The Kia EV9: A Game-Changing Electric Crossover with High Hopes for the US Market

Kia EV9: The New Flagship Three-Row Crossover


SEOUL, South Korea – When the Kia EV9 arrives in U.S. showrooms this year, the new all-electric three-row crossover will take the South Korean brand into uncharted territory as its new flagship. Kia wants the EV9 to move its image up-market while also reeling in customers from rivals. The strategy seems to be working in South Korea, where deliveries began June 21. At home, the EV9 racked up 13,000 preorders in its first eight days. And about 60 percent of those orders came from customers new to the brand. Normally, that ratio stands around 40 percent.

Kia Corp. will be banking on similar magic in the U.S., which it pegs as the EV9’s biggest market. Kia has such high hopes for its third EV, that it is retooling its plant in West Point, Ga., to start U.S. production of the 2024 EV9 next summer. Until then, the EV9 will be imported from Korea.

Impressive Features

The EV9 uses the new E-GMP platform developed by Hyundai Motor Group for Kia, Hyundai and Genesis brand electric vehicles. It gets 800-volt battery technology for faster charging on public networks. Most mainstream EV makers use 400-volt systems. By using high-power DC chargers, the EV9 is designed to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 25 minutes.

The crossover options two batteries, a standard 76.1 kilowatt-hour one and an upper-trim pack rated at 99.8 kWh. The automaker targets range up to 300 miles with the bigger battery.

Sleek Design and Performance

Despite its rugged stance as a hulking crossover, the EV9 possesses a slippery silhouette. Designers achieved an impressive aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.28, not too far off the 0.21 eked by the super slick Ioniq 6 all-electric sedan offered by corporate stablemate Hyundai.

The rear-wheel-drive long-range model has a 150-kilowatt electric motor that covers 0 to 62 mph in 9.4 seconds. The standard rwd variant gets a more powerful 160-kilowatt motor that accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds.

The awd version has two electric motors for combined output of 283 kilowatts and goes from 0 to 62 mph in 6 seconds. But the real fun begins with an optional boost feature that lifts torque and cuts that acceleration time to 5.3 seconds. Despite the EV9’s hefty battery and body, the powertrain amply propels the vehicle down the road with sprightly energy and nimble handling, even without engaging the booster.

Spacious and Practical

Thanks to a wheelbase even longer than that of Kia’s Telluride full-size crossover, the interior of the EV9 is comfortably cavernous, with lots of headroom and ease of movement between the seats. A plethora of cupholders and phone slots — even an extendable table that folds out of the center arm rest into the second row — make the EV9 feel as premium as it is practical.

Even with all three rows of seats occupied, the EV9 delivers 20 cubic feet of storage. But with the second and third rows folded down, cargo space expands to 82 cubic feet.

Equipped with an integrated charging control unit, the EV9 also allows people to dole out the EV’s battery to power all manner of external appliances, from laptops to electric grills.

Future Developments

Kia has confirmed that a high-performance GT version of the EV9 will arrive as early as 2025. That is on top of a GT-line model that debuts with this year’s launch.

Specifications are still under wraps. But as a guide, consider how Kia handled the EV6 two-row all-electric crossover, the EV9’s little sibling. In the GT version of the EV6, combined power of the awd setup jumps 80 percent to 430 kilowatts, from the standard long-range version’s 239 kilowatts. Meanwhile, torque increases to 545 pound-feet, from 446 in the standard model.

Extrapolate that to the EV9’s 283-kilowatt setup, and it could pack quite a punch. To better channel that vibe, nostalgic drivers can even drown out the EV’s natural noiselessness by selecting a digitalized engine growl that mimics the horsepower sounds of yesteryear.

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