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Three Reasons Why You Should Buy a Kia EV9 Instead of a Tesla Model X or Y

How does the Kia EV9 match up in terms of size and value compared to Tesla's SUVs?

2024 Kia EV9 front
  • Is it worth buying a Kia EV9 over a Tesla Model Y or Model X?
  • The EV9 has greater third-row headroom.
  • It has less complicated doors than a Model X.
  • The Model Y is significantly cheaper but much smaller.

The 2024 Kia EV9 is one of the few three-row electric SUVs on sale today, so if you have a big family and want to go gas-free, you don't have many choices. Thankfully, Kia envisioned the EV9 to compete not only with mainstream rivals but also to punch above its weight and stand toe to toe with premium competitors. 

With this in mind, we decided to examine the value proposition that the EV9 offers compared to the top dogs in the market, the Tesla Model Y and its pricier Model X sibling.

As you'll see below, the Model X is the more natural competitor for the EV9. But the Model Y is such a dominant presence in the EV world, and since it technically offers a seven-seat configuration, we added it to this comparison.

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2024 Kia EV9 front

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model X and Y: Price

Tesla Model Y: For this comparison, we're looking at a Model Y Long Range, with all-wheel drive (AWD) and a seven-seat configuration. A third row is not available for the base rear-drive version.

EPA-estimated range: 310 miles

Starting MSRP (with destination fee): $53,380 (seven-seater)

Eligible for a $7,500 EV tax credit? Yes

Effective starting price: $45,880

The Model Y is a compelling deal at that price, but if you plan on regularly transporting adults in the third row or need more storage, the next two cars will likely be a better fit.

Kia EV9: With the EV9, we can go in one of two directions. If you're looking to cross-shop it with a Model Y, you'd likely be looking at the middle Wind AWD trim, as it is the least expensive way to get all-wheel drive and seven-passenger seating. 

If you're considering a fully loaded version to rival the Model X, you'd likely want to look at the GT-Line trim, though it is only available with the six-passenger captain's chairs. The GT also makes more torque than the Wind, for quicker acceleration, with 516 lb-ft of torque versus 443 lb-ft in the Wind. Tesla does not publish its power numbers, so we cannot make a comparison on that front.

Wind AWD

EPA-estimated range: 280 miles

Starting MSRP (with destination fee): $65,395 (seven-seater)

Eligible for a $7,500 EV tax credit? No, but there's a $3,750 factory incentive at this time.

Effective starting price: $61,645

GT-Line AWD

EPA-estimated range: 270 miles

Starting MSRP (with destination fee): $75,395 (six-seater)

Eligible for a $7,500 EV tax credit? No, but there's a $3,750 factory incentive at this time.

Effective starting price: $71,645

There's a $15,765 effective price gap between the less expensive Tesla Model Y Long Range and the Kia EV9 Wind. That's a tough pill to swallow since you would theoretically be paying more to get less range. But based on Edmunds' testing, no Tesla we've tested has hit its EPA range figure in the real world, whereas the EV9 we tested and other Kia EVs have overperformed and gone farther than their estimates. But what else does the price difference get you on the EV9? Far more passenger and cargo space, ventilated seats, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof (versus a fixed-glass roof), Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, onboard navigation (versus LTE-based navi), tri-zone automatic climate control (versus dual zone), and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic warning (as opposed to a video popup on the center screen).

Tesla Model X: The base Model X with dual motors and AWD does come in a six- and seven-seat configurations like the EV9, but its pricing comes with a catch. If you want to take advantage of the EV tax credit, only the five-seat variant qualifies because it comes in just shy of the $80,000 MSRP limit. And if you're wondering, no, you cannot use the tax credit to bring you under the MSRP cap, according to the IRS. 

On the Model X Tesla charges $3,500 for the seven-seater and $6,500 for the six-seater. On the EV9, however, the seven-seat configuration is standard.

