Rivian R2 vs. Kia EV9: the battle of the affordable electric SUVs

Rivian R2 vs. Kia EV9: the battle of the affordable electric SUVs

Christian de Looper / Digital Direction

The long-awaited Rivian R2 has finally been announced, and it’s a great option for those who want an electric SUV that doesn’t. absolutely break the bank. Sure, the R2 isn’t cheap – but it’s cheaper than most other EVs out there, especially when it comes to SUVs. But Rivian isn’t the only company trying to tackle the budget electric SUV problem. The Kia EV9 is finally available, and it also offers a modern design and a range of useful features.

Considering the fact that the Rivian R2 and Kia EV9 are two electric SUVs in the same price range, you may be wondering which one is better for your needs. That’s why we put the Rivian R2 and the Kia EV9 head-to-head.


Both Rivian R2 and Kia EV9s are real SUVs – not crossovers masquerading as SUVs, like many other EVs out there. Both of these vehicles offer large, boxy designs with plenty of interior space, making them a great choice for families or those who need that extra storage.

Rivian R2

But that does not mean that they are alike. The Rivian R2 continues Rivian’s beloved design aesthetic, with round headlights at the front and a tall light bar at the back. The R2 is actually quite a bit away from that though – it’s sleek and stylish, and those who don’t like to go too far in the design of their cars will appreciate the overall approach.

The EV9’s design is more functional, but still a lovely car. The EV9 features Kia’s “digital leopard nose” design at the front, with dual downward-pointing headlights in a “Z” shape, and taillights that slide down the rear of the car. The EV9 is definitely more traditional in design than the R2, however it still looks modern and stylish.

Cars are slightly different in size as well. The Rivian R2 is 185.6 inches long, 66.9 inches tall, and 75 inches wide — while the EV9 steps up to 197.2 inches long, 77.9 inches wide, and 77.9 inches wide. That extra space will make a difference in the interior – so if you want room, the EV9 might be the best choice.

Interior and technology

Speaking of the interior, Kia and Rivian take a slightly different approach here as well. While Rivian’s R1S is a three-row SUV, the R2 sits in only two rows, and there is no option for a third row. That’s unlike the Kia EV9, which doesn’t have three rows of seats, configured to seat six or seven, depending on the model you get.

Rivian R2 Interior

While the extra seats may put the EV9 over the R2 for your needs, there are other considerations when it comes to the interior. Specifically, the first row and second row seats on the Rivian R2 is foldable, and Rivian notes that there is enough room to fit an air mattress for camping. The R2 is generally worse for its interior – at least according to the photos. The EV9 is more traditional in terms of interior design, offering some physical controls for things like the climate, in addition to a dual display on the front for infotainment and instrument monitoring.

The Rivian R2 is more tech-focused than the EV9, though. The R2 comes with Rivian’s advanced infotainment system, which is really well designed and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, the R2 doesn’t support things like CarPlay and Android Auto – even though Rivian says so love it helps to drive without contact and without eyes on the highway, thanks to the large number of cameras and radars illuminated outside. The Kia EV9’s infotainment system is Kia’s own, and poorly designed, but the car does support CarPlay and Android Auto via wireless connectivity, which is nice. The EV9 offers Kia’s Level 3 autonomous driving, which allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel in certain situations, but drivers will still need to watch what’s happening. Both vehicles offer other driver assistance technologies, such as parking assistants, lane keeping, and blind spot monitoring.


There’s a lot we don’t know about the performance of the Rivian R2. We do know that it will come in single-, dual-, and tri-motor variants – and that the fastest model will be able to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of performance the other models offer.

Kia EV9 GT-Line Rear Three Quarters
Christian de Looper / Digital Direction

The EV9, on the other hand, is available now – so we know everything there is to know about its performance, at least when it comes to the 2024 model. It’s possible that the 2026 model will be different – but we don’t expect it to be. The slower EV9 isn’t a base model – it’s a base powertrain, but with a bigger battery, which makes the car heavier. It’s called the EV9 Light Long Range RWD, and it offers 201 horsepower and the ability to accelerate to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, which isn’t exactly fast. The fastest EV9 is the EV9 GT-Line AWD, which can reach 60 mph in 5.0 seconds using 379 hp. It’s all to say that the fastest Rivian R2 will be significantly faster than the fastest EV9 – and it’s entirely possible that even the slowest R2 will beat the fastest EV9. We will have to wait and see.

Frequency and payment

We also don’t know everything about the Rivian R2 range, but Rivian has said that there will be models with more than 300 miles. We expect this to be one of the slower models with a single motor and a larger battery pack. Rivian has also said that there will be two battery options. Unfortunately, we still don’t know exactly what other models R2 will offer. Rivian says the R2 will charge from 10% to 80% in about 30 minutes, and we expect similar charging speeds. for R1S, about 220 kilowatts.

Two Electrify America Charging Stations.
Electrify America

We know all about the Kia EV9 range and charging speed. The lowest-range EV9 is the EV9 Light RWD, and it clocks in at 230 miles. The highest-range model has the same low-performance powertrain, but with a Long-Range battery – and increases the range to 304 miles. Examples others are in between the two. Thankfully, the EV9 charges very quickly – it can use DC fast charging of up to an impressive 350kW, allowing drivers to charge from 10% to 80% in just 24 minutes, which isn’t bad at all.

Price and availability

If you’re looking for a new car right now, you only have one choice – the Kia EV9. The Rivian R2 has been announced, but is not yet available. Rivian says it will begin shipping in the first half of 2026, and for now, while you can’t pre-order an R2, you can “reserve” one by paying a $100 refundable deposit to reserve your spot in line. Rivian says the R2 will start at $45,000, but that could change between now and the first half of 2026.

The Kia EV9 is now available for purchase. It starts at a higher price than the R2 is expected to cost, though. The cheapest EV9 costs $54,900, which is almost $10,000 more than the R2’s supposed starting price. Currently, the EV9 is not eligible for the federal EV tax credit, however, that will change soon as Kia brings production of the vehicle to North America. Rivian says the R2 will qualify when released.


Both the Rivian R2 and EV9 are compelling options for those who want a top electric SUV. For now, the EV9 is the only option though – and even when the R2 launches, those who want a third row of seats or CarPlay support will want to go for the EV9. However, those who like the Rivian’s design sensibility, want an SUV-sized vehicle, and don’t mind the wait, will want to go for the Rivian R2.

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