When it comes to electric vehicles, Kia isn’t messing around. It wants nearly 40 percent of its global sales to be all-electric by 2030, and perhaps even more ambitiously, it’s targeting 1 million EV sales annually by 2026. But that’s an impossible goal these days without a midsize crossover, so enter the 2025 Kia EV5 – something that feels all but certain to be an electric crowd-pleaser. 

The EV5 was unveiled in production form for the first time ever at Kia’s inaugural EV Day event in Seoul this week. There, Kia also showed off two all-new concepts headed to production soon; revealed some ambitious plans for software and direct sales; and briefed reporters from all over the world on what’s next up for its sustainability goals.

The EV5 seems destined to be a key part of its electric growth plans. It slots in below the performance-focused EV6 crossover, borrowing looks from the flagship EV9 crossover with what should be a more attainable price. During a roundtable discussion, Kia President and Co-CEO Ho-Sung Song said it’s targeted to range from about $35,000 to $50,000, but no other pricing details were immediately available.

Kia EV5 In South Korea

Until now, Kia was cagey on whether the EV5 was headed to the US or not. Song said the EV5 would be exported here, something Min Woo Park on Kia’s global product team also reiterated. But Kia America officials later walked that back as EV Day was wrapping up. The automaker now says it might be coming to North America, but no mention of the US directly. So which is it, and who got what wrong? 

"Kia is considering to export the EV5 to North America starting from 2025,” the automaker said in a statement. “There is no plan to produce the EV5 in North America."

If the EV5 doesn’t arrive in the US, that’s likely to be a disappointment to buyers who might see it as the Goldilocks option in the Kia family so far, the “just right” one – the sweet spot. Whatever metaphor you pick, the EV5 seems poised to be a hit with a lot of folks. They just may or may not be Americans. 

The Specs We Know

Kia said the EV5 will come in three forms: Standard, Long Range, and Long Range AWD, with the latter packing the customary dual-motor setup. Interestingly enough, and unlike the other Kia cars on Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP platform, the EV5 is front-wheel-drive, a Kia America spokesperson said.

The Standard cars boast a 64-kilowatt-hour battery pack, while the Long-Range cars get an upgrade to 84 kilowatt-hours. On China’s Combined Charging and Load Cycle (CLTC) standards, the EV5 gets 530 kilometers (330 miles) of range for the Standard car; 720 kilometers (447 miles) for the Long Range front-wheel-drive car; and 650 kilometers (403 miles) for the Long Range AWD model. Kia didn’t say how that might translate to an EPA-certified electric range.

Interestingly, unlike the other cars in the E-GMP family, the EV5 will only come with a 400-volt electric architecture – not the 800-volt system those cars helped pioneer and something that’s increasingly becoming an industry standard

Kia EV5 In South Korea

What that means for consumers is that the EV5 won’t have quite the lightning-quick fast charging times that other cars in that family have. Kia says the EV5 can go from a 30 percent charge to 80 percent in 27 minutes on a fast charger. That’s a step down from the EV6, which can go from 10 percent to 80 percent in a comparably scant 18 minutes. Kia’s global product chief also told me there are no plans to give the EV5 an 800-volt system, either. 

Why did Kia go this route? Spencer Cho, Kia’s head of global business planning, said that the brand’s EV rollout strategy began with its highest-tech efforts, but it also needs to seek more volume as well. “We started our maximum [technology], the highest speeds of charging conditions,” Cho said. “None of our other competitors offered that capacity. At the same time, we also have to tackle the mainstream segment, not only for the EV6 or EV9 segment. So the E-GMP platform can accommodate smaller and medium-sized vehicles, which are not necessarily going to have the 800-volt charging capabilities.”

Last but not least, Kia officials confirmed a more performance-focused EV5 GT is coming too. No specs on that have been released yet, but if it’s anything close to what the EV6 GT can do, the kids will never be late to school again. 

Embrace The Box

Even if it won’t have the lightning-quick charging of the EV6, the EV6 has a lot to offer. Like the Kia Soul and EV9 before it, the EV5 embraces boxiness as a means to maximize cargo space. Size-wise, it’s very clearly a competitor to the Volkswagen ID.4, Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model 3 – but where those cars go round and aerodynamic, the EV5 skews angular instead. 

“We went a little more boxy than our competitors today to give more flexibility on the use of space,” Kia’s design chief Karim Habib told me in Seoul. “I’m personally very proud of the combination of things this car brings.”

The front end features what Kia calls its “Signature Star Map Lighting” with a pattern of LEDs inspired by star constellations, and the taillights form a similar pattern too. A few other design standouts include the extending door handles like the EV9 and the narrow black and silver accents on the D-pillar. It’s a handsome car, and remarkably similar to the EV5 Concept we saw a few months ago. I’m also a fan of the angular alloy wheels, which don’t look like much else on the road right now. For a family-mover crossover – and Kia’s very upfront that this thing is aimed at millennial families – it’s far from boring.

Kia EV5 In South Korea
Kia EV5 In South Korea

That trend continues with the interior too, where the EV5 manages to carve out an identity distinct from the EV6. It’s quite a bit closer to the EV9 inside, complete with a good amount of actual, physical buttons, along with Kia’s volume roller switch for the stereo and some haptic controls right below the touchscreen. 

One feature that especially stands out is the front row seats, which have a miniature middle section to form a kind of bench seat. While that conjures images of land-yacht American cruisers, this seat is pretty small – really an extension of the passenger seat and still featuring the center console below it. While that’s an interesting feature, it is only available in China, Kia confirmed. 

Even so, the EV5’s rear seat folds fully flat for the occasional camping trip, while a rear console refrigerator/warmer keeps your food tasting fresh. 

The America Question

Kia officials confirmed the EV5 would not be made at Hyundai’s new $5.5 billion Georgia Metaplant or in Alabama either; instead, production will happen in Korea and China, two of Kia’s other major EV manufacturing hubs. (This also explains why so many of the specs we have now are China-specific.) 

However, confusion arose as to whether the EV5 was a product meant for Americans at all.

Initially, Song, Kia’s chief executive, was adamant that it would be. “We don’t have any plans to build the EV5 in the United States,” Song said. “We have a different model we will build there… [but] we will export our EV5 to the United States.” Song also said the Inflation Reduction Act limits Kia’s ability to achieve volume sales with the EV5 since non-US production means it won’t qualify for tax incentives unless it’s leased

Kia EV Day Lineup

The story changed later when Kia officials said there were no plans to bring the EV5 to the U.S. and that it may just be sold in Canada instead, before officially saying the company is “considering” the car for export to North America.

In the carefully rehearsed world of automotive industry corporate communications, it was an odd moment. Equally odd would be not bringing the EV5 to America. The car seems like it’d be a genuine hit here, sized right for families who don’t need the performance edge of the EV6 or the space and price tag of the EV9. And why wouldn’t the president of a huge, global company know where his own cars are going? Especially at Kia’s EV Day, something it hopes to do annually moving forward. 

Your guess is as good as mine at this point.

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