Expert Reviews

2024 Kia EV9 Review and Video

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

If Ford’s all-electric F-150 Lighting is the most important vehicle of our generation, the 2024 Kia EV9 is the most impressive – at least to this point.

OK, there’s a massive caveat that comes with this bold assertion – namely that there are more than a few six-figure supercars and luxury sedans that boast bigger wow factors. Let’s clear up that claim, then.

First and foremost, this electric vehicle (EV) falls well short of six-figure territory. But then that makes its spectacular ride quality, for example, all the more impressive. It’s also not any one feature or flourish that makes this EV so extraordinary. Instead, it’s all about the way every characteristic and component comes together that makes this a proper halo product not just for Kia, but for electrification at large.

Practicality: 9/10

That’s still bold, but then this is a bold move for this brand. With the EV9 it has managed to get to the mainstream market the first proper three-row SUV with an electric powertrain. (Yes, the Tesla Model Y is optionally offered with an extra set of seats, but that wasn’t designed to be a seven-passenger vehicle, whereas this obviously was.) However, rather than prioritize passenger space over cargo room – or vice versa – the designers and engineers behind this EV managed to make good use of both.

The numbers don’t do justice to the space itself, with actual usability exceeding what’s listed on paper. That’s especially true of cargo capacity with all seats upright, where there’s slightly less outright volume than what’s offered in the gas-powered Kia Telluride (573 L versus 601 L) despite more depth from the tailgate to the seatbacks that’s useful when packing this sport utility with stuff.

Those rearmost seats might not be the most spacious around, but sliding the ones in front of them forward to split up legroom leaves four properly usable seats in the back of this range-topping tester and its second-row captain’s chairs. (Not even the generously proportioned Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class offers this much flexibility.) Meanwhile, there’s plenty of small-item storage throughout the cabin, including a cargo bin that deploys from the back of the centre console, and an open space in front of it that’s big enough for a handbag.

Styling: 9/10

This being an EV, the styling both inside and out is at least a little future-forward. However, unlike its smaller sibling, the Kia EV6, this three-row is far from radical when it comes to its looks. A few cues here and there speak to the way it’s powered, like the lack of a traditional grille opening up front, or the stretched wheelbase that, at 3,100 mm (122 in), is longer than the truck-based Chevrolet Tahoe’s; but the EV9 looks more like a concept vehicle than an electric one.

The wheels might be the funkiest design element here, with this tester’s made up of four split spokes that look a bit like tuning forks. The lone disappointment is the plastic cover Kia’s designers opted to use to achieve the look. While drag reduction is the name of the game when it comes to an EV’s appearance, wheels included, plastic covers have no place on a vehicle that’s priced like this one (more on that shortly).

User-Friendliness: 8/10

The cabin is more conventional than those of its contemporaries, although the streamlining of some controls adds a certain degree of difficulty when making the switch from just about any other vehicle to this one. It’s a bit like the automotive equivalent of the Mac-versus-PC debate, with the EV9 playing the role of the former.

That means those with extensive experience with the latter – not to mention who struggle to grasp new technologies – might end up frustrated with the oversimplified interface, not to mention some of the quirky controls. The gear selector stalk with its stealth power button and haptic infotainment shortcuts, for instance, can present a significant learning curve to the uninitiated.

Otherwise, the EV9 can feel downright ordinary in the best ways possible. Of course, its electrified powertrain plays a prominent role in the drive experience – not that it’s intrusive, but rather the opposite is true. It stands out simply because it recedes into the background in a way no gas engine is capable of. But in terms of overall operation, it doesn’t present the driver with many challenges. Even the regenerative braking system that offers a proper one-pedal experience is easy enough to grow accustomed to.

Features: 9/10

This being the top-of-the-line GT-Line – which is technically a lesser equipped Land trim with a pricey package added, a simple trick employed by this brand and others to slide under government incentive caps – it’s decked out with all kinds of fancy features, some of which are unique not just to electrification in general but this particular Kia. Those include first- and second-row power leg rests that lend a lounge-like vibe to the interior, plus an adapter that allows the charge port to be used to power items when parked – handy when camping.

There are, however, some interesting packaging choices across the lineup. For example, while heated and ventilated front seats are standard, the same treatment for the second row doesn’t arrive until the Land trim’s optional Premium ($10,000) and GT-Line ($14,000) packages. Meanwhile, the cheapest version skips the heated steering wheel that’s included in every other trim. But then twin 12.3-inch displays are included across the lineup, one of which is touch-enabled and handles infotainment functions.

On that note, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections are standard, as is subscription-based satellite radio, a wireless phone charger, and six USB-C ports throughout the cabin. There’s also a companion smartphone app that can be used to control the vehicle remotely, while a paired phone or watch can be used as a digital key to lock and unlock the doors (the console-mounted fingerprint scanner is required to start it).

