It’s been roughly two weeks since the 2024 Kia EV9 debuted, and details are starting trickling out about the first mass-market large three-row electric crossover we’ll see in America. With oodles of tech and a focus on safety, you can almost think of this flagship Kia as a Volvo EX90 for people who don’t have accountants.
Autonomy is still making waves in the car industry, and the EV9 is stepping things up for Kia. Two LIDAR units and 13 other sensors will allow the EV9 to eventually operate with conditional Level 3 autonomy in certain jurisdictions. While Jason has detailed the many ways that Level 3 autonomy is confusing garbage, I’d argue that Level 3 autonomy can be useful, if only for the legal ramifications over Level 2 autonomy. In several jurisdictions, when a vehicle that can be operated as a Level 3 autonomous vehicle is sold, the manufacturer takes on certain responsibilities. For instance, in France, the manufacturer assumes liability for collisions that may occur when using Level 3 autonomy. In other jurisdictions, manufacturers may take at least a share of responsibility as product liability. While Level 3 autonomy might not be a huge step up from Level 2 autonomy, its impact on the various legal systems of the world will be important.
Of course, outside of Level 3 autonomy, the EV9 has all manner of advanced driver assistance systems. There’s a forward collision avoidance system, a rearward collision avoidance system, a blind spot collision avoidance system, a parking collision avoidance system, a speed limit assistance system, a lane keeping assistance system, and a navigation-linked adaptive cruise control system. That’s a lot of systems.
Boring stuff over, let’s talk about what makes the EV9 go. The base standard range model gets a 76.1 kWh battery pack feeding a 160 kW motor on the rear axle. That’s about 214 horsepower, which paired with 258 lb.-ft. of torque, should be enough to get around. Step up to the RWD Long Range model and you get a bigger 99.8 kWh battery pack, but a less powerful 150 kW motor. Torque is identical, but we’re still looking at a 13-horsepower hit with the added weight of a bigger battery pack. Finally, the top-dog AWD model gets the big 99.8 kWh battery pack and two electric motors. Combined output clocks in at 379 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. Nice.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, single-motor EV9 models are refreshingly slow. The RWD Long Range model will saunter from zero-to-62 mph in 9.4 seconds, while the RWD Standard Range model clocks a quicker yet still pleasantly sedate time of 8.2 seconds. Step up to the dual-motor model, and you’re looking at zero-to-62 in six seconds flat. Still quick, but not nearly as quick as, say, a Ford Explorer ST. As for range, Kia claims that the RWD Long Range model on 19-inch wheels will go 336 miles on a charge using the optimistic WLTP cycle. Either way, the EV9 packs an 800-volt high-voltage architecture, so if you can find a working 350 kW charger, you can juice up in a jiffy.
Unfortunately, the EV9 marks the moment that Kia went all-in on subscription services and extra-cost digital features. From aesthetic alterations like exterior lighting patterns to infotainment content, the Kia Connect store is said to be full of ways to extract more money from drivers. Want a quicker car? Pay for Boost Mode in the app store for the dual-motor model and cut seven tenths of a second off your zero-to-62 time. Want to park your EV9 without being in it? That’s a digital option too. On the one hand, it’s kind of cool that you can change lighting patterns without having to crack open the light housings and retrofit new hardware, but if a car already has the hardware to support features like quicker acceleration and remote parking, it feels like gouging to not include the software.
Pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the Kia EV9, but a leaked customer survey suggests that this electric crossover will start in the mid-$50,000 range and go into the mid-$70,000 range for the top trim. For context, the Volvo EX90 will start around $80,000, and the current cheapest large three-row electric SUV, the Rivian R1S, starts at $78,000. Should Kia swing well beneath that premium price bracket, the EV9 should be a smash hit. Oh, and if you want a faster, posher EV9, Car And Driver reports that Kia will soon make a hot EV9 GT.
Expect the Kia EV9 to go on sale sometime in the second half of the year, and we could learn more information about the U.S.-spec model as soon as next week, seeing how Kia has scheduled a press conference at the New York International Auto Show. Needless to say, we’re keeping our eyeballs peeled for more info on this blocky crossover.
(Photo credits: Kia)
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Damn subscriptions….I guess you’ll never really own a new car from now on outright. Kinda like land ownership….smh
I suppose there are examples of companies selling detuned ICE engines where the more expensive version is just them turning up the power knob, but this sounds exactly like the kind of subscription dystopia everyone hates. I can only hope this gets blowback on the same level as the BMW heated seat BS.
Even if this isn’t a subscription and it’s a one-time payment, 1) why isn’t it just an option to check when you buy the car and 2) why are you spending the money to put performance parts on a car that most of your customers will never be able to use? It’s a complete waste, and if I’m buying a $70k Kia I’m not expecting to get nickle-and-dimed to death like I foolishly booked a flight on Spirit Airlines. This isn’t a free-to-play model where they let you in the door for cheap and make it up on the backend, this is an expensive car where they’re trying to reach even further into your pocket after you’ve already emptied your wallet.
I hope I speak for everyone when I say: @#$% off, Kia!
The more I read about this thing the more I dislike it. I like the styling and think the rest is crap. What a waste.
Boy, it would be nice if it was classically good looking instead of leaning so hard into “cyber techno road warrior” that it becomes a joke.
I wonder what the future looks like for these subscription service cars. Companies don’t tend to like to host servers forever and once the usage drops to a certain level they tend to shut them down. Think Nintendo killing off the e-shops for their older consoles. When the digital support for these older products are deprecated, what happens to those features?
A potential $70,000 Kia. Wow, that seems crazy.
I had a hard time reconciling the almost $60k price for the EV6 as I stood next to one at a Kia dealership. Too much plastic and unnecessary bumps and contours…
I’m curious to see where the price comes out on this, if Kia is able to undercut the big dogs it puts the company in a prime spot to be like they were in the 90’s (only less crappy). I like to think the EV9 is going to be a good SUV, but will Kia software be able to compete with Rivian or Tesla for those that like that sort of thing?
Can we take a moment to appreciate that we’ve entered a bizarro world where the 3-row Kia EV9 ($55k-$75kish) is being undercut by *Mercedes* with the 3-row EQB ($53k-$65k)? I mean, I know the EV9 is bigger, but man, this is the weirdest timeline.
Also, screw automotive DLC. Kia should know better. The younger, tech savvy consumer who Kia is targetting already has experience with microtransactions thanks to the likes of EA Games. No thanks.
I had no idea Merc sell an EV at that price.I’d love to hear the reasons given by actual buyers why they choose the Kia.
Not against Kia.I’d probably choose it and my reasons would be reliability and lower priced parts.Coz we know Merc would put *something* expensive and unreliable in theirs.
But for most buyers who don’t think of those aspects, why are they rejecting the Merc? It’s a hilarious situation
The MB is still very much a compliance type car. Its a GLB with batteries crammed in it. I don’t think its particularly special, especially for an MB. That said this KIA looks to be shaping up more like a turd as well.
And surprisingly small in person. Considered as the upgrade from my 328D to get the third row but it’s a net net much smaller car.
Much of the digital subscription features feels like the modern version of the push for dealer-supplied OEM customization accessories, like Scion had. Some might have some practical use like the parking thing, but exterior lighting seems like a “gee whiz” thing that everyone will forget about.
Also I can’t help but think the DOT is going to be in the front row ready to grab the mic and interrupt at the U.S. unveil if they try to say you can buy exterior lighting patterns whenever you want.
Really interested to see the pricing on this – feels like it’s going to be too close to Volvo/polestar / R1S territory, for my liking.
Just can’t believe we’re in a place where $80k is the norm.