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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