EV Review: KIA EV9


The EV market has slowed down for several reasons, but KIA continues bringing more electric vehicles to the North American market. The EV6 was the brand’s first serious attempt and had a huge splash along with its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Ioniq 5. KIA brought the most anticipated EV of the year, the EV9. It’s one of the first family-oriented 3-row SUVs with a fully electric drivetrain with a reasonable price tag.

KIA has gone a different route when it comes to the overall exterior design, especially with their electric vehicle lineup. It carries some design elements from its gas variant, the KIA Telluride, but it has a completely different look with tons of sharp angles, straight lines, and great road presence due to its huge dimensions.

The front end looks very boxy but with modern body lines. There is no front grille, as we only get L-shaped LED headlights with tons of design quirks, there is a chrome line that goes across the front end, and there is an active grille located in the front bumper for cooling the battery. KIA decided to minimize the amount of chrome pieces and used more glossy black plastic pieces to give it a sportier look.

The sporty design elements continue as we make our way to the rear end of the vehicle. The boxy theme makes the EV9 look bigger than most 3-row SUVs. There are hard body lines that humped over the wheel arches, the fender flares are also glossy black to give extra rugged looks and the blacked-out rims are not everyone’s cup of tea, especially for a family-oriented vehicle. As expected from an electric vehicle you will find a lot of quirks like the auto flush door handle that comes out when you unlock the EV9, which can be annoying from time to time, but it helps with the overall efficiency.

Just like the exterior, the EV9 comes with a completely new interior design language that we haven’t seen in any other KIA models before, while still keeping the fundamental features that you expect to find in a traditional 3-row SUV. It’s a little bit monochromatic interior with lots of soft-touch plastics, but everything feels solid and has a nice balance of physical controls and digital screens. It has a very usable center console which is not connected to the dashboard, meaning that you can place larger items in the middle. I wish KIA offered more storage options especially lower side of the dashboard, as you get tons of space that could have been utilized better.

Even though it has physical controls with some haptic feedback buttons under the infotainment screen, you would still find EV quirkiness, especially with the shifter located in the steering column, and HVAC controls that are placed in between the digital gauge cluster and the infotainment screen. It is not easy to see the HVAC controls behind the steering wheel; you have to move your head to the right to see the controls, so there is room for improvement in terms of overall ergonomics.

The EV9 comes with the latest KIA software system that is very easy to use, glad to see the brand is finally moving on and leaving the older infotainment system they used for several years. That also means it finally has wireless smartphone integration so you don’t have to plug in your smartphone to use it. The digital gauge cluster is easy to read and shows a lot of information, but the layout is pretty boring and could have offered more features like map integration to make it feel more premium.

Having a boxy silhouette pays dividends when it comes to the interior space. You will have no issues in the first and second-row seats. The front seats offer a lot of adjustment, but I found the thigh extension is a little gimmicky, which does not extend that much. It is not a very usable feature, but it also offers a massage feature for the front seat occupants. Overall, the front seats are very comfortable.

Just like the front seats, the rear seats are quite adjustable and they get the same features like heated, cooled and power seats that offer thigh extensions just like the front seats, but they offer more adjustment range, which makes the rear seats the ideal place for longer trips. As expected, it has HVAC controls for the rear seat passengers, but more importantly, it has a huge storage bin that the rear seat occupants can use.

The third-row seats are also powered like the other 2 rows, offering a decent amount of interior space for the third-row occupants. Getting in and out is relatively easy due to the very long wheelbase and a big rear door with a huge opening. The third-row passengers also get USB chargers and cupholders for longer trips.

One of the benefits of having an EV is more cargo utilization compared to gas-powered entries. The EV9 comes with a very large cargo space, which is usable even when the third-row seats are up, but you can simply drop them by pressing a button located on the right side. The trunk is not super deep, but you also get a front storage area under the hood. The problem is that even though it is a big vehicle, the storage area is very small. Other smaller EVs offer much bigger front storage areas.

The Drive

KIA has done a great job putting together an EV platform in a 3-row SUV format, but it is a big vehicle, meaning that it feels heavy behind the steering wheel. An SUV that weighs around 6000 lbs, you really cannot hide the weight. The softly sprung suspension handles road imperfections fairly well, but there is quite a bit of body roll at the limit. The battery pack is located at the bottom of the vehicle like most modern EVs, so it offers a low center of gravity – therefore it is quite stable in the mid-corner.

Not many 3-row SUV owners would push the car to its limit at the corner, but many EV owners love pushing their cars on a straight line, and rightfully so. The EV9 offers tons of power and the torque is available immediately. It can reach 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds, which is quite impressive for a giant SUV that weighs almost 6000 lbs. Our tester was the “Land” trim with an all-wheel-drive drivetrain that pushes 379 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, paired with the large 99.8 kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack. The lower trims come with the rear-wheel drive option, a smaller battery pack and lower power output.

Regardless of the trim and drivetrain you choose, all EV9s come with an 800-volt electric architecture that allows DC fast-charging speed to charge even faster than the traditional EVs. The EV9 can charge 150 kilometres of driving range in less than 15 minutes. The level 2 charger speed is about average among competitors, but still more than enough for overnight charging.

Our tester has the top-spec GT-Line trim that gives the EV9 sportier looks, at the expense of a lower total range of an estimated 435 kilometres. If you want maximum range, the Wind trim with a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain should give you the most amount of total range of 489 kilometres mainly due to having less weight, less motors, but the same battery pack.

What makes the EV9 impressive is the overall driving experience. It is not meant to be a luxury SUV, but KIA has done a terrific job of keeping the overall noise, vibration and harshness levels low. The attention to detail is there, even with the tire choice that has a special foam to reduce road noise. The longer wheelbase also helps with the overall driving refinement, the EV9 drives like a luxury SUV and challenges the German offerings, especially the ride quality.

The Verdict

The 3-row SUV market is already one of the most popular in North America, so it was the right move for manufacturers to bring a dedicated fully electric 3-row SUV platform to the market. The EV9 is not groundbreaking news for the automotive industry, but KIA deserves credit for bringing more new EV platforms with a reasonable price tag. The EV9 feels more like an experimental product that combines the traditional 3-row SUV practicality with the EV perks and premium features, which is a great recipe for success.

Engine2-permanent-magnet synchronous AC
Battery Pack99.8-kWh lithium-ion
Max power379 hp
Max torque516 lb-ft
0-100 km/h4.8 sec
Curb Weight5839 lbs – 2648 kg
Range270 mi – 435 km
Price (As tested – CAD)$82,433

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