Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Kia EV9

Kia EV9 a compelling vehicle despite the issues of EV's

By Jim Bray
May 30, 2024

If you're looking for a relatively big, three row electric SUV, Kia's EV9 is probably a good place to start.

That said, Kia also makes other very nice three row SUV's such as the Telluride and Sorrento, except that those vehicles have internal combustion engines and therefore won't facilitate smug emissions.

But this piece isn't about fake Eco-lunacy, it's about the captivating EV9, which Kia's Canadian website says starts at $63,166. That's a pretty big chunk of change, about 10 grand more than the Telluride's starting price and more than 20 grand more than the Sorrento's starting price.

Of course this is a bit of apples-to-oranges, especially with the smaller Sorrento, but it does show that "going green" is going to cost you big time.  That said, you can spend a lot more for competing EV's.

Here's how Kia describes the vehicle:

"EV9 embraces SUV form and capability in an enhanced EV package. It's bold, spacious and quiet on city streets; confident, robust and powerful when weather and terrain present a challenge; and able to tow up to 5,000 lb. (2,267 kg) when properly equipped." I assume "properly equipped" means "higher priced".

Kia EV9That base price of 63 large gets you the base model, which is rear wheel drive and offers performance equivalent to 215 hp / 258 lb.-ft..  Kia Canada's sample was the six-seater Land AWD trim level in a gorgeous Ocean Blue colour and with the GT-Line package. That package not only adds performance, but also gives you 21-inch GT-Line Wheels (with aerodynamic wheel covers!), a digital lighting grille GT-Line Pattern and other GT-Line design elements. There are also power leg rests for the front passenger and those in the second row. Steerage, the third row, features power fold/unfold seats.

I passenged back there for about half an hour and it was surprisingly comfortable.

The sample's dual motors crank out an equivalent to 379 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. Kia also claims a 451 km range, which of course is under optimal conditions, if you ever experience such.

All that extra stuff brings the price up to a whopping $81,495CAD, or nearly $20,000 over a reasonably comparably equipped Telluride.

The torque you get from the EV is bloody intoxicating!  Floor the "gas" pedal (is it okay to call it an electric pedal?) and it's like being shot out of a cannon. It's so intoxicating that I almost imagined I'd blow over the legal blood alcohol limit without even having a drink! Yeah, it's a blast! I kept it in Sport mode usually, and this made the experience even better. Oh, it wallows a little bit, but overall, it's a pretty darn nice drive.

Kia also says the EV9 introduces "a new array of safety, convenience and personalization innovations to elevate your driving experience. These include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) with over 20 standard collision avoidance and active assist functions."

As usual, this stuff drove me nuts – especially the stuff (such as the damn front cross traffic warning) that you have to turn off every time you fire up the vehicle. Your "kilometreage" may vary, but I find these nannies unnecessary (for those who actually pay attention while driving) and obtrusive. And you have to pay for them (the cost is built into the price) whether you want them or not.

This is not a Kia thing; it's pretty well industry-wide, at least from my experience. More nanny state nonsense and more sucking up to "Big Sibling".

But I digress. Other than that crap, the EV9 has a lot going for it. Heck, even my grandkids loved it because of all the buttons and stuff they could play with while passenging.

Kia EV9The door handles on the outside are flush in the doors and extend automatically – via electricity – as you approach the vehicle. This is cool, and undoubtedly aerodynamic, but of course every little bit of juice that isn't going to vehicle range decreases vehicle range ever so slightly. It may be quite inconsequential each time, but I imagine it would add up.

EV9 comes with a large digital display panel, one that combines two 12.3-inch screens and adds a five-inch climate control display. Kia's sample also had the available heads-up display, which is a nice touch.

You get a great surround view camera system with the EV9 and, though I found this distracting, the instrument panel lights up with a side view down the vehicle when you activate the signal light. I'm used to using the side mirrors – yeah, I actually check them in 2024! – and the little window opening up on the dash drew my eyes away from them. It's a neat feature, but I didn't like it.

When you first get into the EV9 and fire it up, it wants to know who you are and you have to click "okay" to get through it – or ignore it long enough that it gets bored and goes away. This is undoubtedly a move to customize the EV9 experience for different drivers, but I just find it slows you down when all you want to do is get in and drive.

I didn't set up a profile since I was just borrowing the vehicle (and, curmudgeon that I am, I probably wouldn't anyway), but you can apparently use a smart phone app to access various convenience and security features. This is also not specifically a Kia thing; my best friend has similar capabilities with his Mazda CX-5 and I'd warrant there are many others out there that I haven't experienced yet.

The "gear shift" (there are no gears, no matter how shifty the owner might be) is on the steering column below where the windshield wiper controls are. It has a small learning curve – you twist it to go into drive, or twist it the other way for reverse, with "Park" being activated by a button on the end. Another button on the opposite end is for powering the vehicle up or down.

Kia EV9

Kia has designed the audio system interfaces so that you have to learn them all over again. I had issues storing radio presets and the EV9 made me pay for that by refusing to be nice. Operator error? Undoubtedly, but I've used a lot of different vehicles and have never had this much trouble.

So, in summary, we have a really nice vehicle here and you won't spend a dime at the gas station.

You will spend time, however, lots of it, at the charging station. I tried charging it overnight using my home's AC, running an extension cord across my lawn. I tried this at least four times and it only worked once, and that time only gave me an extra five per cent charge even after it sat there overnight.

Since I wanted to take the EV9 back charged fully, I sallied forth to the same EV charging station I used a couple of years ago when I reviewed Ford's Mock E Mustang. That time, with the Ford, it worked fine, but this time, I couldn't get the charger to either recognize the Kia or my credit card.

Naturally, it was a cold, windy and rainy day and I found myself shivering into my cell phone, trying to get help from "the be that powers", a lady somewhere in Canada who spoke fluent boiler plate and ended up giving me a free charge from her end to make up for all the difficulty I'd had.

That was nice, but I wanted to find out how much the charge would cost so I could report on that! Can you say "Murphy's Law?"

Kia EV9

And of course, I had to sit in the vehicle until it charged, unless I wanted to go shopping at the nearby mall, and I'd rather be torn apart by wild dogs than do that. Fortunately, the location had wi-fi, so I could play with my tablet for the duration.

Bottom line? The Kia EV9 is a very nice EV SUV and well worth your time if you're looking for such a beastie.

But why would you, unless you merely commute around the city? You could do better and save yourself mucho lucre by opting for the terrific Telluride or something else that uses the supposedly infernal combustion engine.

Ah, but then there's that glorious EV torque…

Copyright 2024 Jim Bray

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