First videos of Rivian R2 and R3 driving on public roads show size comparisons

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Rivian launched the much-anticipated R2 – and the surprise R3 – on Thursday, but at the time we only saw the cars on stage, in isolation. Now video has emerged showing these cars driving on public roads, next to other cars, offering a better visual size comparison, and a look at the cars in motion in the sunlight.

In the R2 unveiling, Rivian did tell us all the dimensions of the R2, so the comparisons there aren’t as important. We know it will be a little taller and a little less long than the Model Y, but otherwise pretty close in size (though quite different in shape, with a less aerodynamic but taller back-end).

But it’s still nice to see it on the road, driving under its own power, at more than 1mph, and with other cars around. While we already saw it on a stage and in person, it can be tough to really gauge the size of cars when you’re in a giant crowd of people and only looking at two new cars in isolation, without other familiar vehicles around.

The videos were taken in sunny Laguna Beach, just outside the Rivian South Coast Theater where the reveal event happened. The cars were driving on Pacific Coast Highway, just in front of Main Beach – which is an area that typically has heavy traffic with plenty of other cars around. This is annoying when you’re trying to get to an event on time, but nice when you want to see how cars look compared to other cars.

The first video was posted on reddit and then 2 more were posted on Rivian Forums, and show both cars driving and the R3X loading into a car trailer. We’ve also embedded them here.

The first video shows the R3X and then the R2 (the white car driving behind the R3X in the first half is an R1, not an R2).

The R3X is obscured for a lot of this video (partially behind a gas station sign showing gas at up to $5.49/gallon, quite a bit more than the 23 cents/kWh, or about $1/gal equivalent, which I pay when I charge off-peak at home nearby), and unfortunately we only get a shot of it driving away from us. It’s also on a heavily-crowned part of the road with nothing next to it until the end of the video, where we can see it looking perhaps a little shorter than the small truck across the road, and definitely a lot shorter than the trailing R1.

We get a much clearer shot of the R2 up close, which looks as expected – very close in design to the R1, just smaller. A Hyundai Tucson and Kia Soul drive by behind the R2, with the R2 looking a bit taller than both (when accounting for road crowning), but definitely in the same “mid-size SUV” ballpark (and note Rivian auto design chief Jeff Hammoud is sighted in the end of the video, taking his own video of the car driving by on his phone).

The second video gives us our best overall shot, this time of the R3 driving up and past, and then close-up on a smaller and flatter road. And it, or the crowd in front of the theater photographing it, certainly seems to be bringing a lot of joy to the lucky riders inside.

As it drives up, it looks quite imposing from the front, and in isolation you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it looks a lot like an R1.

But when looking at the other cars around, its smaller size is immediately apparent. It certainly looks dwarfed by the R1 behind it, and the Model Y beside as well. Moving further along, its “something between a hatchback and a crossover” form factor becomes even more apparent as it drives by sedans, small SUVs, compact vans and trucks. In particular, the comparison to a Scion xB is interesting – another quirky, boxy car that straddled the “small SUV/compact car” categories. And once again, at the end of the video, you can see how comparatively massive the R1S is to the R3.

Finally, we see the R3X being loaded into a car trailer – which is interesting, given that Rivian HQ is basically on the same road as the theater, just 10 miles up Laguna Canyon in Irvine.

This video doesn’t tell us as much (except that it fits in an enclosed car trailer – which is something the nearby R1S might have a harder time with). But we wanted to include it for completeness.

As for other size comparisons, another user analyzed a photo of the R3X and thinks it’s a bit taller, but much less long than a Golf GTI. This estimate suggests it to be a full ~20 inches (!) shorter than the Ioniq 5, a car which it has drawn many comparisons to due to its shape and proportions, and even shorter than the Volvo EX30 and Bolt EV.

While this comparison is only based on one official photo of a prototype, the photo is taken directly side-on and thus offers a good view of the vehicle, and since we know the size of the tires and the car’s wheelbase (2,799mm/110.2in), we can come to a pretty good estimate, if not perfectly accurate.

Electrek’s Take

I’ve said many times here that I’m a small-car guy (and you should be too), so seeing Rivian go massively downsize is exciting to me. I was worried it would end up being a truck-and-SUV brand primarily (even though it started with a prototype sportscar), but the R3 in more of a “hot hatch” format shows that they’re ready to branch out. This is an important thing for a startup, to show that it’s capable of making diverse products to appeal to a variety of customers, so this is a big moment for Rivian.

Plus, I’ve had a lot of discussions recently with auto industry folk and journalists that we might be hitting “large car fatigue” as a society soon (I certainly have), and that we might finally get some smaller-sized cars in upcoming years, instead of the ubiquitous massive SUVs and trucks that we see now.

Maybe this is wishful thinking – but the reception we’ve seen for the R2 and particularly the R3, which seems even more exciting the more apparent its small size becomes, suggests that this could be the case.

The one problem here is that Rivian unveiled the two cars at the same time as each other, with the R2 coming out first. So we hope the huge excitement over the R3 doesn’t result in them Osborne-ing their own unreleased product, the R2, with an even more unreleased product, the R3. Though Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe has a plan to keep people interested, which he talked about in an interview with Electrek’s Seth Weintraub (you can see the full interview here, or a writeup of it here).

One final note on the various wheel designs – I don’t love the R2 wheels, which seem a little distracting when in motion with those 5 silver squares spinning around. Similar goes for the R3 wheels and their 4-shape design. Our shot of the R3X in motion is a little more distant, but I think I like those wheels the most. This lines up with my opinion when I saw them on the stage, and my personal general predilection towards smaller wheels with more rubber rather than larger ones with less rubber.

(Also, a note on wheels: we need more aerodynamic wheels in general, as if we applied aero wheel covers to all cars on the road, we could reduce US total – not automotive – energy use by something like 1%, which is pretty huge for such a small change).

What do you think about the R2, R3 and R3X now that we’ve seen them all driving on public roads? Both their looks, and their sizes? Let us know in the comments below.

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