“The Kia EV9 is a great buy no matter what style you go for.”
Luxurious, spacious interior
Low-end entry-level models
The world of electric SUVs is not known for its varieties. If you’re looking for a full-size SUV and want something electric, you’re limited to a car like the Rivian R1S – a car that’s far from cheap. But if there was any company that could finally start bringing affordable options to the market, it would be Kia. The Kia EV9 has had a long and exciting launch, and finally, an electric SUV is available for purchase.
The EV9 has a lot of hype to it, and it’s easy to see why: It offers a modern design, is built on the same platform as the much-loved EV6, and can fit seven people in some configurations. Sure, maybe not more-the cheaper option that some were hoping for – but it still pushes the electric SUV into the lowest price range. With a starting price of $54,900, there really isn’t any competition yet.
But the lack of competition is not the only reason to buy something. We’ve been testing the Kia EV9 GT-Line to find out if the new electric SUV lives up to the hype. Spoiler alert – the EV9 is easily ready for the competition that will undoubtedly come out.
Design and interior
In general, the Kia EV9 looks like a cross between Telluride’s favorite Kia EV6. To be sure, the EV9 is big and cramped, but I like the style. It has a sculpted body, with angular lines on the sides and back, and although it’s quite large, the EV9 doesn’t look sporty.
Up front, the EV9 sports Kia’s “Digital Tiger Nose,” which is essentially an evolution of the Tiger Grille that graced previous-generation Kia vehicles. You will find angular lights and a kind of pixelated design that looks very modern. This pixel design is only available on higher-end models, however you’ll get angular lights no matter which model you use. Of course, you probably don’t miss much without the pixel lights, but it’s a nice added bonus if you get a high-end model.
The back is very attractive, too. The angular taillights stretch down the back of the EV9 in a way that is very reminiscent of modern Volvos. A small spoiler follows from the roof of the car, which helps add to the gameplay.
The EV9’s interior looks pretty high, at least in our top GT-Line model. The EV9 can generally be purchased in a six- or seven-seat configuration: the former with captain’s chairs in the middle, the latter with a bench seat. Only the Light and Wind models can accommodate seven passengers. Our review model came with two captain’s chairs, which are operated and perhaps even more comfortable than the front seats. The EV9 also has USB-C charging ports throughout the cabin, including for the second- and third-row passengers, and there’s a large storage bin for the second-row passengers, which is a nice touch. Finally, passengers find their climate zone, which is always convenient.
With most of my time in the driver’s seat, I sat in the passenger seats for a while to find out how spacious they are. The good news: There’s a ton of room in whatever seat you sit in, within reason. Indeed, the third row is not compressed by the second row all of them way back, and like any three-row SUV, the third row will be more comfortable for kids than anyone else. However I was impressed by the level of comfort on offer, even in the third row.
Storage space is ample too, depending on whether you put the third row of seats up or not. With the third row of seats up, there is 20.2 cu-ft of space, however with the third row down, you get 43.5 cu-ft of storage space. There is also a frunk, which becomes smaller if you choose to drive all wheels. The GT-Line is an AWD model, and there was still enough room to store a few grocery bags.
Overall, the interior of the EV9 is spacious and comfortable, which helps a lot all around.
Tech, infotainment, and driver assistance
Kia has made great efforts to adopt modern technology in its cars – with a few caveats. I really like the infotainment experience in the Kia EV9 – however part of it is due to the fact that The car supports CarPlay. Fortunately, the EV9 supports CarPlay via wireless connectivity, unlike the EV6. That allowed me to drop my phone on the charging pad, and get started – without the hassle of cables.
One infotainment feature that I really appreciated was the fact that the EV9 has a dedicated weather display and physical climate control. This means that the driver and passenger can easily control climate settings such as fan speed and temperature, or then dive into the custom display for more advanced controls. Unfortunately, that special display is slightly hidden from the driver and steering wheel – and difficult to reach for passengers. But, it can be worse – by hiding the climate control inside the settings, for example.
There are some excellent driver assistance features built into the car too, even standard. No matter which model you buy, you’ll get the basics like blind spot monitoring and emergency braking. If you get the GT-Line, you’ll get advanced lane-focused cruise control, and unlike other cars, you won’t have to keep your hands on the wheel. It worked well, and while it’s only useful on the highway, it’s one more step toward better self-driving technology.
I wish that some of the better driver assistance features weren’t limited to the more expensive models. For example, you’ll only get camera-based blind spot monitor and Ambient View Monitor in Land AWD or GT-Line trims. It’s worth it double check that features that you want are available on the model you plan to buy.
Driving the Kia EV9 is a blast. It may be big, but it still benefits from the quick response that has become characteristic of an electric car. It is heavier than the EV6, and therefore not absolutely fast, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a faster SUV that doesn’t cost more.
The EV9 comes in single- or dual-motor configurations, with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive powertrains, respectively. In the base EV9 Light RWD, you’ll get a 215-horsepower engine, however you can get up to 379 horsepower with a dual-engine configuration. Finally, there will be a GT model that will bump things up to 576 horsepower, too.
The EV9’s overall handling was smooth, but responsive. The car takes bumps and potholes slowly, with the car being more luxurious than sporty, despite the fast pace. That suits the car though – the SUV is a family car, and it’s designed for comfort. You don’t want to feel the road like you can a small, sporty car.
I prefer to ride with one pedal, if and when possible. The EV9 comes with Kia’s iPedal system, which can slow the car to a stop when you take your foot off the pedal. Unfortunately, you can’t make iPedal the default setting – so you’ll have to use it every time you start the car. In addition to the iPedal, there are three levels of regenerative braking, and the car will remember your setting between drives.
The Kia EV9 offers anywhere from not-so-good to great range, depending on the model you buy. Range varies from 230 miles on the Light RWD model, to 304 miles on the Light Long Range RWD model, or 280 miles on the Wind and Land AWD models. Neither of these figures is particularly impressive, although 280 miles is better than 230, obviously. Our GT-Line model puts more power to the wheels, reducing the range to 270 miles.
Fortunately, however, when you add the right charge, you’ll get the juice pretty quickly. The Kia EV9 can charge 350kW, making it one of the fastest charging cars around. If you can find a charging station that supports 350kW, you’ll get from 0% to 80% in just over 20 minutes, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, Companies like Electrify America are still building these super-fast charging stations, and the EV9 still doesn’t come with a NACS port.
The Kia EV9 is a great buy regardless of which model you use, at least given the current competition in this space. If you’re looking to spend as little as possible on a three-car electric SUV, you’ll love the base Kia EV9 Light. However, if you can stretch your budget a bit, we recommend doing so for benefits such as long range.
The Wind AWD model is probably the way to go for most buyers. It adds performance to the second engine and has a larger battery that provides a range of 280 miles. It also comes with a more luxurious interior thanks to second-row captain’s chairs, plus it adds features such as heated front seats and features more driver assistance. Most buyers won’t need to upgrade to the GT-Line model we reviewed – however, those looking for a tech-heavy experience might consider it for things like hands-free driver assistance and a Surround View Monitor.