EPA-estimated range: 335 miles

Starting MSRP (with destination fee): $84,880 (seven-seater)

Starting MSRP (with destination fee): $87,880 (six-seater)

Eligible for a $7,500 EV tax credit? Not on six- and seven-seater models

When compared to the Model X, the EV9's value is much easier to see. A six-seat Model X effectively costs $16,235 more than a top-of-the-line EV9. The Model X does promise 65 more miles of range than the EV9, but I'd refer you to my earlier comments about real-world range. What does the extra money get you on the Model X? An air suspension, a 22-speaker audio system (versus 14 speakers in the EV9), a 17-inch infotainment screen (versus 12.3 inches), and of course the signature falcon-wing doors. However, there are several issues with these doors, and some people would rather not deal with them.

Winner: tie

2024 Kia EV9 third row seat

Kia EV9 vs. Tesla Model X and Y: Interior dimensions

The EV9 has the edge here, with nearly 5 more inches of headroom in the third row over the Model Y and about 2.5 inches on the Model X. When it comes to third-row legroom, the seven-seat EV9 has 4.3 inches more legroom than the comparable Model Y and it ties with the Model X in six-seat configuration, unless you opt for the "relaxation captain's chairs."

Third-row headroom

Model Y: 34.6 in 

Model X: 37.1 in 

EV9: 39.5 in (with dual sunroof)

Third-row legroom

Model Y: 26.5 in

Model X: 29.8 in (seven-seater), 32.2 in (six-seater)

EV9: 30.8 in (seven-seater), 32.0 in (six-seater), 29.9 in (six-seater with relaxation captain's chairs)

We've sat in the third row of the EV9 and even a 6-footer (though not much taller than that) could fit comfortably back there. The same cannot be said for the Model Y and it would be a tight squeeze in the Model X. An X factor to consider, no pun intended, is the shape of the cabins, particularly near the third row. Both the Model X and Y have curved rooflines that will force you to keep your head straight or else it'll be up against the rear windshield. Both Teslas have glass roofs, which means the sun will be right over any third-row passenger's head and can make it feel warmer back there in hotter months. The EV9 is shaped like a box, which gives your head more freedom, and while there's a panoramic sunroof available, it has a fabric cover that will keep rear passengers from feeling the greenhouse effect.

Winner: EV9

2024 Kia EV9 cargo area

Kia EV9 vs Tesla Model X and Y: Cargo space

With the third row up or down, the EV9 has a large advantage in rear cargo space over both Teslas. 

With the third row in place

Model Y: 12.8 cu ft

Model X: 15 cu ft 

EV9: 20.2 cu. ft

With the third row folded

Model Y: 26.6 cu ft

Model X: 33 cu ft

EV9: 43.5 cu. Ft

Max cargo with second and third rows folded

Model Y: 67.9 cu ft (plus a 4.1-cu-ft front trunk) = 72 cu ft

Model X: 85.8 cu ft (six-seater) plus a 6.5-cu-ft front trunk = 92.3 cu ft

Model X: 81.7 cu ft (seven-seater) plus a 6.5-cu-ft front trunk = 88.2 cu ft

EV9: 81.7 cu ft (plus a 1.8-cu-ft front trunk) = 83.5 cu ft

Now, here's where things can get tricky. On paper, the Model X six-seater — which has second-row captain's chairs that cannot fold flat — appears to have more space behind the second and third rows than the EV9. There are variations in how automakers measure storage space, and in reality, you cannot practically put all that space to use in a six-seat Model X. The second-row seats tilt forward and angle up to a "max cargo position" and are still in the way. The EV9's second and third rows, meanwhile, can fold flat to have a continuous loading floor. So if you need to transport a widescreen TV, for example, you'll have a much easier time fitting it in the EV9.

This is a close one, as both Teslas have a significantly larger front trunk, which adds to their total storage number. But given that the rear cargo area will see the most use in an SUV, we'll give the edge to the EV9's more practical cargo space.

Winner: EV9

Edmunds says

To us, the Kia EV9 is a no-brainer when compared to the Model X. However, the Model Y value case will come down to your passenger or cargo needs and which features you care about the most.

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