In a world full of crossover SUV EVs that are basically hatchback cars with the SUV label attached, the Kia EV9 and Rivian R1S recall the glory days of the Sport Utility Vehicle. Big, powerful, and ruggedly off-road capable, both offer plenty of cargo and passenger space.
These SUVs bring the tradition of the Land Rover, Chevrolet K5 Blazer, Toyota Land Cruiser, and similar full-size four-wheelers alive again in the electric vehicle age.
Kia EV9 vs. Rivian R1S: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Kia EV9||Rivian R1S|
|Price||$50,000 to $75,000 (?)||$78,000 to $92,000+|
|Range||300 miles||316 miles (260 miles to 400 miles)|
|Recharge Time (Level 3)||20 to 30 minutes||42 minutes|
|0-60 Time||5 seconds||3.1 seconds|
|Rear Cargo Space||Unknown (possibly approx. 87 cubic feet)||88.2 cubic feet|
|Wheels||Unknown||20″, 21″, 22″|
|Availability||First quarter of 2023||Currently available|
Kia EV9 vs. Rivian R1S: What’s the Difference?
Kia engineered the EV9 and Rivian the R1S to appeal to people who want large, multi-passenger SUVs with off-road muscle and plenty of cargo space. The companies’ approaches and the resulting strengths and weaknesses of the two vehicles differ significantly. Here’s a closer look at what each electric SUV has to offer.
For drivers who prefer a roomy vehicle with plenty of cargo room, seating, and flexibility to today’s compact car craze, both the EV9 and the R1S have something appealing to offer.
The EV9’s exterior looks like a standard large SUV, but its interior is almost a blend of SUV and minivan. Kia designed the EV9 with three seating rows, providing enough space for up to 7 passengers. According to company information, the EV9’s third row offers the same legroom and comfort for third-row occupants as for the first two rows.
The layout the South Korean automaker chose for the EV9 is anything but mundane, at least in concept. The 122-inch wheelbase offers plenty of interior room and Kia makes inventive use of it. Seats remain in the usual configuration when driving. However, once parked, the vehicle’s front row seats can pivot to face rearward.
The middle seats fold down into a table. This lets four people sit in the first and third rows, facing each other across a convenient picnic-style table. Alternately, the rear seats can do a 180° turn to the open rear hatch for porch-like relaxation.
A single giant 27-inch infotainment touchscreen stretches across more than half the dashboard. Other interior details remain sparse. However, Kia apparently means to take a page from the Fisker Ocean and use many recycled materials in the cabin. The company makes floor mats from fishing nets, while seat covers started life as plastic soda bottles.
Cargo space hasn’t been officially published, but the similarly sized Kia Telluride SUV has ample room. The Telluride’s full possible cargo space with both rear seating rows folded down is 87 cubic feet. Raising the second row shrinks this to 46 cubic feet or 21 cubic feet behind the third row. Towing capacity, maximum payload, and off-roading performance aren’t yet known.
The Rivian R1S offers a luxurious interior along with plenty of off-road moxie in its design. Like the EV9, it’s a three-row SUV seating a maximum of 7 people. The rear two rows can fold down to provide extra cargo space.
Total cargo space amounts to 104 cubic feet, though this includes additional cubbies and an 11.1 cubic foot frunk. The rear volume with the back two seating rows folded down provides 88.2 cubic feet of storage. This is nearly identical to the EV9’s likely space but also includes a perfectly flat edge-to-edge cargo floor.
The R1S’s interior doesn’t offer the same pivoting seats as the EV9. It does, however, include plenty of comforts, such as headroom and legroom, a glass roof, and vegan leather seats. Real ash wood is used for accents.
In addition, a top-end audio system keeps occupants entertained while driving. On top of that, Rivian’s recently released Kneel Mode and Camp Mode give owners extra convenience.
