Barely straying from the concept model first shown in Los Angeles in November 2021, the three-row model will be offered in a variety of configurations and offer the new hands-free Highway Driving Pilot technology.
Kia has big aspirations in the EV market, with plans to launch seven all-electric models by 2027. It’s already scored big with its first entry into the segment, the EV6 crossover recently named North American Car of the Year. Now, it hopes to deliver another big hit with the debut of the EV9.
First unveiled in concept form at the 2021 Los Angeles Motor Show, EV9 shares the same underlying “architecture” as the EV6, though here it’s stretched to allow for a third row. With its high roofline and key drivetrain components mounted under the load floor, the back row will offer more than enough room for adults — as the 6’2” design chief Karim Habib demonstrated during a media webcast on Monday.
Kia EV9: Extended Range
Kia has yet to reveal full details about the new model’s drivetrain technology, but President and CEO Ho Sung Song noted it will be offered in a variety of different configurations, including both front and all-wheel-drive. There also will be both standard and extended-range battery packs.
The larger pack will have a capacity of 99.8 kWh, enough, he said, to deliver up to 541 km, or 336 miles, per charge. However, that is based on the global WLTP standard. The U.S. EPA ratings typically come in about 25% lower.
EV9 uses an 800V electrical system which permits faster charging. Though full details also will be released later, Kia said motorists will be able to add as much as 239 km, or about 150 miles, of range in just 15 minutes.
EV9 GT Model Coming
Still other powertrain options will follow, according to Song who said, “We are aware of the demand for high-performance electrified vehicles.”
An EV9 GT model is in the works and will debut in 2025, he revealed.
I loved the EV6 GT, so I have high hopes.
GT Gets Highway Driving Assist
The EV9 GT model will add more than just higher performance. It will be the first Kia to offer the automaker’s new Lidar-based Highway Driving Assist.
In technical terms, it will be a Level 3 semi-autonomous system that will go beyond current technologies like General Motors’ Super Cruise or Tesla’s Autopilot. Motorists not only will be able to drive hands-free but they can also divert their attention away from the road, perhaps texting or watching videos on the infotainment system. They will, however, be required to stay at the ready to retake control of the vehicle in an emergency.
Currently, Mercedes-Benz is the only automaker selling a true Level 3 system — but its Drive Pilot is limited to speeds below 35 miles an hour. It is unclear what the operating range for Kia’s system will be.
Kia Digital Updates
Like most new vehicles, the Kia EV9 can handle smartphone-style over-the-air updates. That can be used to revise onboard software, and even address some recalls. But Kia has other plans in store.
Owners will be able to remotely add new features to their vehicles, including some they might not have chosen at the time of purchase, explained Spencer Cho, head of global business planning. Other features might be introduced later, he explained, adding that they will be offered “either as a one-time purchase or on a subscription basis.”
The EV9 will feature an array of lights built into the front fascia, and motorists might choose to download new lighting patterns to give their EV9 a unique appearance.
Kia EV9 Design
The new SUV picks up on Kia’s “opposites united” design language, explained Habib. That’s apparent in a profile view. EV9 features crisp angles around its low-drag wheels, but the rest of the body adopts a smoothly sculpted shape with only the most subtle of character lines.
Up front, EV9 introduces a new approach to the trademark Kia “tiger nose” grille. Here, it integrates the front lighting and small intakes needed to cool the motor drive and battery pack — something Habib calls a “tiger mask.”
EV9 features a long, flat roof that flows into the longest integrated spoiler on any Kia model, and unlike most modern battery-electric vehicles, it gets a rear windshield wiper.
With its flat load floor and recessed instrument panel, the cabin is designed to emphasize EV9’s roominess. But there’s also a focus on technology, with large twin digital displays.
A high priority for the program was sustainability, said Marilia Biill, who oversaw the development of interior fabrics and finishes. Instead of using leather, it features a fabric using corn and other sustainable materials to create a similar look and feel. Recycled materials from pop bottles and fishing nets also are used for textiles and other surfaces.
“Our real goal was to have sustainability at scale,” said Biill, noting that these materials will be used on all EV9 trim levels.
2024 Kia EV9: Pricing & Availability
Expect the EV9 to be the most expensive model in the Kia lineup, according to industry analysts. That reflects the premium most manufacturers charge for their all-electric models.
Kia plans to reveal pricing closer to launch, according to CEO Song — who acknowledged that it is following what competitors are up to before locking down firm numbers.
That said, it won’t take long. The automaker will begin taking orders for the 2024 Kia EV9 in the South Korean market during the second quarter of this year. It will open up orders in North and South America, as well as Europe and some other markets during the second half of 2023.
Expect to see the EV9 strongly influence the next generation of Kia battery-electric vehicles. It will be “a source of inspiration for future EV models,” said Song, and “will play a key role in how the Kia brand is defined going forward.”