Kia EV9 e-SUV charges forward with 336 miles and Level 3 highway pilot
By keeping the design of its EV9 electric SUV quite close to that of the concept that previewed it, Kia showed the world it wasn't interested in launching another cookie-cutter e-crossover. Instead, it introduces a flagship e-SUV that will turn the heads of onlookers, and excite the senses of the man or woman behind the wheel. In its full reveal this week, Kia detailed that the EV9 will offer up to 336 miles (541 km) of range (WLTP) and include the new Highway Driving Pilot for conditional hands-off Level 3 driving on select roadways.
While it already provided a pretty thorough first look and breakdown of the EV9's styling (that you can read all about here), Kia held an official world premiere for the EV9 on Wednesday morning, filling in all the details that were previously left out. Those details start with a 99.8-kWh range-topping battery that Kia expects to deliver more than 336 miles during WLTP testing. That battery will make its way into the long-range rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, while the standard RWD will get a smaller 76.1-kWh pack. Kia doesn't dare dull the shine of its announcement by estimating the lower range of the smaller battery.
The EV9's range is helped along by a drag coefficient of 0.28 – surprisingly low for a boxy three-row SUV. Kia says it was able to achieve this level of aerodynamics using several innovations: its first-ever 3D-sculpted underbody cover, a set of aerodynamic wheels and air curtains in the front bumper.
When it does come time to recharge, Kia promises that 15 minutes will buy the driver roughly 149 miles (239 km) of added range when taking advantage of 800-V ultra-fast charging. That won't necessarily be ideal for cross-country style journeys, but having nearly 500 miles (805 km) at your disposal with only 15 minutes of mandatory charging break time should prove useful for a variety of other trips.
To heap the most possible range onto the "long-range" EV9 model, Kia actually gives that variant a slightly less powerful 201-hp (150-kW) motor, a 14-hp drop from the 215-hp (160-kW) motor in the standard RWD model. Both motors pack 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque, enabling the standard version to sprint from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in an estimated 8.2 seconds and the long-range RWD version to arrive at that speed in an estimated 9.4 seconds.
Those looking for the most power, performance and all-wheel traction will want to get behind the wheel of the dual-motor AWD version. The two electric motors combine for a total vehicle output of 380 hp (283 kW) and 443 lb-ft (600 Nm) of torque. Drop in the seat, punch the accelerator, and the EV9 AWD bursts from 0 to 62 mph in a flat six seconds.
The 197-in (501-cm) EV9 is a family SUV first and foremost, so most buyers likely won't be all that concerned with shaving milliseconds off their personal-best 0-62. What they'll be more interested in is the spacious, versatile three-row interior. Here, Kia will offer several different layouts starting with six- and seven-seat options. As it's shown since concept phase, Kia will make the second row particularly versatile, with four total options: a three-seat bench or two captain's seats in basic, reclining or 180-degree swivel configuration. Sustainable bio-based materials will feature prominently in the cabin.
Also of interest to any family driver will be the EV9's comprehensive safety tech suite that tops out with an available Highway Driving Pilot (HDP) for conditional Level 3 autonomy in select markets. That system will eventually be available exclusively on the GT-line trim. Powered by 15 sensors, including dual LiDars, it will allow drivers to take a temporary break from controlling the vehicle while it scans the road in a full 360-degree field of view, reacting to changing road conditions. Kia plans to release further details about the HDP when it nears availability.
The remainder of the EV9 lineup will still offer a high level of standard and available autonomy, powered by multi-sensor Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Features under that umbrella include remote smart parking, rear cross-traffic avoidance, blind-spot collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist and navigation-based smart cruise control.
The Remote Smart Parking 2 system will be offered as a digital add-on through the Kia Connect Store, a means of adding options above and beyond the vehicle's original spec over the air without having to go to a dealership. In other words, a means for Kia to keep its hands in the buyer's pocket well after the final EV9 payment. Other features to be offered this way include lighting patterns for the digital grille and a torque boost to 516 lb-ft (700 Nm) for the AWD model unlocking 5.3-second 0-62 mph capability.
Kia will exhibit the EV9 at the 2023 Seoul Mobility Show, which begins this week, before giving it a North American debut at the 2023 New York International Auto Show next week. It will open preorders in South Korea in Q2 2023 ahead of a launch in select global markets during the second half of the year.