Rivian built the R1S as a capable utility and off-road vehicle, as well as a passenger SUV. The quad-motor variant tows up to 7,700 lbs and has a 1,800 lb maximum payload. Its geometries offer good approach angles. The adjustable air suspension gives up to 15 inches of ground clearance, and the R1S can ford at least 3 feet of water.
Battery, Range, and Recharging
American EV buyers rank a vehicle’s range as one of its most important specs. European and Asian vehicle purchasers may not care as much about range because most live in dense urban environments.
However, America’s wide-open spaces and big suburban areas make the range a bigger concern. Close to 61% of buyers put EV range as their number one focus in picking a vehicle, an Autolist survey shows.
A different survey by Castrol said most buyers want 290 miles range at a minimum. While they don’t consider it as crucial as range, potential EV drivers also want an EV that charges fast. People want electric transport that achieves an 80% charge on a fast charger in 30 minutes or under.
The company hasn’t finalized the EV9’s specs, but its range and recharging time both appear to meet EV customer preferences. Kia claims the EV9 can drive for a maximum of around 300 miles on a single charge.
Furthermore, its 800-volt architecture enables fairly fast charging. Kia has stated that its big electric SUV should charge from 10% to 80% in 20 to 30 minutes. The company points out this exceeds the lightning-quick 18-minute recharge time of the Kia EV6. But the time is still likely less than the half-hour recharge most potential buyers want in an EV.
The Kia EV9’s exact battery size isn’t known yet. Kia also hasn’t revealed the more mundane, but perhaps more common, 240-volt Level 2 recharging speed.
The EV9 seemingly features the same 800-volt charger as the EV6, which recharges the latter’s long-range battery in 8 hours. If EV9 versus EV6 recharge speeds stay proportionate between Level 3 and Level 2, an 80% Level 2 charge might take 13 hours or so.
The Rivian R1S slightly surpasses the Kia EV9’s range, with its current 128.9 kWh battery keeping the vehicle humming along for an EPA-estimated 316 miles. The R1S ekes out the maximum range with 21-inch wheels. Boosting wheel size to 22 inches cuts range by 5% to 10%.
Downsizing to 20-inch wheels reduces the range even more (10% to 15%). Rivian plans two more battery sizes. It will pair a smaller battery with dual-motor R1S EVs, giving 260 miles range, and a “Max” battery capable of 400 miles with quad-motor trims.
The Rivian R1S charges slower than the EV9, though this is likely partly because of a larger battery. The company doesn’t provide 80% recharge times on its website. Instead, it says a Level 3 fast charge takes 20 minutes to add 140 miles of charge.
A 240-volt Level 2 charger requires 1 hour to recharge 25 miles and a Level 1 charger trickles in a measly “few miles” hourly. However, InsideEVs’ recharging test revealed a 42-minute 10% to 80% recharging time. While the test used a Rivian R1T pickup the electrical systems of the two EVs are identical.
Kia EV9 vs Rivian R1S: Performance
People usually don’t expect sports car performance from an SUV, but electric motors open up new hard-charging possibilities. Huge, massively heavy SUVs can zoom along almost like Lamborghinis when outfitted with electric motors. An electric drivetrain delivers instant torque, giving it a strong advantage over ICE engines for fast acceleration.
Kia hasn’t fully revealed the EV9’s performance specs as of early November 2022. However, Kia Motors president Ho-sung Song revealed a 5-second 0-60 time at the company’s Investor Day, TopElectricSUV reports.
Official horsepower and torque figures aren’t yet available, but an upcoming Hyundai EV might give a clue. Hyundai and Kia are currently joined at the hip as close allies and collaborators. The Hyundai Ioniq 7 is a close equivalent of the EV9.
It might use the same motors, which, in its single-motor configuration, generate 308 horsepower. The EV9’s horsepower may well be identical or nearly so. If Kia means to build a dual-motor trim this would likely increase horsepower by several hundred.
The EV9 is no slacker but the Rivian R1S offers an even bigger, tastier helping of power for performance gourmets. Rivian currently builds the R1S with a quad-motor setup, though there’s also a dual-motor drivetrain.
