2023 BMW iX M60 vs 2022 Rivian R1S Launch Version

From the December 2022 issue of Car and Driver.

If you want to broadcast your forward-thinking ways with a luxuriously aspirational electric vehicle in today’s preferred SUV body style, the options are scarce. Neither Rolls-Royce nor Bentley makes one, and the Mercedes EQS SUV isn’t on sale just yet. Everything else, including the Genesis GV60, the Cadillac Lyriq, and the Audi e-tron, falls well short of the pricing and performance bar set by the BMW iX and Rivian R1S, the two vehicles we’ve gathered here. Our requirement for conventionally hinged doors meant the aging Tesla Model X got left out. Shucks.

At $109,895, the top M60 version of BMW’s futuristic iX features an upgraded rear motor with a 0.8-inch-longer rotor and a stator stuffed with more copper windings. A second inverter feeds sufficient current to increase peak output from 335 to 483 horsepower. Total max power from both motors is 610 horses and 811 pound-feet of torque. That’s a lot, except in comparison with Rivian’s quad-motor powertrain (still the sole offering, although a less expensive, two-motor setup is in the works). It makes 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet. From the B-pillar forward, the $91,500 R1S is all but identical to the R1T pickup, but the S packages three rows of seats in its upright-SUV body and rides on a 14.7-inch-shorter wheelbase than the truck.

Let’s see which is the more enlightened choice.

2nd Place: Rivian R1S

“My 30-year-old ski boat gets on plane faster,” quips executive editor K.C. Colwell about the length and severity with which the R1S sends its snout skyward after you stand on its accelerator. If the lunacy of a three-and-a-half-ton SUV hurtling itself to 60 mph in just over three seconds isn’t readily apparent, the R1S makes it clear. While the BMW has hints of torque steer, the Rivian’s wheel feels like it just snagged a wahoo, which is also a possible verbal response to the fight required to keep the R1S pointed straight. Even more absurd, the Rivian can go no faster than 111 mph, a speed it can achieve about 200 feet shy of the quarter-mile. That lack of acceleration during the last 15 percent of the run allows the BMW to beat it just slightly.

HIGHS: Fresh thinking abounds, gorgeous interior, boxy good looks.
LOWS: A plethora of ride and handling sins, far less efficient than the iX.
The one to be seen in, but not the one to drive.

2022 rivian r1s launch edition

Andrew Trahan|Car and Driver

Visually, it’s a different story. The R1S is proudly and attractively boxy, evincing a Range Rover–esque presence, plus maybe a little Volvo 850 wagon in its rear liftgate. “Why doesn’t the Jeep Wagoneer look this good?” we ask ourselves repeatedly. Sure, the iX’s looks also get it noticed, but in a weirder, offbeat way, with an oddness that extends to details such as its self-healing grille plastic.

Rivian puts the R1S’s slab-sidedness to good use, as it offers vastly more cargo space and a kid-friendly third row of seats in nearly six inches more length than the BMW. There’s also an 11-cubic-foot frunk, whereas the iX has no front storage.

Fresh thinking is the implicit promise of a startup automaker, and the R1S is flush with new and unusual features, such as self-leveling Camp mode (so you don’t roll out of your rooftop tent), a removable Bluetooth speaker, a video security system, and a built-in air compressor. However, the R1S loses the nifty storage compartment that is just ahead of the rear wheels in the R1T pickup.

The interior is finished in spectacular materials with beautiful detailing, although the BMW’s is more tightly assembled. Once you get used to Rivian’s Tesla-like approach of just getting in and shifting, having to hit the BMW’s start button before and after each drive seems antiquated. And Rivian’s seamless phone-as-key functionality makes you wonder why cars still need fobs at all.

Rivian eradicated the infotainment issues we experienced in an early R1T pickup, and we saw no such glitches this time. Our early-build R1S had a different problem, though: A run through a carwash sent water dribbling through a visor mounting point in the headliner and onto the passenger’s seat.

