June 2, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Kia EV9 first look: One of the hottest electric SUVs of 2023

After ushering in a new generation of electric vehicles with the EV6, this week at the New York Auto Show we got a chance to check out Kia’s upcoming flagship electric SUV in the Kia EV9. And while we haven’t been allowed to drive it yet, after seeing it up close, the low-key could be one of the hottest electric cars of the year.

Like the EV6 and Hyudai’s recent EVs including the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, the EV9 is based on the E-GMP platform that supports 800-volt architecture and up to 350-kilowatt charging that Kia says can refill the battery from 10 to 80 percent in 25 minutes. For the range, the EV9 will be available in a few different configurations starting with the base model that features a single motor paired with a 76.1kWh battery, while the long-range version will come with a larger 99.8kWh power pack. And while Kia has yet to get official numbers from the EPA, it expects the long-range model to offer around 300 miles of range on a charge, with the standard range spec offering a bit less (perhaps around 260 miles or so).

Unfortunately, neither model will be particularly fast, with the expected 0-60 time expected to be around 8.2 seconds for the base model, which actually drops to 9.4 seconds for the long-range model due to its larger and heavier battery. Fortunately, if you want something a little faster, there’s also the GT-line which gets the same long-range battery but with a stronger all-wheel-drive two-wheel drive setup, which has a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds. While that’s not enough, Kia President Hoo Sung Song said there will also be a full GT version of the EV9, though it won’t be available until sometime in 2025.

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Meanwhile, when it comes to styling, while the EV9 has similar proportions to the Telluride, at 197 inches, it’s just a touch longer than Kia’s gas-powered SUV. But the real difference is its bold, modern design, which features a lumpy silhouette that’s softened by just enough curves and sweeping body lines so it doesn’t look overly sci-fi, like the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Up front, Kia offers what it calls a digital tiger-nose grille, which features hidden lights that can even be customized with a selection of animations. What’s more, since the EV9 will be the first Kia to support over-the-air updates, you’ll be able to download new software including things like additional lighting modes after release. The car also has 15 external sensors including two LiDAR arrays at the front that use object detection to help the driver detect potential obstacles.

You also get flush door handles for a sleeker look and improved aerodynamics. And while your tastes may differ, I also want to call out the wheels on the EV9. The base model has funky triangular edges with a bit of aerodynamics, while the GT-line gets 21-inch alloys with a sleek plus-shaped design that reminds me of the D-pad of a game console and seems like a direct nod toward appealing to younger buyers.

And in a way, that’s kind of a feature of the EV9 as a whole, because like late-model Teslas, Kia is navigating the trend of omitting chrome by using a very limited amount of bright metal and completely eliminating the use of high-gloss finishes (like piano black) throughout the car. internal.

Instead of a traditional front fascia, Kia has installed in the EV9 what it calls a digital tiger nose grille that features customizable lighting.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Inside, the EV9’s design is centered around the idea of ​​”reduction” and “tech for life” which you can see in things like the tactile switches hidden on the dash that only appear when the car is running and a clever dual-level center console that provides ample storage space for passengers at every turn. From the front and second row seats. Kia even included small design touches like mesh headrests in the front, which are meant to give parents an easier way to check kids in the back. The only catch is that due to US safety regulations, the EV9’s optional second-row seats will only be available in Korea.

However, the real star for families is that third row of seats. Even for a six-foot-tall me, I had no trouble getting back. Sure, it’s a little cramped, and if the second row of seats were pushed all the way back, there wouldn’t be much legroom. But if you don’t mind pushing the seats up a few inches, this third row has enough room to accommodate adults on short trips.

Photo gallery: Kia EV9 hands-on photos | 8 photos

Finally, when it comes to technology, the EV9 should be fairly well equipped. The car will come with a digital car key that works with NFC and UWB communication. There is also a full color driver display integrated into the dash along with an optional rear view camera system in place of the traditional mirror. I also appreciate the EV9’s fairly simple infotainment system that splits its long, skinny screen into two parts: one extends behind the driver’s steering wheel, while the other half is devoted to general stuff like music, navigation, and more. I also think Kia has struck a good balance between on-screen touch controls and dedicated physical buttons for things like heat and air conditioning. And like every good car nowadays, the EV9 has a built-in wireless charger and plenty of USB-C ports (two for each row of seats), as well as a full, home-style power outlet in the trunk.

So after taking a closer look at the EV9, I think it looks great, it’s surprisingly roomy for a midsize SUV, and its tech looks solid, too. But more importantly, I think Kia may have succeeded in trying to make a more affordable three-row SUV. That’s because while Kia is still waiting for official pricing to be announced, we expect the electric vehicle to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $56,000, making it a rarity in the current electric vehicle market.

At the rear, the EV9 has a streamlined design that's highlighted by three-branch LED taillights.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The EV9’s potential price tag offers a significant discount over nearly every other three-row SUV on the market like the Tesla Model X, Volvo EX90, and Mercedes EQS SUV—the cheapest ones start around $80,000. And when you look at the next similarly priced EV9 competitors as the Model Y or EQB, while those cars have optional third rows, they’re more cramped and not suitable for anyone other than children or pets. Then there are other cars like the BMW iX and Cadillac Lyriq which we saw at Polestar 3 last week that are either much more expensive or don’t even have three rows of seating (or both).

So while a lot will hinge on the EV9’s final price, for people looking for a large but relatively affordable electric family car, Kia’s new flagship electric SUV looks like a great candidate when it comes out sometime later. from this year.