Safety: 9/10

A well-rounded suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance features is included in every version of the EV9. From forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection to junction turn assist that can alert the driver to oncoming traffic when making a left, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control, the EV9 has it all.

It also includes Kia’s highway driving assist system that provides some automated steering input and can even change lanes on designated stretches of divided highway, although the driver’s hands have to remain on the wheel. There’s also rear occupant alert and a safe exit assist system that warn of oncoming traffic approaching from behind the vehicle.

The only features reserved for the top trim’s Premium and GT-Line packages are camera-based ones, including live views of either side of the vehicle that are shown in the instrument display when the corresponding turn signal is activated, and surround-view monitoring. Meanwhile, only the most expensive one includes a head-up display that projects relevant information like speed and navigation instructions on the windshield in front of the driver.

Comfort: 9/10

For all the technology that’s included, the EV9’s finest feature might be its ride quality. This has become something of an ace up the sleeve of electrification at large, with the suspension spring and damping rates that are required to counteract the extra weight of their battery packs pay dividends on the open road.

In the case of this Kia, not even the massive 21-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile tires are enough to interrupt the tranquility inside. While some of the more severe road imperfections it encounters are felt inside, this SUV cruises over most of them without issue. Even the seats, an area this automaker has long struggled, are comfortable and supportive, with the ones up front featuring headrests made of mesh like the stuff found on high-end office chairs.

Driving Feel: 9/10

There’s a general smoothness here that’s worthy of praise. From the suspension that’s oh-so supple to the pristine power delivery and the ideally balanced regenerative braking, each of the different drive-related systems complements one another perfectly. Even the steering system that’s very obviously electrically boosted, a defining characteristic of EVs that tend to be a pain point for the lack of feel that comes with it, has been implemented exceptionally well.

Power: 8/10

The Kia EV9 can be had with the choice of two battery packs, the smallest of which is paired with a single electric motor and rear-wheel drive. The 99.8-kWh battery like the one in this tester can also be configured with a single motor and rear-wheel drive, or a twin-motor all-wheel drive setup that generates a combined 379 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.

Despite those big numbers, the EV9 never feels especially fleet-footed; instead, it’s all about silky power delivery that helps this 2,631-kg (5,800-lb) sport utility cruise along with a satisfying stealthiness. It’s not as if it ever struggles for speed when merging or passing, but this EV isn’t the sprinter its smaller sibling is.

Fuel Economy: 9/10

With that big battery pack and all-wheel drive, the EV9 tested here has an estimated range of 435 km on a full charge. That number jumps to 451 km without the GT-Line package, while skipping the extra traction pushes that to 489 km. (The 76.1-kWh battery provides 371 km, according to Kia.)

This past winter was much milder than normal, which left this test to be conducted in spring-like conditions. Even so, the maximum 503 km shown on a full charge exceeded the most optimistic of expectations. That’s true of its electrical consumption rate, too, which finished at 22.0 kWh/100 km after a little more than 403 km of testing – better than the 26.1 this version is rated for, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

When it’s time to charge, a 240-volt Level 2 station can do the job in a little less than nine hours, according to Kia, while DC fast-charging speeds can reach 350 kW – in ideal conditions, of course. During this test, plugging into a 180-kW charger saw the battery go from 49 per cent to a full charge in 48 minutes, while a lesser 50-kW station pumped it up from about 70 per cent to full in 44 minutes.

Value: 7/10

Electric vehicles are expensive – that much is obvious. But in the context of what the EV9 delivers in terms of experience, space, stuff, and range, it almost manages to seem reasonable. That’s especially true at the top of the lineup, where this tester and its premium paint breaks $82,000 before tax and incentives. That’s certainly a lot of money; but then that’s the cost of electrification these days.

Since Kia used packages instead of dedicated trims at the top of the lineup, every version of the EV9 is eligible for government incentives where applicable. That includes the full $5,000 federal rebate off the purchase price or a four-year lease.

The Verdict

The 2024 Kia EV9 isn’t perfect, but then no vehicle is. But what it lacks in perfection this SUV makes up for with purpose. This is the EV the market needs right now, and it happens to be really good. It’s a collection of appreciable qualities that come together in a way few others have been able to match over the years on the mainstream market or otherwise.

Engine Displacement 282 kW
Engine Cylinders Dual electric motors
Peak Horsepower 379 hp
Peak Torque 516 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 2.7 / 3.3 / 2.9 Le/100 km, 23.6 / 29.2 / 26.1 kWh/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 435 km est. range
Cargo Space 573 / 1,233 / 2,314 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row
Model Tested 2024 Kia EV9 Land AWD
Base Price $64,995
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $3,049
Price as Tested $82,394
Optional Equipment
$14,250 – GT-Line package, $14,000; Ocean Blue paint, $250