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Haval H9 2020 review

Big and bouncy, the Haval H9 4WD is a family car for those who like the outdoors.

This large seven-seat SUV is built for bigger things than the road. With a roomy interior and prices starting at $41,990 drive-away, it’s encroaching on the established off-roader market in Australia. The Haval hails from China where it’s the biggest SUV company and the H9 is the flagship. 

It competes here with cars like the SsangYong Rexton and Mitsubishi Pajero. Does it have what it takes to cut through? I drove the base model, the Haval H9 Lux, for seven days for this week’s family review.

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✅ What does it look like?

It’s a large SUV with bulky front end and it sits high off the road with a dominating stance. There is some sense of refinement to it, but mostly it’s just enormous with everything oversized to match like the front grille (huge), the headlights (big) and the tyre cavity (spacious).

It’s a large SUV with bulky front end and it sits high off the road with a dominating stance. It’s a large SUV with bulky front end and it sits high off the road with a dominating stance.

Inside it’s a stylish fit-out with more elegance than competitors like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest. It’s more on par with the Rexton than those two. There are fabric seats but they are smooth and comfortable and a leather covered steering wheel which always lifts things as that is your touchpoint.

I did think the centre console was a bit fussy with lots of buttons rather than a streamlined design, but everything fits nicely and it’s functional. A panoramic sunroof comes standard on this model and there are aluminium foot pedals which look great. 

✅ How spacious is it?

The front seats are huge and you sit very high off the road so it automatically feels larger as well. They are spacious enough for tall people to sit comfortably without thinking about head space or leg space which is more than ample.

The front seats are huge and you sit very high off the road. The front seats are huge and you sit very high off the road.

The second row is roomy too, and my children aged six and eight climbed in with enthusiasm to sit in this row which was more than capable of holding three adults side by side quite comfortably. I’m 161cm and I had plenty of space between my knees and the seat in front, and taller adults or teenagers will easily squat here without complaint for long journeys. 

The second row is roomy too, I had plenty of space between my knees and the seat in front. The second row is roomy too, I had plenty of space between my knees and the seat in front.

You can fit a third child seat in the second row, I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule.

Back in the third row there is enough room for even a tall adult to fit, though the general nature of the third row is that it’s excellent for children, and fine for adults on short journeys. Leg space is surprisingly big.

Back in the third row there is enough room for even a tall adult to fit. Back in the third row there is enough room for even a tall adult to fit.

And the boot is huge with the back row folded flat. It’s let down, unfortunately, by a side opening door with the hinges on the right hand side of the car. Still, it will easily fit a double pram along with school bags and groceries or you can fit sporting equipment in here for weekend leisure. If the two back seats are in use, the boot space shrinks which is normal in a seven seat SUV. Check out the images to see what I mean.

  • The boot is huge with the back row folded flat. The boot is huge with the back row folded flat.
  • If the two back seats are in use, the boot space shrinks which is normal in a seven seat SUV. If the two back seats are in use, the boot space shrinks which is normal in a seven seat SUV.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The front seats are manually adjustable and you can slide the second row forward too, giving more space to the third row if you need it. To get in the third row it’s a quick push down of the second row seats and the door opens nice and wide, allowing for better access. 

There are air vents for all three rows. There are air vents for all three rows.

There are air vents for all three rows, and controls for the climate in the second row.

Entry and exit of the H9 is made easy with the wide, grippy sidesteps which not just the kids, but I also appreciated. 

The downfall is that the boot opens sideways (rather than like a conventional tailgate) which means it won’t open if another vehicle parks too close to you in a carpark, or you’ve reversed in towards a wall.

✅ How does it drive?

It’s a very bouncy ride in the Haval H9. Bumps are easily felt, and when driving it on suburban streets it feels like it should be taken off road - which I didn’t get to do this week.

It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which takes a few seconds to kick in once you press your foot down but has a good amount of power behind the wheel and it gets up hills well, even if it is a bit loud and feels like an effort.

It’s not a super responsive when you touch the accelerator or brake and you need to press down for maximum effectiveness. Saying that, you do get used to doing that quickly.  

Has a good amount of power behind the wheel and it gets up hills well. Has a good amount of power behind the wheel and it gets up hills well.

It’s a four-wheel drive, which means you can take it off road and there are driving modes including 'Sport', 'Sand', 'Snow' and 'Mud'.

Parking such a big car takes practice to learn how much space you need (note: more than you think) but it is made easier with a reverse parking camera

✅ How safe is it?

It comes with auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. The H9 scored four ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2015, before the introduction of the advanced safety equipment a few years ago. 

There are airbags for driver and front passenger (front and side), plus side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. You’ll get two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fix kids car seats in, but no child seat anchors in the back row.

The H9 scored four ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2015. The H9 scored four ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2015.

There’s also a full size spare tyre in the H9. 

✅ What’s the tech like?

There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia screen but it’s not very high definition and is missing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which automatically puts it behind (though there are some competitors in this category like the Isuzu MU-X, Toyota Prado and Toyota Fortuner which also don’t have these features).

There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia screen but it’s not very high definition. There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia screen but it’s not very high definition.

You can connect via Bluetooth for phone and music streaming, but overall the media interface is quite clunky to use. And there's no sat nav, either.

✅ How much does it cost to own?


The Wrap

The Haval H9 will fit seven passengers easily and comfortably, with enough interior space for it to be positively roomy. It’s not the best car to drive but I find large, high cars have a bounce to them that isn’t personally what I’m looking for - if you have more open space and larger roads to drive on it might suit you perfectly. It has good safety and it’s one of the more stylish cars in this category. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.6 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same. They love having a third row to climb into. 

Likes

Interior design
Interior space
Safety

Dislikes

No Apple Carplay or Android Auto
Bouncy drive
Large and bulky

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$40,990

Based on new car retail price

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