Newspress Awards 2024 wide

Automotive Website of the Year

Automotive Website of the Year

Newspress Awards 2024 wide

Automotive Website of the Year

Automotive Website of the Year

Find an Expert Rating: 
New car review

Kia EV9 test drive

The Kia EV9 is an excellent car. If you're spending £60-80K on a large SUV, and you're comfortable with an EV, you won't find a better choice.


The Kia EV9 is an excellent car. If you're looking at spending around £60-80K (or maybe more) on a large SUV, and you're comfortable with it being an EV – which is obviously still a limiting factor for some customers – then you'll struggle to find a better choice than the Kia EV9.
Driving experience
Value for money


The Kia EV9 is an excellent car. If you're looking at spending around £60-80K (or maybe more) on a large SUV, and you're comfortable with it being an EV – which is obviously still a limiting factor for some customers – then you'll struggle to find a better choice than the Kia EV9.

Make and model: Kia EV9 GT-Line S
Description: Large, seven-seat SUV, electric
Price range: £75,995 (plus options)

Kia says: “An all-electric SUV designed and built for modern lifestyles in the electric era”

We say: Kia has followed up its superb EV6 with an equally talented large SUV in the EV9. It might sound like a lot of money for a Kia, but the EV9 is an electric car competing with even-more expensive rivals that still run on fossil fuels.


This week we’re driving the all-new Kia EV9, which is the new flagship of the brand’s range. It’s a large seven-seat SUV – similar in size to a Land Rover Discovery – and is the second car in Kia’s dedicated EV line-up following the brilliant EV6 (The Car Expert’s Car of the Year 2022). It also sets a design template for more new models to come over the next few years.

The launch event was held in the Scottish highlands, whereas initial reviews of the Kia EV9 published in the UK media took place in Europe or Korea, so this was the first chance for everyone to experience the EV9 in UK spec and right-hand drive.

What is it?

The Kia EV9 is a large SUV, similar in size and price to the likes of the Land Rover Defender 110 and Discovery, Audi Q7 and so on. However, unlike those vehicles, the EV9 is all-electric. This is still a rarity for large SUVs, which are still dominated by diesels and a growing number of plug-in hybrids.

The similarly sized Tesla Model X is electric as well, but that has basically disappeared from the UK new car market now (it’s still available, but starting at £100K and only in left-hand drive, which rather limits its appeal).

Most versions of the EV9 have seven seats, but top-spec cars allow you to have one less seat for £1,000 more money. That gives you two ‘captain’s chairs’ in the middle row, which can swivel through 180 degrees to face the rear row, instead of the usual three-seat bench.

The EV9 is on sale now, with the first cars arriving in early 2024. These launch models will all be the top-spec GT-Line S, as driven here and shown in the images. The rest of the range will follow in subsequent months.

Who is this car aimed at?

Big SUVs remain big business, despite inflationary pressures and the oft-mentioned cost-of-living crisis. But this sector is also powered overwhelmingly by fossil fuels, usually diesel. There’s a growing number of hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, but basically nothing if you want a big seven-seat SUV that’s all-electric.

Tesla had the Model X, which proved surprisingly popular but has now basically excluded itself from the UK market as it’s now only available in left-hand drive. Mercedes and BMW have large electric SUVs, but they only offer five seats. There’ll also be an electric Range Rover unveiled shortly and likely to go on sale next year. But if you’re looking right now for a large SUV with seven seats and powered by electricity, the Kia EV9 is the only game in town.

This will change in time, of course, but for now Kia has a head start and the EV9 looks well placed to gather up sales before the rest of the car industry catches up.

Who won’t like it?

Most of the initial doubts since the EV9’s launch have been related to its price – can the Kia brand appeal when pitched directly against the likes of Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW?

If you simply can’t get your head around a Kia at this price point, and prefer the security blanket of a familiar premium brand from Germany, the EV9 probably won’t be on your radar. That’s a shame, because none of them have anything this good for the same money.

If it helps, imagine a BMW logo on the bonnet or a Mercedes-Benz logo on the steering wheel before making judgments. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, and may start wishing that those brands designed their cars more like this one.

Beyond that, there are certainly valid criticisms to be made of any three-tonne behemoth (which is what the EV9 weighs once you add a driver and a few passengers) that’s being used for local urban driving by a family of four. The same applies to any similarly sized cars, of course, regardless of power source.

