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Kia EV9 wins Best Family Electric Vehicle under $100K

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Car Of The Year

Big on space, features and technology, the 2024 Drive Car of the Year Best Family Electric Vehicle under $100K is the Kia EV9


Increasingly conscious of running costs and their impact on the planet, growing families are proving fertile ground for electric vehicle adoption. Unfortunately, until recently EVs weren’t exactly primed for family buyers – with the limited options available mostly taking the form of sleek, performance-focussed sedans rather than carry-all haulers. 

Thankfully, that’s starting to change with the arrival of seven-seat EVs like the LDV Mifa 9, Kia EV9 and Mercedes-Benz GLB, plus spacious, all-wheel-drive offerings with road trip-friendly ranges, kid-friendly interiors, and massive boots. Some of them can even tow a trailer! 

Watch this space, too – with the Tesla Model Y proving its worth in the sales stakes, carmakers will continue to bring EVs with more practical, capacious body types Down Under (we’re looking at you, Polestar and Volvo).

So as the race heats up, which EV should be considered the go-to for family buyers? In this category we had two Kias and a Tesla. The Tesla Model Y has been available in Australia since mid-2022 and quickly expanded Tesla’s market share even further, becoming a modern status symbol for trendy families and filling the void left by the now-departed Model X.

Meanwhile, two Kia stablemates went head-to-head: the surprisingly spacious, sporty-yet-practical Kia EV6 and the brand-new, seven-seat Kia EV9. Both provide the surety of Kia’s reputation and scope, but with two fairly different interpretations of family requirements. 

The brief for this category was to identify the fully electric vehicle that best offers “practicality and usability for growing families”, plus a healthy dose of “status and capability” to sweeten the deal at this arguably pointy end of the price spectrum.

With those parameters in mind, Aussie families – meet your new favourite EV…

Winner: Kia EV9

Drive’s pick: Kia EV9 Air from $97,000

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Some Kia EV9 facts:

  • Priced from $97,000 to $121,000 (range)
  • 7 year warranty
  • Range: 443km to 505km

Why the Kia EV9 won:

  • Hugely practical interior for families
  • Fast-charging capabilities plus frugal energy use
  • Extensive safety and tech as standard 

It’s not often we ascribe game-changer status to a car, but the Kia EV9 is a vehicle that warrants the moniker. Seven seats, a properly family-friendly interior, clever packaging, an impressive standard equipment list and a surprisingly large towing capacity – with an efficient, punchy, all-electric powertrain. 

If you want the feel-good points of owning an electric car but don’t want to sacrifice utility, the EV9 offers the seriously smart interior of Kia’s renowned Carnival with the silent, instant acceleration of an EV. This interior is incredibly spacious and cleverly laid out, with family needs front of mind.

The middle and rear seats come equipped with four ISOFIX points plus a total of five top-tether points to accommodate five car seats or capsules, and one of the middle-row seats is able to lunge forward to provide easy access to the third row. The boot capacity is a generous 828 litres in five-seat mode and a solid 333L with all seven seats in play.  

Kia’s commitment to safety is clear, with comprehensive equipment from the base grade, including autonomous emergency braking with junction assist, advanced cruise control with stop and go, blind-spot detection, lane-keep assist, a rear-cross traffic alert and a centre airbag. You’ll even be able to tow when needed, with a braked towing capacity of up to 900kg on the Air, and up to 2500kg on the AWD Earth and GT-Line variants. 

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That’s ‘practicality and usability for growing families’ covered, so what about ‘status and capability’? Of course, for the EV9 to win this category it couldn’t just be an excellent family car, it also had to be a successful electric car. Thankfully, the EV9 offers an approachable electric package that will make for an easy transition into the world of EVs and it looks damn good too.

The base grade Air’s 76.1kWh battery offers a very serviceable 443km of range and can be recharged from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in as little as 20 minutes – plus it offers vehicle to load capability, meaning you can power your appliances on a camping trip. Despite the size and weight of the EV9, it’s also surprisingly frugal on energy consumption. On test, we saw as low as 15kWh/100km, which is an impressive feat for a large car. 

For those who crave a bit of excitement on-road, rest assured you won’t be disappointed with the EV9’s punchy powertrain, and engaging yet comfortable ride. It’s no performance powerhouse, but it offers more fun factor than your average family car, with peak outputs of 160kW/350Nm and, of course, the exhilaration of silent, effortless acceleration. 

The only downside of the EV9 is that it’s not cheap, with only one variant slotting in under the $100,000 price limit – the base-spec Air, starting at a not-insignificant $97,000 before on-road costs. Happily however, the rear-wheel-drive Air comes fully-loaded with a 12.3-inch touchscreen with over-the-air updates, satellite navigation and app connectivity, power folding mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a wireless phone charger, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated steering wheel, to name a few.

If you still need convincing at that price point, Kia’s seven-year warranty and expansive dealer and servicing network certainly sweeten the deal. You’ll save money on maintenance too – with the first three years or 45,000km costing just $706 in total. 

It might be a pricey proposition, but the Kia EV9 represents a significant step forward in the EV space, allowing growing families to make the switch to electric without having to sacrifice day-to-day convenience. 

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Drive Car of the Year – Every category, every winner

Find out everything you need to know about all the Drive Car of the Year 2024 category winners at our DCOTY content hub.

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Drive Car of the Year 2024

All the categories, all the winners – Drive Car of the Year 2024

Susannah Guthrie has been a journalist for over a decade, covering everything from world news to fashion, entertainment, health and now cars. Having previously worked across titles like The New Daily, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, People Magazine and Cosmopolitan, Susannah now relishes testing family cars with the help of her husband and two-year-old son.

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