As the industry rushes towards electrification, automakers are taking the opportunity to execute a paradigm shift in visual design. As the new Kia EV9 demonstrates, the Korean automaker is at the forefront of this movement with its new three-row SUV.
Kia isn’t sharing full details of the EV9 just yet, with technical details on power and range to come later this month. What the company has made clear is that the era of the full-sized electric SUV is finally upon us. With three-row seating, prodigious space, and an innovative future-forward design, it’s clear that Kia intended to lay down the gauntlet with this launch.
The EV9’s body manages to rock a sharply-creased polygonal design without looking like a castoff from Tron. The pumped fenders, both front and rear, feature a strong character line that diverges into a highly-unique triangular kick. It creates an almost-widebody effect around the doors, which appear inset by comparison. It’s a tough stance, and one the EV9 wears well.
Front and back, the running lights and tail lights rock vertical, zigzagged designs that seem to live within the very lines of the vehicle. There’s also the clean and simple front-end treatment, which Kia is calling the ‘Digital Tiger Face.’ Other highlights include the flush door handles, and the plus-sign wheels so expertly lined up in the press photos.
As for design, the interior draws from the same well as Kia’s existing electric models. There’s a clean and tidy infotainment system, paired with a digital cluster and a combination of buttons and touch controls that should keep people in both camps happy. Meanwhile, the family-minded will enjoy the rich provision of cupholders and plentiful storage space. Beyond that, it’s a cabin designed to be open and airy with space for everyone to stretch out comfortably. That’s a primary point of contrast to the Kia EV6, which has a more compact and hemmed-in interior layout.
Meanwhile, the interior offers configuration options sure to be popular with families and road trippers alike. The second-row seating can swivel 180 degrees, allowing occupants to face those in the third row for a chat or spirited debate. Plus, both the first and second-row seats can be reclined simultaneously. That’s a useful feature for when everybody needs a lie down during a charging stop. Kia will build six- and seven-seat versions of the EV9 to suit different tastes.
It’s a rare case of a production vehicle remaining faithful to the concept. Kia first debuted the Concept EV9 in 2021, and its design has carried over well into what we see today. The biggest change was Kia dropping the concept’s rear suicide doors, but they’re no major loss. It’s always thrilling when a company not only dares to dream big, but makes those dreams a reality.
Based on size alone, the EV9 will take on a similar role to the ICE-powered Telluride in Kia’s lineup. The Concept EV9 seen in 2021 was 194 inches long, with a 122-inch wheelbase, while standing 81 inches wide and 70 inches tall. That makes it an inch taller and three inches wider than the Telluride. Also, despite being three inches shorter overall, the wheelbase is a full 7.8 inches longer. Assuming those dimensions remain roughly similar on the production EV9, it should offer a very spacious interior, even compared to the roomy Telluride itself.
As more automakers flood into the space, the three-row EV market will become a hotly contested battleground. From what we’ve seen here, it’s clear that Kia has fired one heck of an opening salvo.
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