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In-depth reviews

Kia EV9 review – a great seven-seater electric SUV

“Kia has taken on premium manufacturers and produced a flagship seven-seat electric SUV that’s also a superb family car”

Carbuyer Rating

4.5 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Pros Seven-seat practicality
  • Excellent EV powertrains
  • Clever interior

Cons

  • Kia’s most expensive car ever
  • Not the most efficient EV
  • Frustrating haptic controls

Verdict - Is the Kia EV9 a good car?

The Kia EV9 successfully moves the brand into direct competition with some of the world’s most respected manufacturers, such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo. It’s a truly impressive large electric SUV, with up to seven seats, a range of over 300 miles and very fast charging. It's expensive to insure, though, other cars offer a more premium feel at this price point, and it's not the most efficient EV in real-world conditions. However, it should prove to be a great family car and, for now, it’s the seven-seat EV to beat, even if you stick to entry-level Air trim.  

Kia EV9 models, specs and alternatives

Kia has completely turned around its image in the past few decades, going from a forgettable budget brand to a major player. The Kia EV9 is its largest electric SUV and a real milestone for the brand, as it’s the most expensive Kia ever, costing from just under £65,000 in entry-level Air trim – that’s not too far off the price you’d pay for a Land Rover Discovery fitted with a mild-hybrid diesel engine.

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The Kia EV9 is big, with dimensions not far off those of the electric Range Rover coming later in 2024. Other large electric SUV rivals are also set to include the Volvo EX90 (which starts from over £90k) and models such as the Tesla Model X, Audi Q8 e-tron and Mercedes EQC.

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After preliminary drives in South Korea and France, we’ve now driven the Kia EV9 extensively in the UK, so we have an excellent feel for it in multiple driving environments and road conditions. Every experience has left us impressed with Kia’s largest car, and not even the UK’s pothole-filled roads could hamper the ride – the EV9 has proven itself as a practical, comfort-focussed model, which will please UK buyers with a large family.

What struck us most about the Kia EV9 was just how quiet it was on the move – while electric vehicles are almost always quieter than their combustion-engined counterparts, the EV9 was particularly so, with not even the faintest hint of whine from the motors or noise from the tyres. It certainly is a departure from the clattering of a big diesel engine – a mainstay of large SUVs of old.

The Kia EV9 has already made quite an impression with our sister title DrivingElectric, which awarded it overall Car of the Year for 2024, as well as Best Premium Electric Car. That was thanks to its “huge space and practicality, premium feel and competitive range”, said the judges.

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The Kia EV9 is available from launch in three trim levels: ‘Air’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’. Entry-level Air models are only available with the single-motor rear-wheel drive powertrain. GT-Line S models can be had in the standard seven-seater, or an optional six-seater configuration. We’ve tested the latter, which swaps out the middle row for two larger, more comfortable captain’s chairs, but commands a £1,000 premium. If your priority is to enable rear seat passengers to travel in utmost comfort, then you might think it worth the extra outlay. If you’d rather the added practicality of the extra seat, the mid-row bench will be spacious enough – Kia expects this seven-seat model to make up the majority of sales in the UK.

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Equipment is generous, with all models getting three screens: a 12.3-inch digital dash display, 5.3-inch climate control touchscreen and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless phone charging, plus niceties such as heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are also standard.

Ambient lighting helps create a premium atmosphere, while the exterior is set off by alloy wheels from 19 inches in diameter. Amongst other things, GT-line will bring bigger wheels, replace the traditional door mirrors with cameras and upgrade the headlights to LED units. GT-line versions will also get a different bodykit and darkened exterior trim.

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The EV9 is based on a stretched version of the E-GMP platform found in models such as the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Hyundai Ioniq 6. While a 76.1kWh battery will be offered in some markets, UK models get the larger 99.8kWh battery as standard. This can be had with a single 201bhp in a Long Range version, which can top 336 miles if travelling long distances is your priority over speed. Alternatively, there’s the AWD (all-wheel drive) version we’ve had a chance to test out, with 380bhp from its two electric motors. Even more torque can be ‘downloaded’ via an over-the-air update called Boost, cutting its 0-62mph time to just 5.3 seconds.

Trim levels

Power options

  • Air
  • GT-line
  • 99.8kWh, 201bhp
  • 99.8kWh, 380bhp

Kia EV9 alternatives

There aren’t a huge number of seven-seat EVs on the market yet, and the majority of those hail from luxury manufacturers. While the EV9 may seem very expensive, it undercuts most of these premium electric SUVs, giving the Kia a fairly unique market position until more manufacturers get in on the act. 

