EV9 Electrifies 3-Row SUVs

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CHATHAM, Mass. – Big, powerful, silent and comfortable all describe the new three-row, large mid-size battery-electric (BEV) sport-utility vehicle (SUV) Kia EV9 recently introduced to the American consumer.

My initial impressions during a brief 20-minute drive at the recent #IMPASpringBrake2024 were positive and now, following a week in the driver’s seat of a 2024 Kia EV9 Land AWD, my impression is even more upbeat.

This second Kia built from the Hyundai Group’s E-GMP (electric global modular platform) continues the brand’s – and parent company’s – impressive BEV evolution.

At 197.2 inches long (77.9 wide), the EV9 fits into a group including the Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. Actually, it is slightly shorter than all but the Jeep, but offers three as opposed to two rows of seating (and, being a BEV with a more compact powertrain, a frunk as well as rear storage).

Virtually silent powertrain

Dual permanent magnet synchronous motors (front and rear) provide full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) with a total of up to 379 horsepower and up to 516 pounds-feet of torque.

This power results in spirited performance which Car and Driver confirmed with an as tested 0-60 miles per hour time of a performance-car 4.5 seconds.

Providing the power behind the numbers is a 99.8kWh battery, the first from Kia to feature fourth-generation battery technology designed for improved energy density. This combination results in a federal Environmental Protection Agency rating of 83 miles-per-gallon electric (91 urban, 75 highway) and 280 miles of range.

My experience during 300-plus miles of mixed (highway, suburban and rural) driving was much better. I averaged 3.6 miles per kWh which computers to 356.4 miles of range on the 99kWh battery. This number fluctuated depending upon driving conditions (dropping to below 3.0 at highway speeds and creeping above 4.0 at slower ones), but I would be confident of achieving more than 300 miles in everyday suburban driving around Cape Cod or Metropolitan New York City.

Charging this battery can be done rapidly, like all E-GMP-based vehicles (Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, and the Genesis GV60) which incorporate an 800-volt architecture. Utilizing a Level 3 charger, the EV9 can go from 10 to 80% charged in under 25 minutes. The onboard 10.9kW charger allows efficient Level 2 charging which I experienced thanks to the Autel MaxiCharger AC Wallbox Home Level-2 charger in my garage. This meant plugging in at the end of each day resulted in a 100 percent charge well before morning light.

The wheel cover is not easily removable, so there is no photo of the Kia EV9’s four-wheel, ventilated disc brake system

Underneath suspension and ADAS perform admirably

Kia engineers have done an excellent job of harnessing the EV9’s power with the suspension design and supplemental advanced driver-assistance systemsv (ADAS).

Up front, the SUV features a MacPherson-type struts with Smart Frequency Damper Valve + Hydraulic Rebound Stop (HRS) shock absorbers and dual lower A-arm setup, while at the rear a five-link configuration also with Smart Frequency Damper Valve + Hydraulic Rebound Stop (HRS) shocks.

The friction brake system includes a Mando iEB (integrated electronic booster), four-wheel ventilated discs (14.2 inches up front, 13.6 rear) and electric parking brake.

Like the other E-GMP vehicles, the Kia EV9 features a four-level regenerative-braking system actuated by steering-wheel paddle shifters. The fourth setting activates the one-pedal-driving mode (i-Pedal in Kia speak) which, unlike some other BEVs (like Tesla) can even be set when the SUV’s battery is at 100%.

Twenty-inch aluminum alloy wheels wearing 275/50 R20 all-season tires round out the chassis components of the EV9.

Supplementing the work of the chassis is a comprehensive array of advanced driver-assistance systems including forward collision-avoidance assist; blind-spot collision-avoidance assist; rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; parking-distance warning (forward/reverse); blind-spot monitor; surround-view monitor; parking collision-avoidance assist, and navigation-based smart cruise control.

Solid engineering along with the technology of ADAS and the power of the dual-motor setup combined in this vehicle which drives like something smaller and much lighter than its 5,794-pound curb weight would indicate.

The EV9, despite the large, almost cavernous interior, is extremely quiet; there is virtually no drumming or intrusive road noise bouncing around the empty three-row cabin. Combine the silence with comfortable seats and well-controlled suspension regardless of road surfaces, and the Kia EV9 is terrific vehicle for trips of any length.

The suspension also does a wonderful job of allowing the driver to really use the SUV’s quickness on twisting roads belying the vehicle’s bulk.

Cabin filled with creature comforts and technology

The Land is the penultimate trim level in the five-vehicle EV9 range which means it is virtually fully equipped with an interior filled with premium features.

The front seats and steering wheel are power adjustable. The seats, as do the captain’s chairs in the second row, include heat and ventilation, while the steering wheel is heated. Speaking of temperature, there is a three-zone automatic climate control system.

Sitting on the top two thirds of the left side of the dash is the familiar E-GMP curved display. In the EV9 iteration, the display is divided into three quadrants. On the left is a 12.3-inch customizable instrument cluster while a 12.3-inch touch screen infotainment and vehicle-systems control unit occupies the right one. In between is a touch screen for operating climate-control functions.

The infotainment system includes navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto and a Meridian Premium Audio System with 14 speakers, external amplifier and subwoofer.

Unique package

The Kia EV9 is the first mass-market, three-row mid-size SUV offered to the American consumer. There are five variants in the model range beginning with the rear-wheel drive (RWD) EV9 light at $54,900. The EV9 Light Long Range with the 99kWh battery comes in at $59,200 while AWD EV9 Wind starts at $63,900. The top-of-the-line AWD EV9 GT-Line is priced at $73,900.

The EV9 Land AWD as described sits just below the GT-Line with a base price of $69,900. The test unit had the optional ($1,500) Towing Package (which also brings self-leveling rear suspension with the ability to tow a trailer of up to 5,000 pounds) and optional ($225) carpeted floor mats and ($115) carpet cargo mat with seatback protection. Add in the inland freight and handling fee ($1,495) bringing the as-evaluated price to $74,230. With the start of Georgia production, the EV9 is now eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit (as well as some individual state incentives), thus lowering the initial cost.

Regardless of the incentives, like virtually all BEVs offered in the U.S. market, the EV9 tends to be priced at an uncompetitive level when compared to other mass-market three-row mid-size SUVs with ICEs )In features, it compares with the premium and luxury brand models from names like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.). But if you want an electric vehicle with the size, capabilities and features offered by the Kia EV9, it would be a terrific choice.

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.