Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

KIA EV9 AIR RWD REVIEW

The Kia EV9 ‘Air’ is a rear-wheel drive variant of the electric seven-seat SUV, offering a driving range of up to 349 miles and a very comfortable and refined driving experience.

  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
  • Kia EV9 Air RWD
Green Car Guide Rating: 10/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:    Kia EV9 Air RWD 7-seater
  • Fuel:    Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 349 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:    250 kW

Summary

  • Large seven-seat all-electric SUV
  • ‘Air’ model is rear-wheel drive
  • Electric driving range of up to 349 miles
  • Excellent driving experience

BACKGROUND

We’ve already reviewed the Kia EV9 in GT-Line S all-wheel drive form on its UK launch event in Scotland, and we were very impressed. We’ve now had the chance to sample the rear-wheel drive ‘Air’ model, which offers a longer driving range together with the standard seven-seat layout rather than the six-seat arrangement. So does the Air model also get our recommendation?

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Kia EV9 Air RWD

DESIGN & ENGINEERING

The Kia EV9 has a bold design that looks modern and it also ticks the boxes for people wanting the purposeful styling of an SUV (note that the entry-level Air model comes with 19-inch wheels rather than the 21-inch wheels of the GT-Line S).

The EV9’s interior feels very spacious and premium, with a minimalistic approach for the dashboard, and most car controls are accessible via the touchscreen.

Measuring just over five metres in length, the EV9 comes as standard with seven seats, but you can specify six seats as an option on the top of the range GT-Line S trim. If you opt for the six-seater, then the two seats in the second row can swivel to face the rear side doors – which can help with access for small children or people with mobility issues – or they can be turned backwards to face the third row of seats. In this layout, a long sliding tray, extending from the centre console, acts as a table between the seats.

With all three rows of seats in place, the boot offers 333 litres of luggage capacity, or 828 litres if the third row of seats is folded flat, or a van-like 2,318 litres if both sets of rear seats are folded.

There’s also a ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, which offers 90 litres of space in the rear-wheel drive ‘Air’ model. This reduces to 52 litres of space in the GT-Line and GT-Line S all-wheel drive versions, which is more than enough to store the charging cable.

The third row of seats can be folded or raised automatically by using buttons in the boot. The second row of seats can be folded using two other buttons, but these seats have to be raised manually.

All Kia EV9 models have a 99.8 kWh li-ion polymer battery. The ‘Air’ model has a rear electric motor producing 200 bhp and 350 Nm of torque. In comparison the all-wheel drive GT-Line and GT-Line S models are powered by dual electric motors, one on each axle. These produce a combined power output of 378 bhp, and torque of 700 Nm – 350Nm for both the front and the rear motors.

The rear-wheel drive Kia EV9 model has a maximum braked towing capacity of up to 900 kg. The all-wheel drive models have a much larger towing capacity of up to 2,500 kg, which is one of the heaviest towing weights for any car – electric or otherwise.

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Kia EV9 Air RWD

KIA EV9 DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Our review of the Kia EV9 GT-Line S model took place on some of the best roads in the Scottish Highlands. The review of the EV9 Air model was primarily carried out in almost the opposite environment: the UK motorway network from Manchester to Bedford to Harrogate and back to Manchester. This gave us the opportunity to test the EV9 over long distances and at high speeds, and it proved to be extremely comfortable and refined.

The ride quality of the EV9 Air is excellent, helped by the relatively high profile tyres; the car glides over potholes and bumps in the road. The EV9 is also very quiet, with very little wind noise or road noise making its way into the cabin (no doubt assisted by the ‘noise-absorbing tyres’).

The EV9’s handling is surprisingly good for an SUV weighing 2.5 tonnes, and even the steering is relatively sharp.

Performance of the EV9 Air model is perfectly respectable, with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 9.4 seconds, but it’s not up to the level of the GT-Line S model, which has a 0-62 mph time of 5.3 seconds.

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Kia EV9 Air RWD

The gear selector is located under the stalk on the right-hand side of the steering column, along with the start/stop switch; these controls are slightly hidden away. Not so with the drive modes (consisting of Eco, Normal, Sport and My Drive) – there’s a physical switch on the centre of the steering wheel, which is brilliantly accessible. There are also steering wheel-mounted paddles to adjust the level of regenerative braking, which is by far the best way of doing this, rather than via a menu buried in a touchscreen.

One brilliant feature of the EV9 (and the EV6) is the ability to push a button on the steering wheel for around three seconds to switch off the lane departure warning system, which will otherwise drive you mad with beeps every time you drive over a white line. Unfortunately the same can’t be said if you go 1mph over the speed limit – to get rid of the speed limit warning beeps the process requires the pressing of multiple buttons on the central screen.

