The new Kia EV9 is a colossal electric SUV, not just because of its size. It is a true technological showcase of the brand, with a very high level of comfort and space.
The Kia EV9 will not be the brand’s best-selling car for obvious reasons: it is too big for our country (and for Europe) and has a high price. It is expensive in absolute terms but not in relative terms. For the same money, few cars offer the same as the EV9, a colossal car not only because of its dimensions.
This huge electric SUV is Kia’s best in several ways. It is the brand’s largest vehicle, the most expensive, the most technologically advanced and the most spacious for its occupants and in trunk capacity. Judging by the heads it turns on the street, it is also the most striking.
At first glance, there is no arguing that the EV9 is an impressive car. Its size and spectacular design catch the eye. It measures 5.01 meters long, 2.26 meters wide and 1.78 meters high. It is by far the largest Kia to hit our roads.
On the front, the EV9 features the latest generation of the brand’s Digital Tiger Face. The main focus is the vertical LED headlights and their small cubic projectors, along with the daytime running lights that span the full width between them and form an L shape bordering the main headlights.
The central area of the front does not have a traditional grille; it is required to improve aerodynamics. The only air inlets are under the license plate, but they cannot always be seen open: they only deploy when cooling is needed and when the vehicle is opened, at which time the active slats open and close in a kind of greeting to the driver.
At the back, we find a very smooth and simple trunk lid, flanked by LED lights that give it an instantly recognizable appearance and a huge spoiler that is not only there for aesthetic reasons.
The door handles are flush with the body and deploy only when access to the vehicle is needed. As usual in electric cars, the wheels are partially faired to improve aerodynamics. The final design, as is also common in this type of rims, is not the most attractive globally.
In Europe, the EV9 will be available in six metallic colors: Snow Pearl white, Aurora Pearl black, Flare red, Pebble gray, Ocean blue and Iceberg green. You can also choose the striking Ocean blue color in a matte finish, which gives it a more original and different appearance from the usual paints.
The more than 3 meters of wheelbase (3.10 meters specifically) make the interior space enormous. The EV9 has three rows of seats and will be available with six or seven seats, making it one of the few electric vehicles to offer this number of seats.
When I say there is a lot of space inside, I am not exaggerating. Really. In the front seats, the driver and co-driver are separated by a huge center console, and you feel something similar to being in an American SUV.
The first row of Relaxation seats can be reclined with the footrest extended when the car is parked or charging. Through an electronic adjustment with integrated memory, they automatically adopt the seat and steering wheel position according to the driver’s preferences. With the six-seat configuration, the second row also features the Relaxation reclining seats with fold-out footrests.
The second row has enough width for three average-sized adults to travel comfortably. About legroom, I’ll be brief: it’s huge. The seat cushion can be moved longitudinally (the backrests can also be reclined) to leave more space in one row or another, depending on how many people travel. Additionally, the floor is flat, and the front and center seats are heated and ventilated.
A server lifts 1.83 meters off the ground, and depending on how the second row is positioned, I can travel relatively comfortably in the third row of seats, which is not usually common in seven-seater vehicles. Moving the second-row bench to fit is necessary because it is impossible to fit in the rearmost position (maximum space for passengers in the middle row).
But, if the seats are placed properly, there can be an adult of 1.83 meters in the second row, while behind, in the last seats, there can be another adult of the same height. The knees are higher than normal, and the seats are less comfortable (smaller and harder), but you can travel well. The third-row seats even have armrests, bottle holders, cup holders, and USB-C sockets.
In addition, access to the last row is quite good thanks to the ease with which the seats are folded – simply by pulling a lever – and the huge rear doors of the car, which leave a large gap for access.
The trunk has a minimum capacity of 312 liters (with all seats available), which rises to an impressive 828 liters if five seats are used. With the second and third-row seats folded, the volume rises to 2,393 liters (2,318 in the 7-seater version). At the front, there is another small 52-liter trunk where, for example, charging cables can be left.
Materials and finishes
The EV9’s equipment is abundant and is reflected in the amount of things you can do immediately. The seats have heating, ventilation and endless adjustments: you can even adjust the width of the side ears so that they press you more or less in the kidney area.
The triple touch screen provides a modern look, although nothing that we didn’t already know from the EV6 or the Sportage. The design is similar to the latter, but the EV9 includes a smaller third screen for climate control between the instrument panel and the multimedia system screen.
The sophistication of the equipment contrasts a bit with the choice of materials that Kia has chosen for its most expensive car. The top of the dashboard and doors have some padding, but the rest is plastic, as are the doors (except for the armrest area). A good portion of the materials, more than in any other Kia, are recycled or sustainably sourced.
The adjustments between pieces are exceptional, with a robustness that suggests that it will hold up well over time, and the truth is that it offers a high-quality feel. However, I miss some more luxurious material that provides extra sophistication and perceived quality in a car that, let us remember, exceeds 85,000 euros.
Regarding ergonomics, the seats are extremely comfortable, the lights and wiper controls are where they should be, and Kia has successfully maintained physical buttons for the climate control. That can also be controlled through the small touch screen, specific for climate control and new to the brand. The negative note on an ergonomic level is the haptic buttons on the dashboard (Nissan ARIYA type), which force you to take your eyes off the road to know which one you are pressing.
