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In-depth reviews

Kia EV9 review: here’s why it’s our Car of the Year

As posh as it is palatial, the Kia EV9 sets a new standard for large mainstream SUVs while offering a strong and accurate electric range to boot

Overall rating

5.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Sci-fi design
  • Luxurious cabin
  • Acres of space

Cons

  • Expensive for a Kia
  • Finicky touch-sensitive controls
  • Single motor car not that fast

Kia EV9 verdict

The Kia EV9 pushes the boundaries of how upmarket a mainstream manufacturer can make a car before it’s officially seen as a true luxury item. The space-age seven-seater impresses with its plush and spacious cabin, while a strong electric range and seemingly endless equipment list is sure to draw in UK family buyers. Smooth to drive, both in terms of acceleration and ride comfort, and topped off by an industry-leading seven-year warranty, the Kia EV9 is thoroughly deserving of the title of DrivingElectric’s Car of the Year 2024.

Details, specs and alternatives

The Kia EV9 is the second model in the South Korean maker’s new line of futuristic EV-badged electric cars. Following on from the medium-sized Kia EV6 and soon to be joined by an even smaller EV5, the seven-seater EV9 sits at the pinnacle of Kia’s lineup, acting as a rival for the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7, Range Rover EV and Volvo EX90. Of course, that’s not forgetting the now-left-hand-drive-only Tesla Model X, the smaller Mercedes EQB and several van-based electric MPVs such as the Citroen e-Berlingo.

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Hidden underneath the EV9’s Blade Runner-esque exterior is a stretched version of the EV6’s E-GMP underpinnings. Also used by the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60, the EV9’s E-GMP setup incorporates a huge 99.8kWh battery, which Kia says will provide a range of up to 336 miles on a single charge – more than what’s possible in a Tesla Model Y Long Range.

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This is paired with one of two electric motor setups: the first – likely to be the most popular – incorporates a single electric motor on the rear axle, producing 200bhp. The journey from 0-62mph takes a leisurely 9.4 seconds, however, there is another option for those looking for a bit more poke. 

Dual-motor cars, as their name suggests, incorporate a second electric motor on the front axle; this not only provides four-wheel-drive, but also ups power to a healthy 380bhp. Despite weighing over 2.6 tonnes, the dual-motor EV9 only takes 5.3 seconds to reach the 62mph benchmark, meaning it has enough poke to rival much more driver-focused electric cars.

Travel back in time a decade or so and people would think you’re crazy for telling them that a top-of-the-range Kia starts from around £65,000, but alas this is the world in which we now live. Thankfully, the entry-level EV9 Air – the only model available with the single-motor powertrain – comes with all the equipment most buyers could ever need. Standard specification includes LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a tri-screen infotainment system with built-in sat-nav, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leatherette upholstery, heated and ventilated front and second-row seats, tri-zone climate control, a powered bootlid, plus a handful of driving aids,including  adaptive cruise control with lane centering and a 360-degree camera system.

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The biggest reason to step up to the mid-spec GT-Line car is the dual-motor powertrain. Yet, the extra cash does also get you a racier bodykit, complete with larger 21-inch alloys, posher front seats with greater adjustability, black interior headlining and an electric steering column. 

Finally, the top-spec GT-Line S is available with six or seven seats – the former includes a pair of first-class-style captain’s chairs for the second row – and gets a head-up display and an opening panoramic sunroof. However, unless you're after that six-seater layout, we don’t think it’s worth the upgrade over the GT-Line – or even the base Air for that matter.

Range, battery size & charging

Model

Range

Wallbox charge time

Rapid charge time

Air

349 miles

13hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)

24mins (10-80%, 210kW)

GT-Line/S

313 miles

13hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)

24mins (10-80%, 210kW)

Kia says the single-motor EV9 will manage up to 349 miles on a single charge, with the dual-motor car doing slightly less at 313 miles. While a Tesla Model X can, in theory, travel further without needing to be plugged-in, the EV9 can go for longer on a charge than, say, the Mercedes EQB, which can only do around 250 miles.

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It’s worth noting, however, that filling the EV9 up with people and luggage is likely to take its toll on the car’s overall range; like an overladen petrol car, the EV9 will be less efficient the more it’s weighed down. During our time with the EV9 – albeit with just one person and their luggage in the car – we easily averaged 3.1 miles/kWh, which equates to just over 300 miles on a charge. This dropped to 2.7 miles per kilowatt-hour (roughly 270 miles) in the winter months, though.

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When the battery does eventually run dry, the EV9’s 800v architecture means it can charge at speeds of up to 210kW; plug the EV9 into a 350kW ultra-rapid charger and Kia says 149 miles of range can be added in as little as 15 minutes. Things will take significantly longer at a home wallbox, though; while Kia quotes a full charge should be possible in nine hours 11kW, most properties in the UK don’t have access to the three-phase electrics that this charging rate requires, meaning you’ll be limited to a speed of 7.4kW. At this speed, we predict a full charge will take around 13-and-a-half hours.

Running costs & insurance

Starting from around £65,000, the Kia EV9 is pretty expensive, although not extortionate given its sheer size and the pricing of key rivals. It’s far from the most efficient electric car on sale, though; you’ll quickly eat through the EV9’s huge 99.8kWh battery and with a full charge at the current average electricity rate looking to set you back around £30, other EVs will be cheaper to charge at a home wallbox. Prepare to pay even more if you’re using a public rapid charger; we calculate a 10-80% top-up could cost you as much as £80 – virtually identical to what it’d cost to fill up a combustion-engined SUV with petrol.

