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'Better than a LandCruiser or Patrol': 2024 Kia EV9 local ride and handling program complete as brand wades through 7000 expressions of interest for mega-popular electric SUV

A seven-month ride-and-handling program for the Kia EV9 has now been completed in Australia, and the brand says the result is a vehicle that drives better than its key rivals in the upper-large SUV segment, the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser.

That is on the road, of course, where the EV9 has been put through its paces via Kia's Australian-focused ride and handling program. The brand concedes its two core rivals are still superior when it comes to tough off-roading.

"If you talk strictly the FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) footprint, then it's an upper large SUV, so that's your Patrol and LandCruiser," says Kia Australia's GM of Product Planning, Roland Rivero.

"But it's not a direct 300 Series or Patrol competitor, and it's not a ladder-frame four-wheel drive that is going to have that extreme off-road and towing capability. But it is extremely capable.

"I don't think those two respective competitors are going to have the on-road, the cornering and the country-road driving capability that this product is going to have."

And there-in lies the EV9's secret weapon, with Kia's ride and handling guru Graeme Gambold spending a total seven months, on and off, tuning the big electric SUV to better handle Australian roads, and to deliver what Australian drivers prefer form their vehicle, being a composed, confident ride that minimises pitch, yaw and lateral movement.

"It actually brings a new dynamic to that sector, because there are a lot of people around that don't want to be driving, or don't necessarily need to be driving, a ladder-frame, high-centre-of-gravity ICE SUV to go to the snow or something like that," he says.

"And it's got all the characteristics of an EV – the low centre of gravity, big weight holding it into the road, and that sort of thing.

"So the tune is all about sort of highlighting what the car's natural characteristics are."

That tuning program took in city and country roads, water crossings, gravel and dirt and off-road tracks, with the EV9 said to be "extremely" capable off-road, as well as comfortable on it.

"It'll do all that and it'll take the family to the snow and get there comfortably and that sort of thing. But it's just a great cruiser and it's stable, flat, and comfortable," Gambold says.

"This was also the first time we have worked with the combination of the E-GMP platform and self-leveling shock absorbers in the rear. The equipment all works in harmony for the EV9, keeping the vehicle level despite loads.

“We are confident Australians will appreciate how the EV9 drives and how well it will cater to their lifestyle.”

Expect the cheapest EV9 to start just under $100k when it arrives in Australia in October, and to climb northwards from there. We’ll get both the long-range 99.8 kWh AWD and standard-range 76.1 kWh RWD battery options.

Kia says it will be able to secure about 100 units a month, or 1200 a year, and says it won’t be an issue finding homes for those vehicles, so if you want one, we'd suggest getting the queue sooner rather than later.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to...
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