Owners Review of the Haval H9
As of writing this, Haval is the premium brand of Great Wall Motors, both of which are based out of China. A small fact that a lot of people don’t know is that Haval sells over a million vehicles a year, making them a titan in the car manufacturing industry, but one that very few people have heard of.
There’s probably some distrust, in the industry and in the minds of the public, to own a vehicle that is so unknown. But if we look back a few years, and a few decades, we’ll see other car manufacturers like Subaru, Hyundai, and KIA, all experienced similar skepticism in the early days of their car exporting phases.
The biggest appeal about Haval is that they are a well-specced vehicle that comes with an enormous amount of extras for a very affordable price. The latest Haval H6 2021 is also a great example of that.
The Haval H9 is no exception. I’ve owned my H9 now for around six months, and I’ve taken it on all manner of road trips, camping trips, trips to the snow, and skiing. So, I feel like I’m quite qualified now to comment on the car’s features, benefits, where it excels, and where perhaps there could be some more work done.
The H9 is essentially a copy of a Toyota Prado, although a lot of people would be slow to say that. Recently, I ventured up to go skiing, and the guy checking vehicles at the gate said, “What vehicle is this? It looks like a Prado.” There’s no doubt that there are a lot of styling and feature similarities between the two vehicles.
My understanding is that Haval has acquired an engineer from Toyota, and also an engineer from ZF, the gearbox manufacturer to make the H9.
The interior of the cabin is very well appointed. The vehicle I have is the H9 Ultra, which includes a full moonroof and many other features that really are impressive considering how affordable this vehicle is.
The fabric on the seats is not leather, but I’m yet to meet somebody who can immediately recognize that, and they’re certainly very comfortable.
The two front seats include both heating and cooling options. There is also built-in lumbar support for both.
There is a massage function, which effectively just takes the lumbar support and creates pressure in different points along the lumbar support to create and ease some blood flow around your lower to mid-back.
It’s effective enough for long journeys but certainly doesn’t replace a Shiatsu massage.
The driving steering wheel is fitted with all of the normal features that you need to use, including phone controls, some settings controls, and volume controls. There is also a heated steering wheel button feature, which I have to say over winter has been an absolute revelation for me, and I would certainly consider buying other cars with it over those that perhaps did not offer such a simple feature.
There are colored LED lights built into the doors and some in the ceiling, which come on when your main lights are on in the evening. I call it a ‘party Uber’ when this is on but it’s a tasteful addition.
All of the automated functions like automated rain wipers and automated lights operate as standard.
There are fog lights and a rear red light button for snow and fog conditions.
The front driver’s seats are fully electric, and there are additional side controls on the passenger seat allowing the rear passenger to control the position and placement of the front seat. This is particularly common in luxury vehicles where the rear passenger may want to move the seat in front of them away from them, assuming that there is no one sitting in that seat.
The Ultra comes with a full infinity branded sound system, and I have to say that the sub-woofer built into the system is particularly impressive.
The second-row passenger seats include seat heating also, although not individually controlled. So, if you do turn on the seat heating in the second row, then both seats will heat up. The second-row rear seats also have full control over their own air conditioning temperature with a control console on the back of the front row armrests.
There is a USB slot in the rear console also for rear passengers as well as a 12v plug if you wanted to fit more.
The third-row seats are electric with controls just behind the passenger side, and also, in the far back area at the boot opening. This gives a lot of convenience for people, whether you trying to raise the seats from the side door or opening the rear door and raising the seats from there.
There is certainly sufficient space in there but it certainly is involved in matching, it would exceed most other seven-seaters that I have travelled in. But it’s certainly more suitable for short distances for adults and medium distances for small children as necessary.
There are cupholders in the front, in the second row, and also cup holders available for the third row pop-up seats as well.
The only complaint I have about the third-row seats is that you do have to slightly move the second-row seats forward on the rails before raising the rear seats. As the angle of the second-row passenger seats comes down at an angle, that makes it difficult for the electric motors to raise the third row.
This isn’t a major deal but it would make the location of the electric switches all the more convenient if you didn’t still have to move into the first row and move the seats forward slightly. Once the seats are raised, you can then put the second-row passenger seats back into position, no problem.
In the rear of the boot, there are tools and safety allowances in the rear door which is a barn door style opening. And there is also a full electric plug (not a typical 12-volt DC slot) but rather a full plug available if you were to have a small fridge or laptop or any regular conventional electric plug that you need to plug into the rear.
There are common safety features, including lane departure warning, auto engine off when you’re at stopped and they do have the auto-hold handbrake feature push-button handbrake feature. There are airbags and curtain airbags through to the 3rd-row seats.
There is an eco-mode, and then all of the dials that you need to select, the mode that you would like to use including auto, sport, snow, mud, sand, and four-wheel drive low. Of course, you can’t engage four-wheel-drive low unless you are in a stationary position.
