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Kia’s EV9 GT-Line


Santa Clarita, CA – It’s been two months since last driving Kia’s all-electric EV9. And while that week of driving led to an enthusiastic review, my impressions were relatively tepid when considering my time spent earlier in Kia’s EV6. Although the EV6 is described by Kia as an electrified crossover, the stance and proportions suggest (at least to me) a sport/GT or hot hatch, with a footprint that’s fully flickable and a profile that borders on sexy. Conversely, the newer EV9 is essentially two boxes joined at the windshield, and while its more practical shape contains three real rows of seating, don’t be driving it when you’re wanting to start a family; drive it only after you’ve had that third kid…

But then, that first impression of the EV9 was made while behind the wheel of an EV9 finished in matte silver, and the color – or lack thereof – was underwhelming. In flying into LAX for the July 4th holiday, Kia had parked a GT-Line – which is currently its highest performance trim – at the airport. Finished in the company’s Ocean Blue it was immediately recognizable, and immediately captivating. With this medium metallic blue as its palette the EV9 had substantially more visual energy, fully appropriate to what is now sitting – at least figuratively – under its hood. 

In what I see as a wide-ranging lineup in its first year of production, Kia takes EV9 prospects from the Light RWD with a modest 215 horsepower driving the rear wheels and but 230 miles of range, while the Long Range trim gives you 304 miles from its one electric motor and rear-wheel drive. These contrast with the majority of the EV9 menu, which feature two electric motors with a combined 379 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, while the range varies from 280 to 270 in the GT-Line.  And for what it’s worth to you hooligans out there, the team at Car and Driver  reach 60 in just 4.5 seconds. Late to school? Don’t worry!

Behind the wheel you immediately get the sense that the EV9 is large…but not too large. The cabin’s width provides generous shoulder room, while those in the second row enjoy almost limo-like legroom. And even the third row isn’t the penalty box the third row normally constitutes. Even better is the space when not using the rear seats. Kia claims over 80 cubic feet when both second and third row seats are folded, and a full 44 cubic feet when the third row is folded. With all three rows in use, figure having 20 cubic feet behind that third row, which isn’t enough space for three weeks – but might be enough for a family’s overnighter. 

For those loving an analog display and pushing back on the all-digital presentation, Kia has taken a step back from its balanced approach to vehicle control, but those controls remain largely intuitive. I still can’t believe what I’ll continue to call ‘ignition’ is hidden behind a steering wheel spoke, and I’d like to suggest that once you’ve found it you’ll always find it…but I still often had to look for it, and don’t begin to understand why this is so hard. 

Functionally, Kia has built a family hauler with dynamics far closer to its GT-like EV6 than the neighbor’s Tahoe. This is a genuinely fun vehicle to drive, and if wondering what its appeal is to the kiddos, know my granddaughters – ages four and two – were intrigued. The GT-Line’s 270-mile range pushes the bounds of practicality if hitting the road, but should prove more than adequate for your urban and suburban adventures. And plugging in from your home-based Level 2 charger is as easy as, well…plugging in. 

Pricing for the base EV9 begins at just over $56K, while our top-of-the-line GT-Line sits at $76K. With virtually everyone offering real deals on their EV lineups, expect aggressive discounts – or very aggressive leases. 

And when you get to picking color, think Ocean Blue. Unlike Keith Urban, I think ‘Blue’ is your color…and know it’s mine.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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