The Out of Spec YouTube channel has a large library of electric vehicle comparison videos. Their long-distance races in particular do a great job highlighting each vehicle platform's best features and where they fall short. For this latest race, the team is pitting large, three-row SUVs against one another in a simulation of a traditional family road trip. 

The first competitor is the Rivian R1S. This is a first-generation example, not the updated 2025 model. But range and performance should be similar in the second-generation units. With a 140+ kWh battery and 400 miles of EPA range, the Rivian has the most long-distance capability out of the gate. 

Get Fully Charged

EV road trip? As long as chargers cooperate

The range that modern EVs are capable of increases every year, with many options now offering more than 300 miles of range with excellent fast charging for road trips. But finding chargers that are open and successfully work with these cars is a persistent problem. 

In this video, hosts Jordan and Andreas are driving the Rivian and they plan to avoid Electrify America stations, prioritizing the Rivian Adventure Network and the Tesla Superchargers. Rivian's cars can now use those chargers with an adapter.

The Tesla Model X in this competition is the 100 kWh Long Range version with the aero wheels. While the Model X was the first three-row SUV on the market, this particular example does not include a third row. Besides native access to Tesla's reliable Supercharger network, this car also has the highest peak charge speed here of 250 kW.

Out of Spec SUV Test

Out of Spec SUV Test

Ryan and Lacey are piloting the Tesla and will try to stay at the lower end of the battery pack to take advantage of the peak charge rate. 

The Kia EV9 is the most affordable three-row electric on the market, even equipped with the large 100 kWh battery pack. While the EV9’s peak charge speeds are lower than the Model X, the higher voltage battery can sustain a charging speed greater than 200 kW up to an 80% state of charge. 

Max and Domenick are manning the Kia and will be aiming to always charge at 350kW Electrify America stations to take advantage of the EV9's excellent charge curve. 

The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is by far the most luxurious here, with a comfortable interior and sleek design. Despite being rated for "only" 330 miles of EPA range, the Mercedes exceeded the EPA range by 50 miles in Out of Spec's highway test, easily toppling the R1S in a side-by-side comparison. Drew and Kyle will be road-tripping in the EQS and plan to exploit this surprisingly long highway driving range.

The route for this road trip begins at the Out of Spec offices in Fort Collins, CO, about an hour from Denver, and will end at Resorts World in Las Vegas. No one is allowed to exceed 10 mph over the speed limit and the max driving speed is 85 mph.  

The EV9 team decided to make their first stop at Glenwood Springs which was about 220 miles from the start of the race. They briefly considered pushing on to Grand Junction. However, doing so would have required a reduction in speed that would have put them into last place behind the Model X.

This was probably the right decision for them, but they expressed frustration with the fact that the CCS station was located over a mile from the highway. Thankfully, their charge session started without a hitch and the car was still pulling 220 kW while 70% charged. Unfortunately, Electrify America may be getting better, but it's not without its issues still. Two of the stations were out of service. But after a charge session of just over 10 minutes, they were back on the road again. 

Tesla Wet Towel Trick

Tesla Wet Towel Trick

After watching the arrival percentage and estimated range drop on the Model X, the Tesla team decided to turn off their A/C early in the race in order to make their preferred charging stop in Parachute, CO which went off without a hitch. But to reach Green River, they needed to charge back to about 60%. So both team members watched impatiently as the charging speeds tapered down to 150 kW. To improve charging speeds on this hot summer day, they also used the old wet rag on the handle trick.

The Rivian team had its own complications, primarily with the truck's software. The route planner was initially sending them off on an odd route that would have added several minutes to their charge stop. But the situation worsened when they arrived at the charger to find all units occupied and one out of service. Meanwhile, Rivian’s software claimed that four out of the six chargers were available.

It wasn’t long before one of the stations cleared up. But after initiating a charge, the charge rate was limited to 90 kW for quite some time. After another shared charging station began ramping down, the Rivian team's station eventually started to ramp up in speed.

The EQS team decided to slightly reduce their average highway speed and accelerate gently for the first leg of the trip. They were hoping to push their first stop to Green River but ultimately decided to stop at the Grand Junction, CO station. Here, they had to bribe a Kia Niro EV driver to give up one of the 350 kW units.

Mercedes EQS Out of Spec Road Trip

Mercedes EQS Out of Spec Road Trip

The Mercedes' charging speeds ramped up to 180 kW quickly but suddenly stopped charging just minutes later. They were able to initiate a second session, but this time the vehicle only ramped up to 150 kW with the car stating that the charging station was limited.

In true Out of Spec fashion, this 2.5-hour video is only Part 1 of the race. So we will just have to wait to see which car comes out on top. But it’s an interesting demonstration of the various situations EV drivers find themselves in when road-tripping long distances; one route is never the same twice.

Have you driven this route through Colorado to Las Vegas yourself? Does it typically go smoothly for you or have you encountered similar situations with the charging hardware on your trip? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

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