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KIA’S ALL-NEW EV9 – #MeThree Movement

Kia's EV9 electric SUV brings space comfort and adventure to every journey

Car Reviews

KIA’S ALL-NEW EV9 – #MeThree Movement


#MeThree Movement*

*Three rows, three tons.

As I’ve written and they’ve written, sales of all-electric vehicles are flatlining. And no, that’s not flatlining as if strapped to a gurney – it’s flatlining as if they’ve hit a plateau; which, at least figuratively, they have. The rush by early adopters to purchase an EV has slowed, largely because those early adopters have already adopted, while most middle-class folk, when considering spending north of $50K for an EV, have paused – and will likely extend that pause well into the unpredictable future. And if there’s a better indication of that pause than seeing Kia’s newly introduced 3-row EV9 sit on dealership lots, this engaged observer doesn’t know what ‘that’ might look like.

The 3-row crossover is the be all/end all of automotive consumerism. It’s been some 35 years since my wife and I last had a kid in a child seat, and with eight years of age difference between our first and second we had two in child seats only briefly. Although we did succumb to a wagon – a ’78 Plymouth Volare – for the most part during that period we went from BMWs to Jeeps to Hondas, a decline that closely followed my earnings. At that point in this country’s automotive history it was the minivan that took kids to soccer games, and – of course – they still do. But the 3-row crossover is the go-to vehicle for when you’ve got the kids – and after the kids have gone to bed.

Kia, of course, has navigated the 3-row waters previously, introducing its Telluride to critical acclaim and commercial success a few years ago and, more recently, injecting its Carnival minivan (previously known as Sedona) with a serving of luxury, convenience and – most recently – a hybrid drivetrain. The EV9 is an outgrowth of Kia’s 2-row EV6, and adds to the Hyundai – Kia’s corporate sibling – Ioniq 5 ‘crossover’ and Ioniq 6 sedan. There is, in short, a whole lot of electrification going on.

In the walk-up to the EV9 my initial impression is of a bulked-up Telluride. If the Telluride was running track in high school, the EV9 was heaving a shotput; it looks to be over a 1,000 pounds heavier, in large part because it is. Curb weight on the average Telluride is roughly 4,500 pounds, as is Kia’s 2-row EV6, while our all-wheel drive EV9 checks in at 5,700 pounds – almost three tons. And 1,200 pounds of that is battery pack, which allows – in our Land AWD trim – 300+ miles of driving range from that battery pack. And when discussing range anxiety among all-electric considerations, which is inevitable, know that from this driver’s seat 300+ miles of range is significantly better than 250 miles of range.

Notably, Kia’s press material suggests an average savings of almost $1,700 per year in fuel costs when compared to that Telluride, a total of roughly $8500 over five years. That, of course, is juxtaposed against the additional $20K you’ve invested in the EV9’s $74K window sticker when compared to a Telluride – comparably equipped – priced in the mid-$50s. If leasing the cost disparity isn’t that great (it may be nothing), and leasing is a viable option when considering any EV. But dollars are dollars, and a $74K window sticker gives one pause – even with the EV9’s 0-60 of under six seconds.

In contrast to Kia’s EV6, whose bodywork seems to have been sculpted with a scalpel, the EV9 looks to have been carved using a blunt instrument, as both the front and rear are little more than big blocks, looking almost Soviet in their execution. To be sure, my impression may have been colored by our test EV9’s lack of color – the Ivory Silver Matte is, to be polite, quiet – while other choices in the Kia colorway are much more expressive.

Inside, our test EV9’s offered more of the sameness. At this year’s LA Auto Show we saw EV9s on display with colors and textures that popped, while our test vehicle’s gray-on-gray just kinda’ sat there. This is a comfortable environment, with its second-row captain’s chairs and third row folding seat adding up to expansive room for six. Ergonomically, the only question I had is the location of the starter button, which is largely hidden by the EV9’s steering wheel. You want to light this candle? Well, where-the-hell is the button?

On the road the EV9’s platform is comfortable and composed. You can’t really disguise the Kia’s almost 200 inches of overall length or 5,700 unladen pounds, but while it’s not the tossable projectile offered by Kia’s EV6, neither is it Chevrolet’s Suburban. After a week’s worth of driving I was comfortable in it everywhere but tight parking spots. Typically, I always park out and get in my steps, but sometimes you simply can’t park out.

These remain interesting times for the car market. If I were on Kia’s product team I would have argued to have electrified the Telluride sheetmetal, much as Genesis did with its GV70. But then, in my view most of those owning a big 3-row crossover could just as easily buy Kia’s EV6 and rent the 3-row when it’s necessary to use one. The EV6 is compelling, while Kia’s EV9 certainly fills a perceived need; it just doesn’t fill mine.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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