First Mainstream Electric Three-Row SUV

  • These are the first photos and video of the production 2024 Kia ​​EV9, an electric three-row SUV.
  • Its bluff and blocky appearance remains true to the EV9 concept from 2021.
  • Although we’ve sat in each of the EV9’s three spacious rows, Kia won’t yet confirm any details about its powertrain, battery pack, range or even dimensions. We expect these details to be announced during the EV9’s official debut in early April.

In both size and mission, you can think of the 2024 Kia ​​EV9 as an electric Telluride, and we’re sure Kia would love for its latest EV to have the breakout success of that gas-powered SUV. The EV9’s debut is a particularly big deal because it’s the first electric entry in the popular midsize, three-row SUV segment, where vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Toyota Highlander and, of course, Kia Telluride are sold by the hundreds of thousands a year in the U.S. There are certainly some three-row EVs available, like the Rivian R1S or the Tesla Model X, but both are much more expensive. And the Model Y can be had with an optional third row, but it’s tiny.

These first photos of the production EV9, one of 15 EVs that Kia has promised by 2027, show it pretty closely matches the concept shown at the 2021 Los Angeles show. The Kia design team, led by Karim Habib, describes the EV9’s exterior as “refined silliness,” a mix of sharp edges—like the triangular shapes protruding from the rear doors, a less dramatic version than what was on the concept—but also very rounded shapes. It has presence, with high shoulders but a low beltline for good visibility. Expect to see these vertical head and tail light designs on future Kias. This early build prototype wears 21-inch wheels, but 19s and 20s will also be offered. The wheel inserts are also very sharp, with both square and triangle options on display at the event we attended in Seoul to get closer to the EV9.

Everything is Big except the Frunk

Kia has yet to confirm the EV9’s powertrain, battery capacity, range or even dimensions, but we can say standing side-by-side that it closely matches the dimensions of the EV9 concept, which is similar to that of the Telluride, but with an eight inch wheelbase stretch. This is no teardrop EV, and the long and flat roofline makes for excellent headroom in the second and third rows, even for extremely tall adults. The only thing small about the EV9 is its small notch. But of course, aerodynamics are especially important on EVs, and small details like the rear spoiler that extends from the roofline alone account for a significant improvement—0.006 to 0.007 according to Habib—to the EV9’s drag coefficient.

Again, Kia isn’t talking dimensions yet, but compared to the Telluride, the second row is at least as roomy—with ample front-rear adjustability—and the third row has more legroom and especially headroom. Second-row seats also swivel to face the rear—remember Chrysler’s Swivel ‘n Go introduced on its 2008 minivan?—but the space left between them in this setup is slim. The EV9 will come in either six- or seven-passenger variants, depending on whether the second row has buckets or a bench. In uplevel models, the third row is power-folding.

A spacious interior with details that make it feel even more so

In addition to actual spaciousness, Jochen Paesen, the VP of interior design, describes the deliberate choices to make the EV9’s interior feel even airier than it is. For example, they chose not to make a dash design that wraps around the doors, as this could lead to an impression of feeling enclosed. For the same reason, the headrests on the front seats are mesh so that rear passengers can look past them. The dash is horizontal and minimalist, and protruding from what looks like one giant screen are two 12.3-inch screens—one for the gauge cluster and a second for infotainment—with a dedicated HVAC readout between them. Physical knobs and buttons are pared down compared to Kia’s current lineup, with just a few key HVAC controls and a volume knob remaining, along with touch-sensitive controls built into the dash for jumping to different menus. It’s an entirely new generation of infotainment, but Kia isn’t yet talking about details or features of this new system.

Based on information from a survey conducted by Kia, we expect the EV9 to come with either a single rear motor or one at each axle for four-wheel drive and be priced in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. The EV9 concept claimed a range of 300 miles, and that matches the display readout of this early prototype, which showed 91 percent battery and 436 km (271 miles) empty. The concept also promises even faster charging than the EV6, which is already one of the fastest we’ve tested.

We expect many of these questions will soon be answered at the EV9’s official debut in late March, which Kia says will go on sale in late 2023 or early 2024.

Head shot by Dave VanderWerp

Director, Vehicle Testing

Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in various roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leads Car and Driver‘s vehicle testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start at C/D by accidentally submitting an unsolicited resume at just the right time to get a part-time road warrior job when he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately charmed touched the world of motoring journalism.