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That said, company car drivers can almost completely ignore the EV9’s high starting price as, like all electric cars, it slots into the ultra-low 2% Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket. Kia’s seven-seat SUV will also be exempt from road tax (VED) and from paying the London Congestion Charge until 2025 thanks to its zero-emissions powertrain, too, meaning there are still savings to be had.

That is, unless you count insurance: the large and luxurious EV9 will be expensive to insure either way you look at it, occupying insurance groups 45 and 50, depending on which powertrain you choose. With this being the case, ‘high-risk’ drivers or those without a no-claims bonus may be better off looking at a van-based seven-seater like the Citroen e-Berlingo; this occupies the much lower insurance groups 18-20 and should therefore incur much smaller premiums.

Performance, motor & drive

Model

0-62mph

Top speed

Driven wheels

Power

Air

9.4s

114mph

Rear

200bhp

GT-Line/S

5.3s

124mph

Four

380bhp

The Kia EV9 is likely to constantly be laden with family members and their belongings, meaning it requires a punchy powertrain in order to shift all of that mass. Thankfully, for the most part, this is exactly what it gets; while the entry-level 200bhp single-motor setup may seem a tad slow with its 9.4 second 0-62mph time, a healthy 350Nm torque figure means it doesn’t feel quite as slow as you might expect – we doubt any EV9 buyers will be keen on taking their car to track days – and therefore it shouldn’t have much problem hauling whatever it is you plan to load the car up with.

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We’ve also driven the range-topping dual-motor model. This gets a more muscular 380bhp and accelerates with the same kick-in-the-back sensation as most electric cars. While we feel the impressive level of performance it offers is somewhat superfluous in a car of the EV9’s nature, its four-wheel drive setup provides plenty of grip and regardless of which powertrain you choose, there isn’t quite as much body roll as you might expect.

This really is rather surprising as, after driving the car on bumpy UK roads, we were impressed by how well-judged the EV9’s ride comfort is. It soaks up bumps beautifully – a real feat, given how the Kia SUV doesn’t rely on adaptive or air suspension to elevate ride quality – and paired with a light-yet-accurate steering setup, plus a line-up of quiet electric motors, it means the EV9 is incredibly easy and relaxing to drive.

Interior, dashboard & infotainment

As was the case with the smaller EV6 before it, the Kia EV9 manages to match its bold exterior with a strikingly contemporary interior. It’s amazing to think that Kia also makes one of the cheapest new cars on sale – the tiny Picanto city car – as the EV9’s cabin feels anything but budget. Even the third row is wrapped in luxurious soft-touch materials, while front-row passengers are treated to things like massaging and reclining seats on top models. Really, if we had one gripe about the aesthetics of the EV9’s cabin it would be that UK-spec cars are only available with black upholstery – a shame, given how good the light grey leatherette of international cars looks.

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The Kia EV9 debuts the next generation of the South Korean brand’s infotainment system, which once again comprises a dual-screen setup comprising a digital instrument cluster and central touchscreen. Both measuring 12.3-inches, these are pretty responsive to your inputs and come pre-loaded with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They’re also supplemented by a small 5.3-inch display that houses several of the car’s functions, as well as a touch-sensitive wood-effect panel and a row of toggle switches; the touch-sensitive controls, like in the Nissan Ariya, can be a little finicky to use, but we like the inclusion of physical toggles for the climate controls.

Boot space, seating & practicality

LengthWidthHeightBoot volume (seats up/down)
5,010mm1,980mm1,755mm333/828 litres

The Kia EV9 is a pretty big car – larger than the hybrid Sorento SUV and more in-line with the US-only Kia Telluride. However, it feels even bigger than you might expect on the inside; flat floors mean there’s plenty of space to stretch out, while there are lots of places to tuck away valuables and more USB points than even the most tech-obsessed family has devices to plug into them.

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The second row feels incredibly airy, but for the ultimate in traveller comfort, buyers should opt for the six-seater layout with dual captain’s chairs. Not only do they make accessing a child seat easier, but they can be rotated to face the surprisingly roomy third row, which is spacious enough for two adults to sit comfortably, even if it’s a bit of a pain to access.

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With all three rows of seats up, the EV9’s boot offers 333 litres of space – slightly more than a Vauxhall Corsa Electric. This should be plenty for the weekly shop, although you can electrically fold the third row to reveal a cavernous 828-litre load area. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a 90-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, which shrinks slightly to 50 litres in dual-motor cars.

Reliability & safety rating

The Kia EV9 is brand-new so, as you’d expect, we have little reliability data to go off of. That being said, it does sit on the same E-GMP platform as the smaller EV6, which was ranked the second-best electric car to own in our most recent Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Owners praised the EV6 for its striking looks, roomy interior – something the larger EV9 improves upon even further – and overall build quality.

Euro NCAP recently put the Kia EV9 through its notoriously stringent crash test regime, with the electric seven-seater coming out with a full five-star safety rating. Kia says the EV9 is capable of up to Level 3 autonomous driving and comes loaded with safety kit such as blind spot monitoring, forward collision avoidance and lane-keep assist. The EV9 also boasts up to nine airbags, which even protect those in the rearmost row.

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Hello there, I’m Tom Jervis and I have the pleasure of being the Content Editor here at DrivingElectric. Before joining the team in 2023, I spent my time reviewing cars and offering car buying tips and advice on DrivingElectric’s sister site, Carbuyer. I also continue to occasionally contribute to the AutoExpress magazine – another of DrivingElectric’s partner brands. In a past life, I worked for the BBC as a journalist and broadcast assistant for regional services in the east of England – constantly trying to find stories that related to cars!

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