SEOUL — Kia first showed the new EV5 electric crossover in China back in August, but during the company’s EV Day event in South Korea this week, we learned a few more details about this compact SUV. The one thing we can’t seem to nail down, however, is exactly where on the North American continent it will be sold.
During the EV Day presentation, Ho Sung Song, Kia’s president and CEO, said the EV5 will come to “America,” and a representative from the product planning department said it would arrive in mid-2025. However, Kia later issued a statement saying the EV5 is literally confirmed for North America, with internal sources following that up by saying it will not be sold in the United States. This may come as a surprise to some, but the United States is not the only country in North America. Logically, the EV5 will therefore appear in Canada and/or Mexico but not the United States of America.
Why not here? The disappointing sales of two-row midsize crossovers like the Honda Passport likely has something to do with it, as customers in the United States are more likely to go with three-row models like the EV9. It could also be related to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and its new $7,500 tax credit for EVs. Because Kia is not planning to build the EV5 in North America, this would make it ineligible for this credit, raising the cost. Of course, things could still change; 2025 is a ways away, after all.
The EV5 is built on the same flexible E-GMP architecture that underpins Kia’s EV6 crossover and EV9 SUV, as well as the two other new products the company showed during EV Day, the EV3 and EV4. It’s about the same size as a Sportage, but wears a design that’s both boxier and more futuristic. In person, it looks rad, and we hope the spiffy aero wheels make their way to production, too.
Moving inside, comparisons between the EV5 and EV9 are definitely warranted; the two SUVs are practically identical in terms of layout and design. The large screen that spans most of the dash houses a pair of 12.3-inch displays, with an extra 5.0-inch screen in the middle for climate control functions. Commonly used buttons are flush-mounted and backlit along the center of the dash – meaning you’ll hit them with your wrist when you rest your hand there while using the screen – and the EV9’s squircle steering, um, wheel(?) carries over, as well.
When the Chinese-spec car debuted in August, you might’ve noticed the weird front seats that almost looked like a raised-up bench. Kia confirmed that’s a design feature specific to the Chinese market; the rest of the world won’t get this layout and will instead have a more traditional two-seat arrangement. We’re not really sure why this faux bench would be useful, anyway, especially since there’s no seatbelt for what could theoretically be a middle passenger.
Kia confirmed a number of the EV5’s powertrain details during its EV Day event, but again, it’s unclear which of these – if any – could apply to the may-or-may-not-happen U.S.-spec model. The one thing we know for sure is that, unlike the EV6 and EV9, the EV5 will only use 400-volt vehicle architecture, which won’t allow it to take full advantage of 350-kilowatt DC fast-chargers. An official max charging speed is still TBD, with one Kia official just saying “more than 150 kilowatts.” This 400-volt version of the E-GMP platform is slightly more cost-effective, which will be helpful when it comes time to finalize EV5 pricing.
In China, the Kia EV5 will be offered in standard, long-range and long-range AWD models. The standard version has a 64-kilowatt-hour battery pack and 214-horsepower front motor, while the long-range version pairs an 88-kWh pack with the same motor. Kia is estimating a driving range of about 447 miles for the long-range model, but don’t get too excited – that’s on the Combined Charging and Load Cycle (CLTC), which is said to be about 35% more generous than the EPA test regimen. That’d put an EPA range closer to 290 miles, which makes a lot more sense.
The Chinese-spec, dual-motor, all-wheel-drive EV5 is expected to have an output of 308 hp, as well as a CLTC driving range of 404 miles. Again, super optimistic.
Kia says the Korean-spec EV5 will be offered in the same number of models, but the battery packs will be different. The standard-range EV5 will have a 58-kWh battery and the long-range will use an 81-kWh battery. “The driving range of each model will be tailored to meet market demands,” Kia said in a statement.
What else? Kia says the EV5 will have the same vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging abilities as the EV6, and the SUV will come with the company’s full suite of driver-assistance technologies, including updated versions of its Highway Driving Assist and Remote Smart Park Assist functions. Oh, and get stoked: Kia confirms a higher-performance EV5 GT is in the works, as well.
OK, so don’t get too stoked … unless you live in Vancouver or Merida. Here’s hoping we get some sort of official word on where you can pick one up in the not-too-distant future.