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Video: 2024 Kia EV9 Vs. 2024 Rivian R1S: Family Electric SUVs Compared

23:34 min
By Cars.com Editors
June 17, 2024

About the video

Come with us as Senior Road Test Editor Mike Hanley and Road Test Editor Brian Normile drive and compare the 2024 Kia EV9 and 2024 Rivian R1S assessing everything from comfort to performance to interior quality.

Transcript

Three-row SUVs are wildly popular these days and we recently announced the results of a comparison test of some popular gas-powered models. Now there are also a lot of all electric SUVs out there, but not many that offer three rows of seats.
And of those three-row EV SUVs, many of those are egg-shaped. If you're really looking for a traditional SUV shape and a three-row EV SUV, currently, you really only have two options. The Kia EV9 and the Rivian R1S. Representing Kia today is our own 2024 EV9 Land with all wheel drive and representing Rivian is this R1S with a performance dual motor powertrain and the max battery package. The as tested price of our EV9 was $74,305, and the as tested price of this R1S is an even more eye watering $102,550. Now that's a significant price gap, but we wanna find out is the R1S worth the price of an EV9 plus a base Honda Accord To figure out if that R1S is worth $28,000 and change more than this EV9, we spent a lot of time evaluating the two vehicles together and found some clear differences between the two and honestly some surprising ones. Yeah, I think one of the big ones we noticed right off the bat was the comfort in the cabin across all three rows of seats and it was, for me, a function of seat adjustability and space, especially in the second row where you have a really great second row of space in the captain's chairs, they slide forward and back quite a bit so you can share that space with the third row more so than in the Rivian, and they're captain's chairs too. So you have a nice walkway to get back to the third row whereas the Rivian had a second row bench. <v Brian>Yeah, I was really impressed with how much leg room I had even in the second row when I adjusted it to give me leg room in the third row. Now, the third row is not the most comfortable for adults, but it actually does fit me. I'm six foot one, it's not all the time that I can fit in the third row of any SUV EV or otherwise. And the captain's chairs actually help that too because you can take one of your legs and sort of put it in that middle passageway and then you're not blocked by the seat. So you get a little bit extra leg room there. For the most part, the seats are very comfortable. I will say in the Rivian's favor, I think the overall seat comfort, especially up front, I've gotta give the nod to the Rivian, but not really what I was expecting with such a difference in price. <v Mike>Yeah, I think the overall kind of space efficiency is better in the EV9. I did like how with the Rivian, with its glass roof, you get a lot of headroom in all rows of seats, especially in the rear. One downside though that the Kia addresses is that the Rivian doesn't have any shades. It's tinted glass, but you can't block out the sun if you want to, but you have some shades for the moon roofs in the EV9. And they open too so you can actually let some air in that way. Whereas with the Rivian, you're just stuck looking out through the glass. So that's nice. We'll get to cargo stuff a little bit later, but in terms of interior layout, they're actually surprisingly similar as well with this large center console and an open pass through. But I think the EV9 does it a little bit better. Yeah, they both have this open space you mentioned down low, which is nice for bigger items, like a bigger bag or something like that that you wanna keep up here and both of them have like a nice little kind of enclosure so they're gonna stay in place, but this center console is pretty functional for the EV9. You can configure it how you want. Both of them have a wireless charging pad right up on it too, so that's a nice touch. What else stood out to you? <v Brian>In the EV9, the second row, you get this extended console that you can pull back towards those captain's chairs and some of our editors have found a use for the storage bin below it as a sort of road trip trash can, which is smart. It's a really great way to keep everything from making a mess in the rest of the cabin, and kids are messy, you're gonna have a lot of mess in the second row if you get this car probably. It's a great way to keep it clean. Another kind of storage difference is the EV9, you get the glove box, which maybe you're thinking, well, like every vehicle is gonna have a glove box. But no, the Rivian does not have a traditional glove box. So something you might use for putting extra stuff you may have that's not an option there. They do have a little compartment in front of the front passenger seat, but not quite the same. Now, the Rivian being sort of a startup disruptor kind of vehicle and not having to do things the traditional way does have some cool interior touches. There's that camp speaker, the wireless Bluetooth speaker that you can remove from the center console. There's the integrated flashlight in the door, sort of like Rolls Royce does with umbrellas. Right. gonna be a difference maker for me and certainly not a almost $30,000 difference maker. Yeah, they're nice touches. I like the thinking behind them. It does play into their kind of more outdoorsy image