The Kia EV5 was first announced in concept form last month. Today, Kia is releasing more details on the production version at its EV Day event in Korea. Nearly everything on paper about the car sounds great: a boxy, mid-sized electric SUV designed to comfortably seat five with 330 miles of range and attractive pricing. The EV5 will start around $35,000 for the basic FWD model and go up to $50,000 in the top-tier long range AWD trim. That pricing appears to be a global estimate from Kia’s CEO, according to InsideEVs, who attended the launch — so don’t take this as an indicator of US pricing. Unfortunately, Kia is signaling that the Inflation Reduction Act means the car may never come to the US at all (more on that later).
The EV5 shares the same E-GMP platform underpinning the Kia EV6 and EV9, and comes equipped with a 64Wh battery as standard, offering 330 miles of range. Long-range FWD and AWD trims will get 88kWh, with ranges of 447 and 403 miles, respectively. Note that these ranges are based on China’s CLTC testing, so comparability to US EPA or European WLTP ratings isn’t exactly clear (CLTC is frequently quite generous compared to both, so adjust your expectations accordingly).
|Kia EV5||FWD||Long range FWD||Long range AWD|
|Range||330 miles (CLTC)||447 miles (CLTC)||403 miles (CLTC)|
|Power||214 hp||214 hp||308 hp|
Unlike the EV6 and EV9, the EV5 will not use 800-volt architecture, instead opting for a 400-volt system. Kia basically says this is a cost management measure, so that’s not surprising, but it is a bit disappointing to anyone who had hoped the brand would bring 800-volt all the way down the portfolio. While Kia isn’t offering detailed charging specifications, they’re claiming a 30-80% charge time of 27 minutes on DC fast charging at a peak of around 150kW. That’s a heck of a lot slower than the EV6, which can manage 10-80% in just 19 minutes under optimal conditions. The base EV5 and long-range FWD models will both make 214 hp from a single motor, with the long-range AWD upping that to 308 hp with its dual motor layout. (Note: These are China market figures. Korean market variants will have 58kWh and 81kWh batteries and make slightly different power — Kia is tailoring battery sizes to perceived market need.)
The interior of the EV5 is a dead ringer for the larger EV9, and that’s nothing to complain about. Fabric and vegan leather will be the seating surfaces of choice, and the design brings the understated futurism that Kia is increasingly synonymous with. The most interesting thing going on inside the EV5, though, is the front bench seat — yes, you read that right — a China market exclusive. Presumably, global market variants will offer some kind of center console and armrest area in place of the bench, but color us envious of Chinese customers here.
The biggest shock about the EV5? A car that practically seems to be begging for a US launch may not ever see the light of day in the world’s dominant SUV market. According to multiple outlets who were there to hear it, Kia is signaling that the Inflation Reduction Act makes a US launch unlikely, given the car will be manufactured in Korea and China — making it ineligible for the EV tax credit in America. While Kia is not definitively saying a US EV5 is off the table, the writing seems to be on the wall: The aforementioned outlets are citing internal sources at Kia claiming there will be no US sales of the vehicle. But it sounds like the ink’s not dry on any of this just yet, so we’ll wait and see what the definitive statement on US availability ends up being. And given Kia isn’t planning to launch the EV5 globally until 2025, they’ve got plenty of time to decide.
Kia hasn’t published full specifications of the EV5 yet, so overall dimensions, weight, and specific charging data aren’t available. One final thing to note: Kia says a GT trim EV5 is on the way, so expect a much quicker version of this vehicle to be announced sometime later.
The slightly disappointing 400-volt architecture aside, the EV5 looks to be a compelling package. A very modern interior, Kia’s bold exterior design language, and a boxy layout to optimize for cargo space all seem destined to make the EV5 a hit globally. And if that starting pricing around $35,000 ends up panning out, it’s going to be pretty competitive on value when compared to similar ICE SUVs. Kia has always priced aggressively, and it’s great to see them continue bringing that to the table with their electrified portfolio.
That a US launch may never get off the ground is a real bummer. Americans love a small SUV (or, as the rest of the world would say: a mid-size SUV), and the EV5 would slot perfectly into a highly competitive space. Even without federal tax credits, if Kia could get close to $35,000 for this car, it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t move units — especially given the brand’s reputation is at an all-time high. As someone who personally considered Kia an “also-ran” to Hyundai and Genesis for years: Oh, how the tables have turned.
While it doesn’t sound like a US launch is definitively not happening, it’s clear which direction Kia is leaning based on the reporting so far. Hopefully they start leaning the other way if they see American consumers clamoring for the EV5.