The LA Auto Show is in town, and we got a chance to hop in the EV9 and see how big this three-row EV really is. It turns out, from the inside, it was smaller than expected.
This isn’t a full review, first drive, or even a first ride. All we got to do was check out a stationary version of the car up close on the show floor. Kia invited us out a few months ago to check out the EV9 but when we got there, the demo model we were to view was broken.
The main question that we think people will have about this car is: does it fit three rows worth of adults comfortably? And from our short experience, it feels like the answer is no.
The conditions of the impromptu test involved several members of the media climbing into the car to see how it felt. The EV9 in question was a 6-seat “captain’s chair” configuration, where the second row includes two chairs with armrests and a passthrough in between for access to the third row without having to fold the second-row seats down. For the record, I like this configuration and I think it is the most common on the Model X.
When I hopped into the car, there was a relatively small woman in the third row, and I asked if I could join. So I, a 6′ tall man (who nevertheless fits into small seats relatively well – I drive a Tesla Roadster, for example), got back there and had a seat, and the second-row seat was positioned way too far back to be comfortable. After adjusting the second-row seat approximately to my liking (which I could do by reaching around to the side electronic seat controls from behind – it wasn’t the easiest reach, but it was doable), a shorter person sat in the 2nd-row seat in front of me.
In this configuration, all three of us were unimpressed with the amount of space that we had. Despite having moved the seat forward, I didn’t really give myself a particularly spacious knee area, just the bare minimum. And the man in front of me was unenthused about the amount of room that he had.
As for my third-row-mate, the captain’s chairs had a post connecting to the floor of the vehicle right around where either of us in the back would have put one of our feet. The choices were either to twist our bodies unnaturally outward to put both feet underneath the second-row seats, or to leave one foot in between the second-row seats, wherein we ended up fighting for foot space. There was enough foot space for the both of us, but our feet were close enough that it felt like a game of footsie could break out at any moment.
All of this experience can’t really be summarized perfectly well in pictures, but I did take a couple just to give an idea of what was going on.
Even though the three of us did fit, it really didn’t feel like it would be comfortable for a particularly long ride.
Not long after, I walked over to the Lucid Gravity booth, and while I wasn’t able to sit in the third row seat of that vehicle, Lucid assured us that it has much more room in the seats. But then, every company says its cars have lots of room. It should be an interesting comparison when we get the chance, given that the Lucid is 1 inch longer than the EV9, so they fit into the same category.
As for other impressions – the dashboard was nice, striking a good balance between the spartan interiors that I love (Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Ioniq 5) and those that offer a lot of functions and buttons. However, we didn’t really spend time in the front seat, because the back seat was of far more interest given that the third row is a big selling point.
The frunk was bigger than the frunks we’ve seen on other Kia vehicles. The latter are quite small, with room perhaps for a messenger bag or some charging cables. The EV9’s was much deeper, but compared to a Rivian or Model X, it’s not all that big.
Personally I’d prefer more rear/interior space over more frunk space anyway, and I think a lot of people might agree with that, since frunks tend to be used a lot less than trunks do. But then again, that’s because a lot of other frunks are bad, so why use it if it’s not great.
And if the car already has a big hood, might as well give us room to store things if we want it. I’m not going to say that Kia entirely missed the mark on this frunk, and it feels less tacked-on than frunks from less serious EV brands, but it seems like it could be better. And it’s certainly not as well-thought-out as the Lucid’s frunk, as far as we’ve seen anyway.
Finally, the EV9 display showed the potential to use the car for V2H. While Kias already have 1.9kW V2L capacity, the EV9 will be capable of V2H with an external unit from the company Wallbox. Kia told us this would be capable of 4-5kW (we didn’t get a specific number yet), and could power a home for multiple days off the car’s giant 76.1/99.8kWh battery (depending on options).
Author: Jameson Dow