that they're trying to cultivate and kind of establish for themselves. But in terms of like everyday functionality, like those are smaller things to me than some of the more traditional kind of functional elements a lot of owners are gonna need and value and kind of everyday driving. Yeah, I'm gonna take an extra storage bin or a glove box over a flashlight any day of the week. One of the other areas that the EV9 has shown in, again, surprising to me given how often I've seen Rivians on the road around Chicago here is how much better it rides. It's just comfortable. The EV9 has a fixed suspension whereas the R1S has an air suspension and a lot of times with the air suspension when adaptive, you get that cushy ride when you want and you can firm it up sometimes with different settings, but it's interesting that there's not a clear advantage for the R1S here. Now granted it does have kind of that floaty body motions and it's soft settings like you'd expect or you may be familiar with if you've driven like Land Rover, Range Rover with air suspension. It has that same feel, but it's really busy down at the tires and it has kind of firm impacts down where the tires meet the road and that can partly be attributed to the really high tire pressure that Rivian expects for the vehicle. Yes, so the Kia recommends 38 PSI at all four corners. The Rivian, I think, is 48. It's 48, yeah. <v Brian>That's so much. That's pickup truck level. The Rivian is a big heavy vehicle and it does have some drive modes that the air suspension like plays into. Like switching it to sport mode mode, the vehicle lowers significantly. It only amplifies some of the negatives of the suspension 'cause when you're in that sport mode and the suspension's lowered, there's a lot of kind of four act bucking motions that are pretty significant on some even reasonably finished roads and it doesn't make it feel especially sporty, it just makes the ride quality worse. Performance driving wise, I'll give the nod to Rivian, but it's a very low bar for both of them. The steering's a little better, the body control is a bit better. This EV9 is a bit more wally. You just sort of rock from side to side. But I know these are quick, this can do zero to 60 in under six seconds down to five if you get the more powerful version. The R1S we have is rated I think at three and a half seconds zero to 60, but they're not doing anything other than going quick in a straight line. In evaluating these, the reason we've seen so many Rivians with the available all-terrain package, which our test vehicle does not have, it has the standard road tires and 21-inch wheels. The all-terrain package gives you 20-inch wheels, a bit more sidewall and probably a bit more of a comfortable ride. I don't recall other editors who've driven other Rivian models complaining about the ride as much as our staff has with this mock version. So you've gotta wonder how much better it is with that all-terrain package, but you've gotta pay more for that too. <v Mike>One other thing we did like about the EV9 was the in-car connectivity it offers. We're using some of it right now with Apple CarPlay and that was kind of one thing that set these two apart. Yep, Apple CarPlay works incredibly well. It connects wirelessly. Kia has finally figured out how to do that. I'm very thankful for it. It's a very good infotainment system overall. It's very easy to use. You can get out of it for a second here and you have these clear tiles. There's a lot of granularity within it, but it's all very easily understood. In addition to CarPlay, you also get Android Auto, if you have an Android device. That's different than the approach Rivian has taken. Rivian is kind of following more in the footsteps in Tesla in a lot of ways in terms of what they do with infotainment. There's no Apple CarPlay, they're limiting it to kind of their interface they want you to use. You can connect your phone with Bluetooth like many cars, but they have different infotainment sources. Like you can use Alexa, you can use Spotify, you can use TuneIn as well. So different streaming sources, but they still keep you within their interface. They're not opening it up. Yeah, it's a very driver profile-focused sort of infotainment and so is the key honestly. We have multiple profiles here. I activated mine when I got in and adjusted my seat to where I prefer it, connected to my phone right away. It works well. And I think we're sometimes a little bit hard as journalists on the self-contained systems because it's kind of a pain to switch multiple people through them, but also I want CarPlay. I was using actually both Google Maps and the native navigation in the Rivian on the way here today and Google was consistently a little bit quicker, a little bit more helpful with its directions. Just prefer it and I want that accessibility. Now granted I was hearing it through the car, but that means I'd have to have some sort of phone mount to see and it seems very silly to put a map over such a large screen. Yeah, I think a lot of consumers have spoken when they said they like it and they want it in their vehicle. So we'll have to see where that trend goes. You know, so after driving the EV9 for a while, what's your final take of this SUV? <v Brian>I was incredibly surprised at how much better I thought this was as a people hauler. Like every Rivian I've seen on the road I thought was a lot bigger. This has the better interior space, I think the better interior layout, and