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Is the 2024 Rivian R1S Worth Almost $30,000 More Than Our 2024 Kia EV9?

kia ev9 2024 rivian r1s 2024 01 exterior group front angle scaled jpg 2024 Kia EV9 and 2024 Rivian R1S | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

While three-row SUVs are a lucrative and highly competitive class of gas-powered vehicles — check out our most recent comparison of some of the leaders in the class — there are very few all-electric three-row SUVs. Of those, the majority are egg-shaped blobs rather than the traditional boxy shape many shoppers envision. We recently bought one of the traditionally shaped ones with our purchase of a 2024 Kia EV9, and when we had a chance to drive a 2024 Rivian R1S, the sole other boxy three-row electric SUV currently on sale, it made sense to compare the two. But the R1S’ as-tested price was nearly $30,000 more than our EV9’s, so we set out to see if it was worth such a steep premium.

Related: We Bought a 2024 Kia EV9

Senior Road Test Editor Mike Hanley and I put these two electric SUVs through their paces to see how they compare and to find their strengths and weaknesses. We learned a lot getting behind the wheel of both SUVs back to back, including that the Kia and Rivian are more similar in some ways than we expected.

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Ultimately, if you’re shopping for a boxy, three-row electric SUV, your decision will come down to what’s most important to you. Is that range? Price? Performance? Looks? Read on to find out what we think of both SUVs — and if this 2024 Rivian R1S is worth the cost of a 2024 Kia EV9 and a base Honda Accord.

2024 Kia EV9 Land

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  • As-tested price (including destination): $74,305
  • Power: 379 horsepower, 443 pounds-feet of torque
  • EPA-estimated range: 280 miles
  • Seating capacity: Six
  • Cargo room behind second row: 23.4 cubic feet
  • Cargo room behind third row: 10.4 cubic feet
  • Front trunk cargo room: 0.7 cubic foot

The Good

  • Plucky performance: Despite horsepower and torque figures that are dwarfed by the Rivian’s, the EV9 is plenty quick and has power to spare for passing and merging. As an added bonus, switching among the various drive modes actually produces a noticeable difference in responsiveness and power.
  • Roomy interior: The Rivian’s exterior dimensions are bigger than the Kia’s, but inside, the Kia is our preferred space. While front-seat comfort is mostly a wash (Rivian might get a slight nod for a cushier seat bottom), the EV9 walks away with second- and third-row comfort wins. Our EV9’s second-row captain’s chairs also add a level of convenience not matched by the R1S’ bench seat, with the walkway between them allowing for easier third-row access without needing to move the seats out of the way. The third row is also more comfortable, has USB-C charging ports and offers enough legroom.
  • In-cabin storage: While both the Kia and Rivian have similar cockpit layouts, the EV9 takes the lead aft of the first row, where an available movable center console and storage bin works great as a road-trip trash receptacle. Rivian’s fun and funky in-door flashlight and removable portable Bluetooth speaker are unique touches, but any parent will tell you nothing beats a built-in garbage can.
  • Sensible tech: Both SUVs’ infotainment systems are easy to use with crisp, clear graphics, but the Kia’s is slightly more intuitive and includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, which the Rivian doesn’t offer. The existence of some physical controls is also a bonus, as is Kia’s unmatched blind spot camera system.
  • Relatively smooth ride: Our EV9 has a traditional, fixed suspension that produces a smoother ride than the Rivian’s air suspension. Impacts are less harsh, too, though body control and stability at highway speeds leave something to be desired.

The Not-So-Good

  • Boring interior: While its functionality takes the win, the EV9’s interior is boring, especially when upholstered in drab gray. There’s very little visual interest, and while build quality and materials quality feel great, the interior also doesn’t feel like it belongs in a vehicle with a $74,000-plus price tag.
  • iPedal, or Ay-ay-ay pedal?: Both SUVs offer one-pedal driving — that is, the ability to control acceleration and deceleration down to a stop simply by pressing or lifting off the accelerator pedal. In the Kia, however, the experience isn’t always confidence-inspiring when coming to a complete stop and sometimes requires (or feels like it might require) the brake pedal. Also annoying: You have to turn on iPedal driving every time you start up the EV9. Just leave it on, Kia.
  • Frugal frunk: The EV9’s front trunk space, or frunk, is not very big. By our cargo measurements, there’s 0.7 cubic feet of space up front. We’ve taken to keeping our mobile charging gear up front, but there’s little else that could fit up there in a pinch.
  • Visibility varies: While forward visibility elicits no complaints, the EV9’s B-pillars are large and can impede side views, particularly on the driver’s side.

