Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Which three-row EV is best? Edmunds compares the Kia EV9 and Rivian R1S

Published:Sunday | June 9, 2024 | 12:06 AM
The EV9 is the least expensive three-row electric SUV you can buy, but it won’t seem like it when you drive it.
The EV9 is the least expensive three-row electric SUV you can buy, but it won’t seem like it when you drive it.
The R1S is ready for adventure thanks to a potential range of 400 miles and up to 835 horsepower.
The R1S is ready for adventure thanks to a potential range of 400 miles and up to 835 horsepower.
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Shoppers thinking about buying a three-row SUV have plenty of options. Unless they want an electric SUV, that is. Fortunately, there are two models that hold a lot of promise: the Kia EV9 and the Rivian R1S. The EV9 is Kia’s latest and largest electric SUV. Think of it as a Kia Telluride that is electric. As for the R1S, it hails from Rivian, an electric vehicle startup, and boasts massive power and impressive off-road performance. Both can haul lots of passengers and swallow loads of cargo. But which is the better buy?

RANGE AND CHARGING

The EV9’s base model provides a modest EPA-estimated range of 230 miles on a full charge. But for a small price increase, shoppers can upgrade to get an EPA-estimated 304 miles. Those models are rear-wheel-drive. You can also get all-wheel drive and more power though range drops to 270-280 miles. Edmunds tested an EV9 with an estimated 270 miles and found that it could go 306 miles in its standardised real-world range test.

Rivian offers more available battery and electric motor combinations for the R1S. Depending on what you pick, the R1S will have an EPA-estimated driving range of 270-400 miles. All models come standard with all-wheel drive. The R1S model Edmunds tested outperformed its EPA estimate of 318 miles by driving 330 miles.

For a family-oriented EV that might be used on road trips, charging times can be just as important as range. When hooked up to a high-powered fast-charging station, the EV9 topped the R1S in Edmunds’ testing by adding 100 miles of range in an average of 11 minutes. To gain 100 miles, the R1S needed an average of 19 minutes.

Essentially, the Rivian R1S offers a longer maximum driving range, but the EV9 reduces the time spent charging on long road trips. Consider this a toss-up.

Winner: tie

COMFORT AND INTERIOR FEATURES

The EV9 isn’t a luxury SUV, but it comes standard with premium features like synthetic leather upholstery and heated and ventilated front seats. There is also plenty of tech, including big display screens, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and many standard advanced driver aids. The Kia is also as comfortable as many luxury SUVs thanks to its cushy seats and smooth ride. As another bonus, the EV9 can fit adults in all three rows.

The R1S is a luxury SUV that sports premium features such as an adjustable air suspension, wood trim and a panoramic glass roof. Tech features include a large 16-inch centre touchscreen and a Meridian audio system, but smartphone integration is missing. The Rivian’s ride quality and seat comfort are a little disappointing and not as good as the EV9’s. But like the EV9, all three rows are large enough for adults.

Winner: Kia EV9

POWER, UTILITY AND TOWING

The EV9 seats six or seven passengers and provides 20.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and 43.5 cubic feet when it is folded down. This is a little less than what you get from a comparable gas-powered three-row midsize SUV but still plenty useful for weekend shopping and recreational use. It also has a small front trunk. When properly equipped, certain models can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The EV9 produces between 201 and 379 horsepower depending on the model you get.

The R1S seats seven passengers and can carry 17.6 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row and 46.7 cubic feet with the third row folded down. Its large front trunk is considerably larger than the EV9’s, giving you another spot to store gear. The R1S tops the EV9 with its impressive max towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. It is also a powerhouse, producing 533 to 835 horsepower depending on the motor configuration, and itis capable of going off-road.

Winner: Rivian R1S

PRICING AND VALUE

The EV9 starts at just US$56,395 with the destination fee for the short-range model, but the long-range model is only a few thousand more. The range-topping model starts at US$75,395. That is a lot of value considering its range, charging speed, features, and solid-build quality.

The R1S starts at US$76,700 with destination for the base model, which is about as much as the luxurious top-spec EV9 model. The most expensive configuration with the long-range Max battery pack starts at US$100,800. When you consider the R1S’s impressive on- and off-road performance, you get a lot of SUV for the money. However, most people shopping for a three-row SUV don’t need sports car acceleration or Jeep-like off-road performance.

Winner: Kia EV9

Verdict:

The Rivian R1S stands out with its distinctive styling and impressive performance. But the EV9’s combination of value, comfort, and all-around performance makes it the winner of this comparison and one of Edmunds highest-rated electric three-row SUVs.