Apart from this, the infotainment system is excellent overall. As well as the 12.3-inch touchscreen, the EV9 has a 12.3-inch driver display screen and a 5.3-inch climate control screen. Having a dedicated screen for climate controls is better than having to delve into infotainment sub-menus, but it’s a strange decision to locate the screen in a position that is obscured by a combination of the left-hand side of the steering wheel and your left hand. At least there are physical buttons underneath the central screen to change the cabin temperature, adjust the fan speed, and choose where the heating and ventilation is directed.

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Kia EV9 Air RWD

KIA EV9 ELECTRIC RANGE AND CHARGING

The Kia EV9 Air has an official WLTP combined range of up to 349 miles. After a week of covering many hundreds of miles we can report that the EV9’s range averaged 310 miles in real-world driving (most of it at 70mph on motorways). In comparison, the Kia EV9 GT-Line S has an official WLTP combined range of 313 miles.

A heat pump is standard on all EV9 models; this uses heat from the electric powertrain to warm the cabin in cold weather, so any loss of the real-world range in winter should be minimised.

The EV9 has an 800V electrical architecture which allows it to ultra-rapid charge at up to 250 kW, according to Fastned, although Kia is officially quoting 210 kW. This translates to a 10% to 80% charge being possible in 24 minutes, or a 15-minute charge potentially giving an extra 155 miles of range. A 10% to 100% charge should take just over 9 hours at a home wallbox.

A vehicle-to-load system (V2L) is also a standard EV9 feature; this can power external electrical equipment via an adaptor plugged in to the charging socket, and there’s also a 3-pin plug socket in the boot.

How to charge an electric car

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Kia EV9 Air RWD

PRICE AND MODEL RANGE

The Kia EV9 is available in three trim levels: ‘Air’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’.

The EV9 ‘Air’ as tested is rear-wheel drive, producing 200 bhp of power and 350 Nm of torque, with 19-inch alloy wheels and a range of up to 349 miles, and costs from £64,995.

The EV9 ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’ are both all-wheel drive, producing 378 bhp and 700 Nm of torque, with 21-inch alloy wheels and a range of up to 313 miles; the ‘GT-Line’ is priced from £73,245, and the ‘GT-Line S’ from £75,995.

Although it comes with seven seats as standard, the EV9 ‘GT-Line S’ is also available with six-seats, including second row swivel seats, from £76,995. The six-seat model is offered with a Pacific Blue exterior finish in either matt or gloss, or it can be ordered in the same colours as other seven-seat ‘GT-Line S’ models.

All EV9 models have rear self-levelling suspension, heated and ventilated front seats and outer second-row seats, heated steering wheel, 6 x USB-C charge ports (2 x front, 2 x front seats, 2 x third row), a 7-year/100,000-mile warranty, a 12-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile paint warranty and 1-year Kia roadside assistance.

Prices and specifications correct at time of review

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Kia EV9 Air RWD

Conclusion

The Kia EV9 as tested on the original UK launch in GT-Line S trim is a highly impressive car, with all-wheel drive, 378 bhp of power and 700 Nm of torque. The EV9 in ‘Air’ form is equally impressive; it may not have the power, performance and all-wheel drive system of the GT-Line or GT-Line S, but it offers a longer driving range of up to 349 miles and a lower price. It still offers lots of space, seven ‘full-size’ seats, bold styling, excellent levels of refinement, and extremely comfortable ride quality.

The EV9 makes for an interesting comparison with the only other all-electric full-size SUV offering seven seats on sale in the UK at the moment, the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV. We reviewed the EQS SUV recently and our test car came in at around £150,000, compared to £65,000 for the EV9 Air. The EV9 may only be rear-wheel drive rather than the all-wheel drive of the Mercedes, but apart from that, the EV9 is just as good as the Mercedes in most areas, and it beats the Merc in areas such as infotainment usability – so proving that Kia EV9 is an excellent car, and good value for money. The Kia EV9 Air is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.

Car facts and figures KIA EV9 AIR RWD REVIEW

  • Test electric driving range: 310 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 3.1 miles/kWh
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):    £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2024/25): 2%
  • Price:    £65,025
  • Insurance group:    49
  • Power:    200 bhp
  • Torque:    350 Nm
  • Max speed:    114 mph
  • 0-62 mph:    9.4 seconds
  • Weight:    2,501 kg
  • Towing capacity: 900 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor