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Design Statement: The 2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9 front 3/4 view

You know the meetings were interesting.

"We're going to build a battery-electric SUV. It should be virtually the same size as our Kia Telluride, with comparable cargo space and available all-wheel-drive."

"Got it, Boss! Why don't we just do what we've done with the Niro, and make an electric Telluride to sell alongside the existing gasoline-powered version?"

That employee wound up losing the argument.

2024 Kia EV9 rear 3/4 view

No question the Telluride is a handsome beast, but Kia chose to swing for the fences with the EV9, using a design language that says "Hey! Betcha never saw one of these before!"

It's likely to be a very lucrative move for Kia. Unlike the Telluride, which has exactly one powertrain choice (291 horsepower 3.0-liter V6 with an eight-speed automatic), the EV9 offers a range of battery sizes and power outputs.

The base EV9 Light is rear-wheel drive, has a 182kW battery with an estimated range of 230 miles per charge, makes 215 horsepower, and has a (manufacturer estimated) zero to 60 time of 7.7 seconds.

Next is the EV9 Light Long Range, also rear-wheel-drive, which has a 318kW battery with an estimated range of 304 miles. It makes 201 horsepower and 0-60 stretches to 8.8 seconds.

Both the EV9 Wind and Land models are all-wheel-drive, with a 318kW battery. Range is 280 miles. They make 379 horsepower and 0-60 runs fall to 5.7 seconds.

And finally, at the top of the line is the EV9 GT-Line, our tester. Like the Wind and Land, it's all-wheel-drive, a 318kw battery and 379 horsepower, but it's packing 73 more lb-ft of torque than the other two. Range dips to 270 miles, and the 0-60 runs are 4.5 seconds (with a one-foot rollout).

Kia says the EV9, which has 800-volt charging like the EV6, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6 and the Genesis GV60, can recharge from 10% to 80% in 25 minutes on a properly-working 350kw DC fast charger.

Regular readers know that in any review of an EV, I'll discuss the real-world charging experience. That's because after a streak of beginner's luck, the last year or so has seen public stations with DC fast chargers that don't work or don't deliver the speeds they are supposedly capable of.

The public charging station closest to my home has four units---three 350kw units and one 150kw (which also had a CHAdeMO connection for Nissan Leafs and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs. As I outlined in my review of the IONIQ 6 last week, one of the 350kws has been inoperable for weeks now. And when I arrived to charge the EV9 two days later, this notice was on the screen of the 150kw unit:

Electrify America charging reduction notice

Fortunately, one of the two 350kw "Hyper-FAST" (Electrify America's brand name) chargers was available. I needed to charge from 32% to 80%. That should be quicker than the 25 minutes needed for 10% to 80%. But no.

Electrify America 350kw DC fast charger

Electrify America 350kw DC fast charger

It was 27 minutes, 39 seconds. The 350kw charger maxed at 177kw---a shade over half its supposed capability. And what's sad is that's the best performance I've ever seen from one of these chargers. Alex Dykes of "Alex on Autos" rather famously saw 230k while recharging an IONIQ 5 two years ago.

And let's talk about the price. 56 cents per kWh is on the high side. From a quick online search, 40 is about the average. I'll be shopping around when it comes to recharging and from now on, we'll include the price per kWh as well.

Back to the EV9 itself. In addition to being quick, it's also quiet. Kia says 58.2 decibels at highway speed. All those external angles don't produce the wind noise you might expect. And it handles well. Selecting the "SPORT" drive mode not only tightens steering response, it activates side bolsters in the driver's seat, in a bit of useful showbiz that says "get ready".

2024 Kia EV9 frunk open

Kia EV9 frunk

2024 Kia EV9 rear liftgate open

2024 Kia EV9 rear cargo area

The available cargo space is pretty impressive, too. 20.2 cubic feet behind the third row of seats, 43.5 with those folded, and if you fold both the second and third rows, it's 81.7---a very close match to the Telluride's 21/46/87, when you factor in the additional 3.2 cubic feet from the frunk (front trunk), which has a weight capacity of 88 pounds.

2024 Kia EV9 third row

2024 Kia EV9 second-row seating

The EV9 actually edges past the Telluride in passenger legroom. Third-row passengers get 32 inches and folks in the second row have 42.8. In a Tellruide, that's 31.4 and 42.4.

2024 Kia EV9 front seats

2024 Kia EV9 front seat detail

2024 Kia EV9 instrument panel

Remember back in the sixth paragraph, when I said the EV9 being more than an electric Telluride was likely to be a very lucrative move for Kia? Making the EV9 unique allows Kia to price it above the Telluride.

The top-of-the-line Telluride SX-Prestige AWD X-Pro is $54,550, including destination and before options. The EV9 starts with the Light at $56,935. The Light Long Range is $60,695. The Wind is $65,395. The Land is $71,395. And the top-of-the-ladder GT-Line (our tester) is $75,395.

That pricing allows Kia, which unlike its corporate cousin Hyundai, doesn't have a luxury sub-brand (Genesis), to move upmarket, and it knows it. The news release for the EV9 compares it not to the Telluride, but to the Cadillac Escalade, the Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 SUV in terms of noise, second-row legroom, cargo space, acceleration, braking, cornering G-force and evasive handling.

So what do you get for $75,395? Standard equipment for the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line includes a self-leveling rear suspension, 21-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior lights, heated, power-folding, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a digital pattern lighting grille, black high-gloss fenders and exterior trim, rain-sensing wipers, a hidden rear wiper, acoustic front doors and windshield, solar windshield and front door glass, privacy glass for the rear doors and liftgate, acoustic rear door windows, a dual sunroof, power liftgate, power tilt and telescope steering column, LED interior lighting, ambient lighting, full Syn-Tex leather seating, eight-way power adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a heated, artificial leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic tri-zone climate control with auto defog, head-up display, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 14-speaker Meridian premium audio system with external amp and subwoofer, wireless device charging, and a comprehensive suite of active safety features.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line door panel

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line steering wheel and instrument display

2024 Kia EV9 center console

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line center stack

Our tester did have some extra-cost options, as well. The Ocean Blue paint is $695, the GT-Line second-row relaxation package, which adds power seats with leg support, is $2000, carpeted floor mats are $225 and a carpeted cargo mat is $115.

Total as-tested price: $78,430.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line front view

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line side view

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line rear view

And yes...that is officially the most expensive Kia ever, topping the Kia EV6 GT, which starts at $62,925 including destination.

If anyone had had doubted Kia's ambition before, the EV9 GT-Line should end that. As to whether it will make Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover sweat the way it appears it would like to, time will tell.


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