First impressions

The Kia EV9 is bigger than the other seven-seat SUV in the family, the Sorento. It’s basically the same size as the Land Rover Discovery (which we reviewed last month). Plus its squared-off styling makes it look even bigger, much like a Land Rover Defender 110.

Despite the size, the EV9 looks quite attractive – better in the metal than it does in pictures. It manages to look bold and state-of-the-art without resorting to wackiness. In doing so, it looks far better resolved than a BMW iX and far more modern than a Land Rover Defender. It also manages to work well in bright colours, something that is rarely the case for big cars. It’s certainly bold and blocky, which won’t be appreciated by everyone, but we think it looks great.

Step inside and there’s loads of room in every direction. Many large cars tend to be quite poor in utilising space inside, so you step in and feel disappointed that there’s not more room – they relying on their size to provide adequate space, rather than being clever about it. Small cars are usually much more efficient at maximising every centimetre of space, and Kia seems to have applied small-car thinking to its biggest model. It’s a big car that feels even bigger inside.

The dashboard layout is clean and modern, with most functions controlled by a high-mounted central touchscreen and a few physical buttons for key functions.

What do you get for your money?

Once we’ve got the first impressions out of the way, it’s time to look a bit harder at exactly what you’re getting for your money with the Kia EV9.

There are three models in the EV9 range, starting with the ‘Air’ at £65K. This is powered by a single electric motor, which produces 200hp and drives through the rear wheels only. Next step up is the all-wheel drive ‘GT-Line’, starting at just over £73K, while top of the range is the ‘GT-Line S’ starting at £76K. These two models have two electric motors, producing 380hp across both front and rear wheels.

Equipment levels are good across all three models, and the only option for Air and GT-Line models is paint colour. The GT-Line S model also has the option of the six-seat layout as mentioned above. Pleasingly, Kia doesn’t charge you extra for safety features – they’re all standard, and we discuss safety in more detail further below.

As part of Kia’s sustainability efforts, the interiors on all models have swapped more traditional materials for eco-friendly alternatives. These include: polyurethane seats instead of leather; recycled plastic bottles used for sound deadening, carpets, stitching and headlining; eco-friendly paints throughout the cabin; recycled consumer plastics for door trims; and bioplastics from renewable sources for various interior trim pieces.

We like: Good equipment levels, all the safety kit is standard rather than optionalu
We don’t like: Is all the sustainability stuff anything more than a drop in the ocean?

What’s the Kia EV9 like inside?

The EV9 has a well-appointed and (mostly) thoughtfully laid-out cabin that is likely to work brilliantly for most families – whether you’re looking at a new one or a used example in a few years’ time.

Stepping into the cabin turned out to be perfectly suited to my height – rather than climbing up into the driver’s seat like in a Land Rover, or dropping down into the seat as in a saloon or estate car, I simply stepped in. Access to the second row was similarly easy, and getting into the third row was relatively simple in terms of pushing a button for the middle-row seat to slide and tilt forward out of the way. Like all third-row seats, it’s a bit of a faff and not that easy for full-size adults, but kids will jump in with no bother.

The driving position is good and the electrically adjustable seat is comfortable, although larger individuals may find the cushion a bit narrow. On GT-Line and GT-Line S models, the steering column also adjusts electrically, but we found its range of adjustment a bit lacking. The top models also get business class-style seats that recline back at the touch of a button, with a lower-leg rest whirring out at the same time, so you can relax in comfort during a charging break.

Visibility is good in all directions, helped by the squared-off and upright windscreen. Most of the controls fall easily to hand, although the far reaches of the central infotainment screen are quite a stretch unless you have unusually long arms. This is a common gripe of most cars with widescreen layouts like this.

There’s a row of ‘haptic controls’ under the screen, which are shortcut buttons to key functions. They work well enough, but are less functional than conventional buttons because you still have to look at them rather than relying on feel.

Like most cars with similar layouts, what looks like a seamless ultra-wide screen is actually separate screens side-by-side – one in front of the driver and one stretching across the centre of the dashboard. Most of the graphics are clear and easy to read, with the only real sour note being that the climate controls are almost entirely hidden by your left hand on the steering wheel, and still not easy to see when you take your hand off the wheel. That makes adjusting the setting while on the move more difficult and time-consuming than it should be. Fortunately, adjusting the temperature up or down is controlled by physical buttons under the screen.

The centre console contains two large cupholders and a decent-size storage bin, as well as a wireless charging plate for your phone. There are also plenty of USB-C ports for everyone to charge their devices throughout the cabin, even back in the third row of seats.

