I drove a Kia EV9 over the holiday break. Here’s how it went. - SUV VEHICLE

I drove a Kia EV9 over the holiday break. Here’s how it went.


I spent real time with the reigning Drive Car of the Year over a busy holiday period. These are my thoughts on how the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line kept pace.

As 2023 drew to a close there was one final car that made its debut throughout the year that I was dead keen on giving a go.

The Kia EV9 launch snuck in just before December 2023 and it’s a model that took my intrigue as soon as it was revealed thanks to its bold, boxy styling, renowned E-GMP electric platform, and expansive interior.

I was also keen on seeing how an electric vehicle would fare on longer trips, relying heavily on the nation’s commercial fast-charging network.

Not that I had a singular, big road trip planned, but after recently getting engaged I was flung head-deep into wedding planning – and finding the right Victorian venue was the goal over the two-week gap following Christmas.

There were big expectations for the Kia EV9 even before I collected the keys. I had the briefest of taste tests late in the year (ahead of its Australian launch) during Kia’s inaugural EV Day in South Korea and was immediately taken by the model’s retro-boxy design.

To my eyes, it looks incredibly cool. The big, wide front fascia makes an imposing initial impression, but then it is complemented by bedazzled headlights that house small-cube projector LEDs. The black accents around the chunky wheel guards look right at home on the geometric silhouette and the big upright glasshouse ensures visibility and cabin light is in abundance.

It’s not just in design that the Kia EV9 impresses either. The top-spec GT-Line trim is fully-laden with kit to keep you and your seven passengers occupied. Two-tone artificial leather seats, dual sunroofs, a 14-speaker Meridian sound system, heated and ventilated seats, 21-inch wheels, and a detailed head-up display are just some of the reasons why you would pick the top spec.

But then again, for $121,000 before on-road costs, you’d really want this Kia to offer you the world. It’s the most amount of money Kia has ever charged for a vehicle in Australia, making this price point uncharted territory for the brand. To give you insight, it’s actually more like $140,000 after factoring in delivery costs and stamp duty.

In any case, first impressions turned out great. The Kia EV9 is an absolutely wonderful car to get to know at first glance and wows on initial meeting. Inside the cabin I was greeted with the most comfortable seat I’ve experienced in recent memory and an eye-catching array of ambient lighting.

It gets better from there. The seats fold into a laidback position so you can chill while you charge, the infotainment is a breeze to sift through with handy shortcuts on the panel below the screen, and the amount of space on offer in the front row is simply luxurious.

They’re the highlights before you even turn the thing on.  

The first few trips in around Victoria were conquered without fuss: to and from work a few times, up to the Dandenong Ranges to check out a vineyard, and to visit my parents in south-east Melbourne.

I’d expected at least a bit of a struggle with other EV motorists searching for a fast charge at the (few) charging spots in Melbourne, but the only time I struggled with plug availability was at Chadstone shopping centre on the day after Boxing Day – I should have known.

In any case, I quickly learned that it would be difficult to own and run an electric vehicle if you didn’t have a home charging solution. I made it work in my time with the car by jumping between DC fast chargers at outlets like BP Pulse, AmpCharge, and Chargefox’s wide range of EV charging locations.

On charging, the EV9 charges at an astronomical max rate of 10-80 per cent in just 24 minutes. However, I was only able to extract a maximum 200kW charge rate out of the beast, when hooked up to an ultra-fast 350kW charger. We’ve conducted other tests with related Kia and Hyundai cars before, seeing charge speeds of up to 250kW.

Simply, charging the EV9 up at home on a regular wall outlet is a no-go. The battery is too big to effectively charge and it would take more than two days to replenish its full 99.8kWh capacity.

Speaking of batteries, the high-voltage drive battery isn’t the only one that can lose charge. Somewhat ironically, one morning I walked out to the car to find its 12-volt battery had died. The irony that a huge 100kWh battery’s operation had been foiled by a tiny 12V battery is not lost on me.

Anyway, no big deal – it happens from time to time and it was sorted by having Kia’s roadside assistance come out to jump-start the car within 90 minutes of placing a call.

The mechanic mentioned that he’d seen a few electric cars succumb to a similar fate – even soon after delivery – however, the process to get them going again is as simple as it is to jump-start an internal combustion engine.

