The 2024 Kia EV9 is here, and frankly, it’s fantastic.
It’s a show-stopping sport utility that happens to be powered by nothing but electrons. Better still, it does just about everything a conventional three-row family hauler can. By our estimation, it’s exactly the kind of vehicle the industry needs to broaden the appeal of electrification.
Whether you’re considering the EV9 as a viable replacement for the gas-powered SUV in your driveway, or you’re unconvinced it can do the job in the first place, we decided to break down a few basic questions about this impressive new entry from Kia. So without further ado, here are three ways it’s like any other three-row SUV out there and three it isn’t.
1. It’s Spacious
If you’re shopping for a three-row SUV, we’re going to assume it’s because you need plenty of space for people and stuff. But never before has there been one with an electric powertrain – at least not on the mainstream market.
Looking at the specs, there’s barely any difference between the EV9 and the gas-powered Kia Telluride, which happens to be one of the roomiest entries like it. Beyond the numbers, this all-electric SUV benefits from better interior packaging including a lower floor throughout. That might not seem like something worth getting excited about, but it frees up all kinds of space inside – particularly in the rearmost row of seats.
2. It Can Tow
Whether or not the EV9 can travel long distances with a trailer hooked up to the back remains to be seen, but it’s rated to tow the same 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) as the Telluride, not to mention most others in the segment. In fact, only the Nissan Pathfinder can safely pull more, with a capacity of 2,722 kg (6,000 lb).
Of course, there are a couple important caveats to keep in mind – namely that it’s only the all-wheel-drive version of the EV9 that can pull that much weight; rear-wheel-drive trims are good for a maximum of 907 kg (2,000 lb). And either way, that’s for trailers equipped with brakes. This being a thoroughly modern electric vehicle (EV), the computer will adapt to the weight being pulled when in tow mode and adapt range estimates accordingly, while the all-wheel-drive version sees its torque split distributed evenly between the front and rear wheels.
3. It’s Family-Friendly
Beyond the outright space the EV9 offers, it’s filled with the kind of family-friendly features you’d expect from an outstanding peoplemover. From small-item storage up front for everything from wallets and phones to handbags and water bottles, to an available second-row storage bin that nests in the centre console when not in use, the cabin is a thoughtfully designed one.
Other stand-out features include fast-charging USB ports in all three rows of seats, plus Kia’s latest digital key technology that allows the EV9 to be unlocked and started using a paired smartphone or watch. That’s standard, by the way, as is the power tailgate that can be opened hands-free.
1. It’s Electric
OK, this one’s fairly obvious, but it’s also the most significant factor that sets the EV9 apart from the rest of the segment. Its arrival makes this the first three-row SUV on the mainstream market with an all-electric powertrain – a pretty important milestone for the industry as a whole.
There are a few versions to pick from, including a pair of rear-wheel-drive models that use different battery packs in their quest for emissions-free motoring. The cheapest one uses a 76.1-kWh battery and has an estimated range of 370 km, while the 99.8-kWh unit pushes that number to 489 km. Opting for all-wheel drive means the EV9 can muster 451 km, according to Kia – or 439 km with the priciest GT-Line package added.
No matter the battery size, expect a buttery smooth drive experience that wouldn’t be out of place in an SUV with a premium badge on the hood. It’s not that the EV9 is exceptionally quick, but it is incredibly creamy, soaking up just about everything the road throws at it while remaining (mostly) quiet and comfortable.
2. Lounge Chairs
The EV9’s 800-volt architecture means it’s able to charge at speeds up to 350 kW – the fastest possible. It means the jump from 10 to 80 per cent should take a little more than 20 minutes (in ideal conditions, of course); but even then, sitting around waiting for an EV to charge can be both mind- and butt-numbing. That’s why the EV9 is available with first- and second-row seats that recline like lounge chairs to make sitting around and waiting less painful.
3. Subscription Lights
Welcome to the future of automobile ownership, where features aren’t just optional – some of them require subscriptions. Of course, this isn’t anything new; General Motors (GM) has been doing the same for its OnStar service for years, while Toyota offers cloud-based navigation that requires recurring payments to use. But then both of those make sense as value-added features.
Classify this Kia’s subscription-based lighting signature as another agonizingly egregious example of an automaker taking cheapness to new levels. According to Kia Canada’s reps, the lights – which include five optional designs – offer ways for owners to express themselves. However, they weren’t able to say exactly how much it’s going to cost to do so.
Either way, it’s the same sort of shenanigans we’ve seen in the video game industry, where microtransactions have become the new normal. This seems to us like a slippery slope that could lead to everything from interior ambient lighting to how many USB ports receive power falling into the black hole of monthly payments you’re probably going to forget about along with that third streaming service you never use.