the more comfortable ride for a daily driver. Like this is the people hauler of the bunch. So I think it's a really, really valuable consideration. If you were solely on the R1S track, the EV9 is definitely worth a look. <v Mike>Yeah, I think if you've been waiting for that three-row family EV to come out, like we were saying, there hasn't been a lot of choice and now there is more choice and this one delivers a lot on that front for people that want that third row for occasional use. So they just have more people to cart around or they like the traditional SUV shape. This does pretty well on that front. <v Brian>We're gonna get into the Rivian R1S now. Mike's gonna get behind the wheel and we're gonna see what that does well because it does do a lot of things well in its own regard. So we're in the Rivian R1S now and the first thing we really wanted to discuss was the powertrain because it's pretty impressive in a number of respects and there are two things that really play into the powertrain this one has because we have the performance dual motor set up and the max battery pack. So you get 665 horsepower, 829 pounds feet of torque, and 400 miles of range. So those are all big numbers. What did you think of kind of that performance, Brian? Well, I think we should talk about some other big numbers first and that's the price of those things. So this is interestingly enough for those figures, the mid-range powertrain, and it's an extra $5,000. And then on top of that, the max battery pack is an extra $19,000, at least at the time we were recording this to get that extra range. I do really like the powertrain, the power's nice and smooth. It is very clearly quicker than the EV9. For the difference between the numbers, the EV9 is 379 horsepower, 443 pounds feet of torque, almost half compared to this. It's not that much quicker. Yeah, there's not as much of a dramatic difference in day to day driving that you might think from seeing those numbers. That said, I mean this is around a thousand pounds heavier than the Kia so it needs more of that extra power to kind of make it feel the way it does and it is kind of an effortlessness to it. You may have experienced like luxury vehicles, like that kind of wave of power, but doesn't feel overwhelmingly powerful. One thing I like about it though is how they've done their one pedal driving. If you have the region on high, the setting for that, it's a very linear transition between accelerating to letting off and slowing down. It's very predictable and you can drive around one pedal all day like that. Oh yeah, it's one of the best systems I've used in any EV. Even at higher speeds, like I had some off ramps like we're on now where I came around the bend and there was traffic at a red light, had to come off the gas real quick, well, accelerator And it just hauled it down to a stop. I wasn't ever concerned, I didn't have to supplement with the brake pedal at all. The EV9 doesn't always feel like the one pedal is gonna be enough to bring it to a stop. For all this focus on the car being ready to your settings the way you want it, the EV9 will not remember that you were in one pedal driving when you stop and you have to activate it every time and this, the Rivian, just stays in whatever region setting it was in. It's perfect. <v Mike>Both of these have similar EPA efficiency. They're both rated at 41 kilowatt hours per 100 miles, which is they're like spot on in that regard, though there is that big range difference where this R1S has 400 miles of EPA-rated range compared to 280 for our EV9. In terms of similarities, they both charge both on DC fast charging and AC charging at about the same. The Rivian is a little faster on AC level two home outlet charging. We did think that having access to Tesla superchargers earlier would be a benefit for Rivian. Kia is getting there. They say it'll be done by the end of 2024. Rivian now has access and up until a little while ago, that was probably a bigger benefit than it seems now. But that is also something worth noting. You do have more access to, what I think we found is probably the most reliable public charging set up out there. Yeah, so a lot of that cost difference we were talking about between these comes down to the battery and the performance dual motor setup. But there's other advantages that are kind of inherent to the R1S design. It has a really big front trunk, the hood is powered, so it powers up to reveal it, and it's a big space, it's got a lower level too. So upper and lower, and it's just quite a bit more accommodating than what you're gonna find in the EV9. Yeah, the EV9's front is very small. They both, funnily enough to me, have the emergency button in case someone gets stuck inside the frunk. I don't know how small you would have to be to be a person stuck inside the Kia. You could actually fit a human inside the Rivian's frunk. This is the part where I say please don't do that. But yeah, there's a lot more storage up front. The cargo area in back is also nice and big. It's also worth noting with the Rivian's cargo area that it's a sort of split lift gate. So there's a large upper portion and a small lower portion, but the load floor is higher and with that lower portion not lowered, it's much higher. It's not as convenient I don't think. But in terms of room, especially upfront, I would say the Rivian has the advantage. An area where I thought Rivian would have more of an advantage is interior quality. And I will say