Kia’s Telluride three-row SUV took the automotive world by storm when it arrived in 2019, winning our 2020 SUV of the Year award and selling like used droids at a Jawa convention—and it remains white-hot even now. It’s no wonder, then, that Kia once again leaned on an upright, T-square aesthetic for its latest electric vehicle concept, the EV9 full-size SUV.
Debuting at the Los Angeles auto show alongside corporate cousin Hyundai’s SEVEN concept, the EV9 has no internal-combustion analogue, being a pure electric vehicle on the company’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). No detailed powertrain specs are cited, but little brother EV6, the company’s first EV-only production model and a fine-driving machine, has 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque.
Those seem like decent places to start for an eventual production EV9, although the numbers will surely go higher for what would eventually be the brand’s flagship offering. Range is stated to be 300 miles, and Kia touts ultrafast charging speeds of up to 350 kW that can replenish its battery pack from 10 to 80 percent in 20 to 30 minutes.
Indeed, Kia hints throughout its press materials for the EV9 that something similar is coming to dealerships. The EV6 is offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations, and we’d expect the same—if not AWD standard—for the EV9. It’s roughly Telluride-sized, being three inches shorter in length, three inches taller, and 1.5 inches wider than that model. But the EV platform pays off with eight additional inches of wheelbase, which should deliver greater interior space.
The exterior design is certainly blocky, and the panels appear to have been hewn from stone, with sharp-edged creases providing definition to the body sides, hood, and liftgate. The D-pillar incorporates a triangle motif that we wouldn’t be surprised to see become a Kia signature for its SUVs. In a sweet, ’80s sort of touch, triangles are also applied to the wheels; these pieces are said to control airflow across the wheels’ surfaces. At night, the front and rear running lights take on a bit of a circuit board look.
The front fascia incorporates a full-width take on Kia’s now familiar “tiger nose” grille shape, as well as running lights that are essentially invisible when they’re not illuminated. As is current trend, these lights perform a little show when the vehicle is approached. A duct on the hood does double duty as a solar panel to capture energy for the batteries, cameras are used in place of side mirrors, and the roof rails can be retracted or raised at the touch of a button.
The front doors open conventionally, while the rears swing open clamshell-style. Kia envisions a customizable interior that turns the six-passenger car into a space to chill when it’s not on the move. In one mode, the middle row folds to become a table while the front two seats swing around to face the rearmost occupants, while another opens the tailgate and swings the rearmost seats backward to provide a view out the rear. At what, we’re not sure, but okay.
Recycled fishnets—we assume the non-hosiery variety—were used to create the flooring, while the upholstery is made from recycled plastic bottles. Anything that looks like animal hides is actually faux “vegan” leather, and Kia says it intends to gradually reduce its use of actual leather in its production vehicles. The dashboard is minimalist, a trend we continue to support, with the squircle-shaped steering wheel placed in front of a 27.0-inch display used to control the climate control, infotainment, and pretty much any other function.
Overall, the EV9 is a rad-looking, chic take on the future of large electric SUVs—as with the conventionally powered Telluride, we wouldn’t mind at all finding one in our driveway.
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