It’s fair to say that there was a lot of anticipation with the arrival of the Kia EV9; there (again) would finally be an EV for those who wanted 7 seats. Some of that anticipation was around the design of the car, with early sketches showing something pretty damn space-age – would the final design be anything like those sketches, or would it be watered down to something that looked like everything else on the road?

The Kia EV9 definitely does not look like anything else on the road. No one can blame Kia for making boring-looking cars in the last few years, and the EV9 takes that attitude and ramps it up. Space-age, futuristic, outlandish? Pick your own adjective and go with it.

We spent a couple of weeks and over 700km behind the wheel of the 2024 Kia EV9 to decide if Kia has pulled off a car worthy of its title of 2024 World Car Of The Year.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2024 Kia EV9 GT Line 

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Interior quality & luxury
Brake regen options
Front seats
7-seat EV
Boot space
Camera clarity
Ride quality
HUD info
So much beeping
Design not for everyone
No voice control without using a USB-cable
Audio quality
Some glitches on our test car
Traffic sign recognition a little flaky

What’s In The 2024 Kia EV9 GT Line Range?

There are three versions of the EV9 for sale in New Zealand;

  • Light – $105,990
  • Earth – $115,990
  • GT-Line – $134,990

The Light version is rear-wheel drive only, while the other two models are all-wheel drive (AWD). In the base Light spec, the rear motor is a 160kW/350Nm unit, while the AWD models have 141W front and rear motors that each output 350Nm of torque. This means a combined power rating of 282kW in the AWD models, with 700Nm of torque.

The battery pack in the Light version is 76kWh in size for an expected range of up to 443km, while both AWD models have a 99.8kWh battery for a range of up to 492 in the Earth model and 505km in the GT-Line.

Performance for the Light is 8.2 seconds to 100km/h, and 6.0 seconds in either AWD model.

2024 Kia EV9 Colour Range

All the EV9 colours are extremely subdued. You can choose from:

  • Snow White Pearl
  • Panthera Metal
  • Aurora Black
  • Ivory Silver
  • Ocean Blue
  • Iceberg Green

You also get to pick from matte colours instead of gloss if that’s your thing, but these are only available on the GT-Line:

  • Ivory Silver
  • Ocean Blue

For a full list of specs and options available for the Kia EV9 GT Line, head on over to Kia New Zealand’s website.

How Does The 2024 Kia EV9 GT Line Compare To Its Competition?

The new 7-seat Volvo EX90 is not available yet, so I have not included it here. The Mercedes-Benz EQB is a full EV that has a 7-seat option, but it’s a far smaller SUV. The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV has 7 seats, but we are talking a boatload more cash so much so it’s not worth mentioning here.

So that’s it – the Kia EV9 is in the segment all on its own.

Make/ ModelBattery
Litres *
Kia EV9 GT Line98282/7006.0750/2,500505828$134,990

* Third row down, second row up

Please note that DriveLife does its best to ensure the information above is correct at the time of publication, however, prices, specifications and models can change over time. Please bear that in mind when comparing models in the comparison table.

First Impressions Of The 2024 Kia EV9 GT Line

On seeing the EV9, every person’s first impression is the size of it – the car looks – and is – enormous. Helping that view is the design; with an upright front, slab sides and a proper SUV-style rear end, this car is boxy.

After a few days, the design really grew on me and I appreciate what Kia has done to both hide the size of the car, but also to make the most of it as well, if that makes sense. Others did not like the design, with comments like, “that car has mental health issues” being one of the nicer comments. I like it, but your mileage may vary on the look of the EV9.

Finished in Iceberg Green, our test car looked grey most of the time, and had a tinge of green in certain light. I see most of the colours available are extremely subdued and, well, boring. But on the other hand, I’m not sure a bright metallic red or blue would suit the car’s size.

Other first impressions include the digital mirrors sticking out from the body (they do fold in when the car is locked). These are another space-age touch and surprisingly practical, too. The electrically retracting door handles only add to the modern design, and admittedly it is quite cool to watch them slip into the doors when you are on the move.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2024 Kia EV9 GT Line?

That exterior impression of size is replicated inside; the cabin on this car is spacious, to say the least. Every front and middle row passenger has head, leg and shoulder room to spare. With the third row up, there’s limited legroom, but you can slide the middle row forward a reasonable way and still have good legroom for middle-row passengers, and more than acceptable for the third row.

There’s not just the feeling of space in the EV9 GT Line, but a sense of luxury. The two-tone seating in our test car looked superb, and the seats themselves look both luxurious and comfortable – and they are certainly both of those things in practice.