Punching the accelerator activates 835 horsepower and 908 ft-lbs of torque. This enables the R1S to blast off from 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds according to Car and Driver testing. Shortly after the EV9 reaches 60 mph at 5 seconds, the R1S has achieved 100 mph in 8.1 seconds.
Buyers look at price as the second factor in an EV purchase, close behind range. The sweet spot for the price is around $36,600, according to the Castrol study cited above. Neither the EV9 nor the R1S come anywhere near this, though one is significantly cheaper than the other.
Kia historically offered affordability as one of its cars’ key selling points. Though executives say it’s moving away from that strategy, the Kia EV9 beats the Rivian R1S on price anyway. The base model is expected to cost around $50,000.
Kia means to charge between $55,000 and $65,000 for higher trim levels, so prices might actually range from $55,000 to $75,000. The Kia EV9’s price is low enough to qualify for Inflation Reduction Act tax credits of up to $7,500.
However, the bill also requires EVs to be American-assembled and use batteries at least partly made in the USA. Kia seemingly plans to build factories in the United States by 2024. It intends to do this specifically so buyers of its EVs, including the EV9, benefit from the Clean Vehicle Credit.
Rivian engineered its R1 series EVs as luxury models and the R1S SUV’s price reflects this. Its prices have also risen recently, a trend that’s seen across EVs. The once-affordable $40,000 Ford F-150 Lightning now carries a base $59,000 price tag, as one example among many.
According to Rivian’s “Vehicle Studio,” the cheapest combination of features – dual motors and a 260-mile “Standard” battery – now starts at $78,000. Adding a “Large” battery pack nudges this up to $84,000 base MSRP. The quad-motor “Large” battery pack EV starts at $92,000.
Even the cheapest R1S’s base price is very close to the Clean Vehicle Credit’s $85,000 cutoff for trucks and SUVs. Most buyers will probably choose enough options to raise the $78,000 above the limit for tax credit eligibility. The quad-motor trim’s price makes it ineligible for Inflation Reduction tax credits without so much as an upgraded paint job.
Kia EV9 vs. Rivian R1S: 8 Must-Know Facts
- The Kia EV9 and Rivian R1S both feature three-seat rows for 7 occupants.
- The EV9 is much cheaper, costing $50,000 versus the R1S’s $78,000 to $92,000 base price.
- The EV9 will likely be EV tax credit eligible once U.S. manufacturing starts, while the R1S is too expensive for most vehicles to qualify.
- Kia EV9 range is 300 miles, R1S range is 316 miles (with 260-mile and 400-mile versions planned).
- The EV9 has seats that can be reconfigured into lounge and relaxation modes.
- The EV9’s interior uses recycled materials for maximum eco-friendliness.
- Cargo space is likely to be roughly the same between the two vehicles.
- The R1S is higher performance, with a 3.1 second 0-60 times versus 5 seconds, massive horsepower and torque, 7700 lbs towing, 1800 lbs payload, and 3+ feet of water fording.
Kia EV9 vs. Rivian R1S: Which One Is Better?
The Kia EV9 and the Rivian R1S are remarkably similar in some of their basic specs. Both are 7- passenger, 3-row SUVs with roughly the same cargo space. The Kia offers some interesting features like its “lounge mode” seats and almost the same range as its Rivian competitor.
The Rivian R1S is a rugged off-road vehicle in addition to a passenger SUV. It outperforms the Kia and has some luxury features missing from its thriftier rival.
Which one is better likely depends on the potential buyer’s economic situation. The R1S has all the “bells and whistles” and is suited to off-road exploring and camping, but is much more costly.
The Kia EV9 is more of a passenger vehicle, but is much cheaper, especially once US manufacturing starts. So, the Kia likely fits a regular family’s driving needs, while the R1S is a premium vehicle for more adventurous lifestyles.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Mike Mareen/Shutterstock.com.