2022 rivian r1s launch edition

Andrew Trahan|Car and Driver

Building cars is complex, and the Rivian is still monumentally impressive. Until you get to the driving, that is. On a challenging road, the R1S is a buffet of ride and handling undesirables: float, front-to-rear porpoising, head toss, plus a lot of tire-impact noise. Of the two SUVs, you’d never guess the Rivian is the one with more sidewall on its 22-inch tires. But perhaps most distracting is a quickness to the steering that’s out of step with the chassis. Turn the wheel and the body responds a beat later, as if Rivian set it up to be flicked sideways into corners. The fact that the R1T pickup’s chassis is so well sorted makes the R1S’s dynamic flubs even more surprising. And that’s not based on memory; we drove them back to back. Perhaps Rivian dialed everything in for the pickup, and the R1S, with its shorter wheelbase, didn’t get the tuning adjustments it should have.

We can never switch off the part of our brain evaluating driving dynamics while behind the wheel, and we couldn’t get past the R1S’s dynamic deficiencies.

1st Place: BMW iX

When experiencing the iX’s astonishing refinement, we immediately thought this would make an excellent starting point for a Rolls-Royce, which isn’t out of the question since BMW owns Rolls. The iX is incredibly hushed, despite its frameless glass; 65 decibels while cruising at 70 mph shames the R1S’s wind-noise-laden 68-decibel result. Anyone who says all EVs are silent is just plain wrong. Plus, the iX glides over the road so smoothly, with enough body roll to lull a driver into believing this M is more about luxury. Which makes its tenacity when the road turns twisty that much more unexpected. Many sports-car drivers would struggle mightily to shake a well-driven iX from their rearview mirrors. The steering-effort buildup and overall feel are better than many of BMW’s current cars, and it’s saying something that the steering won us over because the wheel’s irregular-hexagon shape is a turnoff. A firm brake pedal puts the R1S’s softness to shame too. Sport mode dials up damping firmness but in a restrained way that keeps the ride plenty livable. We continue to suspect BMW’s best and brightest chassis engineers are now developing the company’s EVs.

HIGHS: Throwback-BMW dynamic goodness, EPA-range-beating efficiency, superb second-row comfort.
LOWS: Funky futuristic looks, far less interior and cargo space.
VERDICT: BMW’s best efforts of late are EVs.

2023 bmw ix m60

Andrew Trahan|Car and Driver

It’s not just dynamics, as the iX’s soft blue interior makes a great first impression, with seat quilting that spills over seamlessly onto the sides of the cushions. Yes, it is real leather, unlike the vegan fake stuff in the Rivian, but there are embossed leaves on the passenger’s side of the dash, perhaps to make you feel better about it. The BMW’s second-row seat is more spacious and comfortable, with softer seatbacks and wraparound support on the outboard periphery. Less impressive is the new-generation infotainment structure that switches from relatively few deep menus to many shallower ones. We found Rivian’s first attempt at infotainment easier to acclimate to.

We’re still skeptical of the trend to put glass roofs on EVs, but at least the BMW’s is electro-chromic and becomes opaque at the touch of a button. The Rivian’s cabin was routinely above 100 degrees when parked, even on a modest 60-degree day.

Unlike Rivian, BMW adds theater to the electric powertrain, with a launch-control feature that pulses the driveline in anticipation of running a mid-11-second quarter-mile, and an urgent electronica soundtrack cranked up a little too loud in Sport mode. Annoyingly, neither vehicle has a coast mode for its powertrain, and it’s often difficult to avoid erratic regenerative dithering, particularly at highway speeds.

If there’s a knock on the M60 variant, it’s that, other than the rear-motor upgrade, this is pretty much a loaded iX xDrive50, which is available with the rear steer and air springs that come standard on the M60. It doesn’t get bigger brakes or grippier summer tires. And while the more potent rear motor seems like a power-oversteer dream, the only partially defeatable stability control awakens you to a less fun reality.

