Let’s take a closer look at Kia’s new EV9. It is inspired by Kia’s “Opposites United” design philosophy which “harnesses the creative tension generated by the divergent values of nature and modernity to deliver a harmonious whole”. Looking at the exterior of the EV9 you can see an evolved, and somewhat more mainstream design that has evolved from the concept revealed in late 2021. On the interior, we also see a more down to earth cabin that still looks modern, innovative and sophisticated, if not as futuristic as the concepts (which isn’t a bad thing per se). The E-GMP flat-floor EV architecture “amplifies” interior space and the swiveling second-row seats can turn 180 degrees to face rearward so passengers can interact with those in the third row. Apparently, in the upper trims, the 3rd row seats will also be power folding too and 6, or 7, passenger seating options will be available. Clearly, there is a lot to appreciate in this impressive new design.
Looking more closely at the exterior, perhaps the most striking feature are the EV9’s headlight and grill. The bold, clean, and chiseled lines draw the eye to its vertically stacked headlights that are part of what Kia calls its “Digital Pattern Lighting Grille”. It is the focal point of Kia’s “Digital Tiger Face” and features two clusters of small cube shaped lamps embedded in the bodywork and adjacent to each headlamp. The embedded lights themselves are referred to as “Star Map LED daytime running lights” and, with the vertical headlights and other LED lighting surrounds complete Kia’s Digital Tiger Face, a design that will carry through to future EV models, too. The EV9’s rugged and sporty looks are formed by the bulging, angular lines above all four wheels, its swept back windshield, and the substantial spoiler protruding over its mostly vertical rear hatch. It’s unquestionably a handsome vehicle that seems like it would be highly sought after by the SUV obsessed American shopper, at least those who want a larger, 3 row vehicle that just happens to be an EV.
That may be something of a sticking point actually. Though the EV9 does not mark itself as an EV per se, it most certainly is. It’s striking good looks should be quite appealing, but because 3 row SUVs are often selected by families that need to haul a lot of people or stuff over medium to long distances it is possible some shoppers will check their enthusiasm when the see the expected range or come to understand the duration of charging sessions on less than optimal fast charging equipment. Not that this should matter all that much; families on long road trips need to take breaks for food, bodily functions of children, pets and drivers, to sleep, shop and so on. As long as EVs can charge at greater than 150 kW, in the time it takes to do those things an EV like this one can easily attain an 20% - 80% charge. Plug into chargers that can only supply less than 150 kW though, and it may take longer (even a good deal longer). Since NPR claimed only 11% of car shoppers even consider EVs, and assuming that is accurate, all of this may be a moot point. Kia is unlikely to have any trouble selling these at least at first; there simply aren’t any comparably sized 3 row EV SUVs in the price range the EV9 will likely debut at (starting around $56,000 MSRP according to Car and Driver). So even if more traditional SUV buyers are turned off by its range, or having to stop for charging more than they would for gas, those who are intent on getting an SUV, especially those who want a vehicle as large and capable as this one, Kia likely will be able to move every single one it can ship for a good stretch of time.
On the inside, Kia has prioritized space, comfort and technology. There seems to be ample cargo and passenger space, even with all three rows of seating in use. All three rows appear to lay flat for a large, extended cargo area. The dashboard has two 12.3-inch touch screens integrated with a single 5-inch display between them (for HVAC and other controls). The infotainment system is an “entirely new” generation according to Car and Driver and it has few physical button controls, with most features being controlled by (flat) touch-sensitive controls in the dash or via the infotainment UI.
So what do you think dear readers? Are you excited about the EV9? Would you be eager to take it on any road trips, or would prefer to use it more as a short to medium distance commuter and family hauler? Would a PHEV be more your style, and if so, why? Please leave your comments and questions below.
Images courtesy of Kia.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.