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Electric SUVs

Range, charging & running costs

“An electric range of over 300 miles is impressive for such a large, boxy SUV”

While it’s astronomically priced compared with the Kia models we’re used to, the EV9 undercuts most seven-seat luxury electric SUVs launched so far. Kia and Hyundai are at the cutting edge of EV technology, and the E-GMP platform the EV9 is based on offers an impressive driving range and charging speeds.

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The large electric SUV’s size also means there’s plenty of space under the floor for a big battery – all UK models get the 100kWh sized unit, enabling the model with the rear-mounted motor to travel up to 349 miles between charges, so if you’re not bothered about the extra performance of dual-motor versions, this is the best pick for efficiency. The dual-motor GT-Line models get an official 314-mile range. 

Our test drive with the dual-motor model in Scotland in wintry conditions thoroughly impressed, as our heavy, seven-seater EV9 was tracking to get north of 260 miles of range, despite us pushing it at a range of speeds. The real-world range difference between that car and the model with the single rear-mounted motor is fairly negligible – we found it averaged about 270 miles to a charge when we tested it.

Every EV9 gets Kia’s 800-volt charging technology, with peak charging speeds of around 230-240kW at compatible public stations. According to Kia, a 10-80% recharge is possible in around 24 minutes if you find a fast enough public charging point.

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The Volvo EX90 has a longer claimed range of 363 miles and a top charging speed of 250kW, but it also costs considerably more than the Kia, starting from just over £96,000.

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Like every electric car, the Kia EV9 is exempt from the restrictions and tariffs imposed on some combustion-engined vehicles by low-emission zones, and the London Congestion Charge, but its high price will mean it’s soon subject to a luxury car tax for vehicles costing over £40,000.

Model 

Battery size

Range

Long Range RWD

99.1kWh

336 miles

AWD

99.1kWh

309 miles

Insurance

Unfortunately, the Kia EV9 will be quite expensive to insure, with even entry-level Air models starting from group 45 out of 50 (50 being the highest), and GT-Line and GT-Line S sitting in the highest group 50. This isn’t isolated to the Kia, with rivals from Audi, Mercedes and Tesla all in some of the highest insurance groups.

Electric motor, drive & performance

“It’s no speed demon, but the EV9 is likely to offer plentiful performance for families”

We’ve now driven the EV9 in entry-level single-motor Air, and dual-motor GT-Line S guise, and one of the key things we noticed was just how quiet it was. Of course, electric cars are usually quieter than cars with a combustion engine as you pull away, but even the slightest motor whine or tyre noise was notably absent from the EV9, which could take getting used to for some buyers. It’s no bad thing, though, as it equates to a high level of refinement and comfort for its occupants.

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On the rural, winding roads of Inverness, Scotland, in early winter, the EV9 felt very capable. Despite being such a large, heavy car, the twin-motor version we were driving felt quick, though that’s little surprise given its high power figure that yields an impressive 5.3-second 0-62mph sprint time. 

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Predictably, the single-motor Air version is slower, with a 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds. However, while stepping immediately out of the dual-motor version and into the single-motor car meant a drop in performance was very apparent, it’s still just as quick as a diesel-powered Kia Sorento. Quite honestly, modern electric-car performance figures have skewed our perception of what a large SUV should be capable of, and the EV9 Air never felt like it was lacking in power, so should be plenty capable enough for most drivers.

Of course, despite the dual-motor’s impressive on-paper performance, the focus in a car like this is comfort – an area in which the EV9 excels. Both cars iron out bumps and imperfections in the road excellently, and it manages to do so without the use of air suspension or adaptive dampers. In suburban environments, it’s incredibly soft and comfortable.

At higher speeds and when cornering, however, the Kia EV9’s comfort-focussed setup does mean that agility could be better. Swift changes of direction result in a fair bit of body roll and the EV9 takes some time to settle, but dynamic driving is a lot to expect of such a large, heavy SUV and it’s best driven less aggressively. With a much smoother driving technique, it feels balanced, predictable and well-planted on the road. All things considered, the balance between driving dynamics and comfort is right, and the steering feels well-weighted. We think the EV9 will be a great car to do the school run, cover long distances in, or even drive at moderate speeds around a twisty road.

