With a spacious cabin and up to 305 miles of range, the crossover EV is a great Telluride alternative.
Kia does two things very well right now: three-row crossovers and electric vehicles. The popular Telluride has helped drive the automaker’s highest-ever average transaction prices and residual values, while the EV6 has an impressive range and one of the industry’s best DC charging rates.
Blend those two philosophies – three-row space and a future-proof 800-volt EV platform – and you get the 2024 Kia EV9. Based on the same Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) as the EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Genesis GV60, the EV9 largely plays to its siblings’ electrified strengths while adding a few tricks of its own, wrapped up in sheet metal that looks like it belongs in Blade Runner or Ghost In The Shell. No need to bury the lede here: The Kia EV9 is a great electric crossover.
|2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line
|Dual Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
|379 Horsepower / 516 Pound-Feet
|Price As Tested
The EV9 is a large vehicle, measuring 197.2 inches from bumper to bumper and 122.0 inches between the front and rear wheels. That’s bigger than the Telluride by 0.3 and 7.8 inches, respectively. And with the 99.8-kilowatt-hour battery found in the long-range rear-drive model and all dual-motor models, the Kia is pretty heavy as well – the loaded GT-Line I drove was 5,800 pounds.
Unfortunately, the big SUV feels underdamped and oversprung, a combination that means large undulations turn your passengers into bobbleheads and small imperfections yield a chattery ride. The flagship trim’s standard 21-inch wheels probably add to the problem, though it might be worth it for their weird Lego-peg design. At least the EV9 feels does its best to minimize the drama from those imperfections, hitting bumps with a whoomp instead of a crash. Speaking of sounds, there isn’t much to speak of in the EV9. The rearmost passengers may encounter some tire roar at high speeds, but otherwise, wind and road noise are limited.
The bad news begins and ends with those ride quality complaints. By pretty much every other dynamic measure, it’s a great machine. I was only able to drive the GT-Line during my time with the big Kia, which meant I had 379 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque to play with courtesy of a standard “Boost” package. Lesser dual-motor trims will offer Boost as an option, and without it, they make the same power but 73 fewer pound-feet. Meanwhile, the single-motor, short-range EV9 gets 215 hp and 258 lb-ft, while the long-range variant gets 201 hp and 258 lb-ft.
The EV9 GT-Line doles out power smoothly in Eco and Normal modes, with a well-tuned throttle that should feel approachable for electric newbies. But toggling over to Sport turned my right foot into an acceleration on-off switch, especially when I had the regenerative braking set to its most aggressive I-Pedal one-pedal drive. Hoofing over winding roads was more fun (and efficient) than expected, with the regen making trail braking simple and plenty of grunt on corner exit. The suspension also takes a set rather nicely when driven in this manner – can’t say that about too many three-row crossovers.
All Dolled Up
Among its dynamic talents, the EV9 also cuts a mean first impression. Much of its appeal comes from its bold rolling stock, whether you get the four-squares on the GT-Line, the Tron-chic pyramids on the middle-tier Land, or the slicing pinwheels on the Wind and Light trims. Glowering headlights and a tall, bluff hood greet you as you approach. And when you go for the Land or the GT-Line, you also get slick pixelated lighting accents across the front end, adding a little visual interest and breaking up the massive grille-less face.
Edgy wheel arch extensions and an upkicked beltline toward the rear look like they’re ripped from a Super Nintendo video game, and the T-shaped taillights that extend up the D-pillar further the cyberpunk resemblance. This futuristic-meets-retcon trend might get old soon, but for now, I love it.
Inside, the EV9 is far more conventional-looking – in a good way. A wide, low dash and flat floor give front-seat passengers great visibility and loads of manspreading space, and the large center console has two-tier storage and is open to the floor ahead of the dash for a bit more wiggle room. The seats are cushy and supportive, and the mesh-fabric headrests are just about perfect. Materials are also pretty nice, with synthetic leather upholstery and lots of matte-finished plastics dressing up the airy styling nicely.
The Land and GT-Line get standard second-row bucket seats that are almost as comfortable as the front, and they adjust for tilt to counteract the lack of thigh support that many pancake-battery EVs have in the rear seats. Heating, ventilation, and power-operated leg rests improve comfort further, spoiling the kids with first-class accommodations. The center console up front has a deep, useful cubby facing the rear-seaters, with cupholders and door pockets that’ll keep road-trip essentials close at hand.
