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2024 Kia EV9 First Drive Review: Telluride EV? You’re Pretty Darn Close

This sharply styled, three-row, fully electric EV9 looks to be another big win for the Korean carmaker.

The ultra-smooth, ultra-congested, ultra-speed-regulated highways leading into Seoul, South Korea, aren’t exactly great for testing the full range of a car’s handling. But for a vehicle like the EV9, which will spend the majority of its life slogging through traffic with your brood and their belongings onboard, this situation is perfectly apt. Rush hour in the EV9? Cool; throw on my massaging seat and crank the tunes.

The EV9 builds on the success Kia’s found with its gas-fed three-row SUV, the good-lookin’ Telluride. Quiet and comfortable with easy to use tech and cabin controls, the Telluride is one of my most frequently recommended SUVs. Package all of that goodness in with a powerful, fully electric powertrain, and the new EV9 is an equally compelling package.

When it goes on sale later this year, the Kia EV9 will be offered in five trim levels: Light, Light Long Range, Wind, Land and GT-Line. (Interesting nomenclature choice, Kia.) The EV9 Light will use a 76.1-kilowatt-hour battery pack with a single, rear-mounted motor producing 215 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The other EV9 models, meanwhile, get a larger 99.8-kWh battery; the Light Long Range has one motor, but the Wind, Land and GT-Line have two, giving the EV9 all-Wheel drive.

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As its name suggests, the Light Long Range will have the, um, longest range of the bunch, with Kia estimating 304 miles. The Wind and Land are rated at 280 miles, and the GT-Line – which comes standard with 20-inch wheels, as opposed to other trims’ 19s – knocks that down to 240 miles. Sticking with the base battery in the EV9 Light should get you 230 miles. Across the board, these numbers aren’t spectacular, but at least the EV9 can DC fast-charge at speeds up to 236 kilowatts, which is above the industry average.

Behind the wheel of a dual-motor GT-Line – which has 379 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque – the EV9 is effortlessly quick, a feeling backed up by this model’s 5.0-second 0-to-60-mph time. That’s not bad for a seven-passenger SUV that tips the scales at 5,800 pounds. The power doesn’t drastically taper off at higher speeds, either; Kia estimates going from 19 to 44 mph takes just 1.9 seconds, while moving from 37 to 62 mph takes 2.8 seconds. Paddles on the steering wheel let you dial in different levels of regenerative braking, with the strongest setting capable of one-pedal driving.

Yes, these cool wheels are production-spec.

Every EV9 uses a MacPherson front strut and multi-link rear suspension setup, as well as an identical 16.0:1 steering ratio, so handling characteristics between the different trims shouldn’t differ all that much – the main variations will depend on your choice of 19- or 20-inch wheels. Like the Telluride, the EV9 is tuned to be comfortable above all, and the few times I’m able to take an off-ramp with gusto reveal appropriate amounts of body roll for a vehicle this size, though having the big battery housed in the middle of the floor does give the EV9 a more surefooted demeanor than, say, the Telluride.

Most EV9s have 7.0 inches of ground clearance, with the GT-Line upping that to 7.8. Neither spec really makes the EV9 capable of serious off-roading, though I’m sure this SUV will easily be able to tackle the sort of gravel roads and dusty trails that lead to some kind of reservations-required, well-maintained campsite. The EV9 can tow, too, but not a ton: Single-motor versions can pull 2,000 pounds, while dual-motor examples up that capability to 5,000 pounds.

Inside, the EV9 has a lot to like, with a synthetic leather-like upholstery that looks and feels great, as well as heated and cooled front chairs with massage functionality. Second-row captain’s chairs are equally spacious, and top-shelf trims will let you recline with a footrest, kind of like in Kia’s Carnival minivan. However, those chairs don’t have the same cool swivel functionality as EV9s sold in other markets, and the third row, while tight, doesn’t seem like it’ll be a penalty box for kids or young adults. Don’t put your tall friends back there, though – that’s rude.

The EV9’s interior is super luxurious.

You’ll find a usable 20.2 cubic feet of space behind the EV9’s third row, 43.5 cubic feet of room if you drop the rearmost bench and a maximum of 81.7 cubes if you fold every seat flat. There’s also 3.2 cubic feet of space up front in the frunk, but that’s only with the single-motor arrangement; adding a front drive unit reduces the available capacity to 1.8 cubic feet, which, at that point, just use the hatch.

Infotainment duties are handled by an updated version of Kia’s current multimedia system, comprising two 12.3-inch screens housed in a single display, with a bonus 5.0-inch touchscreen wedged between them, which is where you’ll find climate control functions. Overall, Kia’s tech works well – it’s bright and colorful, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto finally connect wirelessly. My only gripe? There’s a row of buttons for things like the home screen, media, navigation, etc., and it’s integrated into the trim piece below the screen, so you’ll probably hit something by accident when you rest your wrist on the dash while using the touchscreen.

Kia will fit the EV9 with two-way charging that’s more robust than what you get in the current EV6, so you can theoretically power your home during an electrical outage. A lot more tech is on the way, including the possibility of adding lidar sensors that’ll allow for conditional hands-free highway driving. For now, Kia’s Highway Driving Assist function that combines adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping tech will have to do.

Standout styling is one of the EV9’s best attributes.

Like all Kias, the EV9’s pricing is competitive, with base models starting at $56,395 including $1,495 for destination. Light Long Range, Wind, Land and GT-Line versions move up the ladder from there, at $60,695, $65,395, $71,395 and $75,395, respectively. That’s not bad, considering a Tesla Model X starts at $81,380 including delivery, though it is quicker and has a longer range than the Kia. Also, one big caveat: The initial round of EV9s will be built in Korea and imported to the US, making them ineligible for the Federal EV tax credit. That’ll hopefully change, though, when Kia starts to build EVs at its plant in Georgia.

Even so, the EV9 has the potential to really lead the three-row non-luxury electric SUV space. It looks good, drives well, comes packed with tech and is absolutely huge inside. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like the gas-fed Telluride – and that’s no bad thing.

The post 2024 Kia EV9 First Drive Review: Telluride EV? You’re Pretty Darn Close appeared first on The Torque Report.

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2024 Kia EV9 First Drive Review: Telluride EV? You’re Pretty Darn Close


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