I hate to think how much each seat weighs, but they are loaded with features such as 3-stage heating and cooling in the front, an electrically adjustable leg rest, electrically adjustable bolsters, 4-way lumbar adjust, and massaging for the driver’s seat. The headrests are not electrically adjustable but they are supremely comfortable – actual head rests rather than just head restraints. These are nice to rest your head on when charging and using ‘Relaxation Mode’, which is a button on each front seat. The intention for Relaxation Mode is that when charging, you can activate this and it slips the front seat back down and raises the leg rest, allowing you to have a nice, comfy seat while charging up. We’ve seen this before on Kia models, and it’s quite a usable feature.

Even the second-row passengers get both heating and cooling; I can’t recall ever seeing a ventilated second row in a car under $200K, so this was a first for me.

Relaxation Mode – used when charging the EV9

While I’m not generally a fan of having too many controls for adjusting things via the centre display, the EV9’s seat controls are on the doors. That means they are flat against the door card, making it slightly difficult to see what each button does. After a while, I am sure an owner would know which one to push, but I struggled with this.

The driver’s seat massaging is adjusted via the centre screen; you turn it on first by pressing the button on the door, and then some options come up on the centre screen, and you press the button to cycle through those options; Pelvic, Lumbar, Whole Body. I found Whole Body to be quite intensive (I wrote ‘violent’ in my notes) but having massaging seats is always better than not. Those who poo-poo a massaging seat in a car have never tried one.

So while you adjust the seats via physical buttons, for front seat passengers, most of the AC is adjusted via the centre screen. You can adjust the temperature using physical buttons on the dash, but anything else is done using a slide-out digital panel on the screen, and this includes turning on the front or rear demister. Like some other EVs, there is a ‘Driver Only’ mode for the AC to use, which should save some battery power if you are in the car alone.

Below the AC temp buttons are two USB-C ports and a 12-volt socket, and above the temperature controls are some haptic controls for things like Map (SatNav), Search (SatNav), Media, or Home. While the buttons are flat and are essentially part of the dash, you still need to press them quite firmly to activate them. Not my favourite part of the car’s controls.

There’s an almost velvet finish to the pillars and headliner, and even the sun visors are finished in this material too. It all adds to that feeling of luxury you’d expect in a car costing $135,000. The GT Line EV9 has a dual-sunroof system, electrically tilt/slide in the front but surprisingly with a manual blind. The rear sunroof is fixed but has an electric blind.

The screen is a single-piece unit, so the dashboard and centre screen are all housed in one, large widescreen. We’ll talk about the functionality of the screen in the Drive section below. Before moving to the back two rows of seats, mention has to be made of the brake and accelerator pedals; the brake pedal has a big minus (-) sign on it and the accelerator pedal has a big plus (+). Geeky and not necessary, but totally appreciated. Good on Kia for doing something a little fun with the pedals.

While front-seat passengers are well catered for, those in the second and third row seats are not too hard done by. As mentioned, the second row is both heated and ventilated, and there is a large AC control panel on the roof for adjustments for AC in the rear. There are roof vents for the second and third row, and the middle row has access to a USB-C port on the back of each front seat. It seems like a weird place, but the rear of the front seats behind the headrests is for holding your tablet to watch a movie, so you can use those USB ports to keep it charged up. Those in the middle row also get their own cubby to store stuff, that runs up under the centre console. It’s so deep, I got to my elbow before the end came. It’s huge! Third-row passengers also get a USB-C port each plus a cupholder each.

Being a pure EV floor pan, that means a flat floor in the second row, and it makes the cabin feel that much wider.

The boot is into a class-leading size of 828 litres with the third row down, and you still have access to 312 litres with the third row up. That might not seem like much, but for a seven-seater that’s generous. Also in the boot is a 12-volt socket, remote release buttons for the middle row, and a 230-volt socket for plugging in your electrical gear. While not standard with the car, the EV9 can be purchased with a Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) adaptor, to enable you to run more power-hungry items off the car’s battery, than you could from that power socket in the boot. The V2L adaptor costs $862.90.

There is no spare under the floor of the EV9, instead you get access to a tyre pump. There is a front trunk (frunk) that holds 52 litres, and this is where Kia had stored the tether cable and 230-volt charger.

What’s The 2024 Kia EV9 GT Line Like To Drive?

I have to own up here and tell you it took me 3 minutes to find the start button in the EV9. It’s hidden, placed on the very inside of the gear-change stalk. In my defense, the steering wheel was set very low when I picked up the car, hiding it from my view, but I still felt like a rookie. It doesn’t take long for your brain to remember where the start/stop button is, but I’m not sure why it’s placed here – it seems like a change for the sake of change.