And while the two-position third row isn’t as commodious, it’s certainly not bad either. I had enough knee and headroom for an hour-long jaunt, and the EV9 includes two USB-C chargers back there. With all seats in place, there’s an impressive 20.2 cubic feet of cargo space, rising to 43.5 behind the second row and 81.7 behind the first row. The gas-powered Telluride has more passenger and cargo room – as well as seating for up to eight, not seven – but the difference is pretty slim. Rear-drive EV9s also get a 3.2-cubic-foot storage area under the hood, though the dual-motor version cuts that down to 1.8, just enough for a charging cable and not much else.
Plug And Play
At the bottom of the EV9 range, the single-motor Light features a 76.1-kWh battery and a 215-hp motor, giving it a respectable 230 miles per charge. Go for the Light Long Range and you’ll get the 99.8-kWh unit and a 201-hp rear motor, although a 304-mile EPA rating may ease the sting of the power loss.
The dual-motor Wind and Land both get the larger battery and can hit 280 miles in EPA testing, while the flagship GT-Line can do 270 miles. Those numbers don’t quite stand up to the Tesla Model Y Long Range’s 310 miles or the Model X’s 335 miles.
One of the E-GMP architecture’s greatest advantages over other EV platforms is its 400/800V charging system. The high-voltage battery in the long-range EV9 can accept DC fast charging at up to 210 kilowatts, giving it a 10-80 percent fast charge time of 24 minutes. Curiously, the smaller battery can do 235-kW charging. When using an 240V/48-amp AC home charger, the larger battery will recharge in eight hours and 45 minutes, while the smaller battery cuts two hours from that time.
Unlike other E-GMP cars, the EV9 is capable of vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid charging. Kia says the SUV will keep an average home running essential functions powered up for two days in a blackout. More interestingly, the EV9 will also backflow any leftover battery charge into the home when electric rates are high – such as the middle of the afternoon on a hot summer day – then draw power to recharge the battery when rates drop. Kia says this will help mitigate some of that overnight charging cost, since the car powers the home when electricity is expensive.
As on the smaller EV6, the EV9 can do vehicle-to-load charging through a clever power inverter that plugs into the charging port. Hyundai Motor Group is also partnering with other automakers on a new, nationwide charging network to ease the pain of finding a plug, and its EVs will also be compatible with the SAE J3400 charging standard, most commonly known as NACS/Tesla.
Pay Up, Squirt
Go for the base, 230-mile Light trim and you’ll have to spend $56,395 including $1,495 destination for the pleasure of EV9 ownership. That’s not a bad deal for folks trading in an internal-combustion three-row, provided they take their vacations on airplanes, not in cars, especially given the Kia’s spacious interior and impressive tech suite comprising two 12.3-inch screens, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and EV-specific navigation routing.
Those who need more range or dual-motor all-wheel drive will feel a pricing pinch, with the middle-tier Wind costing $65,395 to start. At the top of the range is the GT-Line, which starts at $75,395 and rises to $78,090 as tested with a rear-seat upgrade and extra-cost paint. For comparison, the Tesla Model Y starts at $43,990, although getting competitive range and seven-passenger seating drives that price up to $51,990. The $79,900 Tesla Model X gets closer to the Kia in terms of space, but it does cost more, especially with the $3,500 optional third-row seat.
Styling (and cult-of-personality politics) is a matter of taste, but I find the Kia EV9 much more attractive overall than any Tesla. It also drives nicely, with better body control and noise insulation than Models X and Y, with more cargo and passenger room as well. And the charging experience promises to be as good or better once Kia and other automakers adopt that on-board Supercharger port.
Regardless of its effect on profitability, Tesla’s fire-sale pricing is certainly applying pressure to EV newcomers like the Kia EV9 when it comes to consumer dollars. But the three-row E-GMP still has a lot to offer, with cost-cutting bi-directional charging, an impressive DC quick charge time, and above-average vehicle dynamics. It’s also the most spacious EV out there – at least for now – so families looking to cut the petrochemical cord will enjoy riding in the EV9 as much as I enjoyed driving it.
|2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line
|Dual Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
|379 Horsepower / 516 Pound-Feet
|Speed 0-60 MPH
|80 MPGe Combined
|240 Volts @ 48 Amps, 10.9 kW / 800 Volts @ 310 Amps, 210 kW
|8 Hours 45 Minutes (0-100 Percent) / 24 Minutes (10-80 Percent)
|20.2 / 43.5 / 81.7 + 1.8 Cubic Feet
|$54,900 + $1,495 Destination
|Trim Base Price