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Kia EV9 engines, drive and performance

2023 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Keith Adams Published: 1 March 2024 Updated: 5 April 2024

  • Most basic model is adequate
  • GT-Line variant is much quicker
  • Surprisingly agile for its size

Electric motors

The EV9 is available with two electric powertrains. The entry-level ‘Air’ model has a single motor on the rear axle that serves up 203hp and 350Nm of torque. Kia says that enough to shunt the car from 0–62mph in 9.4 seconds before it runs out of steam at 114mph.

Its performance is perfectly acceptable. Acceleration from 30–50mph and 50–70mph is strong, so you never feel like you’re being left behind by the traffic despite the motor’s rather modest power output and considerable 2.5-tonne kerb weight.

Kia EV9 review (2024)
The 203hp EV9 Air is more than adequate for everyday use.

But if you’re hankering for some more performance, you can opt for the GT-Line model. It has an extra electric motor on the front axle which bumps the EV9’s power and torque figures up to 383hp and 700Nm. The added grunt drags the car’s 0–62mph time down to 5.3 seconds and increases its top speed to 124mph.

It doesn’t have the same whip-crack acceleration as a Tesla Model X Plaid, but it has more than enough poke to worry some of the best hot hatchbacks on sale, which is impressive in a seven-seat 2.6-tonne family SUV. Crucially, it’s quick enough to keep pace with our favourite electric SUVs, including the fastest versions of the Skoda Enyaq and the Audi Q4 e-tron.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Biased towards comfort
  • But still knows how to corner
  • 19-inch alloys are the ones to have

The Kia EV9 manages to be both comfortable and agile, which is rare in a massive family SUV. We expected a car of this size to have a compliant ride, but we weren’t prepared for how alert and responsive it would feel in the corners.

Obviously, there’s a bit of body roll – but it’s by no means excessive. The EV9 pitches gently when you turn it into a bend, before rolling across the apex and composing itself for the next straight. It’s perfectly acceptable for a big family bus and noticeably less floppy than other seven-seat SUVs, including Kia’s own Sorento.

Kia EV9 review (2024)
The EV9 controls is bulk well. It’s surprisingly agile for a seven-seat bus.

The EV9 can thank its battery for its sure-footed roadholding. Because it’s mounted under the body, the car has a low centre of gravity – and that allowed Kia to fit a quick a steering system without worrying about overwhelming the tyres. You don’t really need more than half a turn in either direction to tackle any B-road. Like most new cars there’s precious little feedback, but at least the system is direct.

What’s more impressive is that the EV9 manages to control its bulk without compromising its ride quality. There’s a softness to the damping that allows it to cope with broken tarmac without forcing unwanted vibrations into the cabin – and that effect is amplified on cars fitted with 19-inch alloys. They give the car a noticeably more compliant ride than the 21-inch alloys, especially around town.

Kia EV9 review (2024)
Stick with the 19-inch alloys if you can. They offer a far more comfortable ride.

GT-Line models are effortlessly quick. They never feel over-stretched, as they always have loads of torque on demand. The rapid pace also further helps mask the car’s heavy weight and vast dimensions. The entry-level ‘Air’ model is no slouch, though. And, because it’s around 100kg lighter than the GT-Line models, it’s a little nimbler in the corners. Plus, you can eke a few more miles from its battery before needing to recharge.