Research the 2024 Kia EV9 | Search Inventory

2024 Rivian R1S Performance Dual-Motor Max Battery

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  • As-tested price (including destination): $102,550
  • Power: 665 hp, 829 pounds-feet of torque
  • EPA-estimated range: 400 miles
  • Seating capacity: Seven
  • Cargo room behind 2nd row: 25.7 cubic feet
  • Cargo room behind 3rd row: 12.6 cubic feet
  • Front trunk cargo room: 6.0 cubic feet

The Good

  • More power: We should credit the Rivian for feeling quicker both around town and in highway driving. We wish there were more of a difference (and it seems like there should be given the gulf in power), but the difference is there. We also wish the R1S had more of a discernible powertrain difference when changing between All Purpose and Sport modes, but we didn’t feel one.
  • One-pedal champ: The R1S does hold a significant advantage in its one-pedal driving mode. We found it incredibly intuitive and the easiest to get the hang of outside of a Tesla, and its stopping power instilled confidence rather than concern. Unlike the Kia, the R1S also remembers the setting on subsequent startups.
  • Body control: The R1S’ air suspension does an admirable job of keeping the body under control over rough pavement; we’d compare it favorably with a Land Rover Range Rover. Steering feedback is also better than the EV9’s, making the R1S feel like the more nimble of the two SUVs.
  • Seat comfort and airiness: While the R1S may not have an advantage in roominess, its seats — especially the front ones — feel more comfortable than the EV9’s and better suited to a longer drive. The excellent outward visibility and large glass roof also make the cabin feel roomier than it is.
  • Getting frunky: An extremely convenient frunk in the R1S makes cargo storage a breeze and allows for larger loads to be stored up front.
  • Smart screen: While we would prefer more physical controls for frequently used features, we have to say the R1S has an incredibly easy-to-use touchscreen interface with excellent responsiveness and sharp graphics. The same can be said for the digital instrument panel.

The Not-So-Good

  • Punishing ride: As good as the R1S’ body control is, there’s so much impact harshness coming from the tires that even in the air suspension’s softest setting, road imperfections send shockwaves reverberating into the cabin. It doesn’t help that Rivian recommends the tires be filled to 48 pounds per square inch, which likely contributes to the tire thwacking and unpleasant ride quality over anything but the smoothest pavement. Driving in Sport mode lowers the R1S, and in this mode, successive impacts can induce a fore-aft bucking motion in the entire SUV that is unpleasant at best and concerning at worst. We found ourselves adjusting the suspension to its softest setting no matter the driving mode.
  • Not that nice inside: We can see what Rivian is going for with the R1S’ interior design and aesthetic — especially with its interesting patterns and authentic wood trim — but materials quality overall is not up to six-figure snuff and neither is the build quality. We noticed numerous creaks and interior trim flexing that wouldn’t be acceptable in a car half the price. That’s not to say Rivian won’t get there, but of these two SUVs, the one that’s a new Honda Accord cheaper than the other has the better-built interior.
  • Control confusion: It’s obvious to us that Rivian drew inspiration from Tesla for the R1S’ controls. Adjusting the side mirrors or steering-wheel position is a chore and can take unnecessarily long, and the touchscreen controls for the climate vent positioning are ridiculously overcomplicated and unnecessary. Dedicated, physical controls remain our preferred method of, well, controlling features in a vehicle.
  • Greenhouse effect: While the all-glass roof panel makes the cabin feel airier, it had no shade in our test car, which in turn had very little shade inside its cabin. The glass panel doesn’t open, either. A way to block the sun’s rays would be very welcome — and is coming to the 2025 R1S.

Research the 2024 Rivian R1S | Search Inventory

Is This R1S Worth the Premium?

We have a hard time justifying a price difference of more than $28,000 for this R1S. Yes, it is quicker; yes, it has more estimated range. But neither quality is worth that $28,000-plus difference to us. Other advantages, like Rivian’s access to Tesla’s Supercharger network, may not be as much of an advantage in the future given the recent turmoil within Tesla’s charging department. And while the Rivian is more rugged-looking and theoretically capable off-road, we’re also much more cognizant now of the potential consequences of taking even a pricey, off-road-oriented SUV off the beaten path.

What we can’t quantify, however, is image and cachet. Rivian appears to occupy a place of prestige among those who consider themselves early adopters and, despite recent financial struggles, appears to be in pole position to steal Tesla customers who like Rivian’s eco-conscious, outdoorsy vibe. Is telling the valet you’re there to pick up your Rivian instead of your Kia worth the price premium? Perhaps it is to you.

It’s also worth noting that there are other, more affordable versions of the R1S that are priced closer to our EV9. In fact, you can get more power (533 hp) and similar range (270 miles) with a dual-motor standard-battery version of the updated 2025 R1S for $77,900 before destination.

Is the Kia EV9 Worth $74,305?

Also no, not really! It’s got a more comfortable and sedate ride and handles family-hauling duty better than the Rivian, but the experience is very Telluride-like overall. Kia’s Telluride three-row SUV tops out around $55,000, which feels like where our EV9 should also be priced. Of course, the EV9’s sticker price is not what we paid for it; it was listed on Cars.com for $66,297. That’s better aligned with the EV9’s interior quality and overall experience, though still quite a bit more than a top Telluride.

What Did We Learn?

What we learned is that shoppers considering one of these SUVs should really take a look at the other, especially Rivian shoppers. The two SUVs have a different feel — the Rivian has more of a truckish feel while the EV9 is much more of a crossover-style SUV — but the EV9 is much more competitive with the R1S than we expected. While it doesn’t do everything better than the Rivian, we’re still glad we get to live with the Kia as one of our long-term test cars.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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