The EV9 brings all the driving assistants that exist today in a production car. It is even prepared for level 3 autonomous driving, although it will not be deployed in Spain for legal reasons.
You can activate or deactivate some systems from the infotainment screen. The first thing I recommend deactivating is the acoustic warning for exceeding the speed limit. It’s irritating for two reasons: it beeps when you exceed 1 km/h speed and is not always right. Sometimes, it misreads a sign or memorizes an old one (for example, when changing the type of road), and it will continue to beep at you. But it is activated by default when you turn off the car and restart it.
The driver attention alert is the other system I don’t see practical sense in. A camera behind the steering wheel detects whether or not the driver is paying attention to driving. If not, it emits a vibration on the steering wheel and an audible alert so that the driver regains attention. It’s fine on paper, but a couple of times, it alerted me when I looked to the side at an intersection: the car understood that I was not paying attention to traffic when that was what I was doing.
The Kia EV9 GT-Line is available with a single engine: it has a 99.8 kWh capacity battery, all-wheel drive and two electric motors of 192 HP (141 kW) each, which deliver a maximum power of 384 HP and a 700 Nm torque. Although it has all-wheel drive, it mostly operates as rear-wheel drive: the front axle motor is disconnected when that traction is not necessary, thus reducing consumption.
The performance is good: 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds and 80-120 km/h in just 3.7 seconds. It approves 505 kilometers of autonomy (WLTP), although achieving that figure in real use will not be easy.
It’s a big car and feels like it. We see the enormous hood from the seat, very wide and square. It is not a comfortable car to drive in the city due to its dimensions and turning diameter (12.4 meters). Americans will love it, but it is too bulky for our streets and parking lots.
The stress of the city is transformed into comfort and a feeling of power when we hit the road. Although many cars of this size have air suspension, the EV9 uses a conventional spring suspension with McPherson geometry at the front and multi-link at the rear. An inflatable is not missing, as it offers a very high comfort level, especially on high-frequency bumps/irregularities.
There is little noise in the cabin at highway speed, which pleasantly surprised me, considering its huge tires (285/45 R21 on all four corners) and its body shape. Anyone bothered by the little noise that comes through can always turn on the standard Meridian audio system, with fourteen speakers and fantastic sound.
We had time to drive on national roads and even mountain passes, which, a priori, are not the EV9’s natural habitat. You have to respect the almost 2,600 kilos that the car weighs (of which 567 correspond to the battery), especially when braking, but it can go surprisingly fast in areas of fast curves. In more twisty areas, it suffers a little more, and body rolls are inevitable, although they are less noticeable than pitching when braking.
We were unable to test the Terrain Mode Select off-road system, which allows you to select between Mud, Sand or Snow modes by pressing a button on the steering wheel. With each mode, you adjust powertrain control, torque distribution and chassis differently for the best traction on each surface.
Consumption, autonomy and recharge
As is usually the case in the first contact, the time and distance traveled are not enough to draw precise conclusions about consumption, of which we will be able to have more precise data when we test it thoroughly. However, we can have a reference.
After completing the almost one hundred kilometers of route that we did, combining city, national highway and highway/highway, the car achieved an average consumption of 24.1 kWh/100 km, according to the vehicle’s computer, and we used 22% of the battery.
With this consumption, the battery’s total range would be about 410 kilometers. The autonomy between 20% and 80% of the battery would be about 250 kilometers. However, as we said, these data are indicative.
An important feature of the Kia EV9 is its fast charging. The E-GMP platform uses an 800-volt system, which can recover 223 kilometers of autonomy in 15 minutes and charge from 20% to 80% in 24 minutes. It supports up to 240 kW of direct current power, one of the highest charging powers on the market today.
The EV9 range in Spain comprises a single engine and the highest equipment level. Later, a more economical rear-wheel drive version will be added. You can choose in a seven or 6-seater configuration.
- EV9 AWD GT-Line 7 seats: $69,900
- EV9 AWD GT-Line 6 seats: $73,900
The car includes a free home charger, three years of free subscription to the Kia Charge Advance rate and the IONITY rate, free recharges on the public network worth $1,232 and three years of free official maintenance.
Who are your rivals?
There are few electric cars with seven seats on the market. Only the Tesla Model is in the same segment as the Kia EV9.
The BMW iX is the most similar price and power, although its finishes and materials are a step or two above. It costs $87,150, has 326 horsepower and has 424 kilometers of WLTP autonomy. Its trunk offers 500 liters.
The cheapest Mercedes EQE SUV with all-wheel drive that you can buy costs $79,050. It measures 4.86 meters long, about fifteen centimeters smaller than the Kia, and approves 539 kilometers of WLTP autonomy. With 520 liters of trunk, it is far from the cargo capacity of the Korean model. It has 292 HP of power but offers more torque (765 Nm) than the Kia.
The Tesla Model is also the most expensive, starting at US$79,990.
If we match the equipment, the price difference increases significantly, and the Kia EV9 sticks out its chest strongly. We should add the heated and ventilated front and rear seats to the equation, massaging the front seats. In that case, the Head-Up Display, the panoramic roof, the 360º peripheral vision cameras, the adaptive cruise control with active lane keeping and the remote parking assistant (standard on the EV), a Mercedes EQE 350 4Matic SUV costs $95,650.