As mentioned, the GT Line has those digital mirrors; on pickup, there was moisture inside the driver’s-side camera, and that moisture showed up on the mirror’s screen inside the car. It slowly cleared, and after a few days was gone altogether. It didn’t rain hard enough during my time with the EV9 to see if this would happen again, but I would hope not. In actual use, the mirrors are very good – once you start remembering to look inside the car for the mirror, but that only takes a day or so. After that, you appreciate that you are getting a bigger, clearer view of what’s beside you. There are other benefits too, like the clarity at night when it’s darker outside but the view in the mirror is still crisp and clear. As you would hope, blind-spot monitoring is fitted and is shown by a big red triangle on the mirror screen, when a car is coming up alongside the EV9.

There are small gains in aerodynamics by using these digital mirrors and also the other benefits I’ve mentioned, but they do feel like a solution to a very small problem. I hate to think what the replacement cost of one unit is. Still, they are pretty cool and there is no denying the better image view.

Along with the digital mirrors, the interior mirror also has a digital display. You can use the interior mirror like any other mirror but you know the story – get some tall teenagers in the back seat, and your mirror view is taken up by grinning idiots. By flicking the normal day/night lever on the mirror, you now see a clear and crisp view out the back of the car, using one of the rear cameras. Like the outside mirror cameras, it gives you a better view at night, too. 

Those first impressions of being a big unit on the outside and inside are translated to driving the EV9; it’s not the ideal car for Wellington’s tight suburban streets. I got used to it, but it’s something to bear in mind – the car is long, tall and very wide. After a while I punted it about the city like any other car, although allowances were made where it just couldn’t fit. To help guide the big rig around, the 360-degree camera system is excellent, with superb clarity on the centre screen. You can turn on the feature that has the camera kick in if the sensors pick up something close to the car, and that’s a feature I always turn on. Better safe than sorry. 

The EV9 GT Line has Remote Smart Park Assist (RSPA), where the driver can use the key fob to move the car backwards or forwards, from outside the car. There is a bit of a process to make it work; for example, the doors must be locked – but it works just fine and is an enjoyable party trick to display. I have used the feature before in other Kia models where I simply could not squeeze into the car in a car park, due to other cars parking too close. It’s a perfect solution for that problem.

Aiding your city driving of the EV9 is a huge front windscreen that feels a long way away. It means a wide view of what’s happening in front of the car. Changing lanes on the driver’s side of the EV9 is tricky, as the B pillar is so wide and that, along with the large headrest, means that doing head checks for other traffic is dodgy. That blind spot monitoring and other active safety systems are essential in the EV9. Views out the left side of the car are much better; the rear-side windows (that have built-in blinds) are huge, and the EV9 does have a lane change assist function, although I could not see or feel it actually doing anything.

That blind-spot monitoring system on the mirrors is replicated on the heads-up display HUD. If a car comes alongside you on the motorway (for example), the HUD will show some red lines on whatever side the car is on – that’s a handy safety feature. The HUD itself is large too, and shows your current speed, the current speed limit, audio settings, and other info. It also displays turn-by-turn settings if you are using SatNav, and that’s always a bonus to have on a HUD – not all of them do this.

A nice safety feature of the HUD is a yellow warning sign that pops up on the windscreen if you are nearing a school – a great reminder to keep an eye out for kids. Like most other HUDs, the current speed limit is shown so you are also reminded what the speed limit is on the road you are travelling on. This is also a great feature, but I found the traffic sign recognition to be a little flaky, sometimes reporting the wrong speed limit. This in itself is more common than you think but since the EV9 has a warning system if you go over the speed limit by only 1km/h, the car will beep at you to slow down. There is an option in the infotainment settings to disable this, but as soon as you get back in the car next time, it will be turned on by default. 

That beeping drove my passengers a little crazy, I have to say. I got used to it, and my brain started to ignore it – but is that a good thing? Safety systems like this are there for a reason, but they need to work reliably.

The EV9 has built-in SatNav, so as usual when testing a vehicle, I thought I’d use it with the voice system to see how well it works. I struck a weird thing on the EV9 where you can’t use the voice control system – at all – unless you are using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and even then, you have to plug your phone in via a cable – it doesn’t work wirelessly. We found this same situation on the EV6, and it still feels strange. Kia has launched this space-age, all-new high-tech model but you have to use a cable to connect your phone. It feels quite old school in this respect. 

