You may recall that pictures of the Kia EV9 leaked today, and it looks like Kia has done the only mature, reasonable thing to do in such a situation: shrug their corporate shoulders and just go ahead and announce the damn thing early, because everyone is already talking about it, anyway. So, here it is, Kia’s first full-size, three-row, electric SUV. Plus, now we have Kia’s full press release about the thing, full of the usual excitable PR talk with terms like “Digital Tiger Face,” which is how Kia describes the front end of the EV9. Okay, sure, why not? Let’s look deeper at this thing now that we have real pictures and words from the Kia folks themselves.
As we saw in the leaks, it’s a pretty striking, handsome design, I think. Unlike those blurry leaked images, I can see the door handles on this one, and they appear to be flush-mounted ones that extend out, as can be seen on the rear car, which seems to have the front door handle in the extended position. I don’t know how I feel about the complexity of these kinds of handles, but they have become sort of expected on premium EVs.
The reveal also came with a little promo video, and Kia is doing some interesting sound work in this thing, I think to suggest how quiet the interior is. Also, those interior dashboard materials look nice:
There’s not much in the way of technical details just yet, other than it’s built on Kia’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). It’ll likely have two motors, one at each axle, and I suspect the battery range will be around 300 miles for a RWD one with the largest possible battery. I’m just guessing, but that feels likely. There have been leaked documents and rumors floating around to suggest pricing will start in the mid-$50,000 range for a RWD one with around 200 horsepower that can go about 220 miles, and an AWD one with about 400 hp for somewhere above $60,000. These are speculation, so keep that in mind. Plus, it’ll have the 800V charging tech of the EV6 for fast charging capability.
If those numbers are close to accurate, this seems like a pretty good deal.
I am a little curious about some of the tech on the front end here:
I’m mostly curious about that under-bumper area; are those some kind of active grille shutters? It looks like it.
I think the biggest surprise seen here is how the center row seats can be swiveled to face the rear row, something that could be especially desirable if you’re stuck charging for an hour or so. As the press release explains,
“Occupants sitting in the first and second-row seats can simultaneously recline their seats to relax and rest when the EV9 is charging. The seats in the second row can be effortlessly swiveled 180 degrees so that occupants can interact with those sitting in the third row. The third-row seats also offer cup holders and charging points for mobile devices.”
Look at that! You could use this setup to park on a bridge and fish right from your car, if you wanted, I bet! And then just fling all those fish right in there on that nice flat floor! Or, take them to the rear cargo area for gutting!
Look how nice and flat everything folds, so you can haul big things or cut that huge sturgeon you caught open right there on the carpet, really letting that fish blood soak into the tasteful gray fabrics there.
The contrast of the steaming fish entrails and the cool technical look of everything else might fit well with Kia’s Opposites United design philosophy:
“Guided by the brand’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, Kia’s designers strive to create vehicles with unprecedented visual appeal. In particular, the ‘Bold for Nature’ pillar of the ideology, which inspires the combination of elements from the natural and material worlds, has played a key role in forming the exterior design of the EV9. The result is a vehicle that effortlessly combines an undoubted aura of rugged capability for all conditions, with the serene calmness of a sophisticated EV that paves new paths for future electric SUV design.”
That’s a combination of the natural and material world, right? I bet this thing has some sort of a frunk, too, though it may be minimal, like on the EV6. Still, I hope they at least tried.
There are still physical buttons, I can see, and I also spy a handle on the glove box, an amenity I’m no longer taking for granted on anything new these days.
The EV9 sure looks at home among poured-concrete modern minimalistic architecture, so if you live in a research lab in a sci-fi movie, this car should be at the top of your list.
One thing I’m not seeing here and probably shouldn’t get my hopes up about is color. Maybe they will offer some actual chromatic colors, but this could also be yet another new car that’s trapped in a grayscale prison. I can’t say for certain, but I think the design of this is strong enough that it could look great in some real colors.
I think dark colors will make it look too monolithic; the contrast of the window and light graphics are too important here, and I think a lighter tone is needed to set that off.
Anyway, now it’s all official, and I think Kia has a potential winner here for the three-row electric SUV space, which isn’t really a crowded category. There’s the Rivian R1S, Tesla Model X and Y; I guess the S had that jump seat, too, Mercedes-Benz has one, and, oh, I guess we can count the Volkswagen ID Buzz when it comes out? Okay, maybe there are a bunch.
I’m curious to see one of these in person. It better have a frunk.
With a mother-in-law who has trouble getting in and out of cars, swivel seats would be amazing. Although, stepping UP into an SUV to reach said swivel seats is not really workable for her.
