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First Mainstream Electric Three-Row SUV

  • These are the first photos and video of the production 2024 Kia EV9, an electric three-row SUV.
  • Its bluff and blocky looks stay true to the EV9 concept from 2021.
  • Although we sat in each of the EV9’s three spacious rows, Kia won’t yet confirm any details on its powertrain, battery pack, range, or even dimensions. We expect those details to be announced at the EV9’s official debut in early April.

In both size and mission, you can think of the 2024 Kia EV9 as an electric Telluride, and we’re sure Kia would love for its latest EV to have the breakout success of that gas-powered SUV. The EV9’s debut is an especially big deal because it’s the first electric entry in the popular mid-size, three-row SUV segment, where vehicles such as the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Toyota Highlander, and, of course, Kia Telluride sell by the hundreds of thousands a year in the U.S. Sure, there are a couple three-row EVs available, such as the Rivian R1S or the Tesla Model X, but both of those are way more expensive. And the Model Y can be had with an optional third row, but it’s tiny.

These first photos of the production EV9, one of 15 EVs Kia has promised by 2027, show that it adheres pretty closely to the concept that was shown at the Los Angeles show back in 2021. The Kia design team, led by Karim Habib, describes the EV9’s exterior as “refined boxiness,” a mix of sharp edges—such as the triangle shapes that jut out from the rear doors, a less dramatic version than was on the concept—but also many rounded forms. It has presence, with high shoulders but a low beltline for good visibility. Expect to see these vertical head- and taillight designs on future Kias. This early build prototype is wearing 21-inch wheels, but 19s and 20s also will be offered. The wheel inserts are also very sharp edged, with both square and triangle options on display at the event we attended in Seoul to get up close with the EV9.

Everything’s Big but the Frunk

Kia has yet to confirm the EV9’s powertrain, battery capacity, range, or even dimensions, but we can say from standing next to it that it adheres closely to the dimensions of the EV9 concept, which are similar to those of the Telluride but with an eight-inch wheelbase stretch. This is no teardrop-shaped EV, and the tall and flat roofline makes for excellent headroom in the second and third rows, even for extremely tall adults. The only thing small about the EV9 is its tiny frunk. But of course aerodynamics are especially important on EVs, and small details such as the rear spoiler that extends from the roofline is alone responsible for a considerable improvement—0.006 to 0.007 according to Habib—to the EV9’s coefficient of drag.

Again, Kia isn’t talking dimensions yet, but compared with the Telluride, the second row is at least as spacious—with generous fore-aft adjustability—and the third row has more legroom and especially headroom. Second-row seats also swivel to face the rear—remember Chrysler’s Swivel ‘n Go launched on its 2008 minivan?—but the space remaining between them in this configuration is tight. The EV9 will come in either six- or seven-passenger variants, depending on whether the second row has buckets or a bench. In uplevel models, the third row is power folding.

A Spacious Interior with Details That Make it Feel Even More So

In addition to actual spaciousness, Jochen Paesen, the VP of interior design, describes the deliberate choices to make the EV9’s interior feel even airier than it is. For example, they chose not to do a dash design that wraps around into the doors, as that can lead to an impression of feeling closed in. For the same reason, the headrests on the front seats are mesh so rear passengers can see past them. The dash is horizontal and minimalist, and what looks like one giant screen protruding from it is two 12.3-inch screens—one for the gauge cluster and a second for infotainment—with a dedicated HVAC readout between them. Physical knobs and buttons are reduced compared to Kia’s current lineup, with just a few key HVAC controls and a volume knob remaining, along with touch-sensitive controls embedded in the dash to jump to different menus. This is an entirely new generation of infotainment, but Kia isn’t yet talking details or features of this new system just yet.

Based on information from a survey Kia ran, we expect the EV9 to come with either a single rear motor or one at each axle for all-wheel drive and to be priced in the $50,000 to $70,000 neighborhood. The EV9 concept claimed 300 miles of range, and that jibes with the readout in the display of this early prototype, which showed 91 percent battery and 436 km (271 miles) to empty. The concept also promises even faster charging than the EV6, which is already one of the quickest we’ve tested.

We expect many of these questions to be answered very soon at the EV9’s official debut in late March, and Kia says it will be on sale by the very end of 2023 or early 2024.

Director, Vehicle Testing

Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in varied roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leading Car and Driver‘s vehicle-testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start at C/D by happening to submit an unsolicited resume at just the right time to land a part-time road warrior job when he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became enthralled with the world of automotive journalism.

#Mainstream #Electric #ThreeRow #SUV

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