2024 Kia EV9 Brings Comfort, 304-Mile Range and Glitchy Interface

Jackson Wheeler
9 Min Read

  • The all-electric EV9 is the new SUV flagship from Kia, with three rows of excellent seats, up to 304 miles of range, and a starting price of $56,395.
  • The interior is huge and comfortable, more so than most competitors.
  • Look for it in showrooms now—these first production units are coming from South Korea.

With the vast majority of the new-vehicle market now given over to crossover utility vehicles, a manufacturer has to do a lot to stand out. Three rows of seating is one way to do it, and the all-new Kia EV9 has three rows standard across the board.

But the world is also making the change to all-electric power, and again, the EV9 has that, with up to 99.8 kWh of battery good for up to 304 miles of range.

Overall, it’s the execution of this new flagship Kia that you’ll like most—simple things like seats that are more comfortable than in almost anything else you can buy. And I mean possibly the most comfortable lounge-like seats I’ve ever sunk a keister into. With the EV9’s commodious interior, you have room to tilt and recline to your heart’s content, and I did.

With more seat bottom cushion tilt and huge dollops of recline in the first two rows of seats, I cruised around NorCal in the rain like a NASA astronaut. Even the third row, a place often designed by sadistic circus chimps, was larger, more upright and more comfortable than any other third row I’ve ever squeezed into. I’d ride to Tucson in that seat. In the summertime.

Over the course of a few days in various EV9s, I started to wonder how many other upsized electric SUVs were available. Kia says the direct competition is the Chevy Blazer EV, though that model doesn’t come with a third row.

Kia also lists the Hyundai Ioniq 7 and Toyota bZ4x, but of those, the Blazer is on semi-long-term hiatus while they figure out electronics back at the Warren Tech Center, no one can remember the password-like name of the bZ4x, and the Hyundai Ioniq 7 isn’t out yet. You’d have to add the Teslas Model X and Y (both available with three rows) and Rivian R1S.

Kia also lists among competitors the Audi Q8 e-Tron, BMW iX, and Cadillac Lyriq, but all of them have two rows, while the Mercedes EQS EV has a third row, like the EV9. But the Kia stands apart from this upscale crowd—for reasons other than the lower price point.

The EV9 will go into production at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia, plant later this year, making it eligible for up to $7500 in US consumer EV tax credits. Kia says you can only get the tax credit if you lease, though. Our laws are goofy. Until domestic production begins, the EV9s available in showrooms will come from South Korea.

This SUV is big without looking ungainly. It rides on the Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), shared with the EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Genesis GV60.

The “hidden” haptic buttons don’t work for what felt like the first 42 times you try them.

It has a 122-inch wheelbase—longer than a Chevy Tahoe, matching a Toyota Sequoia, and less than an inch and a half shy of a Mercedes GLS 580. Its 197.2-inch overall length will fit in your garage, almost certainly, while the 68.9 or 69.1-inch height is downright limbo-like for such a goliath.

The EV9’s spacious interior is a highlight. There is 158.8 cubic feet of passenger volume with the six-passenger, three-row option (which I, Dr. Vaughn, recommend) or 160.3 cubic feet with the center bench seat (if you operate a particularly large carpool). Fold the two rear rows flat and you get a whopping 81.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

There is a USB charging port at every seat, a slide-out console for the second-row passengers, and even Remote Park Assist for those who still haven’t mastered parallel parking.

There are a couple flies in this ointment, though. The haptic controls that line up under the 12.3-inch center screen keep clicking on as you accidentally bump them while trying to adjust touchpoints on the screen above.

Then, when you try to tap the “hidden” haptic buttons, they don’t work for what felt like the first 42 times you try them. Likewise, the big screen above those haptics seemed to take at least 183 taps before responding. Drove me nuts which, admittedly, isn’t a long drive.

Once you got it to work, the optional 14-speaker 708-watt Meridian Premium Audio on our GT-Line trim level EV9s sounded just fine. Kia says the EV9 also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as OTA updates.

How does it drive? We experienced a few hundred miles inside three different EV9s, from all seating positions. The big crossover comes in five trim levels, but I can only speak to the $75,395 top GT-Line trim. That one gets an electric motor at each axle for AWD.

The two permanent magnet synchronous motors combine for 379 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque and a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds. If you go to the Kia Connect Store and buy the “Boost” feature, you can lower that time to 4.5 seconds “in certain trim levels.”

But for the vast majority of drivers who aren’t going to the local grudge match drag races, I gotta think (without having driven it) that the entry-level EV9 “Light” model for $56,395 will be just fine. Save money!

In that you get one motor at the rear axle drawing on a 76.1-kWh battery making 215 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That gets you to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is quick enough to keep you from getting flattened by semis at the freeway onramp.

The “Light Long Range” model uses a 201-hp, 258-lb-ft motor hooked to a 99.8-kWh battery for those 304 miles of EPA estimated range. There are also “Wind” and “Land” models. See your Kia dealer and mix ‘n’ match until you find the right EV9 for your needs.

One disconcerting discovery: on the way to the airport, with four adults and all their luggage, the ride quality felt downright choppy, showing the gulf between this and a Mercedes or Lexus in that regard. But with two adults and no luggage, from the driver’s seat, it felt perfectly comfy the rest of the time.

So is this the ultimate three-row electric SUV? It is for the price, until every other manufacturer starts offering something similar. But head down to your dealer and sink into those seats for a while. You may never leave the showroom.

Do you have big expectations for this big, all-electric SUV from Kia? Please comment below.

Headshot of Mark Vaughn

Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there. This was his introduction to objective automotive criticism. He started writing for City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of a car magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided Auto should cover Formula 1, sports prototypes and touring cars—no one stopped him! From there he interviewed with Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt motor show and has been with us ever since.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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