from a design perspective, I really like what Rivian has done with the interior. There's these wood accents, this is actually a no cost option to get this version of the interior with the wood trim. You do get some nicer sort of visual cues. The seats have some nice styling to them, but quality wise, I'm not sold on this being a hundred thousand dollar interior. There is some creakiness to the cabin, both like when you're shutting the door and kind of pulling on the door handle. There's some flexing for some of the kind of the dashboard pieces. I thought the interior has a nicer feel and design than the Kia. In our version, it's a very kind of monotone gray that this has a much more appealing color palette. If you're comparing this to a luxury brand EV, and there are a lot of them like besides the, like few three rows that are out there, the two row models, they have really nice interiors and this is priced like those. So it's a logical kind of comparison to make and it doesn't feel up to kind of what those offer. I see what they wanna do, but we'll have to see whether build quality is going to improve as Rivian matures, as we hope Rivian matures, or if they're gonna sort of go the Tesla route and rather than worry about interior quality, we'll just adjust the prices so that the prices better reflect the interior rather than the interior better reflecting the price. And we already talked about this in the EV9 a little, but since we're in the Rivian, let's talk about this big center screen where pretty much every control is. For better or worse, you have a fixed panel along the bottom with some basic functions including climate, but the EV9 meanwhile has physical climate controls for a lot of things. There is a panel for climate controls as well and annoying to me, that is hidden behind the steering wheel when I drive. So I appreciate Rivian's setup better in that regard. But this is a very Tesla-esque screen really. Yeah, they've really, like with the screen size and kind of the integration of the controls into the screen, like really followed Tesla's lead in that regard. And I do think it's pretty well done for the most part, like the control strip at the bottom gives you easy access to certain features readily, the screen responds quickly to your commands and switches how you need to. It's a very large screen, so you get a much larger map view in this case than we're on compared to what the Kia offers. And I like how the driver display is done too, like very kind of simple, gives you the information you need, and another kind of nod to Tesla, they show representative like silhouettes of traffic around your vehicle in it to kind of show you what the vehicle is seeing too. But in other respects, you know they followed Tesla too far. I feel like in terms of some of the control adjustments, the mirror controls are just like Tesla needlessly complex. The vent controls are excessively complex because there's not traditional vents. You have to adjust them through the screen. So a bit of a mixed bag, but I think all in all, it is a pretty easy system to use. So does the Rivian R1S, at least in this configuration, justify its much higher price than our EV9? I don't really think so. I think the bulk of what you're paying for here is power and range, and I don't think you get a lot of value for the power here. And while 400 miles of total range is nice, the idea of a family EV road trip gives me chills with having to stop for so long so frequently. It's just, it's not something I'm ready to commit to. What do you think, Mike? I think the six figure price tag of this model we're testing is really gonna give people pause and you can get it for less expensive, but what this one offers at that price, you touched on it with the range, the extra power. I think people are gonna expect luxury too at that level and the interior doesn't live up to it for me in terms of build quality. Something that maybe early adopters maybe we're able to overlook, but now that there's a more choice coming on the market, more options at this price, there's gonna be more scrutiny there. You know, if you are looking for capability though in some regards like towing capacity and kind of payload capacity that this offers, it's pretty high in that regard. While we've been talking about the price difference between these two with their as tested or sticker prices, something to consider. We did not pay $74,000 and change for our EV9, but there are discounts available on the EV9. It's readily available right now. Not every dealership is going to offer discounts, some are still doing markups. But there are discounts available. You can get it below sticker price. With the Rivian, you're not dealing with a dealership network and so really what you see in terms of price is what you're probably going to pay. So the EV9 is not eligible for the federal EV tax credit. If you purchased one, it would be if you leased one, but a lot of dealers are baking that $7,500 or some portion of it into the discounts they're offering to make up for that fact. The Rivian is technically eligible, but there's an $80,000 price gap. So $102,000 SUV that we're in, not gonna cut it. There are Rivians you can get, they'll have less range, fewer options, could be eligible depending on how you configure it. You'll have to see. But that is also something worth considering. <v Mike>If you wanna learn more about what we thought about these SUVs, you can read about it at cars.com. (ambient music)