Kia EV9 SUV: A Family-Friendly Electric Giant Enters the Untapped Market

Kia EV9 SUV: A Family-Friendly Electric Giant Enters the Untapped Market

Evaluation: The 2024 Kia EV9 – A Big Leap into Electric for Family-Sized Vehicles

The question arises, where can one find a large electric SUV suitable for the average family?

They haven’t arrived. What we currently see is a selection of almost family-sized electric crossovers featuring sporty silhouettes, along with an increasing group of genuinely roomy electric SUVs that come with high-end pricing.

Kia is poised for a significant chance to make an impact with the upcoming launch of their 2024 EV9 SUV. During a private track preview last month, as noted by Green Car Reports, it appears to be the perfect fit for a market that has yet to be fully explored.

I had the opportunity to experience and drive the EV9 for the first time at Hyundai and Kia’s proving grounds in California. However, I wasn’t authorized to take these prototypes, which are ready for production and designed for international markets, onto public streets just yet.

The EV9 presents an appealing package for families, featuring three spacious rows of seats, a projected EPA range of over 250 miles for most models, a unique manufacturer-backed two-way charging system that’s unparalleled in the EV market, and a calm, cushy driving experience that stands out among the many performance-focused electric crossovers currently available.

Upcoming 2024 model of the Kia

Upcoming 2024 Kia Electric Vehicle Model

2024 Model of Kia EV9

EV9’s Aesthetic: Influences from Telluride, Soul, and Futuristic Elements

The futuristic elements in the EV9’s design might give a misleading impression. When displayed on a pedestal or crammed into a compact exhibition space, the EV9 has a dominating presence, with a bold stance and sharp, modern lines. However, when it’s observed from afar, stationed in a wide-open parking area, the EV9’s shape seems to expand, bearing a closer resemblance to an enlarged version of Kia’s Soul, which is certainly a positive comparison.

Based on its dimensions and shape, the EV9 can be described as the electric version of the widely favored Telluride SUV.

The dimensions of the Kia EV9 come in at a length of 197.2 inches, a width of 77.9 inches, and a height that reaches 70.1 inches. This positions the EV9 as slightly more sizeable in comparison to the Audi Q8 E-Tron, BMW iX, or Cadillac Lyriq, which all feature only two rows of seats. Conversely, it falls a bit short in size relative to the Mercedes-Benz EQS, Volvo EX90, or Tesla Model X, each of which has the option for a third row of seating.

This places it incredibly close, differing by just a small fraction of an inch, to the Telluride in almost all significant measurements, yet its 122.0-inch wheelbase extends roughly seven inches more than the Telluride’s.

Although the SUV has a robust appearance, it somewhat challenges aerodynamic efficiency. However, with its considerable frontal surface, it achieves a respectable 0.28 drag coefficient, especially in the premium GT-Line model.

Upcoming 2024 Kia Electric Vehicle Model

Kia claims that the EV9, despite its squared design and seating across three rows, is capable of achieving up to 300 miles per the EPA’s standards with a battery capacity below 100 kwh.

The majority of vehicles in the EV9 series are expected to be equipped with a battery pack of 99.8 kilowatt-hours. This range consists of various trims such as Light, Wind, Land, and the GT-Line. The entry-level Light model, which features rear-wheel drive and is powered by the aforementioned battery, will produce 201 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and is projected to reach a range of 300 miles. In contrast, the other models with dual motors are anticipated to deliver 379 horsepower and a torque of up to 516 pound-feet, with the EPA’s estimated range falling between 243 to 270 miles.

The entry-level Light version, equipped solely with a single motor, will come with a more compact 76.1-kWh battery pack, delivering 215 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, along with an approximate driving distance of 223 miles on a single charge.

Models in the Light range equipped with the larger battery pack can include a heat pump as an optional feature, while it comes as a standard feature on all other models that

2024 Model of Kia EV9

Experience behind the wheel of the Kia EV9—exclusive track review

Each model I tested was the premium GT-Line with all-wheel drive, delivering acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.

