Kia EV9 GT Line review

Car Reviews and Advisory

Kia launches EV9, Australia’s first all-electric Upper Large SUV.

Kia EV9 GT-Line front view.
Kia’s new halo product is not a racy sports coupe or high-performance sedan, but a roomy seven-seat all-electric large SUV that boasts an impressive array of advanced technology, expansive battery range and oodles of kit for its circa $97,000 (MRLP) starting price.

That’s slightly less than the brand’s current most expensive model, the high-performance EV6 GT which costs an eye-watering $99,950, but it’s a heady price for a brand that’s built its credential on strong value for money.

While the entry-level EV9 Air will burst the $100,000 price ceiling by circa $6,700 once on-road costs are added in Queensland, the top-spec GT-Line tested here positively smashes it, with its $121,800 list price.

Elsewhere, that sort of money will get you into a LandCruiser 300 Series VX Sahara, an Audi Q7 55 TFSI Quattro S Line or a Tesla Model Y Performance; the latter with enough change to tack a new jet-ski onto the back.

With pricing like this Kia is obviously feeling bullish about the potential for its latest EV to reset the bar and not just with regards to what people are prepared to pay for the Korean brand.

That’s got plenty to do with the fact the pickings are slim for families wanting to go electric but needing more than a traditional two-row, five-seat arrangement.

Tesla no longer offers its seven-seat Model X in Australia while Mercedes-Benz has the compact EQB with a third row best suited for occasional use, and the flagship EQS450 4Matic which tips the retail scales at a whopping $220,000.

Dimensionally, the EV9 represents a sizeable increase over Kia’s former big SUV, the Sorento, placing it firmly in the Upper Large SUV (under $120,000) sales segment as measured by industry statistician VFACTS.

That’s the same segment as the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series which at 5,015mm in length is just 5mm longer than the EV9, with both vehicles an identical width at 1,980mm.


Kia EV9 GT-Line on the highway.

The Kia is considerably lower than the off-road focused Cruiser at 1,755mm versus 1,950mm, but it’s the EV9’s 3,100mm wheelbase versus the Cruiser’s 2,850mm equivalent that perhaps best demonstrates its size.

The EV9’s three grades start with the rear-wheel-drive single-motor Air, costing $97,000 (MRLP), steps up to the AWD Dual Motor Earth at $106,500, and ends with the range-topping AWD Dual Motor GT-Line at $121,800.

Unsurprisingly, given its ‘entry-level’ pricing the single-motor rear-wheel-drive Air boasts the lowest outputs of 160kW/350Nm and the least range of 443km (WLTP) from its 76.1kWh battery.

The mid-tier Earth and top-tier GT-Line both come with larger 99.8kWh battery feeding a dual-motor AWD system, with outputs of 283kW/700Nm.

To give this some perspective, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4Matic has outputs of 265kW/800Nm, while the 3.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel LandCruiser 300 Series manages 227kW/700Nm.

The EV9 is based on a stretched version of Kia’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), which also underpins the EV6, as well as Hyundai and Genesis models including the Ioniq 5 and 6, and Genesis GV60.

This means the EV9 utilises Kia’s fourth-generation battery technology which can handle fast charging on both 800V and 400V infrastructure.

Kia claims the EV9’s ultra-fast charging capability lets users add 232km of driving range in approximately 15 minutes, or complete a 10–80% charge in 24 minutes on a 350kW fast charger.

Charge time blows out to one hour 23 minutes on a 50kW DC charger or nine hours for a 10–100% charge on an 11kW charger.

Kia EV9 GT-Line rear view.

The EV9 Air and Earth ride on 19-inch alloy wheels, with the top-grade GT-Line differentiated by its larger 21-inch wheels, clad with quality Continental tyres.

In each case the wheels underpin a muscular but suitably futuristic SUV-like body style, that incorporates sophisticated aerodynamic enhancements including a full underbody aero-cover, front air curtains, and low drag wheels to achieve a low 0.28cd drag coefficient.

Despite having an identical battery and power and torque outputs, the 19-inch wheel-equipped Earth has slightly more range at 512km (WLTP) versus the 21-inch wheel-equipped GT-Line, which manages 505km (WLTP).

The GT-Line counters with a significantly quicker 5.3–second 0–100km/h sprint, versus the Earth’s 6.0–second effort, thanks to an additional Sport mode boost function.

Remarkably, that puts the 2636kg SUV in the same acceleration league as stablemate Hyundai’s feisty i30N hot hatch, while the single-motor rear-wheel-drive Air is good for a respectable 8.2-second pass.

Stylistically, the EV9 is characterised by a body-coloured grille that’s framed by vertical headlamps, with the GT-Line featuring Small Cube Projection Headlights with Intelligent Front-lighting and LED DRLs.

