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2024 Kia EV9 Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
February 20, 2024
2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

In recent years, electric vehicles have burst into mainstream acceptance. Buyers who are willing and able to plug in can now choose among an incredible variety of makes and models. But one demographic has struggled with going electric: families who need three rows of seats. Some of them have wedged their kids into the barely usable third rows of a Tesla Model Y or Mercedes-Benz EQB. Others have paid steep prices for high-end models like the Tesla Model X, Rivian R1S, and Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV. Still others have stuck with gasoline-powered cars or hybrids. 

Now there’s another option: the all-new 2024 Kia EV9, a spacious three-row crossover SUV that starts at $54,900 – tens of thousands of dollars less than any other EV with this much space. This cleanly futuristic box promises the incredible efficiency and improved driving behavior of an electric car, yet with fewer sacrifices for your family. We just spent a week testing this promising new EV. Keep reading to learn about its pros and cons and see if this is the electric car that can hold your family. 

Up to 304 Miles per Charge

The EV9’s tempting base price comes with a caveat. The base model, the rear-wheel-drive Light model, travels 230 miles per charge based on EPA testing. That’s plenty for most folks’ everyday use, but a complication if you were planning lots of all-electric road trips. 

A $5,000 upgrade buys a bigger battery in the rear-drive Light Long Range, which has the most EV9 range at 304 miles per charge. Or you can spend another $4,700 (a starting price of $63,900) for the Wind trim level, which has all-wheel drive and zippier acceleration. The Wind and the better-equipped Land, like our test vehicle, get 280 miles per charge while the top GT-Line dips to 270 miles. Whichever you choose, you’ll get between 80 and 89 MPGe (the energy equivalent of gasoline usage). The EPA projects that the average driver will spend about 6 cents per mile on electricity versus the 15 cents per mile they’d spend to gas up a similarly sized Kia Telluride. In our chilly February test that also included lots of highway driving, our EV9 was on track to travel about 260 miles versus its 280-mile EPA estimate; warmer weather and slower speeds would boost its range. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

80 Percent Charge in 25 Minutes

Most EV9 owners will likely install a 240-volt car charger at home. It can refill an EV9’s battery from empty in less than 9 hours, so if you plug it in at night, you’ll rarely leave home without a full charge. 

When you’re away from home, you can plug in at a public fast-charging station. Kia says the best equipment can take you from a 10 percent charge to an 80 percent charge in 24 minutes. That would come to roughly a half-hour stop every 2.5 hours on the open highway – assuming your route takes you past an EV charger that’s powerful, functional, and not already in use. As with most EVs, you can take the EV9 on a long trip, but we wouldn’t do it often. Note too that public charging stations cost much more to use than charging at home. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Bold, Boxy Body

Most electric vehicles, including SUVs, are shaped with a clear aerodynamic focus. That’s why Tesla’s two SUVs, for example, come across as tall egg-shaped hatchbacks. The Kia EV9 is upright and boxy instead, with big windows and a high roof. Retractable door handles make the sides of the car look cleaner, and we thought the effect was particularly striking with our test vehicle’s matte silver paint. 

We don’t mean to suggest that the EV9 looks like a big, anonymous box. The front end has the same vertical headlights as the latest gas-powered Kias, but there’s no grille on that blunt nose – a sure sign of an electric vehicle. Around the back, taillamps run down the sides of the rear windshield, then turn 90 degrees to extend under the glass. Another stretch of light dips down and wraps around the wide liftgate opening. Aggressively futuristic wheels also quickly draw the eye. Overall, the EV9 has the shape of a conventional SUV but plenty of bold details. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Eco-Friendly Cabin

Kia proudly describes the EV9’s interior as eco-friendly and minimalistic. The company notes that it uses no animal products (notably cowhide leather) and that some of its trim includes recycled materials. And most of its controls and displays live on one of three connected, side-by-side screens that span most of the dashboard – a 12.3-inch gauge cluster, a 5-inch touchscreen for climate controls, and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen. 

We have mixed feelings about the result. It doesn’t have the purity of a Tesla interior, but it’s also missing the user-friendliness of buttons and knobs that you’d find in, say, a Kia Telluride. It takes extra concentration to reach around the steering wheel and adjust the climate controls. It’s tough to get the infotainment system to present fairly basic information like the name of a song playing on the radio. And while everything is solidly assembled, it doesn’t come across as super-luxurious – a potential issue when upper-trim EV9s like our test vehicle can top $70,000. On the other hand, there are no disasters or absurd learning curves. The EV9 has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and stalks for the windshield wipers and turn signals. Not all EVs can say the same. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Three-Row Spaciousness

If you’ve been wishing for an electric SUV that can fit your whole family, the EV9 might finally be your answer. It fits seven people (or six if you opt for second-row captain’s chairs like our test vehicle). And you can either slide the second row forward for decent third-row legroom or slide it all the way back for extra room in the second row. Like a Kia Telluride, this is an SUV with three real rows of seats – it doesn’t have minivan-like third-row comfort, but this isn’t an emergency-only jumpseat like in a Tesla Model Y. 