I began my evaluation on a vast, flat circular track by examining the vehicle’s pick-up over a straightway close to a quarter-mile in length. After a series of full-throttle bursts, I engaged in some lively maneuvering on the track, which highlighted the distinct characteristics of the EV9’s various driving settings—particularly the high-end model’s assertive take-off. Through my tests, I observed that although Normal and Sport modes ultimately provide equal levels of power (and similar acceleration rates), with both reaching speeds near 97 mph, Sport mode presents a more responsive feel at the onset of acceleration without fully engaging the throttle. Conversely, Eco mode not only tempers the throttle response but also scales down the power output; while Kia did not provide exact figures, this mode reduced my top speeds by about 10 mph during those tests.

Test spin of the 2024 Kia EV9 concept model

Test run of the 2024 Kia EV9 model prototype

Be cautious as Kia indicates that the top performing model in their series, the Light version with a single motor and a 99.8-kwh battery, takes 8.8 seconds to reach 60 mph, making it not as fast as one might expect.

The concept of slow may be deceptive. Kia’s EV9 will introduce the option for owners to enhance their vehicle’s features through remote updates, though it will come with an additional fee. For example, those with the intermediate model, normally capable of 443 lb-ft of torque, will have the opportunity to access the maximum 516 lb-ft torque available in the GT Line.

Test run of the 2024 Kia EV9 model in

On a restricted high-speed track, I had the opportunity to push the EV9 to speeds that exceeded those typical on highways. During this time, I was able to assess the vehicle’s active lane management capabilities and its enhanced lane tracking feature, which is slated to be included in the optional Advanced Driving Assist (AHDA) package. This package will also incorporate Lidar technology for the EV9. The car maintained a steady follow behind leading vehicles at standard U.S. highway speeds and remained stable up to around 80 mph. However, I noticed a slight digital wavering when traveling at speeds higher than that.

During my experience, I had the opportunity to accelerate the EV9 beyond 105 mph, and I can confirm that not only does it maintain steadiness at that speed, but it’s also impressively silent. Kia attributes this to the use of tires designed for noise reduction and windows that are soundproof, contributing to a more upscale ambiance that might surprise some buyers. The company also highlights that the EV9’s interior noise levels at 55 mph match those of a Range Rover, yet it surpasses the Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 4Matic in terms of cornering ability (0.84g). Additionally, Kia boasts that the EV9 outperforms these competitors in braking capability.

Upcoming Kia Electric Vehicle Model: EV9

Testing the EV9’s agility and control

I had the opportunity to test the EV9’s performance on a controlled track with tight turns marked by cones, which allowed me to explore its dynamic capabilities to the fullest. It’s clear that the EV9 offers stable and predictable handling around corners. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t expect the same sharp, handling-oriented power distribution found in the EV6. The EV9’s drive and grip have been configured with a greater emphasis on caution. When the EV9 is maneuvered swiftly into a sharp bend, the limits of the Hankook tires‘ grip become apparent, along with a slight lean. Nevertheless, the substantial weight of the battery situated low in the vehicle structure gives the EV9 an advantage in stability, reducing the amount of tilt more so than you’d typically experience in traditional gas-powered SUVs with three rows of seating.

The top-of-the-line GT-Line variant of the EV9 that I tested tips the scales at almost 5,900 pounds, yet despite its considerable heft and gentle setup, the sizable electric SUV handles with unexpected agility. The engineers responsible for the EV9 attribute its capacity to manage body movement, even with the gentle setup, to the unique implementation of the five-link rear suspension system, which differs from what’s been seen in other E-GMP models up to this point. It definitely plays a crucial role in reducing the forward lurch during aggressive braking and the rear dip and rise that happens during rapid accelerations.

Test drive of the 2024 Kia EV9 concept model

Kia’s test drive likely pushed the EV9’s suspension to its limits in ways that a typical drive on public streets might not, except for one aspect. I didn’t get the chance to aggressively take corners on a rough road to see how the suspension manages the vehicle’s weight distribution.

The propulsion mechanism is designed in such a way that increasing power to the back wheels by pressing the gas pedal is not an option. Although in the EV6, you might be able to slide the rear end around in certain scenarios with spirited driving and the correct setting, the EV9 at no point allows for this behavior. After all, it’s intended as a family car, isn’t it?

