If you’re shopping around for a full-size electric SUV here in the UK, your options are very, very limited. With such a vast gap in the market for this otherwise popular form factor, particularly for folks looking at getting a capable family car, Kia has since filled it with their all-new EV9. A gargantuan 7-seater electric SUV, fitted to the brim with tech, luxury features, and wrapped in between the traditional refinement that we’d expect out of Kia, is the EV9 worth considering, or should you wait for more options to flood the market?
I was offered the chance by Kia to drive their latest EV9 far up north, in Scotland – an immensely challenging condition for any EV. With bitter cold and tough roads to tackle, not only would it test the EV9’s EV range to its limit, but it’s also a good way to see just how well it would cope with ride quality, handling, and comfort in these long, windy, country roads. As it turns out, Kia’s new EV9 not only readily took these on, but it may prove compelling enough for folks who have been worried about the EV9’s premium price tag.
What Is The Kia EV9 GT-Line S 7 Seater About?
A new SUV for a new era for Kia, the EV9’s design showcases quite a bold statement. It’s big, boxy, brawny, and definitely very different from quite a lot of Kia SUVs and crossovers that we’ve become used to over the past several years. Plus, it’s a huge departure from Kia’s design ethos as a whole. The EV9 is a large, full-sized SUV, so for our petite UK roads, it’s worth bearing in mind that it will have similar physical proportions to a Range Rover and would size up to it on the road. Yet, its shockingly nimble performance and good outward visibility do make it feel and drive smaller than it is.
Although, if you’re able to stomach its larger-than-usual proportions, I do quite like the aesthetics that Kia’s going for here. The EV9 has that Cyberpunk-y vibe, from the flat, monolithic front-end, to the sharp lighting signatures front and rear, as well as the slab-sided silhouette all-around. Its razor-sharp body lines and then accentuated by the cool pop-out door handles, which normally sit flush against the bodywork. Additionally, equally as eye-catching as the rest of the EV9 are its massive 21-inch alloy wheels, making it stand out even more.
How Does It Drive?
A common virtue of any EV, given their engine-less design, is that they’re extremely quiet. The Kia EV9 does indeed share those attributes, but even compared to most other EVs, Kia’s EV9 is exceptionally well-refined. Furthermore, thanks to a substantial amount of engineering, between the EV9’s noise-cancelling tech in the cabin, noise-reducing foam inserts in the Pirelli P Zero tyres, and other sound-deadening material elsewhere, it’s really silent when you’re sitting inside, both in terms of road noise and tyre roar.
A lot of this also has to do with the way the EV9’s aero works, with airflow around the car optimised to be as slippery (great for its range and performance, as we’ll take a look at later), as well as being as whisper-quiet as possible, in regards to reducing wind noise. Underneath this Kia EV9, it’s set up superbly nice for comfort, with a ride quality that’s super-soft and gentle. In the real world, this makes it far easier and more effortless to drive day in, and day out, with lightweight steering and well-dampened suspension.
The latter handily soaks up the bumps and undulations of rural country roads, and even the interior doesn’t have any squeaks or rattles to speak of. Consequently, in my time behind the wheel of this new Kia EV9, it’s been a joy to spend time in. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving this day-to-day, or if you’re using it to cruise along the motorway for hundreds of miles at a time, it’s a great car. It’s made even better when you take into account the smooth and silent electric powertrain, which chews up miles like it’s no bother.
When you do stamp on the throttle pedal, there’s a good bit of pace and performance in the EV9 too, if you need to get somewhere in a hurry. Although it weighs over 2.6 tonnes, the EV9’s dual-motor set-up (this will only be applicable in the GT-Line and GT-Line S trim) outputs a respectable 378bhp and 700Nm of torque. It should be good for a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds, before topping out at 124mph. Thankfully, if you do end up going a bit too fast, the brakes stop you well, but if you’re pushing it too hard, you might find that on some occasions, the excessive weight of the EV9 can be felt in how hard you have to use the brake peddle at times.
What Is It Like Inside?
One of the noteworthy, unique elements of the Kia EV9 is the seating layout. Depending on which trim and specification you choose, you can spec the EV9 either as a 7-seater or as a 6-seater. In the 6-seater variant, you don’t get a middle seat in the second row, and instead, the second row now contains a couple of large captain’s chairs. The lack of a middle seat might cost you in terms of carrying capacity, but it does make it way easier for passengers to step into and access the rear-most third-row.
