Turn 14 Distributon’s Eye-Grabbing Rivian R1S Makes You Forget All About the Defender

Photography: Mike Maravilla

  • The Rivian R1S is a physics-defying SUV that can accelerate to 60mph in three seconds, rock crawl a 100% grade, drive through over 3ft of water, and seat seven passengers.
  • The California-based company’s R1S has virtually the same footprint as the Land Rover Defender 110, but since it doesn’t have any heritage to harken back to, the Rivian writes its own story.
  • The mod list is small but purposeful: a Thule Motion XT roof box and rack, Vossen LC Series wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, paint-matched body cladding, and custom-painted emblems throughout.
  • The Rivian R1S will make its debut in the Turn 14 Distribution booth at SEMA, putting two trail-blazing entities together at the industry’s largest trade show of the year.

Sometimes creating the best work requires starting with a blank slate. The California-based company, Rivian, is one such instance. The EV upstart sought to imagine an “adventure vehicle”, foregoing the traditional “SUV” category for something far more ambitious. Truthfully, the SUV designation has lost most of its brutalist reputation over the last decade; today they are more maltipoo than wolf, more akin to a luxury handbag than a utilitarian daypack. So in some ways, the “adventure vehicle” is a return to form for the SUV’s original intent but Rivian’s approach to earn that designation was anything but old-fashioned.

KICK, PUSH

The Rivian is built on what they call a “skateboard” platform. Much like its namesake transportation method, the platform can support different chassis, either from Rivian or from other companies. The rethink may afford the company — and its partners who believe in the concept — a synergistic opportunity, especially in terms of greener production practices.

The bigger lesson here is that Rivian is a company that is founded on preparing for the future; the decisions that it makes today have direct implications for who it claims to be today, five years from now, and 20 years beyond. That future-proofing mindset serendipitously echoes Turn 14 Distribution’s long-term vision. The company that welcomes this EV-SUV into its booth has been putting immense effort into the building blocks that will help the aftermarket industry titan to grow, excel, and seize opportunity where and when it is available. Perhaps the synergy here wasn’t just a coincidence.

SIZING UP

If there’s one thing that’s certain about the SUV and off-road market, it’s that size is important. The Rivian R1S, which is roughly the same physical size as a Land Rover Defender 110 with an extra 2,000 lbs of heft, certainly doesn’t struggle with road presence. Still, with so many other SUVs within striking range — the Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe, and BMW X7 to name a few — finding new ways to make the Rivian stand out was crucial.

The first mod was obvious: a Thule Motion XT roof box (#629806). The box adds a helpful 18 cubic feet of storage space and can even accommodate skis up to 200cm in length. As you can see, the cargo box was color-matched to the Rivian’s exterior hue, which I think makes it look and feel like a true Rivian accessory. The roof box was affixed to the R1S with a Thule Caprice roof platform (#611001). The platform is a great option because it doesn’t just accept the cargo box;  its modular design can accept a variety of accessories, like a rooftop tent for those weekend-long adventures.

The one-two punch adds a classy, but functional addition to the Rivian’s exterior and, as I alluded to before, makes the R1S look much taller than its road-going compatriots. 

23 X 10

Long gone are the days when 20-inch wheels were larger than life. Since some Rivian R1S trim levels come with 22” wheels from the factory, the only sensible choice was to go one size up and fit a gargantuan set of 23×10” Vossen LC3-11 wheels. This emboldened wheel style is brand new for the company and, with the floating center cap, definitely summons stately Rolls Royce energy from the big-bodied SUV. The brushed aluminum finish coordinates well with the R1S’s bright accents and further accentuates that luxurious persona. Wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, they may not be the wheel and tire package you’d take off-road, but they definitely make a social media-worthy impression everywhere else.

COLOR COORDINATION

Since Turn 14 Distribution’s direction thus far has been to move its Rivian R1S upscale, the plastic body cladding had to go. The front fascia, side skirts, wheel arches, and rear bumper were treated to a generous Rivian Blue makeover. The emblems, which are normally machined silver, were resprayed gloss black to further drive the R1S’s premium perception northward. Yellow splashes were added throughout since the hue is the predominant factory accent color for the calipers and badging. The yellow stripe on the Rivian’s belt line works well to draw your eye toward the Vossen wheels perfectly, too. The cumulative effect of the mods was transformative and it’s difficult to look at a stock Rivian R1S back to back. Although the mod list was small, the Turn 14 Distribution redux proved two things: that focused upgrades could go a long way and that the aftermarket industry will go hand-in-hand with our eventual transition into alternative fuel transportation.


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