2024 Kia EV9 remains a winner

Consumers looking for a three-row crossover SUV for the family will struggle to top the 2024 Kia EV9.

The EV9 electric SUV took top honors this year and was named The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2024 and Best Family Car To Buy 2024. Months later, I have no regrets about the way we voted. This thing is aces.

With impressive efficiency, a comfortable and well-packaged interior, and easy-to-use controls the EV9 wins over adults and kids. Its TCC Rating of 8.6 out of 10 is one of the highest of the 260 or so vehicles on The Car Connection, but it misses out on a point here or there due to over- and under-thinking a few things, its smartphone companion app isn’t the best, and it gets expensive. 

Here are the pros and cons of living with the Kia EV9 for a week.

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

Pro: EV9 features great packaging for the family

Like the Kia Telluride but better, the EV9 fits the family with ease. At 5-foot-10 I could comfortably sit in all three rows with the seats adjusted for a comfortable seating position. My kids never complained once about space, and they complain about everything. The front seat headrests have pillowy mesh design with a metal surround like something found on a Herman Miller Aeron desk chair. This thing’s road trip worthy, though I had to explain to my kids that my tester’s power reclining second-row seats shouldn’t be reclined while in motion for safety reasons. That did induce some whining. 

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

Con: EV9 over- and under-thinks certain family features

My loaded GT-Line AWD tester featured power-operated second-row seats that could slide, recline, and even had foot rests. Tapping the button on the top of the seat back to slide and fold the second row for third-row access was a painfully slow experience. What parent has this kind of time? It’s similar to what’s found in the BMW X7, and it’s excruciatingly slow there as well, but this isn’t a luxury vehicle, despite the nearly $80,000 price tag. The second row needs to be able to slide and tilt quicker, whether electronically or manually.

Families getting into the EV9 will note the rear door handles don’t feature a touch-to-unlock sensor like most vehicles in this price class. Even the Nissan Pathfinder and Jeep Grand Cherokee L feature this, though notably it’s missing on the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade as well.

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

Pro: EV9 surprises with efficiency

Despite its blocky exterior design the EV9 is actually efficient. Base EV9s feature a 215-hp single rear motor paired with a 76.1-kwh battery pack for 230 miles of EPA-rated range. I had the larger 99.8-kwh battery with two electric motors rated at 379 hp and all-wheel drive delivering an EPA-rated range of 270 miles.  Most of the week I actually averaged between 3.0 and 3.1 mi/kwh in mixed suburban driving, which is efficient given the EV9’s size, weight, and design. Eventually some higher highway speeds and a little more aggressive driving dropped my efficiency down to 2.8 mi/kwh over the course of 222 miles. 

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

Con: EV9 gets to pricey

The EV9 isn’t a luxury vehicle, doesn’t get bought or serviced at a luxury dealership, doesn’t wear a luxury badge, or feature luxury materials in its cabin. Base models cost $56,395 including a $1,495 destination fee, which is the cost of a nearly loaded Telluride. It’s also about $7,000 less than a three-row Tesla Model X and $18,000 less than the Rivian R1S. The longest range EV9 with 304 miles costs $60,695, but it’ll cost $65,395 or more to get a dual-motor model with all-wheel drive. My loaded Long Range AWD GT-Line model cost a luxury-like $78,430 thanks to the $2,000 second-row relaxation package, optional $695 blue paint (absolutely worth it), $225 carpeted floor mats, and $115 cargo area carpeted mat. That’s a lot of coin for the Kia dealership experience and recycled interior materials, which are nice, but not at the level of a BMW or even a loaded Grand Cherokee L Summit.

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

Pro: EV9 features toggles and buttons

Key functions in the EV9 aren’t buried in, or even require, the three screens on the dashboard. There’s a roller knob for the audio volume; toggles for the climate control temp, fan speed, and  air direction; real buttons, rollers, and rockers on the steering wheel; and hard buttons for the charge port door, frunk, tailgate, and display brightness. There’s even buttons on the doors to control the heated and ventilated front and rear seats, which my kids made sure I was aware of.

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

Con: Kia’s smartphone app feels behind

Kia’s impressive family car of the future feels behind when it comes to the smartphone user experience. The Apple iOS app, like Hyundai’s, works, but it’s a full league behind apps by Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid. The app at times was slow, required constant loading, and hilariously and frustratingly required confirmation for functions like locking the car, unlocking the car, or starting the climate control system. The confirmation would come with a delay and I was left waiting to wonder if the request was executed. 

It’s clear the EV9 is the three-row electric crossover SUV for families ready to move on from gas. It’s the best value in its electric three-row segment (for now) and is a great family car.

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2024 Kia EV9 Long Range AWD GT-Line

Base price: $56,395, including a $1,495 destination fee

Price as tested: $78,430

Drivetrain: 379 hp combined, dual-motor AWD

EPA range: 270 miles

The hits: Efficient, well packaged, real buttons, sharp design

The misses: Gets expensive, tolerable iOS app, slow-moving second row

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