It also boasts black roof rails and tinted rear windows, while at the rear are three-pronged LED taillights that echo the headlight design.

Stepping into the stylish and contemporary-looking cabin the initial impression is that it’s a lot like an MPV, with a spacious, light and airy feel thanks to the large glasshouse and twin sunroofs.

The dash design is attractive and features a pleasing combination of materials that lend the GT-Line a genuinely premium appearance.

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There’s plenty of in-cabin storage including a lidded armrest cum console, a lidded twin-cup/bottle holder and a large open tray area below the floating centre console, plus door bins.

The showcase piece is a panoramic widescreen display incorporating twin 12.3-inch screens, one for the main instrument cluster, the other for the infotainment system, with the latter incorporating an additional 5.0-inch climate segment.

The clusters run Kia’s latest generation infotainment and telematics system, dubbed Kia Connect, which the car maker says has more processing power, revised graphics and a more user-friendly interface.

Kia Connect also includes over-the-air software update capability, which enables the system to receive continuous ‘wireless’ improvements to features like mapping, user interfaces and other software enhancements.

Other notable tech inclusions of the GT-Line are fingerprint recognition for engine start and driver profile selection, digital side mirrors, a digital centre mirror, wireless Qi phone charging pad, augmented reality head-up display, remote parking assistance, 14-speaker Meridian sound system, and the latest version of Kia’s advanced driver assistance system, dubbed Highway Driving Assist 2.

The GT-Line’s digital side mirrors are a first on a Kia model and use cameras plus dual 7.0-inch monitors mounted inside the doors near the A-pillar, which provide vehicle guidelines to assist with depth perception.

The jury is still out for this correspondent with regards the benefits of this technology, aside from looking cool and making a modest contribution to the low drag coefficient.

Frankly, it seems like an overly complex answer to a problem elegantly resolved decades ago by the humble glass wing mirror.

The GT-Line’s digital centre mirror, on the other hand, has a genuine practical and safety benefit in allowing the user to switch from mirror to camera display, which can be handy if passengers and luggage are restricting rear visibility.

Kia EV9 GT-Line cabin.

Elsewhere on the safety front there are nine airbags including full third-row coverage, two second-row side bags and a front-centre side bag, plus a dizzying array of electronic driver safety aids (see breakout).

The electric front seats are of a high-quality sporty design and clad in synthetic leather.

They incorporate a massage mode in addition to seat heating and cooling, along with powered leg rests and an almost full-flat recline position.

The synthetic-leather-trimmed steering wheel is also heated and incorporates a sensor above the boss that detects when the driver is drowsy.

There is the usual array of audio controls on the wheel spokes, plus switches for the four drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, MyDrive), with AWD models also featuring a Terrain Mode switch that sets the traction control for Snow, Mud, or Sand. Drive is selected via a column-type E-shift-by-wire drive selector.

The EV9’s long wheelbase ensures an impressively spacious interior, with comfortable seating for seven in a generous three-row arrangement, which also benefits from a flat floor, due to the purpose-built EV architecture.

Kia claims the EV9 has more headroom leg room and shoulder room than a Range Rover and, while we didn’t get the tape measure out, we can confirm it is a particularly roomy SUV. 

Nice large door openings and grab handles make for easy ingress and egress to the second row and, once there, passengers are treated to good head, foot and le groom.

For NBA players needing to really stretch out, switches on the side of the front passenger seat allow second-row passengers to electronically adjust the front seat for more leg room.

The sides of the front seats also house USB-C ports for second-row passengers, who also benefit from window sunblinds, heated and cooled outer row seats, overhead vents and temperature controls, a folding centre armrest with cupholders, door bins and quality hard-back map pockets.

Kia EV9 GT-Line display panel.

In total there are 10 cupholders dotted about the cabin, plus USB-C charging sockets in all three rows, independent HVAC controls for the second and third rows, and air vents in the roof that provide a good spread of air for all occupants. A low beltline also affords good passenger visibility in all rows.

Third-row access is reasonably easy even for adults thanks to a tilting seat system with quick access button on the short side of the 70/30 split-fold-seat – although the latter is on the driver’s side, which isn’t ideal.

Despite the EV9’s sizeable proportions, the third row is not so roomy that a tall adult or teen will be comfortable back there.

Fortunately, the second row adjusts for reach and rake, so the seat can be slid forward to accommodate long-limbed types in the cheap seats.

Luggage space is a generous 333 litres even with the third row in use, expanding to 828 litres with the third row folded, or a cavernous 2,318 litres with both rear rows flat.

Using that LandCruiser 300 Series comparison again, its relative capacities are 175 litres behind the third row, 1,004 litres with the third row folded, and 1967-litres when both rear seats are folded.

That’s a comfortable victory for the Kia in every dimension, but don’t ask it to head to head with the ‘Cruiser off-road.