The second row of seats slides forward and backward, so if you’re not using the third row you can enjoy limousine-like legroom. For a little extra luxury, the outer middle seats are also heated and ventilated on the top-spec models. Second-row passengers can also adjust their air-con settings via an overhead control panel, along with overhead air vents. It all combines to give the impression of flying business class.

The third-row seats are comfortable enough for adults on shorter trips, but you’ll need the second-row passengers to move their seats all the way forward. You can even adjust the level of recline on the third-row seats to help you get comfortable.

Even with all seven seats in use, boot space remains decent at 333 litres. That’s a lot better than a Land Rover Discovery, for example. With the rear seats folded down, which is how many owners will use it most of the time, overall boot space is less than the Discovery. You also get a small frunk (front trunk) under the bonnet, which is handy for storing your charging cables but not much else.

We like: Comfortable seats, good driving position, plenty of room for seven people and some luggage
We don’t like: Climate controls impossible to see when driving

What’s the Kia EV9 like to drive?

Car journalists place great importance on a car’s driving characteristics, but the reality is that most car buyers simply want a car that is easy to drive, predictable and comfortable.

The Kia EV9, then, is fantastic for most car buyers and somewhat boring for journalists. It doesn’t do anything exciting, it’s not brilliantly fun to drive across winding B-roads and there’s no option for a manual gearbox or any kind of analogue driver interaction. But none of this should bother anyone who’s actually looking at dropping down their own money to buy or lease an EV9.

The big Kia simply gets you from A to B in relaxed comfort, with a surprisingly good ride quality given that it weighs nearly three tonnes and rides on big (21-inch) wheels. It’s relaxing to drive and entirely predictable in its behaviour, which is exactly what you want when you have three or four wailing kids in the back and you’re trying to find your way around an unfamiliar neighbourhood.

What was most pleasing was that the car remains quite flat at all times, without the level of rolling and swaying you often get in large SUVs. This makes it much more pleasant to drive, and also reduces the chance of back-seat passengers starting to feel car sick on windy roads.

Unsurprisingly, given its size, the EV9 is not very nimble when it comes to negotiating narrow streets or shopping centre car parks. That’s pretty much par for the course with any large SUV, but further reminds you that this vehicle is really too big for most family needs.

We drove the GT-Line S model (the only one available at the launch event), which has 380hp and all-wheel drive. Acceleration was strong, without feeling overwhelming like it can in top-spec Teslas. We’re yet to drive the entry-level Air, which has little more than half the power and exactly half the torque, but we guess that it may well feel rather underpowered in a car this size, especially when loaded up with people and/or luggage.

We like: Very comfortable ride, stays flat with minimal rolling and swaying
We don’t like: It’s awkward for shuffling into and out of car parking spaces

How safe is the Kia EV9?

Euro NCAP published the EV9’s safety testing results only last week, and it scored an excellent five-star rating. The car performed well in all categories – protecting both adult and child occupants in the event of an accident, doing its best to avoid and protect vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists), and taking action to avoid an accident in the first place.

A lot of the active safety technology, like lane-keeping assist, driver awareness detection or speed limit warnings, can be turned off from the central touchscreen. However, the systems will all be reactivated the next time you start the car, so you have to disable them each time. That’s slightly annoying, but we can’t really complain since the systems are there to keep you safe.

All available safety equipment is standard on all UK models (other markets may vary), rather than being extra-cost options. Combined with its five-star Euro NCAP rating, that means it’s full marks for the EV9 on safety from us.

Kia EV9 economy, battery range and charging

All models in the EV9 family come with a huge 100kWh battery, which is located under the floor as in most new EVs. On the Air model, the official driving range is 349 miles. This drops to 313 miles on the all-wheel drive GT-Line and GT-Line S models. In real-world driving, this will likely be a bit less – call it about 300 miles in good weather, maybe 250 miles in mid-winter, and you should be about right.

In very cold highland Scotland, we found that the trip computer was predicting the remaining driving range quite accurately, so you should be able to trust what the car is telling you when planning your choice of charging stops on a long road trip.

Electrical efficiency (the EV equivalent of fuel economy) isn’t great, but that’s not surprising for a car this size. We saw results of about 2 miles per kWh in mixed driving through Scotland, whereas a smaller Nissan Ariya-style five-seat SUV would probably get about 4 miles/kWh for the same driving. Likewise, last month we struggled to get near 30mpg in a Land Rover Discovery on similar sorts of driving, whereas a smaller diesel SUV would be breezing past 50mpg. In other words, bigger and heavier cars use more energy, regardless of whether it’s petrol, diesel or electricity.

