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The Kia EV9 Might Be The 3-Row EV For The Rest Of Us

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One of the big challenges of switching to EVs with children is space. There are many great options at all price levels with five seats, so if your family has no more than three kids, you’re good. Options include the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Bolt EUV, and many other options all the way up to the most expensive luxury EVs.

But, if you have 4 or 5 kids, the options start to dwindle, and there’s nothing cheap available. The Tesla Model X is definitely nice, but it starts at around $90,000. The Rivian R1S is another good option that’s ready for even better adventures, but it’s right up there with the Model X in price.

That’s why I’m excited to see what happens with the Kia EV9 that the company announced recently. It looks a lot like the Sorento hybrid (now available as a PHEV) that I reviewed in 2021 — but with updated styling, no gas-powered engines, and a whole lot more battery. Let’s take a quick look at the specs for the vehicle before we move on.

An Electric SUV With Actual SUV Capability

The EV9, the second Kia model based on the E-GMP platform, incorporates fourth-generation battery technology for enhanced energy density. It offers two powertrain options: a standard 76.1-kWh battery with a 160-kW (215-hp) motor for rear-wheel drive, and an optional 99.8-kWh battery available in either a single-motor configuration (201-hp) with a target range of 300 miles.

They’ll also offer a dual-motor, 283-kW (379-hp) torque vectoring all-wheel-drive configuration with up to 516 lb.-ft. of torque. Drive modes include Eco, Normal, Sport, and My Mode, with Snow Mode added to AWD models.

Like other Kia and Hyundai EVs, the EV9 features an 800V electrical architecture, allowing for ultrafast charging on high-speed DC chargers. It can go from 10 to 80 percent state of charge in under 25 minutes, while reaching a maximum DC charging speed of up to 236 kW. Additionally, the EV9 is equipped with an 11-kW onboard charger for efficient Level 2 charging, so it’s no slouch at home, and won’t leave you in trouble on those unusually long days parents seem to come across more than other people.

It’s also no minivan with SUV looks. It comes with up to 7.8 inches of ground clearance and will offer up to 5,000 pounds of rated towing capacity. In other words, it’s going to be useful as an SUV and not just as a mom taxi that looks tough.

Safety Features & Tech

Another thing I love about the expensive 7-seat EVs I’ve tested is all of the safety features. Look, I’m no perfect driver. I have a better driving record than most, but nobody is perfectly attentive 100% of the time, especially if you’re a mom with 4 kids. So, having some safety features to back you up is something parents deeply appreciate.

The EV9 enhances and expands Kia’s range of standard and optional Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Making its debut on the EV9 for the Kia brand in North America is the upcoming Advanced Highway Driving Assist (AHDA). This available driving feature utilizes LiDAR-based technology to assist in maintaining distance from the detected vehicle ahead and keeping the EV9 centered within detected lane markers.

If it’s better than the systems the Sorento had (which I was pretty impressed with), it’ll be a winner.

The EV9’s other advanced safety features include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA-2)27, which helps detect and prevent collisions in specific situations. The EV9 has enhanced capabilities to detect vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists ahead (FCA-CPC), oncoming vehicles when turning left (FCA-JT), and crossing vehicles at intersections (FCA-JC). It also provides braking and steering assistance to prevent or reduce collisions when passing other vehicles (FCA-LO), changing lanes (FCA-LS), or encountering obstacles, pedestrians, or vehicles ahead (FCA-ESA).

The vehicle also has some decent tech promised. The EV9 showcases Kia’s next-generation Connected Car Navigation Cockpit (ccNC) system. This ultramodern infotainment system processes faster and with higher fidelity. Quick Controls are easily accessible with a simple swipe on the screen. Navigation-based charging guidance as well as using arrival time and distance-to-empty estimates help alleviate range anxiety. Standard convenience features include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a wireless phone charger.

Setting a new precedent, the EV9 becomes the first Kia model to offer vehicle system over-the-air updates. The aim is to continuously enhance the EV9 experience over time. Through the upcoming digital Kia Connect Store, accessed via the Kia Access app or the Kia Owner Portal, a range of exciting digital features and services will unlock the ability to remotely upgrade performance, entertainment, and more.

So, they might actually be catching up to the Teslas I can’t afford.


The big thing that caught my attention was the third row, but Kia’s promising more than just more seats. Kia also promises maximum comfort for every seat. Second row passengers enjoy 42.8 inches of legroom, 39.8 inches of headroom (without sunroof), and 60 inches of shoulder room. In the third row, there’s 32.0 inches of legroom. With the seven-seat configuration, the second-row bench allows easy access to the third row through a tilting walk-in system, even with a child seat.

That’s music to a mom’s ears, you know. But, I also want to give the six-seat configuration a serious look, too.

The Captain’s Chairs option (like the 2021 Sorento Hybrid I reviewed) allows seating for six passengers and includes Relaxation Mode with power-operated leg rests, equipped with heating and cooling. High-power USB-C outlets are conveniently placed throughout the cabin. Moreover, the standard tri-zone HVAC system ensures precise temperature control in both the front and back.

With four kids and two adults in our family, that’s definitely worth considering, but my wife wants to have an extra seat for friends to come along sometimes. That’s going to be a hard decision.

Two Big Questions Remain

Despite all of the information (and much more that I didn’t cover here), I still have two big questions for Kia, and I’ve emailed the company to see if we can get some answers.

The biggest one that they probably won’t answer right now is pricing. I’m reasonably sure that they’ll beat the Model X and R1S on price, but I’ll need to see if it’s in my price range.

The other big question that we need to answer is how it drives, and that can only happen with some wheel time. If it’s anything like the Sorento Hybrid we reviewed and road tripped in a couple of years ago, I think I’ll be impressed. I’ll update readers once Kia gives us some wheel time!

All images provided by Kia.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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