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2023 Kia EV9 SUV to get upgradable tech via over-the-air updates

New seven-seat electric SUV is the brand’s flagship model, and it’ll be the most expensive Kia ever when it goes on sale this year

  • Will sit above EV6 in Kia’s EV range
  • Up to 336 miles of range
  • Six and seven-seater versions offered

Following the Kia EV9 electric SUV’s recent reveal, its maker has now announced key range and charging information, confirming the flagship model will be capable of more than 300 miles on a charge. It’ll get a bigger battery than any existing Kia model, and will debut the brand’s “conditional” Level 3 autonomous driving technology.

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The EV9 will also be Kia’s first model to offer on-demand features via over-the-air software updates – the brand says motorists are entering a new era dubbed the “Software Defined Vehicle”, in which buyers will be able to opt in and out of certain features such as autonomous driving technology remotely, even after the car has left the forecourt. 

The new EV9 is Kia’s range-topping pure-electric seven-seat SUV. Designed to sit above the existing Kia Niro EV and EV6, it will be the most expensive Kia ever when it goes on sale later this year. Prices haven’t been confirmed, but the EV9 is expected to cost from around £65,000.

What we do know is that the EV9 will be offered with a choice of single-motor (rear-wheel drive) and dual-motor (all-wheel drive) setups, all featuring a 99.8kWh battery. A smaller 76kWh battery will be offered in other European and global markets, but Kia UK has no plans to sell it here.

2023 Kia EV9 design

Kia says the EV9’s design follows the brand’s ‘Opposites United’ ethos, which combines futuristic and natural elements to ‘embrace the future’. The EV9 angular, boxy and minimalist in its overall shape, but includes design cues from Kia’s other cars, for example the rising window line that cuts through the rear in a similar way to the sleek EV6 model. 

Best electric SUVsTop 10 best electric SUVs 2024

Arguably the most striking feature of the front end are the prominent LED lights which were highlighted in the darker teaser pictures shown earlier this month and reminiscent of those used on the latest Kia Niro. The curve of the daytime running lights follow the shape up along the front of the car and give the EV9 a striking signature at night. Extra LEDs are worked into what Kia calls the ‘Digital Tiger Face’ – the space where a grille would be on a conventional car. Pioneered on the EV9, this feature will be worked into Kia’s future electric models.

The large electric SUV’s floating roofline is another distinctive feature – created by the darkened A, B and C-pillars. The chunky wheel arches paired with black cladding around the sills give the car a typically chunky, SUV appearance.

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The door-mounted cameras from last year’s concept appear to have been lost for the production version. There is no word from Kia yet whether these will be fitted to a higher specification trim or as an optional extra. Door handles sit flush with the body, again increasing overall efficiency.

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At the rear, the lights and spoiler also remain mostly faithful to the concept. The sharp and angular design where the rear window meets the rear haunches also makes it to the production version of the EV9.

Interior and dashboard

The interior of the EV9 is set to be even more revolutionary than the already-futuristic EV6. As the EV9 is based on Kia’s latest Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the SUV will surely offer plenty of space on the inside, thanks to its completely flat floor provided by the bespoke electric EV architecture. The EV9 will be offered in six and seven-seater configurations; in six-seat versions the second row seats will reportedly be able to swivel allowing second and third-row passengers to interact with each other face-to-face.

The interior is fairly minimalist in its design, with two 12.3-inch touchscreens and one five-inch display sitting on the dashboard. Kia says it’s tried to keep physical buttons and controls to a minimum, which could divide opinion between fans of touchscreen and conventional controls. There’s also a small, chunky-looking steering wheel.

The Kia EV9 will be the first of the brand’s lineup to offer over-the-air updates which give the driver the option of paying to unlock new features the car may not have been specified from the factory, such as the Highway Driving Pilot (HDP) Level 3 autonomous driving technology system, via the Kia Connect Store.

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Customers will also be able to pay to upgrade and personalise the look and sound of their in-car displays and interior lighting, as well as purchase movies, games and video conferencing software.

Range and charging

So far, Kia has only announced a “target” range for its most efficient, rear-wheel drive EV9. That figure of 336 miles is achievable thanks to a large 99.8kWh battery, and even the more powerful all-wheel drive model should top 300 miles on a charge.

Just like its smaller sibling, the EV9 will utilise the brand’s advanced 800-volt charging technology, meaning charging speeds of around 230-240kW. Charging times haven’t been revealed, but Kia claims you’ll be able to add around 150 miles of range “in approximately 15 minutes” from a suitably fast rapid charger.

Prices and specifications

Though these latest developments show the EV9’s design in full, pricing isn’t expected to be revealed until June or July. That said, it’s fair to assume that due to its size, range and specifications, the EV9 will be the most expensive Kia ever – with prices starting at around £65,000. An EV9 GT with more than 500bhp could easily top £85k. The EV9 will go on sale in the second half of 2023.

The EV9 will share many of its parts with the forthcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7 SUV, mirroring the arrangement the two brands have with the smaller Ioniq 5 and EV6. The EV9 will sit on the same E-GMP platform as those cars, but due to its size – over five metres in length, with a 3.1m wheelbase – Kia has decided to fit a larger 99.8kWh battery.

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While unconfirmed, a Kia spokesperson said we can expect the EV9 range lineup to mirror that of the EV6, meaning an entry-level ‘Air’ spec, followed by plusher and sportier-looking GT-Line and GT-Line S variants. All cars will get three interior screens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a leather-free, vegan-friendly interior.

Kia will use the EV9 as a springboard for its latest connected driving technology, with the car featuring the latest Highway Driving Pilot (HDP) system. Kia says this will enable – via 15 sensors dotted around the car – “conditional Level 3 autonomous driving in selected markets”. Where the law allows, this means the car is capable of “conditional driving automation, enabling the driver to temporarily take a break from controlling the vehicle.”

It isn’t clear whether this technology will feature in the UK or Europe from launch. 

The Kia EV9 is sure to be the first of many new electric Kia models over the next few years as the brand transitions towards becoming fully-electric by 2030. Kia has also announced that it aims to become a ‘Sustainable Mobility Solutions Provider’ by achieving carbon-neutrality by 2045.
 

Can’t wait for the EV9? Check out our list of the Top 10 best electric SUVs you can buy now

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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