From a power point of view, this being a Kia, it has vehicle-to-load capability, which means you can plug in household appliances and run them from the car battery. But the EV9 also has vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid, too. Kia’s new flagship can apparently run a house for two days should power go down. For less dramatic power needs, each row gets two USB-C sockets of an output that can charge a laptop (I know, because I tried). The on-board Wi-Fi works well too (as long as the built-in SIM has signal), but it gets disabled if you switch on that wireless CarPlay or Android Auto, frustratingly. In short, it’s perfectly possible to work from the rear of the EV9 on long-distance trips.
There’s no doubt the EV9 will surprise you with how quick it can be. This is both a good and bad thing. It’s wonderful to be able to get such a beast of an SUV out of a spot of bother in a trice, but stopping something of this size at speed can be hairy. Its speed (and range) is helped by a surprisingly low drag coefficient of just 0.28—which means this boxy behemoth of an EV is more aerodynamic than an i-Pace and, astonishingly, a Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
Yet, despite that attention-grabbing acceleration figure, this is not a car in which you should go bonkers. Don’t start hurling it around corners on mountain roads. Physics can’t be cheated, and the bulk of the EV reveals itself if pushed. That said, the ride quality is excellent. Obviously geared for comfort, road bumps are effortlessly smoothed out, which is impressive considering no air suspension or active dampers are employed.
The steering is accurate enough, too, and it all comes together to make an electric SUV ideal for carrying people in style over long distances or in urban areas, which is precisely what it is designed to do. It drives as if it is smaller than it is, thankfully, and the good interior visibility adds to this illusion. Try parking it, however, or attempt a U-turn in town, and you’re quickly reminded of the size of the EV9. Sadly, on this brand-hosted media drive we weren’t given the chance to see how the EV9 performed off-road.
As for real-world battery use, over 169 miles during a mix of backroad and freeway driving in normal driving mode with periods that were “enthusiastic,” I managed an average of 2.9 miles/kWh, during which time the battery dropped from 95 to 35 percent. This is pleasingly close to the EV9’s advertised 3.1 miles/kWh, and should mean the SUV can give more than 300 miles on a full charge in everyday use.
Best Kia Yet
There are certainly problems with the EV. Why is there no option for rear entertainment in this full seven-seater? The doors rattle a little at high volume with that Meridian system, too. The interior materials used are good, but not as premium as they should be if you’re taking on the luxury end of the SUV market. Then there’s the drive selector stick, which is a disgrace.
But it’s easy to overlook these failures because there’s so much to recommend about the EV9: the boxy but attractive looks, the cavernous interior space, the proper adult-friendly third row of seats, the successful new UI and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, the 800V charging system than can now do vehicle-to-home (which supposedly could save you $1,000 to $1,500 a year if used correctly), a supremely comfortable drive, and the fact that it will be one of the very few EVs to qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit in the US.