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.
As a kid I remember riding in some rear facing wagon jumpseats. It was simply the best thing for a kid. The leftover kid bits in me (actually my wife would say I’m still a kid) loves this second row option. All vehicles should have this option. Even if you can’t stretch your legs out in your Opel GT because the AC takes up all the space. It would still be cool.
I love this design. Really unique surfacing, but normal, boxy proportions. And totally recognizable as a Kia. Well done.
My brain told me the first three interior shots were converted to greyscale.
The disease from Game of Thrones?
“Hey, AI bot: Make me a car that looks like a Volvo EX90, a Polestar 3, and a Kia Telluride. And give it the interior of a modern conversion van.”
Needs a pedestal mount on the floor for a table so that passengers can drink, smoke and gamble while charging.
I’m surprised it doesn’t. Chrysler vans had a table with their swivel seat option back in 2008.
Hyundai/Kia is really knocking it out of the park with their new EVs but the whole child labor and immobilizer fiascos really tainted the brand for me
For me its also about some of the awful quality control issues that brand has been having.