The success of the Kia Telluride and Kia EV6 are the foundation for the bold new 2024 Kia EV9, a three-row, battery-electric flagship SUV Kia Motors unveiled Tuesday. The big, bold new EV represents a further evolution of the brand’s Opposites United design language.
While the company didn’t reveal any technical details about the new vehicle, they did address its design and the maturing of the company’s design approach.
“It embraces contrast, it embraces things that come together that that we don’t necessarily believe come together. We think that represents life represents a diversity of life and that is, in our view, the beauty that sometimes comes from these things that are not necessarily perfect, yet so greatly go together,” said Karim Habib, executive vice president and head of Kia Global Design.
A closer look
The first thing you notice about the 2024 Kia EV9 is the electrified rendition of it signature Tiger Face fascia, one that incorporates vertical headlamps with a shape that recalls a star cluster, a design element most likely to be seen on future Kia EVs.
The hood itself lacks a power dome hood or creases. Instead, it picks up the idented portion of the Tiger Face fascia and visually wraps up and back across the hood, lending a sense of motion to the design. It’s mirrored in the windshield, bracketed by blackened A-pillars that blend with the glass to give it a wraparound appearance. When paired with the body-color roof, it looks much like a baseball cap visor.
The wraparound glass treatment led designers to lowering the beltline, which not only enlarged the windows, allowing for better outward visibility, it makes the wheels look bigger.
It gives movement and softness to a tall boxy shape inspired not only by traditional, large SUVs, but also by the Kia Telluride, which has been a sales phenomenon that caught Kia by surprise.
Its boxy form is echoed throughout the vehicle by a small square, one that’s seen on various parts of the vehicle, including the slanted side window trim. And its blunt back end and side window shape recall the iconic Kia Soul, a vehicle that’s still an indelible part of Kia’s brand identity. Yet the forms aren’t merely replicated and enlarged; they are reimagined to lend a familiarity to the vehicle, while avoiding duplicative design.
Opposites United indeed
But the brand’s Opposites United design philosophy is everywhere on the vehicle’s exterior design. Just as designers sought to create visual movement around the vehicle, a difficult task given its blocky silhouette. But the design philosophy led the team to soften the sheet metal below the beltline, giving it a sumptuous nature that offsets the EV9’s harder edges.
And as boxy as it is, designers endowed the EV9 with as much sleekness as possible, which can be seen by the use of lush door handles.
The clever use of contrasts can be seen in the wheels, where the inset metallic trim forms a square within the wheels’ round opening. It’s clever.
Built on Kia’s Electric Global Modular Platform, or E-GMP for short, it comes with seating for six or seven spread across three rows. Cleverly, the second-row seats swivel 180 degrees to face the third row. And the flat floor and large windows endow the cabin with a feeling of airiness and space.
Ambience is a bit more conventional than its exterior, and it lacks any hint of piano black trim, a hackneyed design solution too often used by modern car designers. Like the exterior, the interior’s instrument panel and door panels accentuate the car’s width and length. Its dominated by a large horizontal screen fitted with two 12.3 inch screens, one for the driver, the other for infotainment.
The wrap up
The 2024 Kia EV9 marks a notable maturing of Kia’s design approach on an architecture that has proven itself on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. This is a far larger vehicle, one perfectly suited to please Americans. But the vehicle is a major milestone for the brand, as well as the American vehicle market, as it’s the first fully electric, mainstream, midsize, three-row SUV to go on sale here.
Kia has yet to confirm any information on its dimensions, range, powertrain, or battery pack. These specifics should be revealed during the EV9’s formal introduction in early April. Look for the 2024 Kia EV9 to reach showrooms by year’s end or early 2024.