Taken from the Car and Driver issue for December 2023.
We can only assume that when tasked with creating a new three-row SUV, most auto designers don’t exactly jump for joy. There’s just so much you can do with a two-box shape, and the market is so cutthroat that it’s better to stick to tried-and-true methods than risk extinction. But Kia disproved those claims not too long ago with the Telluride, and it’s doing it again with the new EV9.
The EV9 is impressive from a distance of one hundred yards as well as up close. Designers and engineers alike clearly up to the task of creating a battery-powered version of the family crossovers that have become ubiquitous in American garages.
FEATURES (PROS) Fast charging time, strong performance, attractive exterior and interior design.
Built on Hyundai Motor Group’s top-notch Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the EV9 features dimensions that are substantially different from the Telluride’s, even yet it gives off a somewhat similar boxy vibe. The EV9 has a significantly more imposing appearance than the Telluride thanks to its 122.0-inch wheelbase and pushed-out wheels. The vertically oriented, finely carved taillights appear like they came from a science-fiction spaceship, and the headlights, which have a series of dot-style LEDs with swooshes of LED accent lights, are nearly cyborgian.
The inside features even more outstanding attention to detail. The materials in our GT-Line test car were clearly chosen by someone who was unaware that the EV9 is not a premium SUV. The imitation leather is supple, the dashboard has a number of appealing finishes, and there are a number of novel additions like the trampoline-style mesh front-seat headrests, which are far more cushioned than they appear to be from the outside. The interior features multiple screens, the largest measuring 12.3 inches, while the instruments themselves are digital. There are sufficient physical buttons and knobs to make the interface usable. The location of the climate-control screen was our only major user experience complaint, as it was blocked by the steering wheel.
Because of its intended use by a large family, the area behind the driver and front passenger is crucial. The second-row captain’s chairs have climate control, power adjustments, and footrests that may be extended. The back doors open wide for convenient access, and Kia paid attention to the smallest details by decorating the air vents on the top with stylish bezels. The third row of seats may not be as spacious as those in the larger gasoline-powered three-row vehicles, but the bottom cushion is positioned at a high enough height and at an adequate angle for adults to sit comfortably for brief periods of time, making this a decent location to sit.
It’s hardly unexpected that the EV9 performs well, given that it has the same E-GMP platform as the 10Best-winning Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, given the success of the Telluride in these areas. Starting with a single motor, rear-wheel drive system and a 76.1 kWh battery pack, a broad variety of powertrain combinations are on offer. We put the top-tier, all-wheel-drive dual-motor model through its paces. This model’s front and rear motors provide a combined 379 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The electricity comes from a 99.8-kWh battery pack, a higher capacity than what we’ve seen in any of the previous E-GMP vehicles thus far.
CONS: Overly optimistic pricing, some head scratching, and poorly located climate controls.
This massive lithium-ion pack is said to weigh 1249 pounds, bringing the total weight of the EV9 to a whopping 5839 pounds, or 1349 pounds more than the last Telluride we tested. When it comes to acceleration, however, the electric motors more than make up for the increased weight because to their superior power and torque compared to the Telluride’s 291 hp, 3.8-liter V-6. The quarter mile can be covered in 13.3 seconds at a top speed of 101 miles per hour in the dual-motor EV9’s lightning-fast acceleration of 4.5 seconds. Those are rapid times in any sector, and the EV9’s fast answers to accelerator prods make the Telluride, which reaches 60 mph almost two seconds later, feel downright lethargic.
Kia has also done a great job making sure the EV9’s dynamic attributes aren’t compromised by the added weight. It’s shod with 285-mm-wide Hankook Ion Evo AS SUV all-season tires, which are much wider than the Telluride’s 245s, and larger braking rotors. The end consequence is clear: Were we to have included the EV9 in our recent comparison test of gasoline three-row SUVs, it would have fared very well. The EV9 achieved a skidpad grip of 0.87 g and a 70 mph stop in 184 feet. The EV9 is pleasing to steer because to its finely weighted steering and well-controlled body movements. The ride quality is decent, with just minor head toss on the worst roads, and the car responds linearly to steering inputs, if not with much enthusiasm.
When traveling at 70 mph, the EV9 emits only 67 decibels of noise. It’s a nice car for long highway trips, but the Telluride still wins in almost every objective category except cruising range. The EV9’s 240-mile score in our 75-mph highway range test was respectable, albeit it fell short of the EPA’s 270-mile prediction. If you’re taking the whole family and a ton of luggage on a road trip in the EV9, you can forget about getting anywhere near that range. We were able to put five carry-on bags behind the third row and 17 with the third row folded.
Thankfully, the EV9’s electrical architecture is designed to rapidly recharge the battery. We measured an average charging speed of 139 kilowatts between a 10 and 90 percent state of charge, which is among the highest averages of any EV we’ve tested. This was achieved using a 350-kW DC fast-charger, where we watched it gain 100 miles of range on the display in just 13 minutes. And if you’re looking for maximum range, there’s also a single-motor setup with a massive battery and an EPA-estimated 304 miles of travel. However, its modest 201 horsepower will certainly result in poor acceleration times.