One of the more interesting features of the Kia EV9 is its available second-row captain's chairs that can spin 180 degrees to face third-row seats in the back. It was prominently featured during the EV9's global debut, but unfortunately, swivel seats won't be available in North America. Bummer.
It's not for a lack of wanting on Kia's part. A company spokesperson confirmed with Motor1.com that the swivel feature doesn't meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. That explains why the option wasn't mentioned in any capacity for the EV9's recent North American debut at the 2023 New York Auto Show. A report from CarBuzz points out a specific regulation that could apply, though Kia doesn't elaborate as to exactly how the EV9 misses the boat. We've certainly seen our share of upfitted camper vans with swivel seats in place, but alas, we aren't legal experts. The bottom line is there are no EV9 with swivel seats headed for the States.
Gallery: 2024 Kia EV9 in US specification
We suspect the EV9 will still find many interested buyers, if for no other reason than it offers three-row seating in a segment where competition is virtually nonexistent. Families wanting an EV with space for six or seven people presently have the Tesla Model X and Rivian R1S to choose from, and neither are what you'd call inexpensive. Kia's SUV will be built in Georgia, meaning it will qualify for EV tax credits that could knock $7,500 off the sticker price. Speaking of which, Kia hasn't officially announced EV9 pricing, but reports suggest it will start somewhere around $55,000.
The entry point will still have three rows of seats, but you can expect that price to reflect the single-motor version with a standard-range battery. For North America, that's a 76.1-kilowatt-hour battery sending power to an electric motor driving just the rear wheels, producing 215 horsepower. Kia doesn't have a range estimate for the base model, but it's targeting 300 miles for the Long Range version using a single 201-hp motor with a 99.8 kWh battery.
There's more information still to come on the EV9. Expect that to filter out through the summer leading up to its on-sale date in North America at the end of 2023.