Moreover, the second-row captain’s chairs could also pivot. This way, you could instead rotate the second-row captain’s chairs to face backwards, so that you’re looking towards the third-row seats and passengers. Otherwise, another much-welcomed accessibility option is the ability to afford your second-row passengers a greater range of movement fore and aft. Plus, these captain’s chairs could also swivel outward when the doors are opened, which makes it pretty easy to load children in and out, as well as for folks with limited mobility to ingress and egress.
In addition, if you’re thinking of getting the Kia EV9 as a family car, it’s good to know that Kia’s made really good use of space to maximise storage in the cabin. There are plenty of cubbies and storage compartments throughout the interior, not to mention an abundance of cup holders, as well as numerous ISOFIX points for fitting child seats, and 6x whole USB ports for charging various electronics like phones, tablets, a good-old Nintendo Switch, and more.
On top of that, for folks who’d enjoy going for road trips and weekend getaways, even with the EV9’s third-row seating in place, the boot space in the rear is still roomy. And, if that’s not enough for you, there’s also a small front boot, as well. Therefore, from a practicality and utilitarian standpoint, the new Kia EV9 gets a double thumbs-up from me. Elsewhere in the EV9’s cabin, while Kia’s made fantastic choices to cater to people who might consider this as a family runabout to stuff your kids into, it’s also an exceptional luxury feeling SUV.
The leather seating is awesome to sink into on a long drive, and comfort-wise, I’ve found no issues with its legroom or headroom, even for taller people like me. Granted, in the rear-most third-row, if the second-row seats are pushed far enough back, the legroom back there might be a tad compromising, suitable mainly for kids, rather than adults. Moreover, if you’re conscious about the environment, much of the Kia EV9’s interior upholstery and trim are made of eco-friendly materials.
The tech in the Kia EV9 is worth mentioning, too. In the centre console, you will notice that there’s a little slot in which you can drop your phone into, and this would help you unlock your EV9 just by using your phone. This is due to the fact that Kia now allows you to use your smartphone as a key. However, it does double up as a regular wireless charger as well. There’s even a fingerprint scanner that enables quick access to user profiles in the car.
Even further at the front, the Kia EV9 now sports a brand-new 12.3-inch infotainment system. Kia has been at the forefront when it comes to their infotainment systems, and while they’re not the fanciest systems out there, their usability and intuitiveness are top-notch. With these high expectations (including for their sister brand, Hyundai), Kia’s best-in-class infotainment unit gets better with their newest iteration in the EV9. For those that rely on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, of course those are compatible also.
This same high praise goes for the EV9’s 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, with its easy-to-read user interface and effortless legibility. On the centre console and dash, you’ll notice the mixture of hard, analogue buttons and switches, in addition to touch-sensitive points for additional controls, which work well enough – they’re pretty similar to what you’ll find in the Nissan Ariya. As I noted earlier, usability and maximal ease are another strong point of Kia, which is evident when you fiddle around with those large, chunky buttons on the steering wheel.
One change that you might have to get used to, with time, is the column-mounted drive and gear selector – it makes sense the more you use it, and it’s arguably more naturally-positions than Volkswagen’s idea of an EV drive and gear selector. Interestingly, that aforementioned bank of screens actually has not two, but there are instead three displays. Between the infotainment and gauge cluster, there’s a smaller 5.3-inch screen in the middle. This tiny screen is a permanent display for all your climate control functions, which is actually a fantastic idea, given that you can adjust your interior heating and cooling without needing to take up your entire infotainment unit.
For such a vast SUV, the Kia EV9 does necessitate a larger battery pack to ferry around its enormous weight, which is just a smidge under 100kWh. Particularly, it’s rated at 99.8kWh. Aside from that, the Kia EV9 that I have here, in the GT-Line S trim, comes – as noted earlier – with a dual-motor configuration, which would use up more power than a single-motor setup. Yet, what you’ll get in terms of the overall endurance and range is actually pretty impressive.
Kia rates it officially at 313 miles with a full charge, under mixed driving conditions. In the real world though, from my time behind the wheel, I think you can expect around 250 miles or so. Granted, you should bear in mind, that these are quite challenging conditions for any electric car, and it’s way more punishing than an average day-to-day commute… Being in a remote part of Scotland, in the frosty winter, pushing the EV9 rather hard and at higher speeds, while driving on winding, mountainous roads. As such, being able to achieve that 200-250 mile figure is quite good.
