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2024 Kia EV9: Kia steps up its EV game with a family-size utility vehicle

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Compared with the gasoline-powered Kia Telluride, which also has three rows of seats, the EV9 is only slightly longer but there are 20 more centimetres between the front and rear wheels, which means more second- and third-row legroom. PHOTO: KIA

Few electric vehicles on the market today can handle more than five riders and their luggage, but that’s where the 2024 Kia EV9 shines.

It joins the smaller EV6 sedan and the Niro EV hatchback. The five-passenger Kia EV5 utility vehicle will be added for 2025.

For the EV9, Kia’s stylists could be considered fearless. Instead of making the vehicle appear somewhat like a regular gasoline-engine vehicle (as other automakers have done with their EVs), the big Kia goes its own way, with sharp cuts on the bulging fenders and the rear roof pillars.

The designers also seem to have taken a page from Tesla’s playbook by attaching a blank — but stylized — front panel instead of a grille. The door handles are flush with the bodywork but pop out when the doors are unlocked. Kia’s chief designer boasts that the EV9’s bodywork is “a master class in simplicity of form and expression.”

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For the EV9, Kia’s stylists could be considered fearless. PHOTO: KIA

The dashboard’s engaging 12.3-inch screens — one for the digital gauges and one for the infotainment display — are placed in a single panel, which is all the rage these days.

The headliner and seat-cover fabrics for all three rows — there are available second-row high-back bucket seats — are made from partially recycled materials and are completely synthetic (no animals are used). The second-row buckets can swivel to face the third row, or to face the side doors once they’re open.

Compared with the gasoline-powered Kia Telluride, which also has three rows of seats, the EV9 is only slightly longer but it has 20 more centimetres between the front and rear wheels, which means more second- and third-row legroom.

Both vehicles offer about the same storage space behind the third-row seat, but the Telluride offers a bit more volume when both the second and third rows are folded flat.

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The dashboard’s engaging 12.3-inch screens — one for the digital gauges and one for the infotainment display — appear as a single panel. Note how few buttons are located on the dashboard below the screens. PHOTO: KIA

The base rear-wheel-drive (RWD) EV9 has a rear-mounted motor plus a 76.1 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The combo delivers 215 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and up to 370 kilometres of range, according to Kia. An available 99.8 kilowatt-hour battery increases range to an estimated 490 kilometres.

The optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) model gets front and rear electric motors rated at a net 379 horsepower and 516 pound-feet. Range drops to an estimated 450 kilometres, however. This is the one to get if you need to match the Telluride’s 5,000-pound (2,270 kilograms) towing capacity as the EV6 RWD is rated for 2,000 pounds (909 kilograms).

Kia estimates the EV9 RWD will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) from rest in 8.2 seconds, while the AWD takes 5.3 seconds.

An EV9 GT variant with an estimated 576 horsepower is expected to arrive later in the model year.

All models will have Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes, along with a My Mode setting for individual configuration.

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The seat fabrics for all three rows are made from partially recycled materials and are completely synthetic (no animals are used). The optional second-row high-back bucket seats can swivel to face the third row, or toward the open side doors. PHOTO: KIA

Hooked to a 240-volt Level 2 AC home station (or similar public station), the EV9 will take about eight hours to get a full charge. With a 480-volt Level 3 DC commercial quick charger — which are much rarer — it will take less than 25 minutes to 80 per cent from 10. Why does Kia use 80 per cent? Because the charge speed dramatically slows once 80 per cent is reached, which is the case with most EVs on the market.

Note that the EV9 has a heat-pump heating system, which helps save precious driving range in cold weather.

The base RWD EV9 with the second-row bench seat starts at $63,150, including destination fees.

Aside from the unusual power-operated features, it will come with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with a hands-free driving mode.

The options list includes power adjustable second-row seats with power leg-rest extensions, 14-speaker Meridian-brand audio system, 360-degree surround-view monitor and 21-inch wheels (19s are standard). Also offered is a system that can park or unpark the EV9 from a stall while the driver looks on — probably in wonder — from outside the vehicle.

Ultimately, the EV9’s unusual — but artful — design only enhances its ability to provide quick, quiet and comfortable transportation for the whole gang. And right now, it is one of a very few EV options that can carry the whole gang.

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Compared with the gasoline-powered Kia Telluride, which also has three rows of seats, the EV9 is only slightly longer but there are 20 more centimetres between the front and rear wheels, which means more second- and third-row legroom. PHOTO: KIA

What you should know: 2024 Kia EV9

Type: Rear- /all-wheel-drive electric utility vehicle

Motors (h.p.): Front electric (215); front and rear electric (379, opt

Transmission: Single-speed controller

Market position: The EV9 is Kia’s latest electric vehicle to be announced; it’s also the largest and carries the most people and gear. Further expansion of other EV-branded models can be expected within the next two to three years.

Points: Unusual styling promises to stand apart from the crowd. • Added distance between the front and rear wheels translates into generous legroom, especially for those seated in the second and third rows. • Electric-motor output and battery range should prove more than adequate, except for base versions. • Use of recycled, non-leather materials for the interior should be popular.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); front and rear emergency braking (opt.); inattentive-driver alert (std.); lane-departure warning (std.); pedestrian warning (std.)

Le/100 km (city/hwy): 2.4/3.1

Base price (incl. destination): $63,150

BY COMPARISON

Hyundai Ioniq7

  • Base price: $60,000 (est.)
  • Upcoming model shares platforms and power units with the EV9.

Chevrolet Blazer EV

  • Base price: $62,500
  • 2024 five-passenger FWD and AWD models offer up to 557 horsepower.

Toyota bZ4X

  • Base price: $50,000
  • Toyota’s first EV seats five; offers only modest power and range.

– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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