Kia EV9 Electric SUV Wins 2024 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year Award

Kia EV9 10 photos
Photo: Kia / edited
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The second model in the EV series after the two-row EV6, the EV9 is a mid-size crossover with roughly the same footprint as the V6-engined Telluride. It's the first three-row electric crossover in Kia's lineup, which makes it an alternative to the Tesla Model Y and Volvo EX90.
Speaking of which, the Kia EV9 is longer than both the Model Y and EX90 in terms of wheelbase. The South Korean automaker says that it measures 3,100 millimeters (122.0 inches) compared to 2,891 (113.8) for the Model Y and 2,984 (117.5) for the EX90.

Revealed in March 2023 for the 2024 model year, the EV9 has been named 2024 North American Utility vehicle of the Year by NACTOY. No fewer than 50 jurors had to choose between 29 candidates, including the yet-unreleased Mazda CX-70. The two-row sibling of the CX-90 was supposed to launch in late 2023, but alas, Mazda pushed it back to early 2024. Other notable candidates include the Toyota Grand Highlander, the 250-series Land Cruiser, Dodge Hornet, Audi Q8 e-tron, Chevrolet Blazer EV, and two questionable crossovers from Vietnamese automaker Vinfast, namely the VF8 and the VF9.

The finalists were revealed in November 2023 as the Kia EV9, Genesis Electrified GV70, and Hyundai Kona. Only the Genesis is manufactured in the United States of America, but in the second quarter of 2024, the EV9 will start rolling off the Kia Georgia assembly line. As for the Kona, vehicles meant for the US market are assembled in South Korea, hence their 17-character VINs starting with the letter K.

Why did NACTOY favor the EV9 over the Electrified GV70 and Kona? According to John Voelcker of Car and Driver and Green Car Reports, because it "offers a genuine three-row configuration in a battery-electric SUV at a price significantly below the six-figure tab for all other three-row electric SUVs." He's wrong, though, because the Model Y and EX90 are well below 100,000 bucks.

2024 Kia EV9
Photo: Kia
At the moment of reporting, the Model Y Dual Motor Long Range is $48,990. The seven-seat option adds $2,500 to the tally, meaning $51,490 sans destination fee and potential savings. Over at Volvo, the XC90's zero-emission brother is $76,695 and comes with three-row seating from the outset. Another juror, namely John McElroy of Autoline, says that EV9 "should scare the stuffing out of other mass-market brands." All things considered, the EV9 has the makings of a disruptor. But on the other hand, many prospective customers will be shocked by the $54,900 starting price for the Light RWD grade.

The Model Y Dual Motor Long Range with seven seats may be less practical due to its shorter wheelbase, but still, would you pick a three-row electric crossover with the Kia logo over one boasting the highly coveted Tesla logo? Based on Tesla's 2023 sales results, the Model Y won't lose its crown anytime soon. The Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover tallied 1,739,707 deliveries worldwide.

Given time, especially after Kia starts making the EV9 locally, the newcomer will hopefully go down in price. As of January 2024, customers are presented with five choices: the aforementioned Light RWD at $54,900, the Light Long Range RWD at $59,200, the Wind AWD at $63,900, the Land AWD at $69,900, and the range-topping GT-Line AWD at a frankly ludicrous $73,900.

The EPA-estimated driving range for the rear-drive setup and the standard battery is 230 miles (370 kilometers). The Light Long Range RWD levels up to 304 miles (489 kilometers), whereas the Wind AWD and Land AWD are listed at 280 miles (451 kilometers). Last but not least, the overly expensive GT-Line AWD offers 270 miles (435 kilometers) from a full charge of the long-range battery pack.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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