336-Mile Kia EV9 SUV debuts with downloadable performance upgrades
Upcoming Kia Flagship electric SUV looks even more interesting than expected. The automaker shared a boatload of new details on Tuesday, including range estimates, dimensions and a closer look at its transforming second-row seats. The EV9 also appears to be Kia’s most updatable model yet, with over-the-air updates and purchases adding features, services and even extra torque after owners walk away from the dealership.
I appreciate Kia’s clean slate approach with each new launch of this next generation electrified. Although both are interpretations of the automaker’s Opposites United design philosophy, the EV9 looks nothing like the EV6 that preceded it. The new model drapes its aesthetic over the traditional, upright SUV frame with a boxy profile and strong, chunky shoulders. Up front, stacked vertical headlights flank what Kia calls the EV9’s “Digital Tiger Face,” a closed-back version of the automaker’s Tiger Nose grille that incorporates user-customizable digital lighting into its design.
The EV9 measures 197.2 inches from bumper to bumper, just 0.3 inches longer than Kia’s award-winning Telluride Three-row SUV. However, the clever packaging of the EV9 platform dedicated to the electric vehicle E-GMP allowed its designers to extend its wheelbase to 122 inches axle-to-axle, 7.8 inches longer than its combustion cousin, freeing up interior volume for passengers and cargo.
My time with our Long-term Carnival Prestige a few years ago showed me that Kia knows a thing or two about creating a surprisingly premium second-row experience. The EV9 takes that to the next level. The electric SUV is available in six- or seven-passenger configurations. The main configuration features swing-out second-row buckets that can either swing out to face the third-row – which might be great for card games on the road – or swing out for easier access to doors and loading car seats. Starting with the EV9, Kia says it is phasing out the use of leather in its interiors, instead using more durable upholstery materials. Throughout the cabin, you’ll find less PVC plastics and more recycled materials and biomaterials.
Although it looks like a futuristic brick, the EV9 is more aerodynamic than you might think. Minimal vents, a flat underbody and other clever tricks to guide air around the body help the EV9 achieve a respectable drag coefficient of just 0.29, which should help preserve range. at highway speeds.
Speaking of range, Kia estimates the new EV9 will go up to 336 miles, depending on spec, over the generous WLTP test cycle – the US EPA’s less forgiving methodology will almost certainly see that number drop. The SUV will be offered with two battery options and in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
The base “standard range” model combines a 76.1 kilowatt-hour battery with a single 214 horsepower electric motor. By twisting the rear axle up to 258 lb-ft of torque, it will go from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in about 8.2 seconds. The switch to the 99.8kWh “long-range” battery strangely comes with a reduction to 201bhp, which extends the 0-62mph hustle to 9.4 seconds and range at that estimate of 336 miles. At the top of the range – for now – the twin-motor GT-Line model adds a second motor to the front axle, boosting combined output to 378 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. Thus equipped, the EV9 reaches 100 km/h in 6 seconds flat.
If that’s not enough, the EV9’s over-the-air firmware will allow users to download more power. The Kia Connect Store of the automaker’s vehicle management app will offer a purchasable “Boost” that unlocks more front-engine performance, bringing total torque to 516 lb-ft. Other DLCs offered through the automaker’s digital storefront will include the Remote Smart Parking feature, music and video streaming services and even alternate themes for the digital light signature.
Like the EV6, the EV9’s 800-volt electrical architecture gives it access to fast DC charging. The automaker estimates that, at a powerful 250kW station, around 148 miles of range can be added with just 15 minutes of charging. Kia’s vehicle-to-charge function is also supported, delivering 3.68kW of AC power output to power appliances, electronics or even other EVs in the blink of an eye. Post-launch, Kia will also release an OTA update that enables vehicle-to-grid functionality, allowing owners to resell power to utilities at select locations through the Kia Connect Store.
The all-new Kia EV9 is set to go on sale in select countries from the second half of 2023. I’ll be taking an up-close and personal look at the three-row electric SUV next week when the EV9 makes its North American debut at the Auto Show. New York auto.
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