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Car Review

Kia EV9 review

£64,940 - £78,690
710
Published: 01 Mar 2024
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Interior

What is it like on the inside?

Hear that echo? It’s big inside the EV9. This is a proper seven- (or six-) seater, i.e. you can indeed fit adults in the rearmost row, where they’ll enjoy their own device charging socket and cupholders. Space is adequate once you’re back there, but access is as tricky as usual for a three-row SUV, despite the enormous rear door openings. Naturally, a low-floor, sliding door MPV would be easier to board in a tight car park. But no-one buys those any more. Remember the Kia Carens? Sedona? Exactly.

Are the seats heavy and hard to move?

No hardship on the GT-line S because everything is multi-motorised, folding and sliding with a single button press. They’re not exactly speedy, but none of the equivalents from the likes of Land Rover, BMW or Mercedes are either.

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Any eco credentials inside?

That’s what Kia’s banking on as a big EV9 selling point. Like Polestar and its wholesale lifetime emissions register, Kia’s figured out there’s very little point indeed in eradicating tailpipe emissions if building the car in the first place is as Attenborough-friendly as a Brazilian beef ranch.

So, the interior is fashioned from clever bits and pieces. Those cushioned headrests? A ‘biopolyurethane’ plant fibres foam party. There’s no leather in here whatsoever. The dashboard, centre console, and pillar trim use plastics sourced from corn extract, sugar cane and sawdust rather than oil. The headliner and sun visors employ recycled fabrics, with the floor carpets following Fiat’s lead in repurposing castaway fishing nets. Better stuffed with your kids’ crumbs than throttling a dolphin, eh?

Paint has been formulated using fewer of those scary-sounding concoctions that sound like the ingredients for industrial bleach, and the stitching holding everything else together was once a plastic drinks bottle. So was the soundproofing.

Of course there’s a disconnect here: a cabin crafted from ocean waste resting on a half-tonne of lithium, copper and rare-earth metals. Meanwhile the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce are quick to argue their luxuriant hides come from cattle already earmarked for steak tartare, so they’re tidying up a waste product. But fundamentally, the EV9 is a step in a more sustainable direction for large SUVs. It looks right, smells right, cossets your backside and ought to wipe clean.

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What if I don’t need seven seats?

The £77,025 GT-line S model stiffs the three-wide middle row and goes for the full bizzniss jet experience, featuring four reclining armchairs with built-in footrest squabs. The perforated headrests cradle your head like a pillow. A quick charging nap just became an appealing option.

Be aware that if you don’t want the La-Z Boy experience, you can have the six-seater with swivelling chairs that spin around for a conference on the go, and can be turned to face the door opening when stationary. Three different configurations for one family car shows how versatile the flat-floored EV9 is – taking advantage of its battery-powered platform.

How practical is the EV9?

Well the huge bonnet only conceals a small front boot: go to the bother of lifting it open and you’ll only reveal a small 52-litre area that’ll just about hold the charging cable. In the RWD models this is expanded to 90 litres because of the absent front motor. 

At the other end, with all seven seats up you’ve got just over 300 litres of boot space – plenty of height but not much depth. Ask the auto-fold to do its thing and within about ten seconds there’s a vast 828-litre space available, and in van mode with only the front two seats upright, the EV9 offers almost 2,400 litres of tip-run potential.

Inside you’ll find deep door bins, a large glovebox and a large centre console with various slide-out cubbies. It’s all good space, but the finishing is a bit patchy. Kia’s taken advantage of the flat floor to create a space that feels versatile and is actually as commodious up front as the vantastic VW ID Buzz. If not as cheery.

Is the tech easy to use?

The 12.3-inch main touchscreen is familiar from various Kias. However there’s an own goal next door, as Kia has chosen to supplement the physical temperature controls with a climate control screen almost entirely obscured by the steering wheel. There’s loads of space for more buttons in here and they’d have been very welcome in a machine which is intended as stress-free family transport.

Speaking of stress, the EV9 also contains the proverbial kitchen sinkful of driver aids. Some, like the matronly lane keep ‘assist’ are easy enough to pacify, with a button on the wheel. Others, like the driver attention monitor – which beeps crossly when you look both ways at a junction, or the speed limit assist, which merrily chirps away if you’re 1mph over the last speed limit sign it detected – require a tedious voyage into the touchscreen.

Side rant: much of this tech is mandated and it’s not Kia’s fault as such, but if they’re not well calibrated, we’ll switch them off, defeating the point entirely. And we’ll switch them off by looking away from the road and jabbing at a screen. As a result, cars with annoying driver assists and an over-reliance on touchscreens are demonstrably less safe and more stressful than cars that don’t have them at all…

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