Back on the road, the Kia EV9 is clever with its digital side-view cameras (in place of regular mirrors) which can give wide- and cropped-angle views plus alert to cars sitting in your blind spot. After spending a couple of weeks with the technology, I got used to the tricky tech when driving in town and out on freeways, but it’s quite hard to judge depth perception and size references when trying to park the 5015mm-long body into a perpendicular spot.

The camera lenses also fogged up while driving through the Yarra Valley one afternoon, occluding the picture quality shown on the side displays. I think I’d be opting for the mid-specification EV9 Earth which carries on with conventional mirrors – most reviewers around the world feel the same way.

However, there’s no doubt that the Kia EV9 gets looks everywhere you go. I clocked people eyeing it off in supermarket car parks, hard-parked on built-up shopping strips, and even had other motorists gawking in traffic. Perhaps it’s the Ocean Blue matte paint (which adds $3945 to the bottom line) that catches the eye of onlookers, but if you want a set of attention-grabbing wheels for the family – the EV9 is it.

It’s spectacular on the inside too. Whether you’re sitting in the first, second, or third rows, the EV9 has space for all passengers. Being the flagship GT-Line variant, the back seat occupants are treated to copious amounts of light through a dedicated second sunroof – plus the outboard seats are heated and cooled.

My dad spent time in the second row on Christmas day and remarked at just how spacious the back-seat area was – and was wowed by the heating and cooling functions. He wasn’t a huge fan of the stark contrast between the black-and-white upholstery – neither was I in honesty – but the plush second-row seat base ensured his comfort for a long drive.

Scurrying into the third row isn’t an arduous task – the seat back flings forward and the base slides out of the way to provide a wide aperture for people to slip through.

Back in the front row, the infotainment is handled between two 12.3-inch screens mounted side by side. While it’s a shame you have to physically connect your phone (with a USB) for Apple CarPlay functionality, it’s a bit of a first-world problem anyway. In fact, I used Kia’s own infotainment system a majority of the time which is simple to navigate, fast to flick between menus, and displays nice graphics on whichever screen you’re using.

The first real test of the Kia EV9’s extracurricular driving credentials came on one of the venue scouting trips out to the Mornington Peninsula. Despite its size, the EV9 tracks beautifully within a lane and is supremely easy to keep steady on highways, backroads, or even in busy suburban streets. It’s not imposing, it’s not unwieldy, and it’s easy to place on the road – even with wacky digital mirrors.

Around corners its portly 2636kg weight is easy to pick, and it can feel like you’re going into a corner a bit hotter than you actually are.

An area where this laidback suspension tune was appreciated was with respect to ride comfort. The EV9 handles rough road impacts and undulations with a soft-edged nature. However – I suspect it may even fare better with a smaller set of wheels.

Now, noted, at 2.6 tonnes it’s a very heavy car. But the dual-motor, all-wheel drivetrain’s 283kW/700Nm combined outputs ensure the EV9 moves off the line quickly and reacts instinctively to a sudden overtake.

It’s not going to outclass hot hatches or sports cars in a straight line, but the level of power is supremely capable of getting the car up to speed quickly and without fuss. Naturally, Melbourne’s notoriously dreary weather marred the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but there were never any unwieldy instances of wheel slip or traction loss out of the big bus.

I didn’t go flinging the EV9 through twisty corners, nor did I send it up an off-road track. Even though the EV9 contains Sport and off-road modes, this car is wholly focused on being quiet, comfortable family transport and it masters those domains with aplomb.

While I’m a huge fan of the Kia EV9 – and it has now won our 2024 Drive Car of the Year award outright – I think the best buying will be at the mid-range level with the $106,500 (plus ORCs) EV9 Earth variant. It’s not quite as pricey as the GT-Line but still includes all the amenities and features families appreciate in a seven-seat SUV purchase.

There’s no doubt the Kia EV9 is a brilliant car and genuinely moves the game on for electric vehicles. Although the seven-seat Mercedes-Benz EQB electric came before it (and competes for different buyers), Kia’s EV9 excels with its practical cabin, a tried-and-true E-GMP electric architecture, and level of included equipment. It’s an expensive step-up from other Kia electric vehicles, but it’s backed by genuine leaps in added equipment, comfort, and space.

It was the perfect chariot over a two-week break and ferried friends, family, and colleagues in utmost – and quiet – comfort. I’m now more than keen to spend time in the mid-spec EV9 Earth.

The post I drove a Kia EV9 over the holiday break. Here’s how it went. appeared first on Drive.


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