With its class-topping balance of performance, range and features, Kia's first dedicated EV may be the best model the automaker has ever made.
The all-electric 2022 Kia EV6 is finally here and the first examples will be hitting dealerships about the same time as the Korean automaker's big Super Bowl LVI ad airs. The battery-electric crossover SUV is based on the same Electric Global Modular Platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60 but rolls out with a slightly different approach to performance and its own unique aesthetic. All told, this model is a huge step forward for Kia -- the company's engineers and designers have put their best foot all the way forward with this one.
The EV6 is available with three powertrain configurations. There's a 167-horsepower base model with a 58-kilowatt-hour battery pack and 232-mile Environmental Protection Agency-estimated range. Upgrading to a larger 77.4-kWh battery pack boosts the single-motor output to 225 hp and estimated range to 310 miles. Peak torque for both battery configurations is stated at 258 pound-feet.
My tester features the more potent dual-motor all-wheel-drive setup, which retains the 77.4-kWh battery but adds a second motor to the front axle, boosting total output to 320 hp and 446 lb-ft. Predictably, more power comes a small compromise to maximum range, dropping down to an EPA-estimated 272 miles per full charge.
Kia paid particular attention to the charging experience; the EV6's 800-volt system boasts some of the fastest theoretical charging speeds on the road today. At a 350-kW DC fast-charging station, the Kia can add up to 180 miles of range in around 15 minutes and hustle through a 20 to 80% charge in around 20 minutes. At a slower 50-kW DC station, a full charge takes a little over an hour, while an 11-kW Level 2 home or public station takes between six and seven hours. Every EV6 includes 1,000 kWh of complimentary charging at Electrify America stations, and some quick back-of-the-napkin math figures that to be around 3,500 miles of free best-case-scenario range.
I only wish the EV6's charging port was located near the front, rather than its current spot above the rear bumper. In my experience, it's usually easier to pull nose first into most charging stations -- particularly in lots with angled parking -- but that's mostly nitpicking. The EV6's charging port is also bidirectional. With the aid of the included vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging adapter, users are able to plug in 110-volt accessories and appliances for mobile or emergency power. Kia gives the example of powering a home refrigerator for more than 300 hours (almost two weeks) in the event of an extended blackout. There's also a second 110-volt outlet beneath the rear seats. Owners can set a discharge limit on the V2L output, ensuring there's enough range to get home at the end of a day tailgating.
Last year, I had an opportunity to test the EV6 on a very short agility course, so I already knew how hard this dual-motor configuration launches, but I was more than happy to experience it again and again on the road. The EV6 completes the 0-to-60-mph sprint in 4.6 seconds, surging forward with smooth, silent confidence and pulling my facial features back into a grin. Stoplight shenanigans are fun, but the EV6's flat torque curve means that it's just as responsive during a short merge at the base of an on-ramp or a quick pass at highway speeds.
The EV6 features paddles that adjust the level of regenerative braking applied when lifting the accelerator. There are four main settings, ranging from Level 0's no-regen coasting to Level 3 with near-max regeneration, which is pretty close to one-pedal driving, but still requires the brake pedal to hold at a complete stop and will creep forward at very low speeds. There is a fifth i-Pedal mode that enables true, full-stop, one-pedal braking, but it's only selectable under certain conditions and the EV6 will always revert to Level 3 when restarting.
Four drive modes are also selectable. Eco mode detunes the accelerator's responsiveness and deactivates the front motor under most conditions for the best possible range. Sport boosts throttle sensitivity and makes full use of both motors for maximum responsiveness. Normal is the default setting, splitting the difference with on-demand use of the front motor. Dual-motor models also feature a fourth Snow mode for increased traction in slippery conditions.
The EV6's static suspension is nicely tuned with a firm ride that emphasizes the sportier side of the E-GMP architecture. After my initial short test, I feared it would skew too firm for comfort, but on the road my fears were allayed by the crossover's balanced agility with a still excellent level of compliance over bumps. The EV6 won't fool you into thinking it's a sports car, but there's some performance potential in this Kia.
The steering is nicely weighted with enough positive feedback to make going around bends enjoyable. Interestingly, during full-throttle launches, the EV6 squats back onto its haunches enough that I was able to feel the steering lighten up a touch -- not so much that it detracts from the overall surefooted stance and flat, controlled handling, but enough of an effect to add to the "holy crap, I'm hauling" feeling.
I was surprised to find a menu in the infotainment system that allowed me to select from three settings for the EV6's faux engine sound. There's the subtle Stylish sound, a deep Dynamic tone and a sci-fi Cyber sound, each with three volume levels that correspond to the throttle position and speed. Users can also customize the behaviors of any of the three presets or completely disable the generated sounds altogether.
