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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

KIA EV9 GT-Line: the first affordable 3-row EV.

Today, electric vehicles come in many forms, but no one has built an affordable three-row SUV… until now! The wait is finally over. Kia is the first automaker to offer such a vehicle, thanks to its new electric global platform, E-GMP. Let's jump into the subject without further ado: our Kia EV9 Land AWD GT-Line had an MSRP of $78,995 and was manufactured at the Gwangmyeong, Korea plant.

Photo by Vincent Patenaude

As mentioned earlier, the market consists mainly of compact EVs, which are great for the range but not for larger families. Kia saw an opportunity to take advantage of the absence of full-size electric vehicles; the design of the Kia EV9 is futuristic, elegant and practical. The front grille has two parts: the top is closed off, and the bottom is partly closed off, with active air flaps to reduce drag and increase efficiency. The lighting situation is interesting with the EV9, as the running lights are distinctive thanks to their S-shape. Then, there are also the two columns of LED headlamp cubes. If that wasn't unusual enough, the Korean automaker added the Digital Pattern Lighting Grille, which offers five configurations of Dynamic Welcome Light formations, thus adding an extra layer of personalization never seen before on a vehicle. On the side, the 21-inch GT-Line wheels add a layer of style while reducing drag thanks to its aerodynamic wheel covers. The doors are large, and the vehicle is tall, making it one of the most accessible EVs if you're over 6 ft (183 cm). In fact, at 1780 mm, the EV9 is barely smaller than the similarly sized, gas-powered Telluride (1790 mm). In the back, the tailgate isn't over-styled. The distinctive LED tail lights are the only element that stands out. Otherwise, it is sleek, and the badging is tucked on the lower part of the tailgate. 

The interior of the Kia EV9 is modern and sleek, like the exterior. Our GT-Line model was equipped with comfortable grey/black quilted leather seats, bringing light to an otherwise dark interior. You can get the vehicle in six or seven seats. Our test model was equipped with captain chairs in the second row, which is ideal for adults or teenagers, but you can get a bench, too, to maximize the number of passengers inside on lower trims. The person sitting behind the front passenger can move the front seat thanks to buttons on the left side, making the second row one of the best places to sit; the relaxation seats also help. The third row is smaller but still usable, especially for children. You can install car seats in the EV9 using the ISOFIX ports and rear anchors on the second and third-row seats. In terms of amenities, all EV9s come with a standard heated and ventilated front row; our test model also had these features on the second row, as well as a heated steering wheel and sliding center console, to name a few. Finally, this electric midsize SUV cargo capacity is its biggest selling point, as you can easily fold down both second and third rows at the touch of a button in the cargo area, totalling up to 2,314 L (81.7 cu. ft), which is barely smaller than the gas-powered Telluride for example (2,455 L). You also get a front trunk (Frunk) under the hood, which adds up to 90 L to your overall cargo capacity! 

Technology-wise, the Kia EV9 has a 12.3-in digital instrument cluster display, a 5.3-in HVAC display and a 12.3-in infotainment screen. The digital cluster on the driver's side is clean and always shows your speed and range. Thanks to the blind view monitor, you can see your blind spot directly on the gauge cluster when you activate the turn signal. While you cannot get a full-screen navigation map, you can switch between different menus and see the trip information or the all-wheel drive system in real time. The shift lever and start button are on the steering column, under the windshield wiper stock. Moving to the middle, you will find the 12.3-inch infotainment screen and the 5-inch HVAC controls. We don't like the climate control situation; they are too close to the steering wheel. The minimalistic controls under the central air vents allow for quick changing of temperature but do not allow for the correct viewing of the rest of the settings. You can make them larger and show them up on the infotainment screen; nonetheless, we would've preferred a similar setup as the one on the gas-powered Kia Telluride. On the upside, that center screen is large and crisp. You can quickly go from one menu to another, and the primary buttons are integrated into the panel underneath it, such as Home, Map and Media, to name a few. Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available; the GT-Line also adds a 14-speaker Meridian sound system, which sounds excellent, and a Digital Rearview Mirror, a feature greatly appreciated when every seat is taken. 

KIA EV9 GT interior
Photo by Vincent Patenaude

Under the hood, the Kia EV9 is available in two battery configurations. The base Light RWD version has a smaller 76.1kWH battery pack, delivering only 215 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. All other versions are equipped with a 99.8kWh battery; the rear-wheel drive version delivers 201 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the all-wheel drive version delivers a hefty 379 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The estimated range of the base version is roughly 370 km, the larger battery pack with RWD is rated at 489 km, and the AWD varies between 435 and 451 km. What's also impressive about the EV9 is the towing capacity: while the RWD versions can tow up to 2,000 lbs, the AWD versions can tow up to 5,000 lbs, which is quite the figure for an electric SUV and increases its practicality, even though it means you will have to stop a little longer to charge. This versatile EV takes a while to charge: a level two charger takes about sixteen hours to charge to 100%, while a level three 350 kW DC fast charger can take as little as 24 minutes to go from 10% to 80%. In our testing, the vehicle's charging speed went up to 113 kW on a 180 kW charger, which would take about 50 min to reach the same percentage. 

On the road, the Kia EV9 GT-Line feels quite nice to drive. The cabin is quiet, and the suspensions keep the vehicle stable, even in sharp corners. Considering it's a 3-ton vehicle, the EV9 keeps body roll to a minimum, in part due to the Self-Levelizer Rear Suspension. The steering and handling are good for its class and size; the acceleration is also impressive; you can get to 100 kph in about 4.5 seconds, with limited tire spinning from the start. Braking is predictable and safe, although you feel the weight shifting slightly to the front. As for energy consumption, we tested the vehicle in somewhat cold weather, hovering around 5℃ (41℉). In the city/traffic, we saw an average of 20.1 kWh/100km, which is excellent for such a large vehicle. Our average for the week was 24.3 kWh/100km, translating into a range of 410 km. The heat pump, available on all trims except the base, is an integral part of the effort to reduce the need for battery power to heat the cabin.

Photo by Vincent Patenaude

The market was ripe for an electric three-row SUV, and the Kia EV9 is ready to take the top spot. Versatile, modern and powerful, this electric SUV has a lot going on for it, with a price tag under $100,000. With its advanced battery technology, the EV9 has a spacious interior while offering a good range. The Korean automaker has a firm hold on the electric vehicle segment, and this excellent EV will further confirm their lead position.

Photo by Vincent Patenaude

KIA has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with KIA Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.

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