That being said, $50k-$60k for a Kia?! Are we, as a society, really at that inflection point where Kias command those kind of prices?! “Kia. Movement that inspires.” Inspires what? Inspires me to take out a second mortgage? For that price, the car better gut those fish for me.
I think you’re stuck in the past. First, the Telluride is one of the hottest vehicles on the market. Kia isn’t making shitboxes anymore. They’re competitive with pretty much any non-luxury manufacturer at his point.
Second, the average cost of a new car these days is somewhere around $40k. $50k for a large crossover isn’t that outrageous. You can certainly argue that is too much in general, but suggesting that this is somehow unreasonable for a Kia makes no sense in the modern car market.
A three-row vehicle is just a “large crossover” now? Say it ain’t so.
The grayscale infection has metastasized to the interior; gray on gray.
It looks like an oversized KIA Soul. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Well it’s certainly a Kia but I think I’ll wait for the EV Carnival replacement version if I wanted three rows…
Some EV van options can’t come soon enough—though I understand why makers are hesitant to bring them since minivans aren’t the sellers they used to be.
The Koreans have really become leaders in styling. Their willingness to make bold choices is amazing. Sure, some of the stuff doesn’t always work, but at least they are taking risks regularly. They hired talent and left them a fairly free hand. It’s quite nice to see. Kudos Korea!
This is Luc Donckerwolke’s leadership. He was at Lambo and Bentley before. He’s a terrific designer.
I would love to get cargo area specs on these things. Not volume, but the actual length and width of the available cargo area when the seats are folded as flat as possible. That info is never included in SUV specs, you have to find it on forums or, rarely, in reviews, and at least for me it is really important to know if I can lay down a sheet of plywood in there. Bonus if I can close the hatch. My 2006 Grand caravan can. Honda Odyssey can. Chevy Suburban can. Why won’t they tell us? It won’t necessarily keep me from buying one, but it is a factor. I am pretty sure the Silverado EV will be wide enough, although not likely all the way into the cab. The I.D. Buzz? That would be nice, but unlikely. The first van/minivan that can hold a 4×8 sheet, has 250+ miles of range and costs ~$50k gets my money. Buzz Cargo where are you?
Do they need to do crash test with the centre seats in all possible permutations? or those seats can be forward only when the car is in motion?
When Chrysler had optional swivel seats in their vans, they were crash tested while rear facing and forward facing. That was in 2008 so I assume it’d be the same deal here.
“In particular, the ‘Bold for Nature’ pillar of the ideology, which inspires the combination of elements from the natural and material worlds, has played a key role in forming the exterior design of the EV9.”
Do what now?
I see nothing from the natural world in this design except all the materials made from it.
You know, just like every other man made thing in this solar system.
“Opposites United” design philosophy.
Huh? Which opposites, nature and material?
It’s basically saying stuff made from other stuff.
“Bold for nature” pillar?
I got one of those while hiking, on MDMA, on the Pacific Crest Trail… I think.
Is there a lot of meaning lost in translation here or does none of this jargon actually mean anything?
Kia’s press release reads like they are introducing new Crayola colors, but without adding any actual colors and the box is already full.
I’m guessing they will offer it in some colors, probably somewhere along the lines of old Honda Elements, but nothing bold by today’s standards.
Which is fine I guess.
It’s just fine.
I’m not the target audience. Sure.
I feel old and grumpy! Maybe I’m so old, grumpy and cynical that I will never be any companies target audience ever again (I know.. there’s that one aisle at every drugstore. You know the one if you’ve ever laughed at it or purchased things from it while laughing at yourself and feeling sorry for laughing at it when you were younger).
Kia, you would have had me with an electric AWD, gun metal green SOUL.
But you chose to make just another meaningless bloatmobile in grayscale.
I’ll accept the bloat when I’m dead.
Where was I?…
Oh… I wore an onion on my belt because that was the style of the time…
We had a president that stood for something.
Cool Coolidge we called him…
.. And the gas station attendant would fill my crankcase with pure petroleum distillates and re-vulcanize my tires post haste!!!… without a modicum of disrespect…
I’ll accept the bloat when I have no other choice. Until then.. I choose to drive fun things.
I would imagine that swivel seat would make ingress and egress much easier for someone with physical disablements. This might be a great option for people who are caretakers if it truly makes it easier.
“There are still physical buttons, “
“Okay, maybe there are a bunch.”
Oh Torch, you really DO care! I realize what an effort it must have taken to not write “There’s still physical buttons…”
I, for one, sincerely appreciate it.
