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The Rivian R3 Has Me More Pumped Than Any Electric Car I’ve Seen Lately

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Rivian revealed an EV that looks — dare I say it — fun?


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This week Rivian launched its all-new R2 as anticipated, and it is a sensible next step. It’s a smaller, significantly less expensive take on Rivian’s R1S SUV. It will bring Rivian’s brand to the mass market. It should be a massive success. But Rivian surprisingly announced a second vehicle alongside the R2 called the R3. And it’s the one that caught my car enthusiast’s eye.

Rivian will build the R3 on the same platform as the R2. But it’s the vehicle every bean counter would have told Rivian not to sell to Americans. It’s an off-road-capable hatchback. It looks bold and distinctive. And — dare we say it for an EV — it sounds downright fun.

The Rivian R3’s design harkens back to some legendary vehicles

Most EVs look very similar. They are aerodynamic jelly beans or potatoes (with some aggressive creases trying to match that). They are most often minimalist and achromatic. They aren’t bad, per se. But they seem more oriented to a tech audience that oohs and aahs over the latest Apple product.

The R3 is for people who love cars. Technically, the R3 is a midsize crossover, which makes it the most reviled of all automotive shapes, an SUV coupe. But its looks immediately evoke iconic hatchbacks like the VW Golf GTI, Lancia Delta Integrale and the Soviet-built off-roading Lada Niva.

The Rivian R3 will technically be a crossover. But it looks like your favorite iconic hatchback. Rivian

The Rivian R3 should be genuinely affordable

EVs, even the “affordable” ones, are expensive. The R3 should be accessible to a wide range of buyers. Rivian hasn’t revealed the target pricing for the base R3 yet. But we know it will be cheaper than the R2, which starts at $45,000. The R3 may not be the chimerical $25,000 Tesla. However, it should be reasonably attainable for many buyers already shopping sensible crossovers.

And the high-performance R3X looks and sounds like an absolute blast

Rivian’s promo video for the R3 shows off the R3X power sliding and getting sideways in some dirt. Rivian says the R3X will have enhanced on-road and off-road driving dynamics. And it should be lightning quick, with a top-spec powertrain capable of accelerating to 0-60 mph in under three seconds. Call it an electric VW Golf Country on steroids.

The Rivian R3 looks like an EV that might actually have some personality. Rivian

I can’t guarantee the R3 will be successful, but…

Launching cars is hard. Car journalists aren’t the best people to run car companies; I would have fought like hell to keep the Golf in the VW lineup at the expense of crossovers like the Taos. And the reason most car companies sensibly opt not to build hatchbacks is that no one buys them.

However, I’m more intrigued by the Rivian R3 than almost every EV (and combustion car) launched lately. And if the R3 doesn’t become America’s electric people’s car, I hope it at least inspires manufacturers like VW and Subaru — who could do something like the R3 in the EV space — to be bolder and look to define the market rather than react to it.


Rivian R3

The Rivian R3 is an upcoming electric midsize crossover from Rivian. It shares a platform with the R2 SUV but distinguishes itself with a hatchback silhouette.




Body Style

Midsize Crossover

Arrival Date

2027 (estimated)


Looks amazing

Should be affordable for an EV


But do Americans want a hatchback?