Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: Which One Is the Better EV SUV?

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: Which One Is the Better EV SUV?

The long wait is nearly over, and the Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y match is about to begin! Kia has been masterfully teasing us with little bits of information about the upcoming release of the EV9.

The company has just released some, but not all, performance specifications for the upcoming EV9. It’s hard not to fall in googly-eyed love with what they’re showcasing. Hang tight, though; Hyundai will start collecting preorders in Korea during Q2 2023. Preorders will begin for the rest of the world in the second half of 2023.

No slouch in the EV department, the Telsa Model Y is a tried and true option when you’re looking for seating options for six or seven passengers. Jump in, put on your seatbelt, and let’s chat about the Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y to find out which one is the better EV SUV.

Kia EV9 vs. Hyundai Ioniq 7
Hyundai will begin accepting orders from the U.S. towards the end of 2024.

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: Side-by-Side Comparison

Kia EV9 RWD StandardKia EV9 Base +
Length (Inches)197.2197.2
Width (Inches)77.977.9
Height (Inches)69.169.1
Wheelbase 122 inches122 inches
Top SpeedNo specs yetTop Speed
Acceleration 0-60 mph Seconds8.55.2
DriveRear-Wheel DriveRear-Wheel Drive
Cargo CapacityNo specs yetNo specs yet
Towing CapacityNone4500
Seats6 or 76 or 7
Range (Miles)220336
Battery Pack76.1 kWh99.8 kWh
Tesla Model Y PerformanceTelsa Model Y Long Range
Length (Inches)187187
Width (Inches)75.675.6
Height (Inches)6464
Wheelbase 113.8113.8
Top SpeedNo specs yet135 mph
Acceleration 0-60 mph Seconds3.54.8
DriveAWD Dual MotorAWD Dual Motor
Cargo Capacity76 cu ft76 cu ft
Towing Capacity35003500
Range (Miles)303 miles (EPA est.)330 miles (EPA est.)
Battery Pack60.0 kWh60.0 kWh

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: What’s the Difference?

As it sits right now, the most significant difference between the two models is that you can buy a Telsa Model Y, and you can’t buy a Kia EV9.

  • Tesla Model Y is available with a six to fifteen-week manufacturing lead time. Sales were sparked earlier this year by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, offering $7,500 rebates on select EVs.
  • Hyundai will begin accepting Kia EV9 preorders (from Korea) in Q2 2023. The Kia EV9 is expected to go on sale in other parts of the world in the second half of 2023. Hyundai still needs to clarify the lead time from order to delivery.


  • Telsa has two Y models: the Performance and the Long Range.
  • Kia has at least two models: the EV9 RWD Standard, and RWD Long Range, and there’s a mention of an EV9 AWD range-topper. We expect the situation to clear up as Kia releases more information about model specifics in the coming months.


The Kia EV9 and the Tesla Model Y can seat six or seven passengers, according to their specs.


  • It will be very tight if you try to fit more than four or five adults inside the Long Range Tesla Model Y. The 3rd row is a good storage location for small children or pets. We would not recommend starting on a cross-country trek with seven full-sized adults.
  • A quick look at the chart below reinforces the concept that the 3rd row in the Telsa Model Y is a good place for smaller folks. Look at the 3rd-row legroom! (These are the exact space dimensions that might give a 6’3″ 265lb fellow heartburn.)
Tesla Model Y PerformanceTelsa Model Y Long Range
Head Room Front/2nd Row/3rd Row (Inches)41/39.4/No 3rd Row41.0/38.7/34.6
Leg Room Front/2nd Row/3rd Row (Inches)41.8/40.5/No 3rd Row41.8/41.6/26.5
Shoulder Room Front/2nd Row/3rd Row (Inches)56.4 /54/No 3rd Row56.4/54/41
Hip Room Front/2nd Row/3rd Row (Inches)53.8/50.6/No 3rd Row53.8/50.8/36.5

Kia EV9

kia evs
The Kia EV9’s design was inspired by “Opposites United,” the design language at the core of Kia’s mobility drive.
  • One of the interesting, innovative concepts of the EV9 is that the second row of seats can swivel 180 degrees to face the third row of seats.
  • Fun fact! Having traveled extensively on trains with bench row seats that swivel 180 degrees, we’d urge you to consider how you will use this “feature.” Legs often end up somewhat intertwined with those of the person sitting opposite. There’s no hiding. You’re nose to nose with your travel partner.
  • The swiveling seat can swivel to the side to face the windows. A rotating seat is an excellent option for connecting car seats without severe body contortions.
  • The swiveling seats will place your offspring seated directly across from each other. Just saying.
  • Kia still needs to release the headroom, legroom, and shoulder room specifications. We expect the interior space to be larger than the Model Y’s. The Kia EV9 is longer, wider, and taller than Tesla Model Y.

