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The 2024 Kia EV9 Emerges As A Leader

Image Source: lev radin / Shutterstock

Shoppers in search of a spacious three-row crossover SUV for their family may find it challenging to find a rival that surpasses the 2024 Kia EV9.

This electric SUV, the EV9, dominated this year and earned prestigious titles such as The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2024 and Best Family Car To Buy 2024. Several months later, our decision remains unwavering. This vehicle is exceptional.

Boasting commendable efficiency, a cozy and efficiently designed interior, and intuitive controls, the EV9 captivates both adults and children. While its TCC Rating of 8.6 out of 10 ranks among the highest of approximately 260 vehicles on The Car Connection, it occasionally loses points due to both overthinking and underthinking certain aspects, its smartphone companion app lacks in comparison, and the cost can escalate.

Below are the advantages and disadvantages of living with the Kia EV9 for a week.

Pro: EV9 offers superb family-friendly features

Similar to the Kia Telluride but with enhancements, the EV9 effortlessly accommodates the family. At 5-foot-10, I comfortably occupied all three rows with seating adjusted for optimal comfort. Not once did my children voice any space-related grievances, which is a rarity. The front seat headrests feature a plush mesh design with a metallic outline reminiscent of premium office chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron. This vehicle is ideal for road trips, although it was necessary to explain to my children that the power reclining second-row seats in my test vehicle should not be accessed while in motion for safety reasons, leading to some complaining.

2024 Kia EV9

Con: EV9 scrutinizes certain family-oriented features excessively or inadequately

My fully-loaded GT-Line AWD model featured power-operated second-row seats that could slide, recline, and even had footrests. However, pressing the button on the seat back’s top to slide and fold the second row for access to the third row proved to be an agonizingly slow process. Who has the time for that as a parent? While this feature is similar to what’s found in the BMW X7, it’s equally sluggish there as well. However, considering the nearly $80,000 price tag, this is not a luxurious vehicle. The second row must be capable of quicker sliding and tilting adjustments, either electronically or manually.

Families venturing into the EV9 will notice that the rear door handles lack a touch-to-unlock sensor, a feature present in most vehicles in this price range. Even the Nissan Pathfinder and Jeep Grand Cherokee L have this feature, albeit absent in the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade as well.

Pro: EV9 excels in efficiency

Contrary to its blocky exterior design, the EV9 demonstrates impressive efficiency. Base models of the EV9 feature a 215-hp single rear motor combined with a 76.1-kWh battery pack providing an EPA-rated range of 230 miles. Opting for the larger 99.8-kWh battery with two electric motors generating 379 hp and all-wheel drive results in an EPA-rated range of 270 miles. During most of my driving week, I maintained an average of 3.0 to 3.1 miles per kWh in a mix of suburban routes, showcasing efficiency given the EV9’s size, weight, and design. However, increased highway speeds and slightly more spirited driving reduced my efficiency to 2.8 miles per kWh over a 222-mile distance.

Con: EV9 becomes costly

Although the EV9 isn’t classified as a luxury vehicle and lacks the associated dealership experience, badge, or premium cabin materials, its base price of $56,395, including a $1,495 destination fee, places it in the range of a nearly fully equipped Telluride model. Furthermore, it stands approximately $7,000 below a comparably equipped three-row Tesla Model X and $18,000 less than the Rivian R1S. The extended-range EV9 with a 304-mile range is priced at $60,695, while obtaining a dual-motor model with all-wheel drive requires a minimum of $65,395. My well-equipped Long Range AWD GT-Line model amounted to a luxurious $78,430 due to the optional $2,000 second-row relaxation package, a worth-it $695 blue paint option, $225 for custom floor mats, and $115 for a carpeted mat in the cargo area. This is a substantial investment for the Kia dealership experience and the recyclable interior materials, which, while appealing, do not match the caliber of a BMW or even a fully loaded Grand Cherokee L Summit.

Pro: EV9 incorporates user-friendly toggles and buttons

Essential functions in the EV9 are conveniently accessible and do not necessitate navigating through the three dashboard screens. The vehicle provides a rotary knob for audio volume adjustment, switches for climate control temperature, fan speed, and air directional preferences, physical buttons, dials, and levers on the steering wheel, as well as solid buttons for the charge port door, frunk, tailgate, and display brightness. Even the door panels feature buttons for managing the heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a fact my children were keen on reminding me of.

Con: Kia’s mobile app falls short

Despite Kia’s impressive vision for the future of family cars, the smartphone user interface lags behind. The Apple iOS app, like Hyundai’s, is functional but significantly trails behind the apps offered by Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid. The app occasionally operates sluggishly, necessitates frequent loading, and frustratingly demands confirmation for simple tasks such as locking/unlocking the car or activating the climate control. The delayed confirmation left me waiting, uncertain if the request was executed promptly.

The EV9 clearly stands out as the go-to three-row electric crossover SUV for families transitioning from gas-powered vehicles. It represents the top value in its category of electric three-row vehicles (for now) and serves as an exceptional family-oriented automobile.

Image Source: lev radin / Shutterstock

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