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At first, manoeuvrability might seem daunting in tighter streets where the EV9’s large dimensions become very apparent – the rear windscreen feels further back than in a Kia Sportage or Sorento. However, the EV9’s surprisingly short bonnet up front does help when parking, as do its many sensors and cameras – most drivers will find they get used to it very quickly, thanks to the EV9’s impressive visibility.

The brakes are particularly effective at stopping the EV9, despite its size and hefty weight. The strength of the regenerative braking can be configured by choosing one of several modes which range from being barely noticeable and offering almost enough stopping power to allow for one-pedal driving. We like the paddles behind the steering wheel which allow for extra adjustment of the regenerative braking intensity easily and while on the move – it’s a feature we wish was included on more EVs.

0-62mph and top speed

UK buyers can choose an EV9 with one or two electric motors – which also dictates how many wheels are driven – and the standard 201bhp rear-wheel drive model gets from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds. We’ve tested the dual-motor AWD version, with 379bhp which drops this figure to 5.3 seconds. 

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It’s nowhere near as much power as a Tesla Model X, but we could still feel a noticeable surge in acceleration if we pressed the accelerator at any speed in the EV9. This was more noticeable in Sport mode, which also makes the weighty steering even firmer.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

RWD

201bhp

9.4s

115mph

AWD

378bhp

6.0s (5.3s with Boost)

124mph

Interior & comfort

“Space, comfortable seats and carefully chosen materials make this the best Kia interior yet”

The EV9 is certainly a striking car that’s not lacking in road presence. Its gloss black wheelarches and lower body trim, chiselled bodywork and vertically stacked LED exterior lighting ensure it looks every inch the contemporary SUV. Features such as its flush nose and door handles also hint at the lack of a combustion engine under its bonnet. The bodywork replacing a traditional grille can also feature customisable light patterns that are hidden until they illuminate.

Step inside and you’re greeted with Kia’s most high-end interior yet, with a widescreen front display, minimalist layout and a combination of sustainable fabric and wood trim for a soft and warm aesthetic. That said, it’s still not as premium-feeling as a BMW X7 or Range Rover, despite sitting in that price range. Kia has also thoughtfully included separate fan and heater controls, along with a metallic volume knob that’s a pleasure to interact with. 

Many of the car’s other interior materials are sustainably sourced, with a dashboard made from bioplastic (which comes from vegetable oils, corn extract, sawdust and sugar cane), and the door trims are made from recycled plastics, so it’s clear lots of thought has gone into ensuring the EV9 has environmentally-friendly credentials if you dig deeper into its design.

Kia has also thoughtfully included separate fan and heater controls, along with a metallic volume knob that’s a pleasure to interact with. The haptic buttons for the infotainment system aren’t quite as convincing, however, with a slight hesitation between prodding them and the desired response – we’d prefer traditional buttons instead.

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There are attractive circular air vents in the ceiling with separate controls for passengers, and cabin quality even holds up in the back, but it’s a shame there’s no full-length panoramic sunroof. Instead, there’s a small opening sunroof over the front seats, with a fixed panel farther back.

Infotainment and navigation

Infotainment is taken care of by three screens – one nestled behind the steering wheel for driving information, a touchscreen that spans across the dashboard for media and navigation information, and a panel for heating and ventilation switches lower down. The Kia EV9 comes in three different trim levels: Air, GT-Line and GT-Line S. 

We were thoroughly impressed in our time with the entry-level Air model because it felt loaded with plenty of tech as standard. It boasts 19-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. With so much tech thrown in, including keyless entry, a 360-degree parking camera, plus heated and ventilated seats in the first two rows and plentiful driver assistance and safety tech, it’s hard to fathom why you’d feel the need to opt for a higher spec.

If you do decide to step up a level, though, GT-Line brings larger 21-inch alloys, while the overall styling also gets a sportier look. This trim also gains two-tone upholstery, LED headlamps with an adaptive beam, different roof rails, an electrically adjustable steering column, electrically adjustable front seats with a memory and massage function, plus a remote parking feature.

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Top-spec GT-Line S brings 21-inch alloys, a front and rear sunroof – the front one gets a tilt and slide function, while the rear one slides only – a head-up display and a premium Meridian 14-speaker sound system. This model can actually be specified with a six-seat layout which replaces the middle row bench seat with two ‘captain’s chairs’ for increased comfort – these also swivel to face the doors for increased ease when getting in and out, or to make it easier to put children into a car seat. Keep turning them and they can face the rear-most passengers.