Direct Rivian R1S competitor starting ~$20k less. I assume Kia will be able to scale up production faster than Rivian. This thing will print money for Kia assuming their dealers don’t screw it up. I expect to see a lot of these in the middle of the country, where almost every driveway has a body on frame SUV and a pickup truck.
I’m not quite the target demographic for this family truckster, but those geometric box flares make me feel some kind of way…
Nice to see a new crossover that isn’t just a swoopy techno egg. Though they look nothing alike, it reminds me of the Honda Element or maybe the original Scion XB. Hopefully a sign of more interesting cars to come.
This EV9 would look good in colours though, I could see bronze, medium kelly green or burnt orange really setting off the facets of the bodywork. Same for the interior, the white/light grey looks really dull and kind of dated, like ‘hip tech startup’ office furniture from 5 years ago.
Torch, the e-GMP cars all have active grille shutters in the lower bumper. The Ioniq 5 disguises them much better than this though.
I definitely like the styling and Hyundai/Kia EVs overall. I think they find a nice middle ground of designing EVs that look futuristic but are still rooted in established car shapes. The Ioniq 5 is a hatchback, the Ioniq 6 is a fastback sedan, the EV6 is a wagon like crossover, etc. They look good and interesting without looking completely absurd like, say, a Model X. They’ve also kept a lot of traditional switchgear in them, and that appears to be present here. It’s better than having to dig through menus on a tablet to open the damn glovebox, as you say Torch.
This almost looks like a cyberpunk 4Runner or Land Cruiser to me. I think they’ve found a good balance and I’m sure that with all their EV tech it’ll be competitive range and charging wise. They’ll probably sell a lot of them as long as they can avoid too many of the usual Kia/Hyundai QC hiccups…which is a big if. Hopefully it won’t be made by child labor, be easily stolen with a USB cable, etc.
No one will deny that the designs are unique and that their products are very competitive in a lot of classes…but they’re still making too many mistakes build wise and it’s making it harder for them to finally shake their lackluster reputation that’s haunted them for 30 years in the States.
Too bad it has the stupid electric only door handles.
“if you live in a research lab in a sci-fi movie, this car should be at the top of your list”
Dammit. Now I have spit up pudding on my shirt.
Well played Torch.
Hi. I’m still alive.
Also, I’m a fan. This looks like a pretty solid entry to me. The swivel seats are pretty fantastic. Aside from fishing and playing a game of rummy – both excellent use cases, btw – they also look like they’d benefit parents of young children that need to load them into (front-facing) car seats on a daily basis. They do make some expensive car seats that swivel so you don’t have to break your back, but this looks like a better solution.
Also really want to know the cargo area dimensions with seats flat. I haul sheets of wood, drywall, etc on a semi-regular basis. If this thing can swallow a 4’x8’ load, I’d probably plop down a reservation – depending on MSRP.
I expect it will probably be out of our budget, in which case, I can’t wait to pick up a high-mileage used one for $15k.
“they’d benefit parents of young children that need to load them into (front-facing) car seats”
Yep, as a parent of 3 little ones, this is the first thought I had as well.
That under bumper area reminds me of Richard Kiel (RIP) as Jaws in Moonraker. Not necessarily a bad thing BTW.
I can’t say I like it. It looks very of-the-moment and contemporary, but will not age well. I also think the interior looks cheap and unoriginal, taking themes from more-expensive luxury cars and distilling them down to a lower price.
But I think I’m in the minority. Most people will like it, and if those leaked documents are true, it’s priced competitively.
If Torch doesn’t show up to the journalist review of this thing decked out in fishing gear, I don’t know even know why we’re here.
I’m not usually a fan of triangular D-pillars, but this execution works for me. And I love the radically different taillights. When we drive we see the ass end of vehicles ahead of us a lot longer than the faces of oncoming vehicles, yet many rear treatments look like afterthoughts and are indistinguishable from others. These certainly won’t be confused with something else — at least until someone copies them.
“if you’re stuck charging”
seems strange to use “stuck” in there.
I mean, nobody LIKES refuelling their car. Whether it is petroleum or electrons.
Of course, we don’t fill the car with electrons, we just move them from one half-cell to the other.
I mean… it’s kind of one of the definitions of the word:
“be fixed in a particular position or unable to move or be moved.”
When your car needs fuel (regardless of type), you are stuck while you get more of said fuel.
What’s strange about that?
I have a telluride and a model 3. This may be the next family car because I have 4 kids and an actual NEED for a 3 row vehicle. I did love van before it died an early death. We’ve talked a lot about the idbuzz as well
Is it going to have a Hummer size battery?
I’m confused. I thought this article was about a Mazda MX-30.