Upcoming 2024 Model from Kia:

Previewing the Kia EV9’s capabilities on a controlled track encompassed a bit of light off-road testing. The vehicle boasts a 4WD Lock feature which balances the power distribution between the front and rear through electronic synchronization of the motors, enhancing the large SUV’s agility on rough paths. This function proved its effectiveness on a dusty path composed of soft gravel and uneven earth. However, the system automatically turns off once the vehicle exceeds 31 mph, or if it detects that the car is back on a regular road, as I was informed.

The EV9 boasts a reasonable ground clearance of 7.8 inches, but impresses more with its ability to wade through 19.5 inches of water. The compact overhangs on the vehicle contribute to effective approach and departure angles, although caution is advised for the breakover angle due to the vehicle’s central bulk. During a challenging 22-degree incline and decline filled with dust, the EV9’s hill descent and traction controls operated flawlessly.

The vehicle will have the ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds, and its software will recognize the weight being hauled to modify the travel distance

Upcoming 2024 Kia Electric Vehicle Model

Upcoming 2024 Model from Kia,

Upcoming 2024 Model from Kia,

Is this a Telluride with an electric twist? Actually, it’s even more impressive on the inside. 

As I took my time experiencing the driver’s seat, exploring the cabin space, and eventually hitting the road in this electric SUV, it became clear that it was quite different from an electric Telluride. Tailoring the seat to fit my tall 6-foot-6 frame, I lowered the seat base and adjusted the backrest to a more vertical position. This setup provided me with a superior driving stance compared to what I’ve found in both the EV6 and Telluride, offering an unobstructed view and ample headspace.

Car manufacturers often praise the way electric vehicles (EVs) and their skateboard-style bases allow for more efficient use of space, but this doesn’t always translate to more room for passengers. Take the Kia EV6 as an example; it shares its foundational platform with the EV9, yet surprisingly offers less headroom and legroom. However, with the EV9, Kia has successfully designed a full-sized crossover that accommodates its substantial battery pack without sacrificing interior space. The design features a more level roof that stretches straight back, only dipping near the third-row seating.

Traveling solo, the impressively outfitted Ford Flex caught my attention. The entry and exit process is a breeze, thanks to the ample door openings, and the modifiable second-row seats enhance the ease of reaching the third row. Entering the back row was a simple task for me, yet once the second-row seats were restored to their place, the space for legs felt snug, although there was plenty of overhead space.

Test run of the 2024 Kia EV9 model prototype

The reason for the centered focus might be straightforward: It’s one of the rare vehicles with three rows where the hip-level seating in the back row isn’t noticeably raised compared to the front rows.

Additionally, the EV9 features cupholders and USB-C connections for the passengers in the second and third rows. There’s a two-tiered central console that stretches from the front seats to the vicinity of the second row. It offers a retractable storage compartment which can be accessed by the second-row occupants through a drawer that slides out.

Upcoming 2024 Kia Electric Vehicle Model

Test run of the 2024 Kia EV9 model prototype

Test drive of the 2024 Kia EV9 model prototype

When configured to seat passengers across all three rows, the available storage space is slightly more than 20 cubic feet. However, if you collapse the two back rows, the space for hauling items grows to almost 82 cubic feet. Additionally, there’s a modest-sized front trunk that can snugly fit a charging cord for your phone and a small bag or case for your computer.

The interior experience isn’t entirely blissful. The design of the controls seems to regress, moving away from the efficient and streamlined button strip found in the EV6, opting to shift more functions to the touchscreen. Both the 12.3-inch instrument panel and the climate controls are now housed under a single, continuous cover, extending to the 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that manages various car functions. However, our view could evolve after a longer period of use with this new setup.

Quasar 2 Wallbox paired with the Kia EV9

Kia has announced that its upcoming EV9, set to release towards the end of this year, will be equipped with cutting-edge two-way charging capabilities. This feature positions the EV9 as the sole electric SUV with three rows of seating to offer the rapid 800-volt charging technology. The entry-level version, which comes with a smaller battery, can be powered up to 236 kilowatts, achieving a charge from 10% to 80% in just 20 minutes. Meanwhile, models with the larger battery can reach up to 215 kilowatts and accomplish the same charging level in 24 minutes. For home charging using a Level 2 system with a 48-amp charger (which needs a 60-amp circuit), the charging times are 6.75 hours and 8.75 hours for the smaller and larger batteries, respectively.