Key features

Air

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Twin 12.3-inch displays
  • Apple Car Play and Android Auto
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Electric folding, adjustable and heated door mirrors
  • Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
  • Dual-zone air conditioning
  • Powered tailgate

GT-line 

(Air plus…)

  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Two-tone upholstery
  • LED headlamps with adaptive beam
  • Electrically adjustable steering column
  • Electrically adjustable front seats with a memory and massage function
  • Remote smart park assist 2

GT-line S

(GT-line plus…)

 

  • 21-inch alloy wheels
  • Front sunroof with tilt and slide function
  • Second row sunroof with slide function
  • Head-up display
  • 14-speaker Meridian Sound System
 

Practicality & boot space

“The EV9’s five-metre length pays dividends for passenger space, and there are some neat storage solutions”

Measuring over five metres in length, and with the advantage of a flat floor with no transmission tunnel, Kia has been able to put the EV9’s vast interior space to good use. It’s available as a traditional three-row seven-seater, but also in a more luxurious six-seat layout, – both configurations genuinely allow enough space for adults to sit comfortably. The middle row in the six-seater version has two captain’s chairs capable of rotating to face passengers in the third row, for a pretty unique experience.

There’s lots of legroom and middle-row passengers can move their seats forwards to improve space for those in the rearmost seats. In this configuration, there’s a good amount of space for adults in the third row, although they’ll need to be somewhat agile to access them.

Kia has clearly spent a lot of time optimising the cabin for family use, with features such as a large glovebox that pulls outwards instead of dropping down onto the front passenger’s knees. A large central area houses wireless smartphone charging and storage, along with pop-out cupholders. There’s also a pull-out tray and storage cubby for those in the middle row, along with USB ports dotted around the cabin and more cupholders.  

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

Kia EV9 SUV

5,010mm

1,980mm

1,750mm

Volvo EX90 SUV

5,037mm

1,964mm

1,744mm

BMW iX

4,953mm

1,967mm

1,676mm

Audi Q8 e-tron

4,915mm

1,935mm

1,633mm

Boot space

Even with all seats in use, there’s still a decent 333 litres of boot space – about the same as a supermini offers. Fold the third row down (electrically in some versions) and a huge 828 litres is available, easily beating the 569 litres of an Audi Q8 e-tron. If you need some extra space for shopping or charging cables, the single-motor versions of the EV9 also have 90 litres of storage under the bonnet, shrinking to 52 litres for AWD versions with a front motor.

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

Kia EV9 SUV

828 litres

Volvo EX90 SUV

655 litres

BMW iX

500 litres

Audi Q8 e-tron

569 litres

Reliability & safety

“Recent Kia models have been a hit with owners, and the EV9 is packed with safety kit”

Take a look at our 2023 Driver Power results, and there are lots of positive signs that the EV9 will be reliable and go down a storm with customers. It should also be very safe, not only thanks to its size, but also as a result of Kia throwing the kitchen sink at its flagship model.

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Kia had a great showing in the latest Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, thanks in part to its Kia Sorento SUV coming in second place overall, and its Kia EV6 finishing seventh out of the 75 models voted for. The latter is the most relevant here, because the EV9 shares much of its technology and electric powertrain with the EV6.

Owners were full of praise for its electric motors and transmission, scoring the EV6 sixth in this category, while it came eighth for practicality and boot space – an area where the seven-seat EV9 should do even better. The EV6 also came 26th for overall quality, while reliability was ranked 63rd.

Safety

The Kia EV9 was crash-tested and awarded a five-star rating by Euro NCAP in December 2023. It scored well in all areas, but particularly high was its rating for child occupant protection, so that should offer peace of mind if you're driving with your kids in the back seats. A comprehensive suite of safety kit also meant the EV9 scored well in the ‘safety assist’ category, which should mean you’re less likely to get into an accident in the first place.

The Kia EV9 is the brand’s first model to be equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving features, including Highway Driving Pilot that can centre the car in its lane, even if the driver lets go of the steering wheel – in countries where it’s permitted. If an “imminent risk” is detected, the system can even perform an emergency manoeuvre to help avoid a collision. There’s also a blind spot camera that feeds an image to the gauge cluster when turning, adaptive headlights and a driver attention warning system.

The EV9 is the first Kia model that’s set to be offered with software upgrades that can be purchased and downloaded by owners – potentially including safety features. According to Kia, this will make it easier for customers to “stay up to date with the latest technology”. The first of these is Remote Smart Parking Assist, where the EV9 can park itself without a driver inside.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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