Kia also equips the EV9 with an integrated heat pump for that massive battery pack. This ensures that it can remain energy efficient, even in cold-weather driving. This was essential for my drive in the Kia EV9 through Scotland, which at this time of the year, it was 2 degrees Celsius at its very warmest. Thankfully, recharging that battery pack is expedited with the inclusion of Kia’s 800V ultra-fast charging setup. In so doing, if you’re plugging in your Kia EV9 into a speedy 350kW DC charging station, it’ll top it up from nearly empty to 80% or so in just under 30 minutes.
Of course, the charging times are only going to increase from there. So, you ought to expect a full overnight charge if you’re trickle charging the EV9 at home, if you’re keen on getting the most range out of it the next morning. At the very least, it helps that Kia has integrated a built-in EV route planner in the satnav, and this would automatically suggest and highlight ideal charging stops along your journey. In addition, the Kia EV9 could also pre-heat and condition the battery to maximise the charging rate when you do reach a fast charging station.
As far as advanced driving aids and safety systems are concerned, Kia does include a comprehensive ADAS suite with the EV9. That includes a blind-spot collision avoidance system, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert system, forward collision avoidance assist, lane-keep assist, lane-follow assist, highway driving assist, and a remote smart parking system, just to name a few. The Kia EV9 even comes with a handy 360-degree surround-view camera system, and a featureful terrain response system, which can be nice for some light off-roading, or winter driving.
Kia EV9 GT-Line S 7 Seater Cost
The EV9 that you see here, as the title suggests, is the top-of-the-line GT-Line S trim level. It does offer quite a few more goodies than you’d otherwise get. This, expectedly, does come attached with a pretty hefty cost to pay, coming in at £75,995. For added peace of mind for long-term owners, this high price tag is offset by the fact that Kia bundles the EV9 with their extensive warranty programme, which has long been one of the key selling points of their cars. With the EV9, you’re getting a 7-year (or 100,000-mile) warranty by default.
Now, if you don’t need some of the extra creature comforts, the mid-tier GT-Line trim and the entry-level Air trim are also available. In fact, if you value a higher range and being able to go farther on a full charge, that entry-level Air model actually offers more range as standard, which Kia estimates at around 349 miles. That is mainly due to the fact that it’s lighter and less power-hungry, by virtue of being a single-motor unit (rear-wheel drive), instead of the dual motors that you get in the GT-Line and GT-Line S trims.
Moving up the hierarchy, from the £64,995 Air trim to the £73,245 GT-Line trim and onto the range-topping GT-Line S trim, it mostly gets you nice-to-have such as larger alloy wheels, nicer interior upholstery, memory seat function, massage seats, front and rear sunroofs, a heads-up display, and a 14-speaker Meridian sound system in the GT-Line S trim. Plus, that aforementioned 6-seater layout with the second-row captain’s chairs that I noted earlier is only available in the GT-Line S trim.
All in all, the all-new Kia EV9 is an impressive and highly compelling package. For most would-be buyers, the cost might be too premium and pricey to justify. However, when you consider the competition, there’s not a lot there that could stack up to the EV9 (yet). Despite this being Kia’s first attempt to bring a really big full-size SUV to the UK, which also happens to be all-electric, they’ve done a bang-up job with the EV9. It’s incredibly well-refined to spend time in, and a joyous piece of machinery to waft around with every single day.
As a family car or your daily driver and commuter, the EV9 is superbly luxurious and comfortable, while also keeping up with Kia’s well-deserved reputation for practical motoring. With an abundance of storage space, a clever seating layout, and a utilitarian design, the Kia EV9 excels as a robust, capable SUV. And, you would have no issues with driving for miles at a time, with a huge battery pack and a respectable amount of electric driving range. Therefore, if you are looking at the premium end of the car market, Kia’s EV9 does a lot right, with enough attractive features and capabilities that ought to be high up on your shortlist.
Kia EV9 GT-Line S 7 Seater Specs
- Price: £75,995
- Engine: Dual-motor EV, AWD
- Power: 378bhp
- Torque: 700Nm
- 0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
- Top speed: 124mph
- Weight: 2,664kg
- Economy combined: 313 miles (WLTP)
- CO2: 0g/km