I can’t go on any longer without talking about the seats, which are one of the highlights of the GT Line version of the EV9. Not only do they look fantastic in that black/white leather combo, but there’s also such a huge range of adjustments and features, they put some cars costing $50K more to shame. As mentioned in the Interior section, there is a lot of electric adjustment in the seats, but they are also extremely comfortable. Then to see ventilated seats in the rear in a car costing under $200K blew me away. Kia has really thought about comfort levels in the EV9, and seats are a primary reason for achieving high comfort levels. Add in a two-stage heated steering wheel, and winter commuting is pretty nice in the EV9.

What about driving the EV9? All too easy. Once you’ve discovered where the on/off button is, using the EV9 as a daily driver is straightforward especially when you consider the available range. For me, one of the highlights of this car are the adaptive brake regeneration (regen) options. To date, this is the best regen system out there. You can use the steering wheel paddles to go from Level 0 of regen (coasting) and tap the paddle each time to go to Level 3. Level 4 is one-pedal driving, or close to it at least. But wait, there’s more! Hold the right-hand paddle down for a few seconds and the EV9 will switch to adaptive regen mode. Using this mode, the EV9 will watch traffic in front of you and apply as much regen that’s needed to slow you but also get the maximum amount of charge into the batteries. The EV9 also gives you 4 levels of adaptive regen, too. While most drivers will leave the car in ‘auto’ (adaptive regen) it was excellent to have all the options available, and I ended up using them more as time went on.

That heated steering wheel has the buttons for changing your drive modes, where you can pick from Eco, Normal, Sport, or My Drive. I left the car in Normal mode (which it defaults to) although I tested out Sport a few times. I’m not sure of the point of Sport mode in a 2.6-ton SUV, but it’s there. Does it go better in Sport mode? Sure, but there’s plenty of performance in Normal or even Eco mode, as well. The EV9 GT Line might surprise other drivers at the lights; for such a tank, it can haul its ass away from the light very quickly, getting to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds. For its weight, that is an impressive time.

Next to the drive mode button on the steering wheel is the Terrain button, allowing the driver to choose from Sand, Mud, or Snow. This is a little surprising when the EV9 weighs so much – the battery pack alone is over 550 Kg. You would think Kia would not encourage drivers to take their EV9 off road, but you’ll see in the YouTube clip in this review, they are suggesting just that. With the gauntlet thrown down, I decided to take the EV9 to Red Rocks, on Wellington’s southern coast. 

Kia does throw a few toys at you if you want to take your EV9 off the tarmac. It has hill descent control, and those three terrain modes to choose from. Heading down the first concrete slope towards the beach, there was a massive and deep pool of water, about 20 metres across. I know EVs generally have excellent wading abilities, but I wasn’t about to risk it. To the left was a safer route, through deep shingle and stones. The EV9 handled this bit better than I had expected – I kept thinking just how much this car weighs and that it was fitted with road tyres, as I approached every dodgy-looking thing to drive over. 

But on the EV9 and I went and it wasn’t too fazed by anything. I wasn’t about to take the car over Devil’s Gate – that would not end well – but gave it a reasonably easy offroad drive to my photo spot. The return to the road was just as easy, although at one point I felt the car start to bog down in some deep sand, so I gave it some welly and away it went – no drama at all.

I have to say while I was parked up taking photos, a convoy of hard-core off-roader guys drove past me. I could feel the sneering as they drove past slowly, eyeing up the idiot in his 2.6-ton EV. But hey it got there, and it got out again.

Back to everyday driving of the EV9. The other steering wheel controls are excellent; after two test cars with haptic steering wheel controls, Kia shows that if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The EV9 has one of my favourite steering wheel controls – a thumbwheel for volume. You can feel it without looking down, and it just works. 

Other than performance, the rest of the car drives just fine, as long as you remember its weight and physical size. Throw it around too much and you’ll realise it doesn’t like that although it does better than you’d expect. Just cruise along at normal speeds and you’ll be rewarded with a smooth ride. Speaking of ride, that’s another highlight of this model. At 2.6-tons, it should pound out any bumps, and it does – but with 21” alloy wheels and low-profile 45-section tyres, it rides surprisingly well.

On the EV side of things, most aspects of the EV9 work well. The charging flap is motorised, if that’s a selling point for you. It feels wrong to admit it, but I do like me a motorised charging flap. Alistair Weekes from DriveLife had the EV9 before me, and after his use, I got 380km out of the first full charge, in comparison to the WLTP figure of 505km. At the end of that first full charge, I was driving along with 10% battery left; once the car dropped to 9% I was told that power was now limited. I was in an 80km/h zone and doing that speed, so didn’t notice any change in available power at all. Perhaps it would be different on the open road, but I wasn’t affected at all. 

