When it comes to original design and styling in the auto industry, the bar is high. If you want something that looks exotic, you typically have to pay more for it. BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Lucid, etc. But Kia is changing all that with some of the freshest and most upscale designs for the money. The 2024 Kia EV9 SUV that just debuted is perhaps the strongest example. It looks like no other SUV on the planet, and the Korean brands (including Hyundai and Genesis) show the world that they're no longer derivative but at the cutting edge of automotive design.
The all-new SUV marks a significant milestone for Kia. The EV9 is the brand's first electric three-row SUV, so it had to be something very dramatic and impressive in the electric vehicle space. The production version looks even better than the concept, in our opinion, and that takes some doing. The good news is that it doesn't look completely different from the show car. Following the meteoric rise of the Telluride SUV, the EV9 hopes to garner a huge chunk of the electric SUV market share, and by the looks of things we believe the goal will be easily attainable.
The Design Leads the Way
There's not much more to say about the EV9's design other than the fact that it is simply stunning to look at from every angle. "The Kia EV9 breaks new ground, aiming to redefine standards for design, connectivity, usability and environmental responsibility," stated Karim Habib, EVP and Head of Kia Global Design Center. "This new vehicle typology provides instinctive experiences and excellent comfort for not just the driver, but all occupants, through innovative use of space, technology and design." While that might be a mouthful, it seems to be very true. There's no other SUV at this price that offers this level of premium design, both inside and out.
The brand's ability to use what's known as an ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy combines elements of ruggedness with both calm and serenity. Take a look at the way the fenders bulge, the angularity of the sheet metal, and the squared-off SUV shape combined with simple lines and cohesive shapes. The EV9 looks like nothing else in the segment. Unlike its Niro EV, the EV9 isn't based on a gas vehicle, and it carves out its own original look that's even more attractive than the EV6.
The EV9 gets what's known as a ‘Digital Pattern Lighting Grille’ and a ‘Digital Tiger Face’ with two clusters of small cube lamps next to the headlamps. There are also ‘Star Map LED daytime running lights that provide a constellation-like DRL pattern that's especially noticeable at night. It's one of the most original styling elements we've seen on a current vehicle, and that includes the premium brands. The way the front crossbar, headlights, and DRL come together is not something you typically see at this price point.
The profile of the EV9 shows off a lot of geometry in the quarter panels, fender trim, and especially the triangular D-pillar that sacrifices visibility for style. The EV9 even gets pill-shaped flush door handles that work to keep the body flat and simple. We could see protruding door handles messing with the combination of flat sheet metal and the polygonal styling elements. Even the tailgate is crisp and simple, accentuated by the slim but intricately detailed taillights.
The Interior is the Brand's Best
Three-row SUVs aren't always roomy, but the flat architecture of the EV9 allows the floor to pretty much go unobstructed. The result is very generous amounts of space for all occupants and lounge-style seating in all three rows. The EV9 will be offered in both six and seven-seat formats, and row two with Captain's Chair configuration will get seats that rotate both outward for easy exit (and probably the best baby/booster seat access of any modern car. The 2nd-row seats will even rotate all the way around to face the third-row occupants, which is also an industry first as far as we know.
Occupants sitting in the first and second-row seats will also benefit by being able to recline their seats when the EV9 is charging. The big panoramic dashboard is the theme for Kia electric vehicles, and it includes two 12.3-inch touchscreens integrated with one 5-inch segment display in between that provides additional touch functions and reduces physical buttons, which we're not sure we like very much (but we're old-school). It's the current trend to have mostly touchscreen controls, and Kia does a great job with them.
The EV9's big center console provides excellent storage options that also benefit from having a flat floor. The base includes a big storage compartment for purses or small bags, and there's a big slot next to the twin cupholders, as well as a large binnacle just in front of the large armrest compartment. The door pockets also appear to be generous and deep. We have no doubt the EV9 will provide ample space for all occupants to store their daily gear and devices.
The EV9 will make its global debut online this month along with full details and specifications with regard to power, range, performance, charging times, trim levels, and pricing. We expect that the base MSRP will start around $50,000 all the way up to around $80,000. It should prove to be one of the most exciting EV offerings to come down the pipe. We can't wait to drive it.