Kia previews design of production EV9 flagship electric SUV

Kia has released teaser images of its EV9 flagship electric SUV, which is scheduled to debut in production-ready form March 15.

Those images hint at styling that’s broadly similar to the EV9 concept that debuted at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show, preserving the concept’s boxy profile, vertical headlights, and even the angled side glass, which comes to a point at the rear roof pillar.

The concept loaded up on design ideas, including recycled fibers throughout, a Pause Mode that turns allows seats to turn and face each other, and an Enjoy Mode for tailgating. While we don’t expect to see all of this on the production EV9, expect some packaging innovation.

Kia EV9 teaser

Kia EV9 teaser

Likely to reach the U.S. in the second half of 2023, the production EV9 is expected to offer three rows of seating and some off-road capability—essentially equaling the brand’s gasoline Telluride. The automaker has also confirmed that the production EV9 will have a range of up to 300 miles.

It may also be U.S.-built—eventually. Production might be shifted to Hyundai’s Georgia “Metaplant,” when that plant is up and running around 2026.

The EV9 will be the largest vehicle yet to be designed and built on the E-GMP dedicated electric vehicle platform shared by Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis, although the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7 could rival it.

In 2022, when it confirmed that prototypes were out testing, Kia said that the EV9 “will become the brand’s flagship model and will revolutionize the large electric SUV segment”—setting the stage for a price that might just approach luxury vehicles.

Kia EV9 concept

Kia EV9 concept

Kia may be able to justify a higher price by targeting the Rivian R1S, the only other electric SUV currently available that combines off-road capability and three-row seating. The U.S. firm has struggled to ramp up production to meet high demand.

The EV9’s built-in off-road prowess and more outdoorsy emphasis could serve another purpose as well. The brand has confirmed that a Kia electric pickup is in the works as a global model—perhaps with an EV9-basis—although it has stopped just short of confirming U.S. sales.

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