Large family-oriented SUVs, with spacious interiors, three rows of functional seating, refined road manners, and the latest safety and convenience technology, have become increasingly popular over the past 20 years. So have electric vehicles, which also deliver refined road manners and the latest safety and convenience technology. Can family shoppers get all of these characteristics in a single model? Yes…but choices are limited to premium nameplates with premium price tags of $75,000-plus.
But Kia is about to expand consumer choice in the electric-powered, three-row family SUV segment with its all-new 2024 Kia EV9. The EV9 will initially be produced in Korea before switching to Kia’s under-construction plant in Georgia in 2025. That plant is crucial to Kia’s long-term product plan, with the automaker’s intention to have seven dedicated electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2027. Kia hasn’t released EV9 pricing yet, though we expect it to start well below that $75,000 figure.
Utility vehicles currently account for 70 percent of Kia’s U.S. sales, and by 2030 Kia wants 70 percent of its sales to be electrified vehicles. The new EV9 checks all of those boxes, illustrating the electric SUV’s critical role in the brand’s future. A recent drive of the EV9 confirmed it has the aforementioned traits family buyers demand in a modern SUV, with a roomy, high-tech interior wrapped in a stylish exterior boasting a sleek 0.28 coefficient of drag.
That sleek exterior helps the EV9 achieve up to 300 miles of range in the mid-grade, rear-wheel drive “Light Long Range” model, which offers 201 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from its single, rear-wheel motor. A base “Light” model with a smaller battery delivers slightly more power (215 hp) but only 223 miles on a full charge. The top-of-the-line EV9 in “GT-Line” trim includes all-wheel drive, offers 379 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque, and a range of 270 miles.
We drove an EV9 GT-Line model and verified what you’d except from a 516 pound-foot electric SUV. Throttle response is immediate, particularly in “Sport” mode, with the EV9 hitting 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The SUV’s abundant power is complimented by precise steering offering excellent weighting, a wide track, and long wheelbase, plus relatively well-controlled body roll. It all comes together as a surprisingly nimble three-row SUV, particularly given its 5,700-pound curb weight.
While flinging the EV9 around a road course was more fun than we anticipated (Kia says it will pull .84 g on a skidpad), we know most target buyers will appreciate other traits, including the whisper quiet cabin at highway speeds (58.2 decibels at 55 mph), first and second-row seats that recline, and trick high-tech features like customizable exterior lighting patterns, remote-controlled parking, and those standard 12.3-inch dual high-def displays for the gauge cluster and central touchscreen.
The EV9’s wheelbase is 7.8 inches longer than Kia Telluride, while it’s overall length, width, and height are bigger than an Audi Q8 e-Tron, BMW iX, Cadillac Lyriq, and Tesla Model Y. This translates into approximately 160 cubic feet of interior volume, along with minimal front and rear overhangs and either 7 or 7.8 inches of ground clearance, depending on trim. You can feel the EV9’s interior space in the roomy first and second row, though third-row legroom wasn’t as accommodating as we’d hoped.
Third-row quibbles aside, the EV9 offers a long list of family friendly features across its five trims. A retractable center console that extends to the second row when needed, USB charging for every seat, a digital rearview mirror, an optional Meridian audio system, and the ability to use a smartphone as key to start and drive the EV9. The EV9 can also charge other devices, including another electric vehicle, or power a home for multiple days when using a Wallbox DC bidirectional home charger.
Kia says the EV9 will provide over-the-air updates to add features after purchase through the Kia Connect app. It also claims the EV9 will be the only three-row SUV with an 800-volt charging system when it hits showrooms in December, allowing the the 300-mile range EV to charge from 10 to 80 percent in 25 minutes (assuming you can find an available fast charger…). Pricing will be announced closer to the EV9’s on-sale date.
For family shoppers seeking a large, stylish SUV with three-rows of seating, up to 300 miles of range, plenty of power, the latest high-tech features, and the fastest charging speeds, the EV9 will, for now at least, be in a class of own.