The media interface is acceptable and contains access to all of the features that you need, although there are some features like front seat heaters that would benefit more from a dedicated switch rather than having to go into the interface to select your seat setting preferences. It’s not a big deal, but it’s the little things that make life a little simpler.
The model I have has a reversing camera and I believe that the latest models have a front-facing camera, and also benefit from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features in the infotainment system. A small feature of this Haval H9 is that it also has an SD card slot and still has a CD slot. The SD card slot makes it possible for you to input movies in most formats, and play them on the infotainment system while the car is stationary. The car’s infinity stereo system makes movie watching actually quite an impactful and engaging experience, but of course, only when you are stationary.
There is also a permanent more analog style 4WD panel above all the other controls.
Haval H9 Engine
And finally, the engine and drive. Well, the engine is a 2-litre turbo, single turbo, and it is managed by a ZF gearbox, which is well known for use in Jaguar, BMW, and other high-end vehicles.
While the gearbox is not a new invention, it certainly does a good job of moving through the eight gears that are available to it.
It’s a heavy vehicle at around two tons. And the engine has to do a lot of work to maintain speeds and acceleration for such a heavy vehicle. It’s probably worth noting that I’ve stepped out of a BMW 335i with 300 horsepower, six cylinders and a twin-turbo, into the Haval H9 which is about 50kw less. So, there was always going to be a bit of a surprise. The main concern is turbo lag. Although this can be managed by manually changing with the steering wheel paddles. If you’re fast enough for it with paddle switching.
You can also buy an external iDrive or similar to help manage any turbo lag but I’m not sure of the effect on warranty or legalities there. Do your research.
I usually only find this is a problem rolling into roundabouts or stops where the car is still in second gear and hasn’t dropped down enough into first gear to accelerate through the intersection.
You get used to planning for this, but this could be something that they improve on the future models. When it comes to open road driving, it’s very comfortable, there’s loads of space for everybody in the vehicle, and it’s a nice quiet drive. Surprisingly quiet considering the size and amount of wind resistance that it has to push through.
On drives of four to five hours, or even an eight-hour driving day, I’ve never left the vehicle feeling tired or cramped. Rather, I feel quite refreshed with light steering, which at times is a little too light, but certainly makes for easy driving on those longer trips.
Engaging sport mode on the gearbox produces a surprisingly more sprightly drive compared to auto mode. So, if you are in a hurry or want to make the most of some open road adventurous driving, the option is certainly there for you.
Four-wheel drive is surprisingly engaging and effective, and there are plenty of videos online showing how tough and durable this truck actually is, and how efficient the four-wheel-drive features are.
While I have recovery tracks and a recovery kit in the back, I think it would be extreme circumstances that require me to pull those out and use them.
The gear changing shifter is a little bit confusing and does take some getting used to.
Once you understand it, it’s fine. But there are times when I’m sitting idling and I pull down on the gear changer which changes to manual, and then when I accelerate, I wonder why I’m stuck in first gear. A quick pull down on the gear changer fixes this, but that takes a little bit of getting used to.
Fuel consumption is certainly average and that’s understandable, even though the engine is only a 2-litre, it does require quite a lot of effort to get this thing going. Not that you feel that as the driver. In fact, it feels very light under your touch, but the 80-litre capacity fuel tank certainly takes some filling up. I think that is something you have to accept when you buy a four-wheel-drive truck of this size.
Summing it up – Haval H9 Review Recommendations
In conclusion, the finish internal finish of the Haval H9 is really excellent, the sound system is satisfying, the drive is comfortable and the space is capacious.
The four-wheel-drive feature is very capable, the ZF gearbox changes smoothly and there’s very little I’ve thrown at this truck that it can’t handle yet. It has fueled and will continue to fuel many great family adventures. And I don’t mind giving it a hard time. From time to time, there seem to be a few electrical gremlins. No problems with the main electrics, but just some software things where at times I’ve turned the car on and the clock has been out, and yet after stopping at the next stop and returning to the vehicle and starting the vehicle again, the clock has come back to the correct time without needing any manual adjustment.
That’s really been the only thing that stood out to me as a concern, but other than that it’s been a consistent drive and quite faithful.
I would certainly recommend a test drive of the H9, and if you have the extra few grand try to spring for the moonroof and the upgraded stereo in the Ultra. Although the moonroof is really just a nice thing to look at but offers very little value for your driving or even passenger experience.
There’s no doubt that Haval has made a stamp for their future, and what I expect to see is that they will continue to take more market share as they expand internationally. Possibly not in the United States, but certainly in other countries. One report said that the Bangladesh army is now switching from Prados to H9. And the H9 and Haval brand are starting to make a big impact in Australia and New Zealand.
I look forward to seeing where the brand goes and would certainly look forward to seeing how the H9 view evolves over the coming years.
Any questions? Please do file them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.