It’s a testament to the rapidly changing landscape of electric vehicles that SUV buyers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to affordable all-electric family haulers. The 2022 Kia EV6 joins a world where Subaru (the Solterra), Toyota (the bZ4X), Volkswagen (the ID.4) and Ford (the Mach-E) are all vying for the attention of buyers looking for green products who need a little extra space in their shuttle without gasoline.
The EV6 also goes up against its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, on the shared E-GMP platform that offers super-fast charging capabilities, excellent range and surprising performance, all in a reasonably practical package. . The fact that Kia’s entry manages to look and feel different in many ways from its otherwise electrically identical Hyundai counterpart is an impressive achievement – although all cases of putting the feature on the form do not work in favor of the EV6.
A solid foundation
Kia’s access to Hyundai’s E-GMP platform brings a bunch of bonuses to the EV6’s spec sheet, including a 350kW charging capacity (which can fill its power pack by 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes), choice of AWD and RWD configurations and two available batteries.
The model I drove – the $51,400 Wind AWD – featured an electric motor at each axle that together generated 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque, a nearly 100-hp upgrade over the model from rear-drive base and a match for the all-wheel-drive version of the Ioniq 5. Its 77.4 kWh battery is shared between the two vehicles equally, but the Kia makes better use of its storage capacity, delivering a range of 274 miles in the all-wheel-drive version versus the 256 miles posted by the Hyundai.
Slippery when wet (or dry)
The reason for the EV6’s longer legs can be directly attributed to its sleeker styling. Unlike the Ioniq 5’s chunky face, which from certain angles channels a wheeled Nintendo cartridge, Kia’s crossover adopts a more anonymous profile, relying on details in the headlights, rear hatch and rear pillar for the differentiate from equally slippery SUV shapes.
While it’s not inviting, the EV6’s more conventional and aerodynamically efficient appearance makes it a bit less visually special than its Hyundai counterpart. There’s a lot less to distinguish the Kia from its rivals when it comes to passing an eye test, although that may appeal to some buyers tired of the forward-looking poses struck by many modern electrics.
More troubling is the headache induced by its flush door handles, which, at the trim level I drove, required me to push the rear portion to unlock, then twist my hand to turn around and grab the lever that actually opens the door. It was an awkward ballet every time, and an ergonomic nightmare that could easily have been avoided. Another unusual misstep is the EV6’s lack of a rear wiper, an error carried over from the Ioniq 5, and one that will cause endless frustration in cold climates in winter.
Once you manage to open the driver’s door (whose auto-close feature surprised me), you’ll find that the Kia’s interior is a little less muted. Although the Ioniq focuses on the simple presentation of its dual LCD gauge and infotainment screens, the EV6 offers a storage-friendly console that swaps into a space between the center console in place of the unit. Hyundai’s longest. Think ‘game room’ versus ‘clean room’ and you’ll catch the vibe the EV6 throws off compared to its Ioniq companion. Cabin room remains comparable between the two, so there’s no penalty other than a smaller frunk that can’t match the Hyundai’s forward capacity.
Incremental Manipulation Chops
The last key difference between the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is much more difficult to understand. Kia is claiming more targeted suspension tuning for its iteration of the EV SUV, intended to provide a sportier flavor on roads that reward more aggressive driving inputs. While certainly no slouch in the handling department, I found it difficult to perceive any significant improvement in fast-twitch muscles after sampling both vehicles. That won’t be a problem for 90% of buyers, who are less likely to slalom than to put hockey bags and soccer balls in its cargo compartment.
Acceleration, as with most modern EVs, is excellent when it’s time to exert undue influence on the Kia’s forward momentum. Offline, the EV6 exhibits the familiar neck snap of instant torque, which gradually wanes after merging on the highway. It’s not a high-performance machine by any means (that title being reserved for the next overly muscular GT model), but it’s certainly well above the average price of SUVs on the petrol side of the spectrum.
An almost luxurious bet
The 2022 Kia EV6 starts at a reasonable $41,400 (before federal or state EV tax credits) and tops out at just under $57,000 in full spec. These two price poles match the feature set and capabilities the EV6 has to offer, but it’s important to note that this makes the electric mover the most expensive model in the brand’s lineup, easily eclipsing at both the Sorento- biggest take in the hybrid SUV and the fire-breathing Stinger grand tourer. It’s also a bit more expensive than the comparable Mustang Mach-E and Ioniq 5 trim levels at the top end.
The only other Kia to circle the $60,000 mark was the K900, an ultra-niche, full-featured luxury sedan that only moved a few hundred copies a year during its brief North American run. The fact that the brand has opted to return to that price pinnacle with an electric model shows where Kia sees its future headed far more eloquently than any plush executive cart of the past.
With the even more expensive GT model on the way, the EV6 is positioned to not only absorb families of more modest means at the entry level, but also to gently launch a push for premium privileges among those more concerned about the contents of a car. character than the provenance of the badge on the hood.
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