Kia EV9 is going viral among consumers around the world. Its solid design and imposing appearance ensured a high presence and excellent space utilization. In addition, despite its large size, it achieved a comfortable driving range of 501 km (2WD 19-inch wheels, domestic standard), resolving the inconvenience of charging, which is one of the concerns of EV owners. This isn’t the only reason why the EV9 is a hot potato; The EV9 currently belongs to the three-row SUV segment, which is one of the best-selling vehicles in the North American automobile market. It is expected to be very popular as it is a large electric SUV that is not common around the world.
Three auto columnists came forward to learn more about the charms of the EV9. Dong-hee Lee, a veteran consultant in the automobile industry, Woosung Jung, lifestyle magazine director, and Hojun Park, men’s magazine editor and father in his 30s, talk about the EV9 from their own perspectives.
Regardless of the era, the world has changed rapidly. However, the speed and momentum of recent changes are so rapid that it is truly difficult to keep up - especially with new technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence, and electronic communication technologies, which are commonly classified as the 4th Industrial Revolution. Now, artificial intelligence can write better than ordinary people, draw better pictures, and various news such as urban air mobility are being reported. At the root of this innovation is ‘electricity’, which is so natural as air that we easily forget its existence.
Since Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in the 18th century, proving that lightning is electricity, and Thomas Edison created the incandescent light bulb in the late 19th century to brighten the world, electricity has constituted modern civilization. In the automobile field, batteries and drive motors served as the vehicle’s power source until the internal combustion engine was developed and fuel became readily available. In other words, current electric vehicles are the result of development of related technologies and reflection of social demands for eco-friendly vehicles.
Kia has responded to the demand for electrification in the automotive sector through many steps. In Plan S for 2020, the automaker said it would provide more purpose-based mobility (PBV) as one of its three core business strategies and become a mobility solutions company. And to support this goal, the company also proposed the construction of a full lineup of EVs. At the 2023 CEO Investor Day, the company declared its vision to expand the electric vehicle lineup to 15 types by 2027 and increase the proportion of electric vehicles to 1.6 million units out of the 2030 global sales target of 4.3 million units. This is an increase of 200,000 units from the 1.4 million units announced in 2022, and was a specific plan to increase electric vehicle sales by 11% in North America and Europe. And this includes a very aggressive strategy of introducing electric vehicles into the pickup truck market, which is very popular in the North American market.
EV9 presents this direction for Kia; Kia, which has continuously produced internal combustion engines since its establishment in 1944, began a major change when it made the electric vehicle EV9 its flagship model. In terms of price, the EV9 costs more than 100 million won, compared to about 89 million won for the K9, which includes all specifications. In addition, the EV9 will serve as Kia’s technological flagship model equipped with advanced electrification technology.
Even in the United States, one of its largest markets, the EV9 is expected to cost more than $70,000 to $80,000 with AWD and various additional features added. This means that there will be a change in the customer base visiting Kia showrooms. In other words, EV9 will begin to change Kia’s brand image as competition with premium brand electric vehicles is inevitable. For reference, as of August 2023, the most expensive vehicles sold by Kia in the United States are the internal combustion engine model Sorento plug-in hybrid, which costs about $52,000, and the electric vehicle EV6 GT, which costs about $63,000.
Considering the fact that EV9 is almost the only large electric SUV made by an ordinary automaker, it also symbolizes the strategic change in the automobile industry that has entered the era of electrification. And these symbolic changes are also reflected in the exterior of the EV9 we tested this time - like the digital pattern lighting grille on the front, for example. EV9’s digital pattern lighting grille allows users to select an optional lighting pattern. This provides customized customer service, which is important in luxury cars. The interior also has a mix of straight lines and curves, giving it a refreshing feel. The softly lit emblem on the steering wheel and the air conditioning button engraved on the wood trim exude luxury and elegance.
The ergo motion seat, which adjusts the side bolsters in conjunction with the driving mode, and the second-row independent premium relaxation seat not only have a large adjustment angle, but also have a leg support function, allowing passengers to rest comfortably. Also, if there is a second-row independent swivel seat like the test car, even tall adults can enjoy a very spacious cabin by turning the second-row seat 180° in the reverse direction and then sitting in the third row and putting their feet on the second-row seat. If I were a buyer, it would take me a long time to decide between the premium relaxation seat and the swivel seat with a large adjustment range. The trunk provides ample loading space for a family of five or more traveling. Even with the seats in the third row, two or three 50L bags can fit upright.
The driving feeling is truly SUV-like - it is a rich ride, not the bouncing ride that people often say negatively. The EV9 test car (4WD, 21-inch wheels, 6-seater) with a curb weight of 2,585 kg runs as heavy as its weight. Personally, I liked it best when driving slowly in eco mode. In an electric SUV with a high seating height and excellent instantaneous acceleration, greater bouncing may be felt when driving, but this feeling is reduced in the EV9’s eco mode.
In eco mode, most of the time the vehicle is driven only by the rear-wheel drive motor, except when starting off. Additionally, the rear-wheel drive motor performs regenerative braking, which reduces speed even without applying the brake. Compared to regenerative braking with a front-wheel drive motor, there is less pitching front and rear, so the ride comfort is much better. There is enough power even in eco mode, so you can enjoy a comfortable drive.
