The Kia EV9 is a new electric SUV that aims to redefine the Kia brand and challenge the established players in the three-row segment. It is one of the three finalists for the 2024 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) Award, along with the Genesis Electrified GV70 and the Volvo EX30. Let's see what makes the Kia EV9 stand out and why it has a good chance of winning the prestigious award.

What is the Kia EV9?

The 2024 Kia EV9 is the second model in Kia’s EV lineup, following the smaller and sportier EV6. It is based on the same Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) that underpins the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Genesis GV60, but it is larger and more spacious than its siblings. The EV9 is about the same size as the Kia Telluride, the brand’s popular gas-powered three-row SUV, but it has a more futuristic and angular design.

The EV9 is available in two versions: the Light and the Wind. The Light is the base model, which comes with a single rear-mounted electric motor that produces 215 horsepower and a 76.1-kWh battery that provides an EPA-estimated range of 230 miles. The Wind is the more premium and powerful model, which features a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system that delivers 379 horsepower and a 99.8-kWh battery that offers an EPA-estimated range of 304 miles. Both versions can charge from 10% to 80% in about 30 minutes using a 350-kW fast charger.

The EV9 has a spacious and comfortable interior that can accommodate six or seven passengers, depending on the configuration. The second row can be a bench seat or a captain’s chair, while the third can be folded flat to create more cargo space. The cabin has a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a head-up display, wireless charging, and a 14-speaker Meridian sound system. The EV9 also offers a range of advanced driver-assistance features, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a 360-degree camera.

How does the Kia EV9 compare to its rivals?

The Kia EV9 is one of the few electric SUVs that offer three rows of seating, which gives it an edge over most of its competitors. The only other electric SUVs that have a similar capacity are the Tesla Model X, the Rivian R1S, the Mercedes-Benz EQB, and the upcoming Volvo EX90. However, the Kia EV9 has some advantages over these models, such as a lower price, a longer warranty, and a more conventional design.

The table below summarizes some of the key specifications and features of the Kia EV9 and its rivals:

Model Price Range Power Seats Warranty
Kia EV9 Wind $58,395 304 miles 379 hp 6 or 7 10 years/100,000 miles
Tesla Model X Long Range $94,990 360 miles 670 hp 5, 6, or 7 4 years/50,000 miles
Rivian R1S Large Pack $77,500 314 miles 754 hp 5 or 7 5 years/60,000 miles
Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC $65,000 (estimated) 260 miles (estimated) 288 hp 5 or 7 4 years/50,000 miles
Volvo EX90 $80,000 (estimated) 300 miles (estimated) 402 hp 6 or 7 4 years/50,000 miles

As the table shows, the Kia EV9 is the most affordable option among the electric three-row SUVs, and it also has the longest warranty coverage. It has a decent range and power output, although it is not as impressive as the Tesla Model X or the Rivian R1S. However, the Kia EV9 is more practical and user-friendly than the Tesla Model X, which has complex falcon-wing doors and a minimalist interior. The Kia EV9 is also more conventional and mainstream than the Rivian R1S, which is designed for off-road adventures and outdoor enthusiasts. The Kia EV9 is more comparable to the Mercedes-Benz EQB and the Volvo EX90, which are also luxury electric SUVs that offer three rows of seating. However, the Kia EV9 has a larger battery and a longer range than these models, and it also has a more distinctive and futuristic design.

Why could the Kia EV9 win the 2024 NACTOY Award?

The Kia EV9 is a strong contender for the 2024 NACTOY Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the automotive industry. The award is decided by an independent jury of 50 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada, who evaluate the vehicles based on criteria such as innovation, design, performance, driver satisfaction, user experience, and value. The Kia EV9 excels in many of these aspects, as it offers a spacious and comfortable interior, a decent driving range, a powerful all-wheel-drive system, a sleek and futuristic design, and a host of advanced features and technologies. The Kia EV9 also represents a significant milestone for the Kia brand, as it is the largest and most luxurious Kia to date, and it showcases the brand’s commitment to electrification and innovation.

The Kia EV9 faces tough competition from the other two finalists, the Genesis Electrified GV70 and the Volvo EX30. The Genesis Electrified GV70 is a plug-in hybrid version of the Genesis GV70, a luxury compact SUV that has received rave reviews for its style, performance, and quality. The Genesis Electrified GV70 adds an electric motor and a 13.8-kWh battery to the existing 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, resulting in a combined output of 365 horsepower and an electric-only range of 25 miles. The Genesis Electrified GV70 also features a wireless charging system, a solar roof, and a vehicle-to-load function that allows it to power other devices. The Volvo EX30 is a fully electric version of the Volvo XC40, a subcompact SUV that has been praised for its safety, practicality, and refinement. The Volvo EX30 has a 78-kWh battery that provides an EPA-estimated range of 208 miles and a single electric motor that produces 201 horsepower. The Volvo EX30 also has a minimalist and elegant interior, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a range of driver-assistance features.

Both the Genesis Electrified GV70 and the Volvo EX30 are impressive vehicles, but they are not as groundbreaking or innovative as the Kia EV9. The Genesis Electrified GV70 and the Volvo EX30 are essentially electrified versions of existing models, while the Kia EV9 is a new and original model that is built on a dedicated electric platform. The Kia EV9 also offers more space, more range, more power, and more value than the Genesis Electrified GV70 and the Volvo EX30, making it a more appealing and versatile choice for consumers. Therefore, the Kia EV9 has a good chance of winning the 2024 NACTOY Award, as it is one of the most outstanding and impressive new vehicles of the year.

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