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Surprise! Rivian R3, Rally-Inspired R3X Electric Crossovers Steal the Spotlight

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Rivian’s upcoming R3 and its R3X performance variant will be the brand’s smallest electric SUVs yet. They may also be its most desirable.

Rivian, you had my curiosity, now you have my attention. The electric automaker followed up the debut of its upcoming R2 electric SUV with the surprise unveiling of an even smaller R3 electric crossover and its performance variant, the R3X. These little guys totally stole the show and the spotlight with their class-bending proportions, rally-inspired style.

The R3 takes the already shortened R2 platform and makes it even shorter yet. With 110.2 inches between its axles, the R3’s wheelbase is around 5 inches shorter than the R2 and 10.5 inches shorter than the R1S. Rivian wraps a hatchback’s silhouette around that short wheelbase, keeping a bit of SUV-like ground clearance intact for the “adventure vehicle” capability that’s the brand’s hallmark.

The rear hatch features a glass backlight that can be lifted independently, for quick access or to allow long cargo to hang out. Like the R2, the R3’s front and rear seats are able to fold flat, maximizing cargo capacity or enabling enclosed camping with the aid of an air mattress. Like the rest of the Rivian lineup, there’s also a bit frunk storage area under the hood.

Using the R2’s platform means the R3 will also feature the same single-, dual- and triple-motor configurations and benefit from the new battery design with larger-diameter cylindrical cells. Rivian didn’t state sizes for R2 or R3, but I expect the latter to carry a smaller overall capacity. How it will stack up to the R2’s “over 300 miles of range,” according to the automaker, also remains to be seen.

The R3 will be joined by the R3X, a performance variant with a wider stance, more aggressive wheels and tires and a scooch more ground clearance. The R3X stands apart with orange highlights and trim — as opposed to the yellow Rivian normally uses to indicate top-spec equipment — for the wing mirrors and prominent tow hooks. The R3X will likely be offered only with the tri-motor configuration for the most rally-inspired performance and will be offered with a more premium interior design with vintage rally sport details.

Pricing, range and availability have yet to be announced, but it’s a safe assumption that the R3 will start at an MSRP below the R2’s $45,000 estimated floor and arrive sometime after 2026. It’s a ways off, but the Rivian R3X just became my most anticipated new EV. Let’s hope these smol bois can live up to their big promises when they get here.