We visited E-pit, Hyundai Motor Group’s fast charging network, and tried fast charging the EV9. Starting with 46% of the battery remaining, it takes about 12 minutes to fill it to 80%. Approximately 38 kWh of power was filled, and the increased driving range reached 200 km. The average charging power per hour was about 185 kW, and the maximum charging power was 217 kW. This is one of the fastest charging speeds among electric vehicles sold both inside and outside of Korea. In addition, even in 50kW-fast charging, charging is performed with 44kW power to exceed 90%. The fact that the EV9 can charge so quickly is all thanks to Hyundai Motor Group’s electric vehicle-specific platform E-GMP, which supports the 800V charging system.
Personally, the experience of sleeping in an electric car equipped with E-GMP was very new. Using the utility mode, one of the features of E-GMP, I was able to enjoy a very comfortable outdoor life by operating the air conditioner with minimal external lighting. The experience of charging a laptop or watching a movie using a 220V power outlet indoors at a comfortable temperature without even starting the engine is very impressive. Of course, it is also possible to use electric heating appliances with the V2L function. If you experience camping with Hyundai Motor Group’s exclusive electric vehicle based on E-GMP, you will fall in love with its advantages - not to mention the spacious interior of the EV9.
The EV9 shows not only its spaciousness and versatility, but also its superiority in electrification technology befitting a Kia flagship. In addition, Kia plans to become a mobility solutions company that goes beyond automobiles by combining other electric vehicles to be released in the future and PBVs that will present a new direction in automobile space utilization. What makes EV9 special is that it is the beginning of all these changes.
by Dong-hee Lee (auto columnist, consultant)
“Geez, what is going on in this world!” I was shocked when I said these words, and there are two reasons. The first was that I said something an old man would say, and the second was that I had the same worry again while watching the news just a few days ago; Hail over 10 cm in diameter fell in Italy. A large, uncontrollable forest fire has struck Canada. And record-breaking heat waves exceeding 50°C were plaguing many countries. Even my seven-year-old son said every time there was news about global warming, “Dad, the Earth must be hurting a lot.”
My favorite part of the EV9’s interior is the mesh-type first row headrest; This is inspired by office chairs. When you lean your head against the headrest, the tightly woven fabric wraps the back of your head and neck with soft elasticity. In addition to pursuing a sustainable future using eco-friendly materials, there is one more reason why young fathers in their 30s should choose the EV9 - it has a second-row swivel seat that can face 180° backwards and 90° to the side. This allows passengers in the second and third rows to sit facing each other, just as people used to travel facing each other on a train. Additionally, if the second-row seats are rotated 180°, the third-row accommodations can become much more spacious.
Swivel seats are even more useful if you have young children. Anyone who has ever installed a child car seat will fully agree. Children’s car seats are bulky enough to fill the cabin, even if installed in a mid-size car. At this time, if you install a car seat in the third row using a swivel seat, you can utilize the space more comfortably. For example, if you suddenly need to look after a child in the car, you can comfortably face the child by turning the swivel seat in the reverse direction. Of course, ISOFIX is installed as standard on the third row of seats. Additionally, even when the swivel seat is reversed, passengers riding in the third row do not have to push or pull the second row seat.
If your child is old enough to not need a car seat, you may want to consider a lounge package. Among the 6-seater models, the lounge package, which is available only by selecting the relaxation seat, adds a second-row built-in refrigerator, a pop-up folding table, and a smartphone wireless charging pad. In particular, the built-in refrigerator is a unique advantage of the EV9 in that it is a high-end feature usually found in large sedans or luxury SUVs. One way to enjoy the EV9’s unique charm is to enjoy a short break by leaning on the reclining relaxation seat while the car is charging.
The emergence of the EV9 has many important implications for young fathers considering a family car. For a family with two children, a midsize or larger SUV is more of a necessity than a choice; They must carry two infant car seats and a stroller in their car at all times. This is why most people who liked sports sedans or coupes switch to SUVs or minivans after becoming parents. In other words, the EV9 presents a new option as an electric vehicle in the family car list that only had internal combustion engines such as Palisade, Sorento, and Carnival.
No one knows yet whether Kia’s strategy will work, but for now, it works well for my family. My seven-year-old son, who has become very interested in cars, was constantly impressed by the EV9. Of course, the admiration is that it is ‘big’, ‘quiet’, and ‘it is amazing how the chair turns’. He may not know it, but this car has excellent driving performance for a large SUV, with a maximum output of 283kW and a maximum torque of 700Nm based on 4WD, and it has four terrain modes so even simple off-road driving is no problem.
It won’t be too late for him to find out after he grows up and gets to see the EV9 not as a test car but as his dad’s car. The small change of turning the seat and sitting down creates an opportunity for communication by making eye contact and having a conversation with the passenger. And choosing to drive the EV9, which emits no exhaust gases and strives to recycle resources, may slow down climate change, which is becoming more serious by the day.
by Hojun Park (Esquire magazine Editor)
Space contains life and leisure. A larger space means the freedom to realize a variety of lifestyles, the weekends of your dreams, and a satisfying daily life. It is also well known that creativity develops in spaces with high ceilings, and concentration increases in spacious places. The same goes for spaces that can be infinitely personal and family-oriented at the same time, like a car.