On charging the car to 100%, the available range was showing as 486km, much better. The EV9 does have a Battery Conditioning button so if you know you are going to charge soon, you can hit this button to prep the battery pack for maximum charge efficiency. 

The EV9 has a lot going for it, and does many things well – the things it was designed to do, like have plenty of space for all, and be a luxury SUV. There are some things that are not quite right with the car – yet. Audio quality is average at best even though it’s touted as an upmarket Meridian sound system. No matter what adjustments I made, it sounded flat. The brake pedal can feel spongy and gives very little feedback to the driver. There is a ‘Driver In Cabin Status Monitor’ that watches the driver’s eyes to make sure they are watching the road, and not looking at their phone etc. Like many other systems that do the same, it doesn’t quite work in practice. Simply looking at the left-hand mirror display, you might get a beep telling you off. Ditto looking at the dash cluster or the rear-view mirror. Some adjustments in this system would be nice.

Between the overzealous speed limit reminder and the car telling you to keep your eyes on the road, expect lots of beeping in the EV9.

Other slight annoyances include the bottle holders in the doors; they are too small to take a reasonably sized drink bottle, so mine had to sit in the centre console cup holders, taking away some of that feeling of space. First-world problems, I know, but I like to keep the front of the car clear if I can. Yes, weird.

We had some other issues with our test car. Nothing major, but keyless entry on our test car worked now and then, but not reliably. The electric pop-out door handles sometimes didn’t, meaning getting the remote out my pocket and hitting the Unlock button (they would work every time this way). The other thing wasn’t an actual issue, but perhaps a design flaw? When using adaptive cruise control, you can hit the steering assist button on the steering wheel, and the EV9 will help you steer the car. It does very well at this, keeping the car pointing in the lane as it should. However, when you turn off adaptive cruise control, the steering assist stays on. I feel like this may catch out some drivers who wouldn’t expect this to happen but expect owners would get used to it over time.

The rest of the car is pretty damn good on a day-to-day basis. On the road, there’s very little road noise, and some wind noise from the top of the A pillar but it’s certainly acceptable. Tyre noise is well controlled, but of course hit that coarse-chip seal and the tyres will start to sing the song of their people. It’s a common occurrence for most tyres.

While the EV9 is electric, you get to pick from some engine sounds if you so desire. The options are Normal, Minimised, Enhanced, or Off. None of them sound very good, and the Enhanced one just sounded weird to me, so I left fake engine noises off during our testing.

On handing back the EV9, I had 67km of range left and had driven 343km on that second charge for a total expected range of 410km. After 762km of driving, our test car used 23.1kWh/100km of power and for its weight and blunt, non-aerodynamic face, I thought that was about spot-on and very close to the WLTP figure of 22.8.

2024 Kia EV9 GT Line – Specifications

Vehicle TypeLarge, all-wheel drive EV SUV
Starting Price$134,990
Price as Tested$134,990
Engine2 Electric
Power, Torque
Front 141, Rear 141
Front 350, Rear 350
Combined: 282kW/700Nm
TransmissionSingle Speed
Spare WheelTyre mobility kit
Kerb Weight, Kg2,624
Length x Width x Height
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(all seats up/3rd row down, all seats down)
Energy Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 22.8
Real-World Test – Combined – 23.1
Low Usage: 6-10 / Medium Usage 11-19 / High Usage 19+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5-year warranty
8-year battery warranty (up to 160,000km)
5 years Roadside Assist
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link – 5 Stars – KIA EV9

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.
68287I wasn’t sure about the EV9 before driving it. It’s big, that I was aware of, but how would it drive? Could I live with it day-to-day on Wellington’s tight and windy streets? <br><br> Yes, I did, and it was too easy. You soon get over the bulk of this car and just drive it, and driving it is a pleasure (except for all the beeping). <br><br> But as good as this car is, I still struggle with the price - $135K for a Kia feels like a lot of money and then sitting in the background is the mighty Kia Carnival. Want to move up to 8 people around in comfort and space? The Carnival is an unsung hero for moving people, and honestly, Kia should kill it off because for me it’s the EV9’s main competitor - and it costs between $60K-$75K. That difference in cost is a whole lot of fuel. <br><br> I’m not trying to take anything away from the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line; it’s an extremely accomplished car and a technological achievement for the company. If you don’t mind the design, it needs to go on your list of must-drives if you are in the market for a large EV SUV.


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