2023 bmw ix m60

Andrew Trahan|Car and Driver

With its dramatically lower roofline and 1200-pound-lighter weight (not to mention, style points for the exposed carbon-fiber structure on display when you open the doors), the iX is far more efficient too. In our 75-mph highway range test, the BMW went 290 miles, impressively exceeding its 274-mile EPA figure, while the Rivian did 230 miles, far short of its 316-mile window-sticker number. After equalizing for the R1S’s larger battery pack, the iX goes almost a mile farther per kilowatt-hour—that’s roughly 53 percent better—than the R1S. In 210 miles of mixed driving, the iX averaged 81 MPGe to the R1S’s 59.

Although the iX is less original, its nailing of the dynamic fundamentals, combined with stellar refinement and efficiency, makes it the ultimate expression of the cutting-edge electric SUV.



2023 BMW iX M60

Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon


Base/As Tested: $109,895/$119,795

Options: Amido perforated leather upholstery, $3500; Executive package – active cruise control w/stop and go, active lane-keeping assistant, parking assistant pro, traffic jam assistant, side collision avoidance, surround view, glass and wood controls, soft-close automatic doors, $3000; Storm Bay Metallic paint, $1950; 22-inch Aero Bi-color wheels with performance tires, $950; BMW Individual Titanium Bronze trim, $500


Front Motor: current-excited synchronous AC, 255 hp

Rear Motor: current-excited synchronous AC, 483 hp

Combined Power: 610 hp

Combined Torque: 811 lb-ft

Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 106.3 kWh

Onboard Charger: 11.0 kW

Peak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 195 kW

Transmissions: direct-drive


Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 13.7-in vented disc/13.6-in vented disc

Tires: Bridgestone Alenza 001 B-Silent
275/40R-22 107Y Extra Load ★


Wheelbase: 118.1 in

Length: 195.0 in

Width: 77.4 in

Height: 66.8 in

Passenger Volume: 112 ft3

Cargo Volume, min/max: 36/78 ft3

Curb Weight: 5778 lb


60 mph: 3.2 sec

100 mph: 7.6 sec

1/4-Mile: 11.5 sec @ 120 mph

130 mph: 15.3 sec

150 mph: 26.4 sec

Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 3.7 sec

Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 1.5 sec

Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.2 sec

Top Speed (gov ltd): 154 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 330 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.87 g


Observed: 81 MPGe

75-mph Highway Range: 290

Average DC Fast-Charge Rate, 10–90%: 112 kW
DC Fast-Charge Time, 10–90%: 50 min


Combined/City/Highway: 78/77/80 MPGe

Range: 274 mi

2022 Rivian R1S

Vehicle Type: dual front- and dual rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon


Base/As Tested: $91,500/$98,750

Options: 22-inch sport dark wheels, $3500; reinforced underbody shield, $2000; Limestone paint, $1750


Front Motors: permanent-magnet synchronous AC

Rear Motors: permanent-magnet synchronous AC

Combined Power: 835 hp

Combined Torque: 908 lb-ft

Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 128.9 kWh

Onboard Charger: 11.5 kW

Peak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 220 kW

Transmissions, F/R: direct-drive


Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 13.5-in vented disc/12.9-in vented disc

Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Season Elect

HL275/50R-22 116H M+S RIV


Wheelbase: 121.1 in

Length: 200.8 in

Width: 79.3 in

Height: 73.0 in

Passenger Volume: 144 ft3

Cargo Volume, min/mid/max: 18/47/88 ft3

Front Trunk Volume: 11 ft3

Curb Weight: 6986 lb


60 mph: 3.1 sec

100 mph: 8.1 sec

1/4-Mile: 11.6 sec @ 111 mph

Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 3.3 sec

Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 1.5 sec

Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.0 sec

Top Speed (gov ltd): 111 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 173 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 340 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.85 g


Observed: 59 MPGe

75-mph Highway Range: 230 mi

Average DC Fast-Charge Rate, 10–90%: 109 kW

DC Fast-Charge Time, 10–90%: 61 min


Combined/City/Highway: 69/73/65 MPGe

Range: 316 mi


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