Kia also provides plenty of comfort amenities. Heated and ventilated front seats are standard on all models, and even the second row gets heating and ventilation on upper trim levels. High-end EV9s are also available with “Relaxation” front- and second-row seats with La-Z-Boy-style recliners. An available massage function is available for the front seats. And an in-car intercom projects the driver’s voice through the rear speakers. Our two complaints: There’s no eight-seat version, and built-in windowshades are limited to the top-of-the-line models. Both family-friendly features are more widely available on the Telluride. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Ample Cargo Capacity

The 2024 Kia EV9 provides 20.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seat, 43.5 cubic feet with the third row folded down, and 81.7 cubic feet behind the front seats. A small 3.2-cubic-foot cubby is available under the hood as well. 

These figures put the EV9’s cargo space in line with the Telluride’s – competitive but not class-leading for a three-row crossover, but quite roomy for an electric SUV. The carpet bunches awkwardly behind the third row, though, so you don’t get a perfectly flat floor with the third row in use. The EV9 is rated to tow 2,000 pounds with rear-wheel drive and up to 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive, which is competitive for a three-row crossover. Just know that towing a trailer typically cuts an electric vehicle’s range in half or more. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Near-Silent Speed

In addition to their efficiency, modern EVs are known for their performance. This isn’t a top priority for the EV9, but it also offers near-silent speed on most trim levels. The base rear-drive Light model with 215 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque takes an estimated 7.7 seconds to reach 60 mph, which isn’t lightning-fast but roughly matches a Kia Telluride with a gasoline V6 – without the sound of an engine roaring to redline. The Light Long Range, weighed down by a heavier battery and with just 201 hp, needs a lazier 8.8 seconds; still, we’re optimistic that it won’t feel too sluggish versus a normal gasoline-powered family SUV. 

All-wheel-drive EV9s, including our test vehicle, make a mighty 379 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque and zip to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. That’s not sports-car-like performance like a Tesla or Rivian, but it beats any gas-powered three-row family crossover at this price. You can also temporarily boost torque to 516 lb-ft, dropping the 60-mph sprint to 5 seconds flat. We also appreciated the EV9’s steady ride and handling and its quiet ride. It’s not a lively performance car, but it’s smooth and agile for a big three-row SUV. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Priced From $54,900

As we mentioned up front, the 2024 Kia EV9 is priced from $54,900 for the lowest-range rear-drive Light model, $59,200 for the rear-drive Light Long Range, and $63,900 for the all-wheel-drive Wind. Even the Light has adaptive cruise control; leatherette upholstery; heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable front seats; GPS navigation; a power liftgate; and even the intercom. The closest equivalent Kia Telluride is a mid-level EX model costing $41,590.

In addition to AWD, the Wind adds a dual-pane sunroof, a heated steering wheel, and a heat pump, which improves range and efficiency in cold conditions. It’s probably the sweet spot of the lineup. The next-up Land model, like our test vehicle, starts at $69,900 with a host of other luxury and technology amenities: a 14-speaker stereo, memory settings for the power driver’s seat, a surround-view parking camera, blind-spot camera mirrors, an exterior power outlet that can charge other EVs, and heated and ventilated second-row seats. The top GT-Line, $73,900, has sportier styling details (among them bigger 21-inch wheels), a self-leveling rear suspension, a head-up display, and remote-controlled parking assistance. Overall, you can push an EV9 well into luxury-SUV territory, but you don’t necessarily have to. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Competitors to Consider

As we mentioned, the EV9 enjoys a dearth of direct competitors. The Rivian R1S is perhaps the closest, since it has true three-row spaciousness yet more than 300 miles of range per charge. However, with a $74,900 base price, it starts right where the EV9 tops out – you pay for extra speed, a bit more range, a bit more cargo space, and higher-end interior trimmings. But while the EV9’s controls aren’t perfect either, we found them simpler than the Rivian’s, especially if you like using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Another three-row luxury model with similar pricing to the Rivian, the Volvo EX90, is also due out soon. 

The Tesla Model X is another option for a three-row EV. But while it’s roomier than the more popular, less expensive Model Y, the hatchback-shaped Model X doesn’t have much third-row space. It’s about wild speed and technological flash more than everyday practicality or value, though it does shine for its range and efficiency. It currently starts at $79,990 and qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit at that price. That’s a big change from when the Model X cost six figures just a few years ago. We’d also shop the EV9 against a pair of plug-in hybrids: the Mazda CX-90 PHEV and the Volvo XC90 Recharge. Both can go about 25 to 30 miles using only electricity before needing their gasoline engines. 

2023 Rivian R1S ・  Photo by Rivian

2023 Rivian R1S ・ Photo by Rivian

Electric for the Whole Family

The 2024 Kia EV9 isn’t quite perfect. We’d change some details about its infotainment system and controls, and it’s not a screaming deal. 

On the other hand, the EV9 didn’t need to be perfect to be a winner. The competition is smaller or more expensive. Nor do we mean you’ll feel like you’re settling. The EV9 has pleasant driving manners, a usefully spacious interior, respectable range per charge, distinctive looks, and a long list of features. It doesn’t create an impossible hurdle for a competitor to someday surpass, but so far, no competitor has created a better big electric family car. And if one someday does, well, we don’t expect Kia to stand still. As with other EVs, you’ll need to consider whether the range is enough for your lifestyle. But we see plenty of people who can accept a 270-mile-plus range in exchange for improved efficiency, lower operating costs, and speedier performance. 

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Kia EV9 Land ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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