Kia EV9 review

Category: Electric car

As an electric seven-seat SUV, the EV9 has fairly unique appeal – but it's expensive

Kia EV9 front right driving
  • Kia EV9 front right driving
  • Kia EV9 interior dashboard
  • Kia EV9 boot open
  • Kia EV9 interior driver display
  • Kia EV9 right driving
  • Kia EV9 front cornering
  • Kia EV9 rear cornering
  • Kia EV9 front right static
  • Kia EV9 left static
  • Kia EV9 rear left static
  • Kia EV9 headlights detail
  • Kia EV9 front boot
  • Kia EV9 boot open seats down
  • Kia EV9 alloy wheel detail
  • Kia EV9 charging socket detail
  • Kia EV9 interior front seats
  • Kia EV9 interior back seats
  • Kia EV9 interior back seats
  • Kia EV9 interior steering wheel detail
  • Kia EV9 interior infotainment
  • Kia EV9 interior dashboard detail
  • Kia EV9 interior detail
  • Kia EV9 interior detail
  • Kia EV9 front right driving
  • Kia EV9 interior dashboard
  • Kia EV9 boot open
  • Kia EV9 interior driver display
  • Kia EV9 right driving
  • Kia EV9 front cornering
  • Kia EV9 rear cornering
  • Kia EV9 front right static
  • Kia EV9 left static
  • Kia EV9 rear left static
  • Kia EV9 headlights detail
  • Kia EV9 front boot
  • Kia EV9 boot open seats down
  • Kia EV9 alloy wheel detail
  • Kia EV9 charging socket detail
  • Kia EV9 interior front seats
  • Kia EV9 interior back seats
  • Kia EV9 interior back seats
  • Kia EV9 interior steering wheel detail
  • Kia EV9 interior infotainment
  • Kia EV9 interior dashboard detail
  • Kia EV9 interior detail
  • Kia EV9 interior detail
What Car?’s EV9 deals
New car deals
Target Price from £65,025
or from £756pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £68,490

Introduction

What Car? says...

You could argue that the Kia EV9 is in a class of one, because it's unrivalled when it comes to practicality at this price in the electric SUV class. You see, if you want to go fully electric and need to carry around seven people in comfort, your options are decidedly limited.

Sure, the Mercedes EQB has as many seats as the EV9, but adults really won’t fancy a trip in the third row. The much larger Mercedes EQS SUV solves the issue of space and throws in a luxurious interior, but it’s seriously pricey. And while some electric van-based MPVs – such as the Vauxhall Vivaro Life Electric – can match the EV9 for space, they have a limited range between charges, a basic interior and rudimentary driving manners.

At just over five metres long, the EV9 is about the same size as an Audi Q7 and around 20cm longer and 8cm taller than Kia's excellent hybrid seven-seat SUV, the Kia Sorento.

The Kia EV9's "Robocop’s family transport" looks mean it stands out from conventional-looking SUVs, but is this behemoth good enough to rank among the best electric SUVs?

In other words, can the EV9 match the other rivals we've mentioned, while being as plush inside as an Audi Q8 e-tron and driving as well as a BMW iX? Oh, and how much does it cost to buy and run? Read on to find out...

Kia EV9 rear cornering

Overview

The Kia EV9 is a fully electric SUV that can seat seven adults in comfort, and has a healthy range between charges. However, if you can live with five seats or are prepared to consider petrol and plug-in hybrid alternatives, the EV9 doesn’t stack up quite so well. The cheapest RWD Air model makes the most sense, because it has the longest range and is well equipped.

  • Hugely spacious and practical
  • Very well equipped
  • Long range between charges
  • Expensive
  • Interior doesn’t compete with premium alternatives
  • Six-seat option limited to top-spec trim
New car deals
Target Price from £65,025
or from £756pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £68,490

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

All versions of the Kia EV9 have a 95kWh (usable capacity) battery, but the range between charges depends on whether you want two or four-wheel drive – aka RWD or AWD.

The entry-level RWD version is driven by its rear wheels and can officially do 349 miles, while the heavier AWD model tops out at 313 miles. Those official ranges are pretty much impossible to match in real-world driving, but the EV9 will travel further on a fully charged battery than a similarly priced Audi Q8 e-tron or BMW iX. That’s also more than a Mercedes EQB’s maximum range of 321 miles.

The 200bhp RWD version and its 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds is respectable. There’s enough punch for everyday driving and it builds momentum gently in a linear fashion. 

