1S are two electric SUVs that require no compromise, combining stellar performance and long-distance capability with plenty of convenience and tech features. Which one is the best for your money? The vehicle experts at Edmunds compare both to find out.
Both SUVs provide obscene amounts of power. The BMW iX packs two electric motors, one driving each axle, that produce 516 horsepower in standard form or 610 horsepower in M60 trim. Power figures for the Rivian R1S are even more extreme, with four motors producing an outlandish 835 horsepower and 938 lb-ft of torque.
A dual-motor all-wheel-drive version arrives later this year with a still potent 600 horsepower on tap.
In Edmunds’ testing, an iX accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, which is quicker than other electric SUVs such as the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace. The Rivian is even quicker, taking just 3.4 seconds to reach the same speed.
That makes the R1S one of the quickest SUVs Edmunds has ever tested, electric or otherwise.
Around turns, the iX feels sportier and more engaging. But off-road, the Rivian is hands down the better performer. With its adjustable air suspension set to its highest setting, the R1S offers an impressive 15 inches of ground clearance.
Additionally, the R1S’ four motors allow for precise control over its wheels, maximizing traction on loose terrain.
Range and charging
Both EVs have large batteries that grant them impressive EPA range estimates. The Rivian R1S offers as much as 321 miles of EPA-estimated range, depending on wheel size and configuration, while the BMW iX can reach 324 miles, also depending on its configuration.
On paper, their ranges are virtually identical, but on Edmunds’ real-world EV test route, the iX far exceeded its rating, traveling 377 miles on a single charge. The Rivian also beat its EPA numbers but only went 330 miles. Your mileage will vary depending on conditions and your driving style.
When it comes time to replenish that large battery pack, both vehicles will take about the same amount of time to do so. Plan on spending about 30-40 minutes at a high-powered DC fast-charging station to charge the battery from 10% to 80% capacity. On a Level 2 home charger, expect a full charge to take 11-12 hours.
Interior and tech
No matter what you think of the outside, most will agree that the BMW iX’s interior is stunning. It features a mix of unorthodox but high-quality materials and a futuristic design that looks straight out of “Minority Report.”
Two wide screens join seamlessly to form the instrument panel and central display, which is operated via touch screen or the iDrive control knob. One thing BMW’s operating system does exceptionally well is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Both systems have a fairly easy pairing procedure, which then displays the phone’s interface on the digital instrument screen.
The Rivian’s interior, though nicely appointed, isn’t on the same level as the BMW’s. Like the R1T pickup truck on which it’s based, the R1S’ interior is utilitarian, with many pockets and compartments for storage.
The dual gauge cluster and infotainment screens look fancy, but overall the Rivian’s in-car tech is lacking. One big letdown is the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That leaves you with only Rivian’s onboard navigation, which thankfully works pretty well. Still, not being able to access apps from your phone is a huge miss in this day and age.
Pricing and value
With a starting price of $85,095, the BMW iX is hardly affordable to the average shopper. But once you start looking at the performance, battery range and interior amenities you get compared to the competition, its price is better justified. Besides its four-year warranty, BMW also includes three years or 36,000 miles of free basic maintenance and two years of free fast charging, provided you charge in 30-minute increments.
On paper, the Rivian R1S has a lower starting cost of about $78,000, but that entry model won’t be available for a while and comes with a noticeable drop in performance, range and features. The more commonly available trim we tested starts at $92,000. That said, Rivian does offer better warranty coverage than BMW, with a five-year or 60,000-mile basic warranty. Winner: iX
If you can get past its polarizing grille, the BMW iX packages a luxurious interior with useful technology in an SUV that’s efficient yet still incredibly fun-to-drive. Unless you take frequent off-road excursions, the iX is the one to get.
Alex Nishimoto is a contributor at Edmunds.