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Kia EV9 First Drive Review

The Kia EV9 is an all-electric six or seven-seater SUV that offers an extremely refined and premium driving experience, as well as having head-turning styling – Kia continues to be on a roll.

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

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   Kia EV9 GT-Line S
  • Fuel:   Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 313 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:   250 kW

Summary

  • Seven seats as standard; ‘GT-Line S’ six-seater available with second-row swivel seats
  • Three trim levels – ‘Air’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’
  • Available with rear or all-wheel drive powertrains, producing 200 bhp or 378 bhp
  • Combined WLTP driving range of up to 349 miles (RWD) or 313 miles (AWD)

Background

Kia has demonstrated amazing progress over recent years, especially in the area of electric cars, with the EV6 in particular being an excellent product.

The company has now launched the EV9, which, at the time of launch, is the only full-size seven-seat electric SUV available to new car buyers in the UK.

Our expectation was that the EV9 would combine the winning formula of the EV6 with the space of an SUV – so does it succeed in achieving this?

Kia EV9Kia EV9

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, with vertical LED headlamps and large 21-inch alloy wheels (although the entry-level Air model comes with 19-inch wheels).

The EV9’s interior feels very upmarket, with a minimalistic approach for the dashboard, and most car controls 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 in 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.

There’s also a ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, which offers 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. There’s even more space under the bonnet in the rear-wheel drive ‘Air’ models: 90 litres.

GT-Line and GT-Line S models have first row ‘premium relaxation seats’ which can be reclined with the footrest extended while parking or charging. The second row of seats can be folded at the touch of a button in a 60:40 split, and the third row can be folded remotely in a 50:50 split.

All Kia EV9 models have a 99.8 kWh li-ion polymer battery. The all-wheel drive GT-Line and GT-Line S models are powered by dual 141 kW electric motors, one on each axle. These produce a maximum combined power output of 378 bhp, and maximum torque of 700 Nm – 350Nm for both the front and the rear motors.

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

Kia EV9Kia EV9

Kia EV9 Driving Experience

When you step into the Kia EV9 it feels modern and spacious – and premium. The first task is to find the start button, which is located on the gear selector stalk on the right-hand side of the steering column.

The next job is to enjoy the instant responses when accelerating (with a 0-62 mph time of 5.3 seconds, performance should be more than sufficient for most people), and the refinement which is evident at all times when driving. Virtually all electric cars are refined, but the EV9 appears to take this one step further. It really does have a very quiet cabin, and a number of measures including ‘noise-absorbing tyres’ are responsible for minimising (or eliminating) noise, vibration, and harshness.

The 150-mile or so test route through the Scottish Highlands on the EV9 UK launch event demonstrated that in addition to the hushed interior environment, the EV9 has excellent ride quality, resulting in an extremely comfortable experience for drivers and passengers.

The test route included some amazing roads such as the A87 which snaked from Eilean Donan Castle past the Five Sisters up the Glen Shiel valley and through the hills to Loch Ness. The EV9 felt secure and composed on all the fast sections of road, helped by the battery sitting low down in the body between the two axles – but sharp bends can remind you that this car weighs over 2.6 tonnes.

Cornering ability is aided by the EV9’s Dynamic Torque Vectoring system, which uses braking and motor torque compensation to enhance stability.

The EV9 has three main drive modes, Eco, Normal and Sport, plus My Drive which allows personal settings for acceleration, braking and steering.

The level of regenerative braking can be adjusted by using paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, which is a much better solution than having controls buried in the touchscreen; it means that if you’re heading towards a downhill corner you can instantly increase the amount of regenerative braking with one pull of the paddle, so simulating engine braking.

The EV9 is an SUV, and in GT-Line and GT-Line S it’s all-wheel drive, so you would hope that it has some 4×4 ability. On the launch event it wasn’t possible to give the EV9 any proper off-road grilling, but very limited sections of off-road driving showed that the EV9 coped capably with ice and some mud and wet grass, despite having standard road tyres. To help with off-road challenges, the EV9 has Terrain Mode, which gives the options of Mud, Snow, Sand.