The AWD adds a second motor on the front axle for lots more power and drops the 0-62mph time to just 5.3 seconds. That’s quick by any standards and it feels it, deploying its power instantaneously and pinning occupants back into their seats.

However, being an enormous SUV with relatively soft suspension and the AWD’s power means there’s quite a lot of movement when pressing on. The nose of the car rears up during hard acceleration before pitching down towards the ground again when you hit the brakes.

Kia EV9 image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

There’s also quite a lot of body lean in the corners, but at least the EV9 doesn't sway violently when changing direction. This is a practical family SUV after all, so driving the EV9 at a moderate pace seems most suitable. The light steering is useful when manoeuvring in urban environments, while switching into Sport mode adds a bit more weight to help it feel more precise.

The pay-off for the softer suspension setup is a comfortable ride. The RWD EV9 lopes along comfortably on a motorway and does a good job of taking out the sting from bumps and potholes. The heavier AWD version has slightly firmer suspension that irons out the road surface a little bit better, and while this results in a slightly calmer ride, the difference is subtle.

Unlike many alternatives in its price bracket, the EV9 is not available with air suspension to help manage its hefty kerb weight. As a result, the EV9 misses out on that extra layer of suppleness against sharp-edged intrusions that a Land Rover Defender 110 or BMW iX provides. That also means you also can’t adjust the EV9’s ride height. 

Aside from some wind noise – no doubt generated by that boxy silhouette – the EV9 is hushed on motorways with little road noise to bother you or your occupants. True, it doesn’t isolate you from the outside world as well as the Q8 e-tron or iX, but then few cars in any class do.

Driving overview

Strengths Healthy range between charges; AWD version is very quick

Weaknesses Sharper handling rivals; ride comfort isn’t quite as plush as in rivals; not as quiet as premium-badged alternatives

Kia EV9 interior dashboard

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Kia’s interiors have been getting better and better over the years and we’d go so far as to say the EV9 is the brand’s best effort yet.

Not by much, though, and the materials used inside don’t impress compared with those in premium five-seat electric SUVs – including the Audi Q8 e-tron and the BMW iX – or seven-seat petrol alternatives, such as the Audi Q7 and the Land Rover Defender.

The covering on the steering wheel doesn’t feel as premium, for example, and the soft-touch material on the dashboard isn’t particularly dense or plush given the price bracket the EV9 is competing in. There are no options to personalise the interior with different colour schemes, meaning there’s a lot of grey on show.

The driving position has that elevated feel SUV buyers love, and the front seats are comfortable with a good amount of side support. However, there are some ergonomic irritations, such as the Start button hidden behind the steering wheel, and the fact that the wheel blocks your view of the 5.3in air-con touchscreen.

Fortunately, there are some physical switches for the most commonly used air-con controls (i.e. temperature and fan speed), and these are easily visible in the middle of the dashboard. 

Above those you’ll spot some text that marks out haptic shortcut buttons for the infotainment system. If you prod them hard enough, they vibrate so you know your request has been registered.

The infotainment system is controlled using a 12.3in touchscreen, similar to the one in the Kia EV6 but with a slightly different layout. The screen doesn’t have the clarity or response times to compete with Audis and BMWs in this price range, but it’s still easy enough to use and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.

Upgrading to range-topping GT-Line S trim swaps the standard eight-speaker sound system for 14-speaker Meridian equivalent, which is really punchy and great for family carpool karaoke.

The driver gets a 12.3in digital instrument panel, which is clear and positioned high enough to negate the need for a head-up display. The only slight issue for some drivers is that the top of the steering wheel obstructs the top section of the display when set to its lowest position.

In most respects, visibility is good wherever in the car you’re sitting – even on the two third-row seats, thanks to the EV9's big rear three-quarter side windows. Our only criticism is that it can be difficult to judge the projection of the bonnet from the driver’s seat, and that's not a major problem since you get front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera.

Interior overview

Strengths Comfortable driver's seat; generally good visibility; punchy Meridian sound system on range-topper

Weaknesses Some ergonomics issues; so-so interior quality for the price; touchscreen can be slow to respond

Kia EV9 boot open

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Other than the way it looks, the biggest draw of the Kia EV9 is how big and practical it is. Indeed, no other fully electric SUV comes close.

Third-row passengers benefit most from the EV9’s sizeable dimensions, because unlike in some seven-seaters, six-footers have plenty of head room. There’s more than enough knee room too – as long as those sitting on the row in front don't slide their seats all the way back.