If you’re charging up the EV9 at home from a 7kW charger, which is the most common scenario, it would take about nine hours to charge from 10% to 100%. If you don’t have a wallbox and you’re relying on a three-pin plug, you’ll be waiting more than 40 hours for the same level of charge.

If you’re using public charging, the good news is that the EV9 can accept charging at up to 350kW if you can find a suitable charger. These are pretty rare (and usually expensive), but you can charge from 10% to 80% in less than half an hour. If you’re at a more common 50kW charger, you’re looking at closer to an hour and a half.


Put simply, the Kia EV9 is an excellent car. If you’re looking at spending around £60-80K (or maybe more) on a large SUV, and you’re comfortable with it being an EV – which is obviously still a limiting factor for some customers – then you’d really have to dislike the Kia badge to not have this at the top of your shopping list.

There’s certainly a good argument to suggest that many people who buy very large SUVs don’t really need them, and a smaller vehicle would be better for them (and everyone else). The good news here is that the Kia EV5 and EV3 models will be coming along over the next two years, distilling the flagship EV9’s qualities into mid-size (EV5) and small (EV3) SUV forms.

You may not like the styling, and it’s certainly no shrinking violet in that regard, but the quality of the engineering underneath is equal to anything from so-called ‘premium’ brand names. It’s more comfortable to drive or be driven in, it’s almost entirely predictable in how it behaves, and it makes excellent use of its enormous size in a way that many other large cars don’t.

Finally, it’s well-equipped for the asking price and it comes with a seven-year warranty. Running costs are not going to be too cheap, because it’s a massive SUV so it uses more energy than a smaller vehicle, but the same applies to anything else of a similar size (and a petrol or diesel vehicle is likely to cost you more over a four-to-five-year ownership period).

Based on our initial drive, you’ll struggle to find a better large SUV than the Kia EV9.

Similar cars

If you’re looking at the Kia EV9, you might also be interested in these alternatives.

BMW iX | Jeep Grand Cherokee | Land Rover Defender | Land Rover DiscoveryMercedes-Benz EQS SUV | Range Rover plug-in hybrid | Tesla Model X | Volkswagen ID. Buzz | Volvo EX90

Key specifications

Model tested: Kia EV9 GT-Line S
Price (as tested): £76,720 (including £725 for premium paint)
Engine: two electric motors, all-wheel drive
Single-speed automatic

Power: 283 kW / 380 hp
Torque: 700 Nm
Top speed: 124 mph
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds

Electric range: 313 miles
CO2 emissions: 0 g/km
Euro NCAP safety rating: Five stars (Dec 2023)
TCE Expert Rating: 78% (as of Dec 2023)

Buy a Kia EV9

If you’re looking to buy a new or used Kia EV9, The Car Expert’s partners can help you find the right car.

Motors.co.uk logo transparent 600x300

Find your next used car with Motors.co.uk. Find out more

Auto Trader logo 600x300

Find your next new or used car with Auto Trader. Find out more

Carwow logo 600x300

Find your next new or used car with Carwow. Find out more

Lease a Kia EV9

If you’re looking to lease a new Kia EV9, The Car Expert’s partners can help you find a competitive deal.

Carparison 600x300

Personal contract hire deals from Carparison Leasing. Find out more

Rivervale Leasing logo 2022

Personal contract hire deals from Rivervale Leasing. Find out more

LeaseLoco logo 600x300

Personal contract hire deals from LeaseLoco. Find out more

Subscribe to a Kia EV9

Subscriptions are becoming a very popular way for consumers to try an electric car for a few weeks or months to help decide whether it’s a suitable alternative to a petrol car. If you’re interested in a car subscription, The Car Expert’s partners can help. (PS: What’s a car subscription?)

Mycardirect subscriptions – 600x300

Car subscriptions from Mycardirect.
Find out more

Wagonex logo 2023 600x300

Car subscriptions from Wagonex.
Find out more

Cocoon Vehicles logo 600x300

Car subscriptions from Cocoon.
Find out more

Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.
The Kia EV9 is an excellent car. If you're looking at spending around £60-80K (or maybe more) on a large SUV, and you're comfortable with it being an EV – which is obviously still a limiting factor for some customers – then you'll struggle to find a better choice than the Kia EV9.Kia EV9 test drive