Kia has highlighted that the EV9 will stand out as the inaugural electric vehicle in the United States to feature a manufacturer-endorsed two-way charging capability via the Wallbox Quasar 2. This feature will support both home energy backup and integration with the electric grid. Not only will owners have the capacity to supply electricity to their homes during outages or periods of reduced power availability, but they will also have the opportunity to contribute electricity back to the grid or possibly use it in conjunction with home solar setups and energy reserves. This is an option that neither Tesla nor any other company currently provides, and it’s expected to be accessible by the first half of 2024.

Quasar 2 Wallbox Compatible with Kia EV9

Kia, along with its affiliate brands Hyundai and Genesis, has not officially decided to adopt Tesla’s NACS charging standard. Nonetheless, Kia joins a coalition of seven prominent car manufacturers in a pledge to set up a minimum of 30,000 high-capacity rapid charging stations across the country, under a collaborative network that has not been named so far.

Upcoming 2024 model of the Kia

The cost of the Kia EV9 is yet to be announced

We’re still a few weeks out from learning the cost of the EV9, which is a significant aspect of its value proposition. It’s quite surprising to see how unique the EV9 will be in its market segment upon release. If you’re looking for a vehicle with three rows of seating and ample room to accommodate a family of two adults, two children in car seats, and a grandparent, the options for a fully electric model are extremely limited.

Almost every car manufacturer targeting vehicles of this magnitude has directed their electric vehicle initiatives towards a similar category, primarily the luxury sector.

The starting price for the Mercedes EQS SUV is in the upper $100,000 range, while the initial cost for the Rivian R1S is set at $79,800. This price is for the 260-mile Standard Pack model, which has yet to be released. When it comes to the Tesla Model X, buyers encounter unique falcon-wing doors, an optional steering yoke, and a design that hasn’t been updated in eight years. The Volvo EX90 is expected to arrive in late 2024 with a starting price around $80,000. Competitors like the Audi Q8 E-Tron, BMW iX, and Cadillac Lyriq are limited to two seating rows. A key competitor for the EV9 appears to be the Hyundai Ioniq 7, its brand relative, which will feature a slightly more curved roofline that may impact its capacity to accommodate larger families.

Kia is embarking on a nationwide tour, showcasing their global-spec EV9s at over 220 dealerships to offer potential buyers a firsthand look. Starting in early October, the company will begin collecting $1,000 deposits for eager customers looking to secure their spot, with additional special rewards promised. The anticipated delivery of the vehicles is set to commence in December.

Test run of the 2024 Kia EV9 concept model

According to previous suggestions by company leaders, Green Car Reports predicts the starting cost of the Light version featuring the less powerful battery will be under $60,000, while the premium GT-Line model tested could exceed $80,000. Company officials suggest that they are keeping an eye on Tesla’s price reductions, and anticipate that with the production moving to the U.S. next year, the EV9 should qualify for certain EV tax incentives.

Initial shipments of the EV9 will originate from South Korea, but beginning in 2024, the EV9 intended for the American market will be produced in Georgia. This marks the inaugural assembly of a Kia electric vehicle in the U.S. The Georgia facility is already responsible for manufacturing models such as the Telluride, Sorento, Sportage, and K5.

Continuing on this path of increasing electric vehicle production, Kia is expected to begin manufacturing electric vehicles in 2025 at the Hyundai-Kia „Metaplant“ valued at $5.5 billion, located close to Savannah, Georgia. Initially, this facility is planned to produce 300,000 electric vehicles each year for both brands, with the possibility of increasing output to 500,000 vehicles per year in the future.

Kia’s progression with electric vehicles in the United States has shifted from specialized designs to aiming for widespread adoption. The EV9 is a bold declaration of this intent, leaving us to wonder what the future holds.

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