And they shouldn't need to: knee room on the second row is, frankly, ridiculous. That's the case whether you go for the standard seven-seater, with its 2-3-2 seats layout, or the six-seater configuration, with three pairs of seats. In the six-seater, you get two individual chairs in the second row, and they can swivel 180 degrees to allow passengers to face backwards.

The swivelling chairs also make it easy to load and unload kids into child seats. The EV9 has four Isofix mounts – two on the second row and two on the third. However, to have the six-seater version you’ll first need to choose range-topping GT-Line S trim then fork out an extra £1,000, which means you’ll be spending a lot of money.

With all the seats in use, the EV9 has slightly more boot space than a Toyota Yaris small car, but you can fold down the third and second row seatbacks electrically by pressing buttons to create much more luggage space. In two-seat mode, the EV9 is essentially transformed into a funky-looking van.

There's also some storage under the bonnet, although in four-wheel-drive versions you’ll fit the charging cable there but not a lot else. Rear-wheel-drive EV9s have slightly more under-bonnet stowage, but not enough for a carry-on suitcase.

Interior stowage is impressive, with a huge tub under the floating centre console in the front, and a cubby under the central armrest. In the second row, there’s a pull-out drawer at floor level in front of the middle seat, plus two cupholders a little higher up. Third-row passengers get their own cupholders too.

Practicality overview

Strengths Genuine space for seven tall adults; big boot; six-seater option

Weaknesses Not much

Kia EV9 interior driver display

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

On the face of it, the Kia EV9 seems very expensive, with a starting price similar to the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Defender 110, and only slightly below the Audi Q8 e-tron and BMW iX.

The EV9 is also expensive if you decide to buy on PCP finance, with significantly higher monthly payments than a Defender 110.

However, the Q7 and the Defender are not electric cars, and while the Q8 e-tron and iX are, you can’t have either of them with seven seats. The Mercedes EQB and the Mercedes EQS SUV are the only other fully electric seven-seat SUVs sold in the UK. The EQB is much less practical, and the EQS SUV is about twice the price of the EV9.

So, yes, the EV9 is expensive, but it has unique appeal at the moment, and to help make up for the price, it comes very well equipped. To make sure you get the lowest price, see our new Kia deals page.

Our preferred entry-level Air trim – which is only available on the rear-wheel-drive EV6 – comes with three-zone climate control, electric front seats (heated and ventilated in the first two rows), a heated steering wheel, a powered tailgate and a heat pump for more efficient warming of the interior in cool conditions. The standard 19in alloys look pretty small on a car this big, mind.

If you choose four-wheel drive, you can have GT-Line or GT-Line S trim.

GT-Line comes with 21in alloys, sportier styling, more comfortable front seats and adaptive headlights. Range-topping GT-Line S adds a sunroof, a head-up display, and a 14-speaker Meridian sound system.

The EV9 impresses when it comes to charging, because it has a maximum charging speed of 210kW. In ideal conditions and if you can find a fast enough public charging point, a 10-80% top-up can be taken care of in just 24 minutes. That’s quicker than a Q8 e-tron, iX or EQB.

We can’t give you much of a steer on reliability because the EV9 is still quite new. However, we can tell you that Kia finished eighth out of 32 brands in the overall manufacturer league table in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey.

The EV9 was awarded the full five star rating when it was tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP. All models do come with lots of standard safety, though, including blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic emergency braking (AEB).

Costs overview

Strengths Quick to charge; lots of equipment as standard; long warranty

Weaknesses Very expensive; heavier predicted depreciation than some rivals

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

FAQs

  • Officially, the EV9 can travel between 313 and 349 miles on a full charge (the heavier four-wheel-drive models can’t go quite as far). In the real world, expect 220 to 310 miles, depending on the weather and which version to choose.

  • The EV9 is available to order now. For the latest prices, see our New Car Deals pages.

  • Yes, the EV9 is available in the UK and you can choose between a six or seven-seat configuration. However, you can’t have the lounge-style second-row seats that are offered in some other markets.

  • That depends on your requirements. If you need an electric seven-seat SUV that can fit six adult passengers in comfort, the EV9 is your only option right now. If you can live with five seats or are prepared to consider petrol and hybrid models, there are strong rivals to consider – see out best family SUVs and best seven-seaters pages.

At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £65,025
or from £756pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £68,490
RRP price range £65,025 - £77,025
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £130 / £154
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £260 / £308
Available colours