The 2024 Kia EV9 is the Korean automaker's latest all-electric SUV and is a silent companion to the three-row Telluride and offers more htan 300 miles of range and a handful of interesting features. One of its neatest tricks is second-row swivel seats that can turn 180 degrees to face the third-row passengers. We were thrilled to hear the flat-floored EV had this feature, but now it's clear these fancy new seats won't be making it stateside.
Motortrend was the first to notice the change at the New York Auto Show, and we've since confirmed the news. "Sadly, for now, that is true," a Kia spokesman told us via email. Well, so much for that!
The spokesman noted the lack of availability is due to U.S. regulations, which evidently make it more or less impossible to have swiveling seats. Instead, we get second-row "captains chairs," which are already a thing on the Kia Carnival minivan. These seats can recline flat, have power folding leg rests, and are heated and cooled. They're great seats, for sure, I've slept in one, but they don't swivel!
Part of the reason why Kia could even get away with such seats in other markets is because of the EV9's flat floor. Many electric vehicles feature flat floors, and without a structural tunnel running down the middle of the car, there's room for whatever's inside to move around more freely. In Kia's case, it frees up space for the second-row passengers to spin around. For other automakers, it means more unique storage solutions or other interesting uses of the space.
It's unclear when, if ever, new American vehicles will be available with swiveling seats. Some technology from across the pond has been legalized here, though. Things like headlights that can sculpt their high beams around other cars are now legal, so some new-car tech can get a regulatory thumbs up. That being said, the federal government rarely can keep pace with technology. Take the EV tax credit, for instance. It used to be simple but inadequate. Now, it's complex, and whether it's adequate is yet to be seen.
In any case, you'll have to leave our borders to experience train-like seating in Kia's new electric three-row. I'll get over it eventually. Not right now, though. Too soon.
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