Based on interior space, if you plan to be the primary driver with an occasional passenger, it’s a performance wash for interior space between the Kia EV9 and the Telsa Model Y. If you plan to fill the interiors with friends and family, we recommend the Kia EV9.

Top Speed

When an automobile speeds up, the aerodynamic drag increases. The higher the aerodynamic drag, the more power (AKA battery) is required to overcome the drag. If you’re shopping for a mid-sized EV, we suspect that you’re not so interested in the fact that the Tesla Model Y can travel along at 135mph.

The EV9 and Model Y target families as their primary clients, so Tesla’s inclusion of speed into their performance specification is odd. The EV9 doesn’t list its top speed.

Six Tiers of Autonomous Driving

Tesla and Kia (along with every other car manufacturing company!) want to have the highest levels of automation. Let’s take a quick look at the levels of automation, as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safe Administration and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Level 0: Zero Autonomy

Zero Autonomy means it’s all you (and your pocket mouse) with zero technological assistance. You, the driver, handle all tasks to travel from Point A to Point B.

Level 1: Driver Assistance

You’re still controlling the automobile, but the car has an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). The ADAS may assist you with steering (Task 1) or braking and accelerating (Task 2). Task 1 and Task 2 will not occur simultaneously.

Level 2: Partial Automation

A short nap may be tempting since ADAS can simultaneously handle braking, acceleration, and steering. “Simultaneously” is the significant change from Level 1. You need to pay attention to what’s happening around you and keep your hands on the wheel.

Level 3: Conditional Automation

ADAS performs all driving tasks under some circumstances. When those “other” circumstances pop up, you — the human driver — need to be prepared to take control.

Level 4: High Automation

The ADAS is doing all the driving in certain circumstances. You don’t need to pay attention. You can practice your chess game.

Level 5: Full Automation

Time to chill and stream a show. The ADAS can perform all driving. You’re just a passenger.

Fun Fact: In Arkansas, fully automated (Level 5) commercial vehicles don’t require a driver, a steering wheel, seat belts, or a rearview mirror. Are you tired of lippy Uber or taxi drivers? Why not try a Level 5 ride? Driverless cars are coming soon to a city near you!

Autonomous Driving: Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y

chevy bolt vs tesla model y
There were four planned powertrain configurations for the Model Y


Which automobile has the upper hand when it comes to driverless cars? This may be more of a question of a regulatory nature than a technical issue. Different jurisdictions, sometimes within the same state, have other laws that cover autonomous driving.

A separate state may have completely different legislation. It will take time (perhaps a lot of it!) for auto manufacturing companies and local, state, and national regulatory agencies to work together seamlessly.


The EV9 will have Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities in selected markets in 2025. Hyundai hasn’t defined those specific markets.

  • 15 sensors
  • Two lidar lasers scan 360 degrees around the automobile for hazards
  • Auto parking
  • Remote start/door open with a cell phone app
  • Take control of steering, braking, and acceleration at specific speeds and conditions

Tesla Model Y

The Model Y doesn’t have Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities. Tesla offers two different levels of independent operation. The lack of Level 3 certification is a head-scratcher when viewed against Tesla’s claim of a Full-Self-Driving mode.

  • Autopilot
    • Auto parking (and retrieval)
    • Lane changes
    • Emergency stops
    • Remains in the appropriate driving lane
  • Full Self-Driving (A name that California bans Telsa from using)
    • Enhanced Auto Steering for hands-free driving
    • The driver needs to be prepared to take control of the automobile.

Fun fact! Mercedes-Benz 2024 ESQ Sedan and S-Class models will begin delivering to U.S. customers in Nevada during Q3/Q3 2023. Mercedes-Benz is the first automobile manufacturing company to reach Level 3 on a standard production vehicle authorized for use on U.S. highways.

In Germany, the option added $5,300-$8,000 to the base price of the automobile. Introducing the Level 3 functionality for the Kia EV9 is enough to tip the scales for Kia in terms of autonomous driving. It’s fun to talk about, but how far can we drive on the batteries? Let’s dig in!

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: Driving Range

  • The Kia EV9 Standard model has 220 miles of travel in the battery bank.
  • The Upgraded Kia EV9 model (Base +) has 336 miles of travel available.
  • Teslas Performance model has 303 miles of “get up and go” hiding in a smaller battery than the EV9’s.
  • The Model Y Long Range has 330 miles of battery.

