The All-New Family-Friendly Electric SUV That’s Changing the Game: Kia EV9
It’s not every day that you feel a wave of excitement when you think about a long drive in a Kia. But as the EV9 makes its grand entrance, it’s hard not to be captivated by the intrigue and curiosity it brings, especially in the realm of big SUVs. Can it live up to its brilliant and captivating appearance? Let’s find out.
Over the past decade, Kia has been on a winning streak, producing desirable and affordable cars that consistently make it onto people’s “what car to buy next” lists. But with the EV9, Kia has taken a major leap forward, crafting a car and design statement that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. Still, the price tag of £75,000 might give some buyers pause and seem like quite a stretch for a Kia.
The styling of the EV9 is undoubtedly one of its standout features, particularly when paired with its matte Pacific Blue paint option (which, incidentally, costs £725). Since Peter Schreyer joined Kia’s design department in 2006, their cars have steadily shed their amorphous look, but the recent work by Karim Habib has taken things to a whole new level. The EV9, in particular, garners so much attention that you can’t help but notice the double-takes from passersby.
Now, let’s talk about the different versions of the EV9 that are available. Kia is determined to position this multi-seat SUV as a worthy contender against stalwarts such as the Land Rover Discovery and BMW X5, two long-standing favorites in the school run crowd. The EV9 comes in multiple grades, with most models featuring seven seats as standard. The base Air trim starts at £64,995, followed by the GT-Line (£73,245) and the range-topping GT-Line S (£75,995). The GT-Line S even offers a six-seat option for £76,995.
The six-seat configuration is the pièce de résistance of the EV9, with three rows of two seats that can be rotated to create a car living room of sorts. Now, I’m not sure how often you’ll find yourself rotating the seats during your day-to-day family errands, but it does offer a unique feature that could be a hit. On the flip side, it might also mean more leftover crisps being ground into dust.
The standard equipment offered across all variants is rather impressive. Even the base Air trim comes with three-zone climate control, artificial leather, electric front seats, heated and ventilated seats in the front and middle rows, a heated steering wheel, and a comprehensive infotainment suite. If you’re looking for the sweet spot in terms of price and features, the mid-level GT-Line is where you’ll find it.
Every EV9 model is equipped with a 99.8 kWh battery located skateboard-style under the floor, similar to the EV6 that shares the E-GMP platform. This setup allows for 800V architecture and 350kW charging speeds, enabling the all-wheel drive version to add up to 136 miles of range in just 15 minutes. Impressive, to say the least.
Moving on to the interior, the quality is top-notch. Unfortunately, the tasteful blue non-leather upholstery of our test car won’t be available in the UK, but Kia has opted for a black-and-white combination instead. The materials used and the overall perceived quality are exceptional.
The EV9 boasts a vast digital dash with a 12.3-inch cluster in front of the driver, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, and a 5.3-inch climate control screen in between. The layout is user-friendly, and the steering wheel is equipped with plenty of physical buttons for easy access, eliminating the need to stretch and fumble around the infotainment screen.
Thanks to its flat floor, the EV9 offers ample in-cabin storage space. The GT-Line and higher trims even come with front seats that have a nifty recline function complete with a footrest. It’s the perfect setup for those moments when you want to enjoy a business-class-like experience while recharging your car.
In terms of passenger comfort, the EV9 doesn’t disappoint. There’s an abundance of legroom and headroom in the back, and the middle row splits 40:60 and can slide forward and backward. Access to the rear is made easy with the middle row seats flipping and sliding forward using just a single lever. Adults could comfortably occupy the back seats for a short journey, and both the middle and rear rows can be folded flat to accommodate extra cargo.
Each row of seats has its own climate control settings and vents in the ceiling, and there are plenty of USB C sockets throughout the cabin. It may sound like I’m doing a consumer report, but as someone who has dealt with unhappy children and a frustrated spouse during car trips, these minor details do make a significant difference. Kia has paid attention to the small things, and it shows.
Like many electric vehicles (EVs), Kia is keen to highlight the eco-friendly nature of the EV9. The car incorporates materials such as faux-leather seats and steering wheels (which feel great to the touch), bio plastics on the dashboard and console, and carpets made from recycled fishing nets. However, there are a few odd quirks, such as a lack of reach adjustment in the steering wheel and air conditioning controls that are partially hidden behind the steering wheel. It’s strange to see these oversights in contrast to the meticulous attention given to other aspects of the car.
The driving experience in the EV9 is most enjoyable on smooth and easy roads. With its stable footprint and ample power, it effortlessly soaks up the miles, providing a quiet cabin and well-damped ride. Comfort is a standout feature of the EV9, noticeable from the moment you hit the road. The controls and suspension offer a softness that easily handles uneven surfaces, making it ideal for city driving.
While the EV9 handles admirably in town, its heft becomes more apparent in certain situations, like high-speed bumps or uneven road surfaces. It does a decent job of mitigating body roll, but it’s clear that the suspension is tuned for a more relaxed driving experience. The EV9 glides into bends, rolls through corners, and effortlessly moves on to the next straight road. It’s like a cuddly cartoon bear – soft and comforting, without any of the real bear’s hidden claws or teeth. It lacks the excitement or edginess you might find in other vehicles, like the BMW X5.
The steering in the EV9 is precise but devoid of feedback, making it safe and predictable to maneuver. If you’re looking for seven seats and a vehicle that offers a bit more agility in steering and cornering, you’ll have to head over to your local BMW dealership.
That being said, I found the EV9 to be a better option than the Tesla Model Y. It may not be more engaging to drive, but it certainly offers a more comfortable ride and predictable steering. The EV9 exudes a sense of relaxation on the road.
So, what’s the final verdict on the Kia EV9? As an eco-friendly solution for families looking to transition to a large electric car, the EV9 excels. Kia has taken into account every aspect of a stressed-out parent’s life and created a vehicle with functionality and ease of use that may not make headlines but does make the chaotic world of family errands a little less stressful.
However, if you’re seeking excitement and a thrilling driving experience, you might want to explore other options. While the EV9 delivers impressive speed and comfort, it falls short when it comes to delivering that exhilarating rush you’d get from driving a BMW X5. Nevertheless, if you prioritize convenience and ease of use, few vehicles can match the EV9.
In conclusion, the Kia EV9 is making waves in the world of electric SUVs. With its compelling design, impressive range, and family-friendly features, it’s clear that Kia is pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo. The EV9 is a testament to Kia’s commitment to innovation and its dedication to providing desirable and affordable cars that cater to the needs of modern families. It may be a stretch to imagine a £75,000 Kia, but the EV9 proves that dreams can become a reality. So, buckle up and get ready for an electrifying journey in the all-new Kia EV9.