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Automobiles

Kia EV9 electric concept previews a 3-row production SUV

This family-minded three-row SUV features flooring made from discarded fishnets and upholstery made from plastic bottles.

Kia's EV9 EV is a little bigger than today's gas-powered Telluride SUV 
Kia

This Kia EV9 concept SUV is a big, bold, boxy crossover, but it's more than just a forward-thinking show car. At its Los Angeles Auto Show debut on Wednesday, the Korean automaker said this EV9 is "the clearest signal yet from Kia as to what might be the next addition to its new-generation EV lineup."

It certainly looks massive in photos, but the EV9 isn't much larger than today's current crop of three-row SUVs. Compared with a Kia Telluride, the EV9 is 2 inches longer, 3 inches wider and 2 inches taller. But damn if it doesn't look imposing, and we're super into it.

The EV9 rides on the same E-GMP architecture that underpins the smaller Genesis GV60, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. That means it'll have the same 800-volt architecture as those other EVs, allowing it to accept DC fast-charging at speeds up to 350 kilowatts. That means the battery can theoretically go from 10% to 80% in 20 to 30 minutes. Kia says the EV9 has a theoretical driving range of 300 miles.

Suicide doors and no central pillar is great for seeing the interior on a show car, but it isn't likely for production.

Kia

Concept vehicles are all about futuristic design, and the EV9 has that in spades. The front has what Kia calls the Digital Tiger Face -- a grilleless version of the company's current styling language. The 22-inch wheels have a three-spoke design, and the upticked daylight opening (designer speak for the side window area) kind of reminds us of today's Infiniti QX80. Just, you know, better. We also dig the power retractable roof rails.

Kia says the EV9 is "inspired by water," and that's obvious in the SUV's paint. "The exterior color mimics the expansive depth of the ocean," Kia said. "This is then balanced by a soothing and clear blue sky that radiates throughout the interior." Fittingly, then, the seats utilize upholstery derived from plastic waste and the flooring comes from discarded fishing nets.

Inside, the EV9 has reconfigurable seating positions and a 27-inch ultrawide infotainment display. Vegan leather and recycled materials make up the bulk of the EV9's cabin, and it looks pretty premium. We're excited to see how this transforms into a production SUV, but we hope it leaves behind the yoke-style steering wheel.

As for when a production model will happen, it's hard to say. The EV9 is just a concept right now, but Kia is planning to launch a number of EVs in the coming years. We don't think this one is too far away.