The driving range might seem reasonably equal between the upgrade models, especially when it comes to theoretical travel miles per battery fill-ups. When it comes to EVs, we must look at the total cost of ownership, not just the battery size.

The price of the Kia EV9 (approx $74,000) vs. the Model Y Long Range (approx $53,000) is about $20,000 higher. That’s a lot of battery fill-ups.

Based on battery performance alone, the performance between the Kia EV9 Base + model vs. the Tesla Model Y Long Range results in parity of functionality. We don’t have a clear choice based on battery performance.

The Kia EV9 RWD Standard model vs. the Tesla Y Performance model is an easy win for Telsa because of its extra 110 miles per battery fill-up.

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: 7 Must-Know Facts

  1. The Kia EV9 isn’t available for order (or delivery) in the U.S. Hyundai will begin accepting an order from the U.S. in Q3/Q4 2024.
  2. You can order a Telsa Model Y right now. It’s available.
  3. The Telsa Model Y is very tight for anyone in the third row. Check the specs carefully to ensure the third-row size fits your needs.
  4. The Kia EV9 has two-second row seats that rotate 180 degrees to face the third-row seats. Work out this feature’s “best” and “worst” use before you buy.
  5. The Kia EV9 will begin Level-3 functionality introduction in 2024. No word on which markets will see the functionality first.
  6. The driving range of the Tesla Model Y Performance is markedly superior to the EV9’s Standard Model performance.
  7. The driving range of the Tesla Model Y Long Range model is pretty much the same as the EV9’s Base+ Model performance.

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model Y: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

The Kia EV9 is entering the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle market with a splash. It’s a reasonable expectation that it will be available for order in late 2023, with a 2024 delivery. If you need to purchase an EV right now, and your choice is an EV9 or a Tesla Model Y, you don’t have a choice; go with the Tesla.

In terms of interior space, we prefer the Kia EV9. Kia’s EV9 can comfortably seat a household. Tesla’s Model Y, with the extra seats, is more of an afterthought. It’s impossible to view the 3rd row of seats in the Tesla Model Y Long Range as anything other than really uncomfortable for everyone except small children and pets.

We like the higher battery miles available on the Kia EV9 Base+ model. However, the price tag of approximately $74,000 is problematic for buyers hoping to take advantage of federal tax rebates under the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Inflation Reduction Act legislation offering EV purchase rebates requires that automobiles are manufactured in the U.S. Kia is planning to begin manufacturing EVs in the U.S. in 2024.

Based on theoretical features, we recommend the Kia EV9. Based on an actual EV available today, we’d recommend the Tesla Model Y. But when the EV9 is finally available, it may have all the right pieces in place to become a breakthrough EV in the U.S. market.

Are EV’s Worth the Hype?

In a word: Yes. The average American driver can save $1,500 annually on fuel costs alone by switching to an EV. This is based on someone who drives 15,000 miles per year and pays $3.00 per gallon for gasoline. In addition to fuel savings, EV owners can expect to save hundreds of dollars a year on maintenance and repairs. That’s because electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than their gas-powered counterparts, so they require less maintenance.

The upfront cost of an EV is typically higher than the cost of a gas-powered vehicle. However, the fuel and maintenance savings can offset the higher upfront cost over time. Plus, the U.S. federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 for the purchase of a new electric vehicle, regardless of the manufacturer or model. (This credit will phase out after manufacturers have sold a certain number of EVs.) And many states offer additional incentives for EVs, such as rebates, tax credits, and exemptions from sales tax. The specific incentives vary from state to state, so it’s important to check what’s available before you invest in an EV.

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Frequently Asked Questions

May I purchase a Kia EV9 right now?

No. The marketing folks at Kia are slowly unveiling the Kia EV9. As a resident in the U.S., you may (heavy emphasis on “may”) be able to place an order in late 2024.

May I purchase a Tesla Model Y right now?

Yes. The Model Y’s have seen a spike in purchasing since federal legislation passed in 2022, named the Inflation Reduction Act. Current lead times are approximately fifteen weeks.

Do I need to worry about the Inflation Reduction Act in relation to buying a new car?

You should only be concerned if you care about cash in your pocket! The Inflation Reduction Act places specific stipulations on federal rebates or tax incentives.

If the EV automobile was manufactured in the U.S., what portion (a percentage) of the automobile batteries is manufactured in the U.S., and what is the automobile’s total purchase price? (It’s a complicated subject.) We strongly recommend that you investigate carefully before making a purchase.

When you investigate, don’t forget to check for a “state” level rebate program.  There may not be a rebate for purchasing an EV, but there may be a state rebate for installing an EV charger in your garage!

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