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Kia EV9 Review

8 / 10
14 December 2023

The Kia EV9 breaks new ground for big electric cars thanks to space-age looks and a cavernous cabin with genuine room for seven adults.

But a £65,000 Kia? That’ll be a tricky pill to swallow for some buyers, and it sure isn’t perfect. Some of the interior tech is a bit fussy, and it’s not as comfortable on bumpy roads as the more premium rivals it’s priced against.

What we like:
  • Epic amounts of cabin space
  • Eye-catching looks
  • Big boot even with 7 seats in use
What we don't like:
  • Bumpy ride on certain roads
  • Expensive compared to other Kias
  • Some big blind spots

Should I buy a Kia EV9?

If you’re after an electric seven-seater SUV then you don’t have many choices at the moment. The Kia EV9 does such a good job of transporting seven adults in comfort, however, you’ll wonder why you’d ever spend an extra £30,000 on Volvo’s upcoming EX90. 


While the EV9’s £65,000 entry price will raise eyebrows, the £77,000 you’ll need for a top-spec dual motor version might have people questioning your sanity – but once you’ve experienced the Kia’s tech, space and features, the EV9 almost seems like good value. Almost.


For the money you’re getting a car that can theoretically travel between 313 and 349 miles on a charge depending on whether you pick a 200hp single motor or 378hp dual-motor setup. 


You can also pick between a six or seven-seat EV9. The latter has three middle-row seats while the six-seat car (only available as a top-spec GT Line S version) provides two separate heated and cooled middle-row seats that can swivel to face backwards, or sideways to help install a child. Clever stuff. The seat must face forward again before you drive off.

Blue Kia EV9 driving down a country road, viewed from behind

This six-seat setup gives you great access to the third row of seats, which can also hold a six-foot adult in complete comfort, with their own cupholders and USB chargers. Oddly enough, you can only add matt-finish paint to your EV9 if you’ve picked the six-seat option.


In short, the EV9’s seating space is more Emirates Business Class than a Land Rover Discovery’s Ryanair accommodation (helped also by the EV9’s standard-fit window blinds for the middle-seat passengers), and the Kia also gives you a decent boot with all seven seats in place, unlike the Land Rover. 


Other than its price and divisive looks, the EV9’s only real flaws are a big B-pillar blocking the driver’s over-shoulder view, and the car’s tendency to let road noise into the cabin over rough high-grip surfaces, accompanied by high-frequency vibrations. Otherwise, it corners well for a 2.7-tonne car, and the dual-motor version accelerates like a cat startled by a dropped cucumber.


Interior and technology

The EV9 shares a lot of its cabin with the smaller EV6, but there’s still a wow factor when you sit behind the wheel thanks to two modern-looking 12-inch screens with an extra five-inch screen nestled between them. This small screen provides always-on access to climate controls, negating the need to use any fiddly menus to change the temperature or airflow around the cabin. Sadly, the steering wheel rim blocks this climate-control screen from view when you’re driving.

A Kia EV9's dashboard

The EV9 is one of the first Kia models to include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the built-in sat nav system is pretty decent anyway. It’s worth noting that the screen isn’t quite as snappy to respond to your touches as some newer rivals from BMW.


You’ll have no problems getting comfy behind the heated steering wheel either, thanks to plenty of adjustments in the seats, and a wheel rim that adjusts electrically on all models above entry-level Air trim. 


All-round cameras make parking the five-metre-long EV9 easier than expected, and there’s a litany of safety tech to keep you safe. All models get smart adaptive cruise control that uses navigation data to adhere to speed limits, and the system will even safely change motorway lanes for you when you flick an indicator on. 

Kia EV9 infotainment screen

Like the EV6, GT Line and GT Line S models of the EV9 also let you drive the car forwards and backwards from outside using the key. It’s handy for parking in tight car parks, but does take a bit of faffing about to set up.


All models get LED headlights as standard which look smart, but GT Line and GT Line S models get adaptive headlights that can block out other traffic while maintaining as much of the high beam as possible.


On a slightly less high-tech note, Kia’s gone out of its way to outfit the EV9’s cabin with as many recycled materials as possible. The leather is all artificial but still feels great, the super-squishy front-seat headrests are made from recycled plastics, and many of the interior paints are made from recycled oils.


Practicality

Air is an apt word for the ‘basic’ version of the EV9 because the whole cabin feels spacious, thanks to a high ceiling and a flat floor. Middle-seat passengers are treated to either a comfy three-row bench or two airline-style seats, and all models get a further pair of full-size seats in the third row. There are two USB-C outlets per row, so most passengers can charge their devices on the go without hair-pulling or tantrums on the way back from bingo night.

Kia EV9 third-row seats

Top-spec GT Line S models give you heated and cooled seats up front and in the middle row. Middle-row passengers also have access to a roof-mounted climate control panel, and top-spec models feature seats with fold-out leg rests for extra comfort. Short of buying a minibus, there are few better people-carrying cars on sale.


Usually, seven-seater SUVs get paltry boots until you fold the rear row of seats flat, but that’s not the case here – in fact the EV9’s 333-litre boot is better than most small hatchbacks. If you do flip the rear seats down – electrically using buttons on the right-hand-side of the boot – you’re left with a whopping 828-litre space. You can also fold the middle-row seats down for more than 2,300 litres of space, which is just about big enough to cram in a philharmonic orchestra before closing the standard-fit electric tail gate.


Towing’s also on the cards with the EV9. While the 200hp single-motor version can only pull 900kg on a braked trailer, the dual motor can lug 2,500kg – just expect a significant hit to your range.

Range and performance

All EV9s use the same 99.8kWh battery pack which weighs more than half a tonne, but also gives you decent driving range year-round thanks to a standard-fit heat pump. Single-motor rear-wheel-drive 200hp models can do 349 miles in ideal conditions, while dual-motor 378hp models can eke out 313 miles despite getting from 0-62mph in a blistering 5.3 seconds. The single-motor version takes a more leisurely 9.4 seconds. All models can charge at 210kW, meaning you can charge your EV9 from 10% to 80% in 24 minutes at maximum speed.


Driving and comfort

That huge battery means the EV9 is a very heavy car. Single-motor versions weigh 2.5 tonnes while dual-motor EV9s tip the scales at 2.7 tonnes. Truth be told, you rarely sense the weight from behind the wheel. In normal driving the EV9 grips well and doesn’t lean too much in fast corners, and five hours of spirited driving on Scottish mountain roads didn’t phase us, the brakes or the rest of the EV9. It drives predictably and never leaves you wishing it was lighter.


Comfort and refinement are generally good – you get a bit of tyre roar in the cabin at 70mph, but it’s not noticeably worse than in any other seven-seater SUV. While the suspension deals well with bumps and potholes, you do feel and hear an unpleasant amount of vibration as you drive over rough surfaces, such as high-grip Tarmac leading up to roundabouts on dual carriageways.


Overall, the EV9 drives well enough, especially considering its substantial mass, and the fact it’s a family SUV and not a sports car.


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