Overall, the EV6's cabin is about the same size as that of the Hyundai Ioniq 5. However, the Kia feels more compact and its inteior more cockpit-like thanks mostly to its larger, floating center console that stretches up to almost meet the dashboard -- not to mention my tester's darker upholstery. Kia's console doesn't slide like Hyundai's, so passengers won't be able to take as much advantage of the flat floor, but I like the EV6's center unit makes room for dedicated and easily reached controls for the heated seats and steering wheel just ahead of the electronic rotary shifter. (Hyundai hides these commonly accessed controls in a touchscreen submenu.)
Dual 12.3-inch screens stretch across the dashboard behind a single curved panel. The left screen serves as the fully digital instrument cluster, while the right is the touch-sensitive main infotainment display. The menu system is similar to the icon-based setup used in many modern Hyundai, Kia and Genesis vehicles and is logically organized, satisfyingly responsive and packed with a complement of useful and weird features like a voice memo recorder or ambient soundscapes. Personally, I prefer Kia's dark interface to the retina searing white menus of the Ioniq 5, particularly when driving at night.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, but wireless connectivity for the technologies is not supported. That makes the standard wireless charging pad, which just barely fits my Google Pixel 6 Pro, a bit less useful, in my opinion -- an annoyance that's compounded by the fact that the only USBs usable for data connectivity are beneath the dashboard near the floor. Overall, the EV6 features four USB ports, including a pair of Type-C ports on the front seat backs for easy backseat charging.
Just beneath the main touchscreen is a capacitive bank that serves double duty as climate controls and menu shortcuts. By default, there are knobs for volume and tuning and shortcuts to various infotainment functions like the map or phone menus, but with the tap of a button it switches to knobs for dual-zone temperature control and buttons for various climate modes. Now, on the one hand, having to toggle between the two modes is a little annoying at first. However, if you're the kind of person who likes to set their automatic temperature settings and forget them, it's not so bad, especially considering the climate features I'm most likely to fiddle with -- the heated and ventilated seats -- are always available on the console. After a few days behind the wheel, the rare toggle became second nature.
The 2022 Kia EV6 comes standard with Kia's excellent Drivewise driver-assistance suite. This includes lane-centering steering assist in addition to front, rear and blind-spot collision avoidance tech and machine-learning adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic and adapts over time to match the driver's habits. The EV6 also boasts a surround-view camera system that aids in precise parking and the automaker's blind spot camera system that displays a video feed of the adjacent lane when signaling for a lane change. Rounding out the packed list of features is Kia's Remote Smart Parking Assist, which allows the EV6 to pull straight forward or back in or out of a narrow parking spot while the driver controls from curbside with the key fob.
For the most part, I'm pleased with the EV6's tech suite. However, the extra-large HUD needs work: It promises to replicate a 44-inch display projected over the hood of the car but, from my normal seating position, clips the bottom edge at all but the highest vertical adjustment level. Augmented reality data is also supposed to highlight the car ahead when cruise control is active, but the system doesn't automatically track my head/eye position like Mercedes-Benz's AR system, so the glowing highlight sits too far to the left. There are manual adjustments I can tweak to better line up the overlay, but the highlighted zone doesn't appear when parked, meaning I'd have to fine-tune it while driving, which is distracting. I'm normally a fan of head-up tech, but this is the rare example where I just find myself not bothering and turning off most of the HUD's features.
The 2022 Kia EV6 starts at $42,115 including a $1,215 destination charge for the base EV6 Light with the smaller, standard range battery. My top-spec EV6 GT-Line AWD stickers for $57,115, arriving at an as-tested $58,105 thanks to $695 Steel Matte Gray Paint and $295 GT-Line suede seats. Ignoring these aesthetic choices, the EV6 is between $370 and $1,190 more expensive than a comparably equipped Ioniq 5 but boasts between 7 and 18 miles of additional range depending on the selected trim level. I also prefer the look of the EV6 and is smarter cabin controls, but your preferences may vary.
Outside of Hyundai Motor Group, Ford's Mustang Mach-E plays in the same price and performance range, as does the Polestar 2. Of course, there's also the Tesla Model Y Long Range, which edges Kia out on estimated range at the cost of a larger price tag, interior quality and other compromises.
Its outstanding range and excellent value would be enough to merit your attention, but the 2022 Kia EV6 stands even further apart from the crowd with head-turning style, truly satisfying performance and unique features like V2L power and ridiculously fast charging. It's not just a strong contender for one of the best vehicles in this growing class of electric crossovers, it's also one of the best, most thoughtful vehicles Kia has ever made.