The EV9 has a 12.3-inch driver display screen, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a 5.3-inch climate control screen, and a head-up display. In the relatively limited time with the car on the launch the infotainment system appeared to work well, and having a dedicated screen for climate controls is better than having to delve into infotainment sub-menus. But one surprise was that the climate control screen was positioned between the two other screens, meaning that it’s always partially hidden by the steering wheel rim, and possibly your hand. The Kia EV6 has climate controls under the central touchscreen, which we think is a better position.

If you prefer to use your phone rather than the car’s infotainment system, the EV9 has wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto with voice control.

The digital rear-view mirror can be used as a normal mirror, or as a display for a camera picture if the view from the mirror is obscured.

Kia EV9Kia EV9

Kia EV9 Electric Range and Charging

The Kia EV9 GT-Line S has an official WLTP combined range of 313 miles, or 415 miles based on the WLTP city cycle (the EV9 Air model has a range of up to 349 miles). It wasn’t possible to test the real-world range on the launch event. The EV9 has a WLTP combined efficiency rating of 2.7 miles/kWh.

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; 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 (this socket is located in the rear footwell in the EV6).

Kia’s EV route planner will make automatic recommendations for charging stations on a journey, and the EV9 features Plug&Charge capability. This allows Kia customers to start a charging session at a Plug&Charge-capable public charging station simply by connecting their vehicle. Ionity is the main charging network supported by Plug&Charge at the moment.

How to charge an electric car

Kia EV9Kia EV9

Price And Model Range

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

The EV9 ‘Air’ is rear-wheel drive, producing 200 bhp 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’ is all-wheel drive, producing 378 bhp and 700 Nm of torque, with 21-inch alloy wheels and a range of up to 313 miles, and costs from £73,245.

The EV9 ‘GT-Line S’ is all-wheel drive, producing 378 bhp and 700 Nm of torque, with 21-inch alloy wheels and a range of up to 313 miles, and it costs from £75,995. Other standard equipment includes a front sunroof with tilting and sliding functions, a second row sunroof with sliding blind, a head-up display and 14-speaker Meridian Premium Sound System.

Although coming 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.

The first EV9 UK customer deliveries will be from January 2024, starting with GT-Line S models, with ‘Air’ and ‘GT-Line’ models due to follow later.

Prices and specifications correct at time of review

Kia EV9Kia EV9

Conclusion

The Kia EV9 is the only all-electric full-size SUV offering six or seven seats on sale in the UK at the moment (the Tesla Model X isn’t on sale as a new car in the UK currently). The EV9 is also all-wheel drive (apart from entry-level Air trim), and it offers a practical range of up to 313 miles (or 349 miles for the Air model). The EV9 has modern, bold styling, and the interior is spacious with a premium feel.

The EV9’s driving experience is very quiet and refined, with extremely comfortable ride quality. With a 0-62 mph time of 5.3 seconds, performance should be more than sufficient for most people. The EV9 is no lightweight, at 2,648 kg, but one benefit of this is its impressive towing weight of a mammoth 2,500 kg.

Green Car Guide has been charting the rapid upward trajectory of Kia for many years now, and we’ve been recommending the EV6 as one of the top cars on sale since it arrived in the UK in 2021. We’re in no doubt that Kia is producing some of the best EVs that you can buy, but we need to remember that there are lots of motorists out there that may still view Kia as they did around ten years ago, as a brand that produces cheap and cheerful cars. We’re here to tell you that view is very inaccurate, and the EV9 is yet more proof that some of the very best cars that you can buy have a Kia badge.

The Kia EV9 is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.

Car facts and figures Kia EV9 First Drive Review

  • Test electric driving range: TBC miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 2.7 miles/kWh
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2023/24): 2%
  • Price:   £76,995
  • Insurance group:   TBC
  • Power:   378 bhp
  • Torque:   700 Nm
  • Max speed:   124 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   5.3 seconds
  • Weight:   2,648 kg
  • Towing capacity: 2,500 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor