Skip to main content

Rivian Just Revealed Its Secret Playbook, Subaru Are You Paying Attention?

Rivian is a lot like Subaru with an adventurous side. Its new R2 and R3 models reveal a secret formula that Subaru should pay attention to. 

Rivian recently revealed its R2 platform for more affordable all-electric vehicles, "bringing the brand's California adventure vibe to the meat of the utility market starting in 2026," says Automotive News. Subaru, are you paying attention?

Rivian is bringing the new R2 and R3 models that are affordable and have an adventurous attitude. Something Subaru has been known for. However, Subaru has minimal electric vehicle experience besides the Soltera, developed with Toyota and has some Subaru technology

Rivian R2X rear view

Subaru needs to step out and bring exciting new models like the R2 and R3 SUVs. The R2 has a starting price of $45,000 before dealer fees. The R3 models will be more affordable when they launch sometime after the R2.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said they had received more than 68,000 R2 reservations as of March 8th. Rivian only requires a $100 refundable deposit for the reservation. It's not taking R3 orders yet.

Automotive News listed ten cool things about the R2 platform and the vehicles it will spawn: the R2, R3, and R3X crossovers. Here are excerpts from Automotive News (by subscription). I'll follow each point and give reasons why Subaru should pay attention.

Rivian R3 front view


"The first to market will be the R2, and Rivian is estimating a starting price of about $45,000 before shipping when it goes on sale in the first half of 2026. The base R2 will be about $30,000 less expensive than the base R1S and priced similarly to the Tesla Model Y crossover."

The Subaru Solterra is the most expensive model in its all-wheel-drive lineup. Affordability and value are what Subaru is known for, and they need value-priced new SUVs. They must be in the $30,000 to $40,000 price range. 


"The R2 fits near the large end of the compact segment for two-row electric crossovers. Scaringe said it's about 16 inches shorter than the R1S and about the same size as the Model Y. Scaringe said that the R3 is smaller, with 5 inches shaved off the wheelbase, compared with the R2. The R3X is the same as the R3 except for being a little wider for bigger wheels and tires."

Subaru is building a new 3-Row SUV, so its next electric model could be larger than the Solterra. However, it has to stay with Subaru's core values of being fun to drive and off-road ready. 


"The R2 looks like a smaller version of the R1S, which is likely to make many consumers happy. The oval front headlights, boxy shape, and other Rivian styling cues have won over consumers based on strong sales of the R1S."

Subaru is not known for its attractive exterior designs. For its new EV design language, Subaru needs to think outside the box, which will be a significant challenge for the Japanese automaker.


"Rivian said it will offer the R2 and R3 with a choice of one, two, or three electric motors. The base models will have a single motor driving the rear wheels. Higher-trim models will have two motors and an all-wheel drive. The three-motor variants will have two motors at the rear and one at the front for blistering acceleration. Rivian said performance versions will be capable of 0-to-60-mph sprints in under three seconds."

Subaru is testing new high-performance motors in its new electric sports car, the STI E-RA. Four electric motors produced by Yamaha Motor are used. Subaru should have this nailed. 


"Rivian said there will be two battery sizes, with the bigger one achieving over 300 miles of range across the different models and trims. Scaringe also said the battery cells are new. Rivian uses a bigger 4695 cylindrical cell instead of the current 2170 format. The numbers refer to the cell dimensions in millimeters. The crossovers will use a new structural battery pack. "The top of the battery pack is actually the vehicle's floor," Scaringe said.

Subaru is now collaborating with Panasonic to develop its batteries. This is another area where Subaru will have the best technology for its new EVs. Subaru can take from Rivian's playbook the idea of having the top of the battery pack on the vehicle's floor. 


"Rivian has some cool tricks to make the smaller crossovers feel airy and open. They both offer glass ceilings, which is common among premium EVs. But Rivian is also innovating with other glass surfaces. On the R2, the rearmost quarter windows partially pop open, creating an open-air experience."

Subaru's best attribute of SUVs like the Forester is its great outward visibility. However, Subaru needs to keep an airy, open feeling in its new EVs like Rivian.  


"Folding rear seats are a no-brainer to create a large, flat storage area. The R2 and R3 take that to the next level with folding front seats. While the vehicle is being driven, the folded front passenger seat can accommodate extra-long items. And when the vehicle is not being driven, the folded front seats can accommodate a bed." "It creates this awesome, in-vehicle camping experience with an inflatable mattress," Scaringe said.

Subaru's new EVs must have rear seats that fold flat. The room for a bed inside perfectly suits Subaru's active customers, who will use their all-wheel-drive vehicle for camping and escaping civilization. 

Glove Boxes

"Scaringe said that Rivian has taken some heat from R1T and R1S owners for not including a traditional glove box in the vehicles. So, with the R2 and R3 models, the automaker "over-delivered" by providing two. One glove box sits in the traditional location on the right of the front row, and the other sits next to it in the middle."

Storage inside the cabin of Subaru's new EVs will be paramount. It's one of the complaints with some owners now. They want more storage to store valuables and electronics. 

Scroll Wheels

"R1 vehicles use the steering wheel's left and right scroll wheels to operate various features, depending on which function is selected. They can be used to adjust the radio volume, the mirrors, or the instrument panel. The R2 and R3 have larger scroll wheels with haptic feedback."

Subaru does a good job now of offering adjustments for a variety of features. They should continue this in the new EVs.


Rivian said the new crossovers will have 11 cameras, five radars, and robust computing power for advanced driver-assistance features. During a recent presentation, Scaringe referred to a future "self-driving" capability.

Subaru's EyeSight driver assist safety technology is being advanced, and its new EVs will have the latest safety tech available. This is Subaru's strong suit, and it will continue to be a core value for Subaru.


Subaru needs to offer affordable and value-priced new EVs to its customers. The Solterra is the most expensive model in its lineup. 

Another area Subaru has to improve its new EVs is increasing the range. The Solterra has one of the shortest ranges of any new electric SUV. If Subaru is going to attract new customers and keep its current customers happy, it needs an extended range so the new EVs can get further off the grid. 


What do you want to see in Subaru's new EVs? Click the red Add New Comment link below and let us know.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this Subaru EV story. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.

Before you go, check out the 2026 Rivian R2 + R3 + R3X | First Look

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News and Subaru reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time. 

Please share the article with friends, and post X to your followers! 

Photo credit: Subaru and Rivian


Jim P (not verified)    May 10, 2024 - 10:18AM

Don’t think Subaru needs any EV. Sales are dropping fast on new EV’s. EV’s have been tried in the past and failed, currently failing, just maybe in 50 years try them again when one can get 400 miles per charge and charging only takes 5 mins. Don’t waste R&D and money.

Rick (not verified)    May 10, 2024 - 5:07PM

In reply to by Jim P (not verified)

In the next 3-4 years: 500 miles with a 15 charge to 80%. That’ll put an end to new ICE vehicles. EV’s are just SO much more fun to drive.

I’m sure people felt the same about the “horseless carriage “ You can still ride horses, so enjoy.

Ps. Lucid is already there. The Gravity, is bad ass.

Rick (not verified)    May 10, 2024 - 5:02PM

The drivetrain in the Solterra is proprietary to Subaru, and for good reason.

I spent several days driving one in mud. I’ve driven probably close to all 4 and AWD vehicles (my first vehicle was a ‘61 Willys CJ-5) and nothing, and I mean NOTHING comes close. Not even military spec.

A EV Crosstrek Wilderness, will eat Jeeps for breakfast, spit it out and have a 4-runner for lunch. Just wait and see.