Compared to an internal combustion engine, the number of parts is significantly fewer and the space is saved by storing the battery on the floor of the car, which is also a characteristic and advantage of electric vehicles. With these advantages as its basis, the EV9 is a large electric SUV that secures an overwhelming amount of space that is unparalleled among electric vehicles.
The EV9’s high driver’s seat offers a wide open view. Even on the roads in the city, I feel at ease as if I were on a hill looking down on the city or driving on a road with a view of the ocean in the distance. In EV9, you can choose a 7-seater or 6-seater model depending on your lifestyle. The walk-through design in the center of the 6-seater cabin allows passengers to move between the second and third rows more conveniently.
At this time, the EV9’s high overall interior height helps passengers move between seats with less head-down. Of all the SUVs I’ve experienced so far, there are few cases where moving around in a car is this comfortable. It’s comfortable even when sitting on the seat. The space in the third row was not created carelessly, and it provides adequate convenience to satisfy passengers. A large electric SUV that can accommodate six adults on a long-distance trip offers the potential to shine in every space.
With EV9, digital nomads who can work alone anywhere, and those who want to get out of the office and be inspired by the sea with wide hearing and sight, can leave without any worries as soon as they feel like doing so. If you have a laptop computer, there’s nothing you can’t do, so pack it in a small backpack and when the battery is about to run out, simply plug the adapter into the power outlet in the trunk. If the EV9 is equipped with a 6-seater swivel seat, this large space can be used as an office. You can sit in the second row of seats and focus on work while looking at the outside scenery, or sit in the third row and stretch your legs on the second row of seats.
When the second row of seats is fully folded, it becomes a small table, and when both the second and third rows are folded, the cabin becomes a truly spacious room. It is not impossible to lie down, sit comfortably on the floor, or sit at a small table and enjoy the elegance of concentrating like a noble. If you’re so focused on work that the sun has set and you don’t have to go home right away, it might be a good idea to lay out a sleeping bag or mat and enjoy the night in EV9.
The EV9’s battery has a large capacity of 99.8 kWh. This is enough power to decorate a cozy space in utility mode. A night where you set the air conditioning system to an appropriate indoor temperature and listen to music through the Meridian audio system will be a great way to end a day that you would never be able to spend in the city. The driving range of a large electric SUV with such overwhelming space can reach up to 501 km in 2WD.
This test car, which rolls four wheels with a dual motor, is agile enough to not feel heavy thanks to its powerful performance with a maximum output of 283kW. When you turn the steering wheel, the front of the bonnet turns very quickly. The amount of shock that the suspension expertly absorbs is significant. While other electric vehicles felt dull due to their weight, this one overcomes the ride quality with its ability. Its ride quality provides stability not only on-road but also during simple off-road driving or when your parents are in the car.
Electric vehicles are not an easy choice in themselves, and many people believe that there is still a lot to consider. However, the EV9 is tackling that stereotype by surpassing its value as a car or means of transportation. Above all, the EV9 is an electric car with a unique character in that it has succeeded in fully capturing the possibilities of daily life and lifestyle while taking full advantage of the unique advantages of electric cars. Of course, as a car, the basics are also satisfactory. This provides a comfortable ride and dynamic handling, and secures a driving range comparable to that of an internal combustion engine despite having a huge body and space.
Therefore, EV9 will be tempting to those who pursue a challenging yet comfortable daily life, those who have the imagination to fill and utilize vast spaces, and those who can fully enjoy its versatility. EV9 has become a pioneer in the radically evolving electric vehicle market, and times are changing rapidly. If you deserve the advanced changes, there seems to be no need to hesitate in choosing EV9.
by Woosung Jung (Lifestyle Columnist, CEO of The Park)
Above are the opinions of three columnists about the EV9. Lee gave an in-depth look at the symbolism and meaning of EV9 in the global automobile industry, while Park looked at its eco-friendly aspects and advantages as a family car. Jeong also described EV9 as a platform that can provide a creative lifestyle through an overwhelming space. Summarizing their opinions, EV9 presents a new direction for electric vehicles. It has innovative space utilization, a technologically superior electrified powertrain, a spacious interior, and various possibilities to match. This may be the reason why the global automobile industry is currently paying attention to EV9.
Dong-hee Lee (auto columnist, consultant)
He is the CEO of Full Throttle Company, an automotive education and consulting company, and an auto columnist.
Hojun Park (Esquire Magazine Editor)
After working as an editor for Car magazine Korea and Motor Trend magazine Korea, he is currently creating content for men at Esquire magazine Korea.
Woosung Jung (Lifestyle Columnist, CEO of The Park)
He was an auto journalist at GQ and Esquire, and is currently working as the director of YouTube lifestyle magazine The Park.
Edit by Inju Lee
Photography by Daeil Choi and Beomseok Kim
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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