The styling of the EV9 is bold enough to make a statement too. Many of the striking design elements have been carried over from the 2021 concept car including the distinctive pixelated lighting pattern on the front grille and the vertical matrix headlights. The front end has Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ graphic and just like the concept there’s no fake grille, just solid colour, while in a clever optical illusion those vertical headlamps and the slim daytime running lights make the EV9 seem even wider than it really is.
The production car keeps the sparkly stars from the concept, officially known as star maps. These LED designs shine through laser etchings in the body panels, and their design can be changed via the infotainment system depending on your mood. It's a great detail that will become a familiar site on future electric Kia models. Also appearing on future cars will be new wheel rim designs featuring geometric shapes that reflect those seen in the exterior design - they’ll also be on all electric models going forward and will help to enhance aero and efficiency.
Kia EV9 interior
Inside you won’t see the ‘floating dash' from the concept, but it does feel modern and spacious and we love the flat floor which also adds to the feeling of space. Sitting at the heart of the interior is a long, slightly curved screen that houses the infotainment system and all the driving related technology is intuitively centred around the new steering wheel design, just where the driver needs it to be.
There also isn’t the concept car's spokeless, Tesla-esque yoke steering wheel, but you do get a new one which houses all the driving modes - exactly where the driver needs them to be. It has a flat top and bottom - to reflect the infotainment screen - and will be seen across all of Kia's electric models going forwards. That infotainment screen is large, but it doesn’t seem to dominate the interior and it's right in the driver sight line.
Adding to the sustainable focus is the vegan two-tone interior – future Kia’s won’t feature leather and it isn’t an option on the EV9 - while there are natural oils in the seat foam and the interior plastics are recycled from materials like old fishing nets. Overall, the interior has a calming lounge feel, with great lighting and lots of space. It's a new take on what luxury means and it's great to see Kia doing something different to some of its more traditional competitors.
But the big win with the EV9 is its functionality and the option to have up to seven seats. In the seven seat option the third row feels spacious with good sized rear windows, proving that travelling in the back can still be a first class experience. It's slightly let down by the fact that the back of the middle row of seats is covered in the same material used in the boot, but it makes more sense when the seats are folded flat as it protects them when you’re making use of the additional storage space that offers.
In addition to the three-seater bench for the bigger family, Kia offers the option of a six seater, which has a pair of movable captain's chairs. The passengers can either use these as loungers, or rotate the seat 270 degrees so that you can get in and out more comfortably, strap baby seats in more easily or turn a little further to face the other rear passengers. You’ll bang knees if you are adults, mind – this is not a van-sized car.
To make it more comfortable for family life, there are three climate zones and more sockets than seats – and that’s not counting the 240v socket for the e-bike or the camping fridge in the boot area.
And because it's not just about children but also about suitcases and all the other little stuff necessary for long trips, there is over 300 litres of storage space even with all seven seats in use, and over 800 litres with the rear bench folded. It’s nearer 1,500 litres with all the seats stowed. And then there's the frunk under the bonnet, which has a capacity of another 90 litres, depending on the model variant.
Kia EV9 battery and charging
A big SUV with this much space inevitably needs a big battery. A 76.1kWh battery is offered exclusively with the Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) Standard model, while a 99.8-kWh battery is fitted in both the Long Range and All Wheel Drive variants. Both the two-wheel and all-wheel drive models are coming to the UK. In terms of range, Kia is aiming for 336 miles.
The EV9 comes with standard Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) functionality, enabling the discharging of energy from the vehicle battery at up to 3.68 kW. Via the Kia Connect Store, customers will be able to add Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) compatibility to sell electricity back to the grid.
Efficiency will be an interesting one given the fact the EV9 is a load lugger likely to top the scales at over three tonnes, but we do know that it will have fast charging capability thanks to Kia’s 800 volt electrical system. This enables you to add around 60 miles of range into your battery in just six minutes using a super-fast 350 kW charger - usually found around the motorway network - making it easy to top up on longer journeys. If you’re charging at home, you can expect to take around 16 hours for a charge.
Kia EV9 Performance
The EV9 is not only fast at the socket, but also on the road. Even the rear-wheel drive variant with a comparatively meagre 204bhp gets to run up to 112mph. And if you order the all-wheel drive, you can reach up to 120mph with a mighty 385bhp. Because the maximum torque can be increased from 600 to 700 Nm for short periods, the sprint to 62mph succeeds in 5.3 seconds and even in such a huge car there is a bit of a sporty feeling.
This puts the EV9 on par with most electric SUVs on this side, such as the Tesla Model X or the Tesla Model X, and leave the the ID.Buzz in the dust – even with the new more powerful versions. However, the EV9’s fun can only be enjoyed in a limited way. Of course, the EV9 can hide neither its format nor its weight of well over 2.5 tons, and the rear-axle steering, which is now popular in this class, was apparently too expensive for the Kia’s cost-cutters.
But Kia has ensured a close connection between driver and vehicle, tuning the EV( tightly, thus ensuring you can still have some fun on a country road. And if that doesn't suit you, you can now have the stress of driving taken out of your hands more often. Thee EV9 offers Level 3 autonomous driving, depending on the country and the legal situation.
Kia EV9 technology
But where the EV9 really moves things on is with its tech, it’s the most technologically advanced vehicle Kia has made and Kia will be offering Feature on Demand services so customers can choose what features they want to add to their car, rather than paying for everything up front. The interesting part comes when you sell the car, as they may not be transferable, meaning the new buyer may need to choose their own options and pay for them again. There’s been lots of talk about this in the industry, Fisker is planning to do the same with its Ocean SUV, while BMW are also planning to charge drivers a monthly subscription fee for heated seats which has proved divisive.
In a couple of firsts for Kia it also has the option of digital side mirrors and will be capable of receiving over-the-air software updates, which sends tech updates and new features in a similar way to how your mobile phone or laptop receives them. The EV9 will also be at the forefront of Kia’s self-driving technology. AutoMode, the company's upcoming autonomous driving system will be made available as an option for the first time on the EV9. It uses driver assistance tech and a suite of safety aides to achieve Level 3 self-driving capability, similar to that offered by Tesla.
Kia EV9 price
And so we come to the big one. Price! The first customers will get their cars at the end of 2023. So what will it cost them? Well, it won’t quite be £10,000 a seat. Not for the entry level model anyway, but given what we know about Kia’s pricing structure you can expect that to start in the low £60,000 bracket. You’ll pay more if you like the idea of the dual motor all-wheel drive version, and more again if you want all that cutting edge autonomous tech.
However, one of Kia’s strong points, along with its 7-year 100,000 mile warranty (which can be transferred from buyer to buyer), is the strong second hand values of many of its cars. Kia works hard to keep them stable which has a positive impact on cost, so expect to see some competitive pricing on the EV9’s monthly payments down the line which may make it a more affordable option than its list price may suggest.
Kia EV9 Verdict
Bold styling, rewarding driving dynamics, plenty of space in all seats and a winning combination of interior flexibility means this EV9 becomes a serious competitor for cars as diverse as the VW ID.Buzz and the Mercedes EQS SUV. But this also comes at a price. We think the EV9 is worth the £60,000+ price tag, which proves how far the Kia brand has come in the past two decades.