Remember those real hip hamsters that starred in Kia’s Soul commercials? If they finally grew up and started a family, the EV9 is exactly the electric vehicle they’d be looking to buy.
Kia this week revealed the production version of the EV9 SUV in South Korea, and it’s looking like a three-row Telluride in size but a Soul in appearance. The center row is particularly interesting in the EV9, as the automaker highlights swiveling seats for a six-seater version of the SUV.
The two center seats in the six-seater Kia EV9 can be rotated to face the two rear seats for maximum face-to-face children-screaming action. The seats can also be rotated toward the doors, too, which looks like it could make it easier to situate your kid without breaking your back.
But as our deputy editor Dan Seifert notes: “no family would opt for fewer seats.” No worries: Kia says it’s also making a seven-seater version for people like Dan who are desperately shopping for the perfect all-electric family vehicle.
“The Kia EV9 offers customers an exceptionally high-quality proposition and a fresh EV perspective in the family SUV sector,” EVP and head of Kia Global Design Center Karim Habib states in a press release. The EV9 joins a really small party of all-electric, three-row-seat family haulers, including the Rivian R1S, Mercedes EQS SUV, and the Tesla Model X and Model Y.
Save for the Model Y, most three-row electric SUV options retail for more than $100,000. But Kia’s EV9 might break that mold. It’s built on Hyundai’s E-GMP electric vehicle platform, and so far, the most expensive vehicle to use it is the Genesis GV60, which starts at about $60,000 and is considered a luxury vehicle.
The EV9 doesn’t really have that luxury flair its concept version exuded, and that might be its biggest win. It does have some unique looks besides its Soul-ful shape, including the three-way intersection-style tail lights, flush door handles, and geometric aero-style rims. It also has tessellated and animating front LEDs that make up what the automaker calls a “Digital Tiger Face,” which the automaker teased last week.
The driver experience includes two side-by-side 12.3-inch touchscreens along with a dedicated 5-inch screen segment in the middle that has climate controls and other functions at the ready. There are also physical buttons for climate control and a row of digital media buttons with haptic feedback, as demoed in this Fully Charged video.
The real test for Kia will be whether it can attract gas-model SUV buyers, including those shopping for Kia’s own Telluride SUV. Kia’s EV9 is expected to be close in size to the Telluride, which is 196.9 inches long, 78.3 inches wide, and 68.9 inches tall compared to the concept EV9’s 194 inches length, 78.3 inches width and 68.9 inches height. Meanwhile, the Telluride’s wheelbase is 114.2 inches vs. the battery-bellied EV9’s 122 inches.
Kia has yet to reveal the full specs, battery range, pricing, and availability of the production EV9 but will divulge it all later this month.