- We drove the impressive 2022 Kia EV6, Kia’s newest electric SUV.
- It delivers 310 miles of range, attention-grabbing styling, and lots of standard tech features.
- The Kia EV6 starts at around $41,000. The model Kia loaned us came out to $53,405.
If you’re in the market for an electric car and a Tesla isn’t quite your speed, there’s a handful of alternatives out there by now.
Volkswagen fans can buy an ID.4. Ford diehards might pick up a Mustang Mach-E. And new models are dropping onto the scene at a steady clip. Pretty soon, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan will launch new electric SUVs of their own.
One of the most exciting and promising of this new crop of zero-emission rides — one that you can buy right now — is the 2022 Kia EV6.
The sporty SUV is loads of fun to drive, delivers over 300 miles of driving range, and comes packed with advanced tech features. That all comes wrapped up in a distinctive, striking package that people can’t help but gawk at.
There are a few sticking points here and there in the EV6, but its biggest downside — especially if you’re in a hurry — is that people won’t stop asking about it.
A big first for Kia
Notably, the EV6 is Kia’s first purpose-built electric model. It’s a major leap forward for Kia and the larger Hyundai Motor Group’s electric ambitions. If you can count the EV6 as a portend for what’s to come, the future looks bright.
The new E-GMP platform on which the EV6 is built brings extremely quick charging speeds and allows for clever interior packaging that makes vehicles feel larger than they actually are. The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60 from Kia’s sister brands use the same underpinnings.
The EV6 comes in three trims, with options for all-wheel drive in two of them:
- Light RWD ($40,900 MSRP): The base model is the only EV6 to come with 167 horsepower and a smaller battery pack, yielding 232 miles of range, as estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Heated seats, dual 12.3-inch screens, Apple CarPlay, and a wide assortment of advanced safety features come standard.
- Wind RWD ($47,000): Adds ventilated front seats, 120-volt onboard power, an upgraded stereo system, and other features. Horsepower increases to 225 and range to 310 miles thanks to a larger battery.
- Wind AWD ($50,900): Adds an extra motor driving the front wheels, bumping horsepower to 320 and diminishing range to 274 miles.
- GT-Line RWD ($51,200): Adds an augmented-reality display, accent lighting, a vegan-leather steering wheel, extra safety tech, automatic pop-out door handles, and other features. Power and range match the Wind RWD model.
- GT-Line AWD ($55,900): Same specs as Wind AWD.
The GT-Line RWD model that Kia loaned me for a weekend came out to $53,405, including a $1,215 destination fee. The car was equipped with two options: a $695 matte-gray paint job and a $295 suede-seat package.
What stands out: An EV for extroverts
I wasn’t quite sold on the EV6’s looks from photos alone. But after seeing it in person and driving around for a while, it grew on me, mainly due to the reactions I got from passers-by. I’ve driven a handful of expensive, good-looking cars around New York City, but the EV6 got the most attention by far.
It’s simple to understand why. With its low ride height, unique integrated rear spoiler, sharply raked roof, and aggressive, sports-car styling, the EV6 sticks out in the sea of vaguely blob-shaped SUVs. In fact, it barely resembles a crossover at all, but rather a big sporty hatchback. An exquisite matte-gray paint job doesn’t hurt either.
I still think the EV6 has some unflattering angles, but I see why people are so enamored with it. And there’s something just plain fun about driving a car that makes people do a double-take, whip out their phone, or walk up and ask you questions.
“Now that’s what I call a car!” one older man exclaimed when he saw me pulling out of a parking garage. Indeed it is, sir. Indeed it is.
Driving and charging the EV6
The EV6 doesn’t just look the part. It’s agile around corners, with precise steering that isn’t overly assisted. Even though Kia calls the EV6 a crossover, it rides low to the ground, dropping its center of gravity and aiding handling.
The rear-wheel-drive model I tested doesn’t surge forward with the organ-compressing force of some higher-performance EVs. But, just like all electric cars, it accelerates instantly and has enough spring in its step to get you away from a stoplight relatively quickly.
You can choose from four drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow. Paddles behind the steering wheel adjust how much energy the car will capture and feed to the battery pack when you take your foot off of the accelerator. At Level 0, the EV6 coasts freely like a gas car. In the most intense regenerative-braking setting, the EV6 slows down hard as you lift your foot off of the throttle, essentially eliminating the need for a brake pedal.
I bet 320-horsepower AWD models would offer a top-notch combination of agility and quickness. But I’d probably stick with a single-motor version for the gains in efficiency alone. After all, 310 miles of driving range knocks at the door of the Tesla Model Y and is among the best you’ll get in this price range.
Even lower-range EV6 models offset their shortcomings by being able to charge incredibly quickly. The EV6 has an 800-volt architecture that lets it add 10-80% battery (217 miles in long-range models) in just 18 minutes when plugged into a 350-kilowatt charging station, according to Kia. That’s a road-tripping game changer.
Interestingly enough, the EV6 can also send electricity in the opposite direction. All models aside from the base trim come with an adapter that plugs into the charge port and offers up a standard household outlet that owners can use to power things while camping, tailgating, or during emergencies.
An attractive, technology-packed interior
Slipping inside the EV6, I expected an interior somewhat like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 I tested before it — something sleek, minimal, and airy. But the EV6’s cabin is a whole different animal. It’s sporty, bold, and full of contrasting colors and metallic accents. Not bad, just different.
The EV6’s comfy suede and vegan-leather seats hug you tight and keep you from sliding around. Headroom was unexpectedly good for a car with such a low roofline, and legroom in back is solid as well. Since there’s no hump running down the middle of the car like you’d find in a gas vehicle, the middle-seat passenger isn’t robbed of room for their feet and there’s extra open space between the front seats for storage.
Don’t mistake the absence of a TV-sized touchscreen for a lack of technology. Base models get a WiFi hotspot, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, five USB ports scattered around the cabin, and dual 12.3-inch displays. The touchscreen is super responsive and intuitively laid out.
The EV6 also comes with advanced safety features like blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and a highway-driving feature that automatically accelerates, brakes, and steers in response to surrounding traffic.
My tester came with brilliant extras, including an augmented-reality display projected onto the windshield and blind-spot camera views that appear in the gauge cluster whenever you click the turn signal. Highway Driving Assist II, which comes on upper-trim models, confidently centered the EV6 in its lane, kept an eye on traffic both in front of the car and in adjacent lanes, and even changed lanes for me.
What falls short: Cargo space and visibility, mainly
All of those safety features are more than welcome, as visibility out the back of the EV6 is pretty subpar on account of its slanted roof, thick pillars, and slim windows. The EV6’s slick shape also comes at the expense of cargo space, which is worse than the ID.4, Mustang Mach-E, Ioniq 5, and Model Y.
Another small gripe: Controls for the climate settings and media player are located on the same touch-sensitive panel below the main screen, but you can only use one set of buttons at a time. Tap a toggle, and the buttons’ and knobs’ functions change from temperature, fan speed, etc., to volume, seek, and so on. It’s all pretty cool in theory, but cumbersome to use while driving.
Although the whole interior feels high-quality, the front seat backs are made from hard, black plastic, which seems out of place on a car that costs upwards of $50,000.
You can’t go wrong with an EV6
Small gripes aside, the 2022 Kia EV6 is a terrific choice for almost anyone looking for a gasoline-free SUV in the $40,000-$50,000 range. Its iffy cargo space and lack of physical buttons are easily outweighed by its exceptional range, attention-grabbing looks, and engaging driving dynamics.
Just remember to build an extra few minutes into your commute. Because people will have questions.