Taking a first look at the European production version of the Kia EV9, it’s difficult not to compare it to the concept model that I first saw at the Chicago Motor Show in February 2022. That’s because the finished electric vehicle is still incredibly close to that original concept, even down to the colour.
The Kia EV9 is available in that same matte blue and largely shares the same look and feel. At a time when many electric SUVs are opting for a more curvaceous shape, this car is still pretty boxy. It has a more traditional, straight high roof and very angular features, though it still boasts a drag coefficient of 0.28 (with its 19-inch wheels). That’s the same as you get on the Kia EV6 and means that this SUV can still deliver a range of up to 336 miles (308 miles in AWD version) from its 99.8kWh battery. That’s around 297Wh per mile [corrected] – a measurement of efficiency that we will start to see more of in car specs (like MPG) to properly compare the cost to run them.
The shape of the EV9 isn’t completely square though. There is a slight sloping of the roof towards a small spoiler over the rear window that hides the rear wiper and camera. Following Kia’s ‘opposites united’ philosophy, the side panels over the wheels are very angular, squaring off the wheel arch, while the doors feature gentle curves. That front grill is solid and body-coloured, with air cooling vents and air channels below it. Above is a strip of light that runs across the width of the car just below the Kia badge.
Under that bonnet – an aluminium construction, like the boot to reduce weight – is a storage space, for smaller bags, such as groceries or an overnight bag. This isn’t a giant space like in the Ford F-150 but it’s handy for extra storage, especially with a car full of people. After all, the EV9 is available with either six or seven seats, depending on the configuration. That means a third row of seats for two people. The second row comes either as a bench seat for three (in the seven-seat configuration) or two individual seats (in the six-seat configuration). Further to that, the individual seats come in relaxation form or with the ability to swivel 180 degrees, to face that third row.
In the front seats, there’s plenty of space and lots of toys to play with. The driver has access to three displays: a 12.3-inch behind the steering wheel, an additional 5.3-inch screen to the side and then a centre 12.3-inch screen. These three displays run in a line, creating the impression of one long display.
The EV9 has a special rear mirror that can switch between a standard mirror and a digital screen – to view the rear camera on the spoiler – at the flick of a lever. Digital wing mirrors are also an option here, replacing the traditional wing mirrors with camera units on the outside and display screens inside the doors.
For automated driving, the EV9 is equipped with LiDar sensors, radar, cameras and microphones. This allows its Highway Driving Pilot Level 3 system to provide hands-off driving in certain regions (such as Germany right now). With Ford already offering hands-free eyes-on driving (Level 2 plus) in the UK with its BlueCruise system, there’s a chance this will eventually come to the UK too.
For charging, the car uses 800v architecture, like the EV6. This allows charging up to 240kW, delivering up to 148 miles of range in just 15 minutes. It can also allow bi-directional charging to return power to your home or to the grid, when needed. It also supports the use of a digital key, allowing you to use an iPhone or Samsung smartphone to open and operate the vehicle. This also means you can share access to the vehicle with your friends and family easily.
Final price and availability are still to be confirmed but the car is expected to cost around £65,000 / $56,000 when it launches later this year.