Is The Kia EV9 Really The World’s Best Car?

It is certainly one of the most compelling electric vehicles to come along so far.

Courtesy Kia
The Kia EV9. Courtesy Kia

So, you’re telling me that it’s good?

The Kia EV9 was named World Car of The Year, World Electric Car of the Year and North American Utility Vehicle of the Year in 2024.

The annual awards, voted by panels of journalists, don’t always hit the mark, but when there’s that kind of unanimity, you have to take notice.

The EV9 is Kia’s largest electric model ever. The three-row SUV is similar in size to the very popular Kia Telluride, itself a World Car of the Year and North American Utility Vehicle of the Year winner. The Telluride remains one of the best in its class and entirely lived up to the accolades.

The rear of the Kia EV9. Courtesy Kia

The EV9 is currently imported from South Korea, but production will soon begin at the same West Point, Ga., facility that builds the Telluride.

This is important because it will allow the EV9 to qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit on electric vehicle purchases. Right now, Kia is discounting the EV9 by that much until the Georgia cars begin shipping. That’s good, because it helps.

The EV9 starts at $56,395 for an entry-level model with just 230 miles of range and 215 hp. That’s not a lot of miles per dollar.

Working in its favor is that it only takes about 20 mins to charge it to 80 percent at the most powerful public charging stations, which makes long trips possible. But there’s a better solution.

The rear seats of the Kia EV9. Courtesy Kia

A Long Range model with a larger battery lists for $60,695 and can go 304 miles between charges. That’s four or five hours of driving, so you’ll probably want to stop anyway.

There’s also an all-wheel-drive version with 379 hp that can cover 280 miles, which is an interesting combination that ranges from $63,395 to $75,395 for a fully loaded EV9 GT-Line like the one I tested.

They all share the same boxy, chiseled styling that makes the EV9 look like an oversized Kia Soul and a standout in the crowd. The large, grill-free front end gives it a particularly futuristic look.

The EV9’s interior is more conventional, at least by Kia standards. It features digital displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system housed within a widescreen frame on top of the dashboard.

The front seats of the Kia EV9. Courtesy Kia

Most things are controlled on the screen, but there are physical switches for the climate system and a scroll wheel for the volume on the center console that are easier to use when you are driving.

The GT-Line has heated and cooled front seats that have a massage function and can also turn into recliners, complete with footrests. The driver definitely won’t want to use this on the move, but it’s great when you are waiting for the battery to charge or for your children to finish up at practice.

You can bring plenty of them along, as the EV9 seats up to seven passengers, although the third row is a bit tight for adults. The second-row bench seat can be swapped for a pair of power captain’s chairs in the GT-Line for $2,000. They have an extreme recline and footrests like the front seats, but won’t give you a massage.

You might not need one. The EV9 rides as smoothly as a similarly priced luxury car would be expected to. It’s quieter than most of them, too, except at low speeds when its pedestrian alert hum turns on. It’s a great safety feature, but louder in the cabin than those of some other electric vehicles.

The interior of the Kia EV9. Courtesy Kia

Among the EV9’s many electronic driver aids are automatic emergency brakes and Kia’s Highway Driving Assist, which is a lane-centering adaptive cruise control that requires the driver to keep their hands on the wheel, but doesn’t ask them to do much. It is very good.

Despite its family car facade, the all-wheel-drive EV9 is quicker than it needs to be. It can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which would give a Ford Mustang GT a run for its money. Unfortunately, its stylish but large 21-inch wheels contribute to a drop in range to 270 miles, compared to the other all-wheel-drive models, so you won’t win an endurance race. Nevertheless, it is rated to tow 5,000 pounds, matching the Telluride.

The EV9 doesn’t have a lot of competition right now. No other mainstream automaker sells a three-row SUV this size in the U.S., and the Rivian R1S and Tesla Model X have prices that start where the top-of-the-line GT-Line ends. It can hold its own against either of them, but is it the best car in the world?

It is certainly one of the most compelling electric vehicles to come along so far. I’m not sold on the 230-mile model, but the Long Range and all-wheel-drive trims make stronger arguments and, when you put the price aside, it’s simply good.

Kia Motors Chairman M.K. Chung speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kia automotive manufacturing plant on October 20, 2006 at West Point, Georgia. Erik S. Lesser/Kia Motors via Getty Images

Kia sold 5,579 imported EV9s through April, so it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to the Georgia-made vehicles.

Who knows, those voters were right about the Telluride.

The New York Sun

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