Kia officially revealed the production-bound version of its EV5 compact electric SUV on Friday at the Chengdu Motor Show in China.
At first look it closely follows the EV5 concept revealed in March, although it doesn’t have that model’s solar panels or swivel seats. At that time, Kia clearly laid out how that concept previewed a “production model destined initially for (the) Chinese market later this year,” so no surprises here.
Although China may be the EV5’s initial target market, this EV appears to be a size that might translate well to the mass market, across continents.
Kia didn’t include a single specification in its press release on the EV5. There’s no indication of its actual size, although a recent leak from a Chinese state site pegged the EV5 at about 182 inches long, 74 inches wide, and 68 inches high, which would make it a close rival to pragmatic gasoline compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and Nissan Rogue—along with Kia’s own Sportage Hybrid. The sportier Kia EV6 is more of a hatchback.
The announcement also didn’t mention the E-GMP platform for the EV5, while it has for other models, so the EV5 is likely built on the company’s platform for smaller, more affordable EVs.
The EV5 sports some of the same design elements as the big, soon-to-be-U.S.-made EV9. Kia says that every attribute of the EV5 has been designed to provide flexibility. Designers worked closely with engineering to reach “a holistic solution for sustainability.”
The EV5’s design was intended as the leading edge of a new generation of compact SUVs. Strong fenders and wide shoulders allow a look that straddles a unique middle ground in modern SUV design—neither too sleek and rakish nor too boxy and upright. The rear pillars are pushed back, Kia explains, to help accentuate the feeling of spaciousness in the back seat and for the cargo area while still assuring outward visibility.
Kia points to the “Signature Star Map Lightning” in front, inspired by constellations and forming part of the Tiger Face design that carries over from Kia’s gasoline models.
Inside, Kia points to the big EV9 as an inspiration for an interior “room” to live in. In keeping with other recent Kia EVs, the screen space and controls have been moved up high in the line of sight and are horizontally oriented, with much of the lower space dedicated to storage and reconfigurable seating. Variable mood lighting synchronizes with vehicle drive modes, and the interior is more configurable than vehicles in this class typically are, with four interior hues and five seat pattern options.
Kia noted that the EV5 is “set for debut in select global markets,” not just China. As Kia America explained to Green Car Reports this week, no decision has been made as to whether the EV5 is U.S.-bound, and it’s one of several EV designs currently under consideration for our market. The images show the EV5 is an ideal mass-market small EV SUV for the U.S.
Kia has much to reveal yet, including specs, features, pricing, and the all-important info on charging and driving range—which might indicate whether this model would fit right in along the likes of the VW ID.4 or Nissan Ariya. Kia already has some U.S. EV pricing issues in how it positioned the Niro EV—too high, too close to EV6—so perhaps with some recalibration it would fit right in.