It’s a bit of a lift to the luggage bay lip and the supplied EV charging cable is stored in the boot, not under floor, which robs a bit of space.

The cargo blind and net do store under the boot floor when not in use and there’s a ‘can-of-goo’ tyre repair kit down there, in lieu of a proper spare.

The EV9 also has a handy frunk, or front trunk, which provides an additional 90 litres of stowage in the single motor Air  or 52 litres in the dual-motor models.

There are quick-release buttons in the cargo bay to easily fold the second row, and straps on the backs of the third-row seats to fold and pull the seats back into position.

Kia EV9 GT-Line side mirror view.

The second and third-row seat backs are also carpeted which gives a quality look when folded to provide an almost flat load floor.

Other handy features include a 12V socket and a three-pin 250V 16A plug in the cargo space, which supports the EV9’s Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) functionality.

The latter allows users to plug in and charge or power laptops and other appliances, and there’s an additional exterior V2L outlet via the EV charging plug for powering camping equipment and the like.

Kia has once again spent a considerable amount of time and effort developing an Australian-spec suspension tune for the EV9, via an intensive local ride and handling program.

The McPherson strut front suspension features frequency selective dampers, while at the rear is a multi-link independent suspension with self-levelling dampers.

Tuning the suspension must have been no small task, given the electric motors themselves weigh around 300kg each, while the specially reinforced 21-inch alloy wheels at each corner add a hefty 35kg each.

Add to that the additional 556kg mass of the battery, contributing to a kerb weight of 2,636kg, and you can see the scope of the challenge for chassis engineers trying to control body movement, ride quality and other dynamic issues. 

Kia’s engineering team has nonetheless done an impressive job and the EV9 disguises its heft well for the most part, with light but accurate steering and disciplined suspension control.

Over a range of different roads and varying quality surfaces the AWD GT-Line displayed high levels of grip, good body control and decent bump compliance.

NVH is also very well insulated with Kia claiming lower road noise levels than rival prestige EVs including the Tesla Model Y and Audi e-Tron.

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There’s a notable difference in the dynamic feel of the RWD Air and the pair of AWD models, which largely comes down to the extra 300kg of electric motor over the front axle of the latter.

All three are comfortable and well-disciplined but the lighter and least expensive model is arguably dynamically superior, it’s in the twisties that the EV9 GT-Line’s bulk shows itself and here you soon realise that there’s little to be gained from trying to hustle 2.6 tonnes of glass and metal through corners. Better to back it off a few notches and flow the big SUV from apex to apex, in which conditions it acquits itself very well.

The extra oomph of the dual-motor AWD models really shines here as well, punching the big Kia out of corners with serious urgency.

The single-motor RWD Air displays some-off-the-mark hesitancy, with a softer throttle tip-in than its stablemates, but the dual-motor GT-Line and Earth leap off the starting line and accelerate out of corners with surprising zeal, backing this up with solid mid-range shove that ensures they have no trouble swiftly dispatching slower vehicles at highway speeds.

Kia’s seven-year unlimited-kilometre vehicle warranty remains one of the best in the business and it’s matched by a seven-year, 160,000km battery warranty. Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km with costs indicated as a reasonable $706 (three years), $1,351 (five years), or $1997 (seven years).

Kia is also promising faster and better supply of the EV9 than it had with the EV6, which should be good news for long-suffering buyers who’ve endured long delays on that model. Wait times will still be three to four months, though.

Smooth, quiet, refined and powerful, the EV9 exudes a real sense of polish across the range, but the higher-grade models are especially lovely vehicles in which to eat up the miles.

While there are plenty of ICE-powered large and upper large SUV rivals for the EV9, few other vehicles on the market offer its combination of space, performance, safety and technology, especially for families looking to clean up their tailpipe emissions.   

Kia EV9 GT-Line key info

PRICE: $121,800 (MRLP)

WARRANTY: Seven years, unlimited km

POWERTRAIN: 99.8kWh battery, dual electric motors, AWD (283kW/700Nm)


RANGE: 505km (WLTP)



FOR: Good range, long warranty, quiet cabin, generous interior space, strong performance, good ride and handling, quality finishes, generously equipped.

AGAINST: Expensive, no spare wheel, high energy consumption,  digital side mirrors unnecessarily complex.


Nine airbags including 'curtain' airbag coverage for all three rows, a centre airbag between the front seats, seat-mounted side airbags for the first two rows

Remote smart park assist

Parking collision avoidance assist (forward/side)

Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert

Lane-keeping assistance

Lane Follow Assist 2

Autonomous emergency braking with junction assistance

Highway Drive Assist 2

Rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist

Multi-collision braking

High-beam assist

Radar cruise control

Driver fatigue monitoring

Tyre-pressure monitors

Speed-sign recognition

Front and rear parking sensors

360-degree rear-view camera

Surround-view monitor.

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.