The 2022 Kia EV6 is arguably one of the most exciting new electric cars coming out in the near future. This crossover has already started to roll out globally, but the first examples aren't expected to arrive stateside until early next year. So when Kia offered to sneak me backstage at its annual dealers' meeting in Las Vegas for a short, exclusive, one-hour session in the electric crossover, I obviously couldn't say no.
Of course, the EV6 isn't Kia's first EV. However, it is the first to use the company's new dedicated electric vehicle platform or E-GMP, which will be shared with future Hyundai Motor Group EVs, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60.
We've already dug extensively into the EV6's specs, but here's a quick refresher. In the US, the compact crossover will initially arrive in three flavors. There are two rear-wheel-drive variants: One with a 58-kilowatt-hour battery making 167 horsepower and one with a 77.4-kWh long-range pack good for 218 hp. Finally, the all-wheel-drive version combines the big battery with dual motors for a total of 313 hp. Range hasn't been announced, but Kia tells me to expect around 300 miles for multiple configurations with the best numbers coming from the long-range, rear-wheel-drive version.
During my brief test around a cone course atop a parking deck, I drove two EV6 crossovers, one RWD and one AWD. I had just one hour to drive and film the experience, so you'll forgive my brief impressions.
First up is the rear-wheel-drive, long-range model. The EV6 has four levels of regenerative braking toggled via a paddle on the steering wheel, including a true one-pedal driving mode, called i-Pedal, accessed by holding the paddle for a few beats. There are also multiple driving modes for comfort, eco and sport throttle response and performance.
The EV6's 258 pound-feet of torque provides satisfying thrust off the line -- not overwhelming, but I'd reckon it's more than good enough for easy overtaking and merging onto the highway. The compact course is pretty slow-going after the initial 0-to-30-mph sprint, but I can still get a sense of the nicely weighted steering and firm, but not too stiff, suspension as the electric CUV predictably weaves its way through the slalom.
Overall, the rear-drive EV6 feels quite good. My butt-dyno estimates it's about as quick as a Chevrolet Bolt, while feeling a touch more purposeful and planted than the Chevy when rounding bends. I'm perfectly pleased with the RWD version's performance, but swapping into the all-wheel-drive version, it's clear this one is the star.
The AWD model bumps power up to 446 lb-ft of torque split between its two motors. Kia says accelerating to 60 mph should take about 5 seconds, and the 0-to-30 jolt on the rooftop deck is a thrill -- quick enough to literally make me hoot with joy. There's some faux engine sound during the AWD car's launch, too -- a deep, futuristic tone that builds in pitch and volume as the EV6 gains speed.
The steering and ride quality are nearly identical to the RWD model, which is to say solid and planted. With more torque on tap on both axles, the AWD model feels better when rolling onto the throttle to exit a corner. Interestingly, i-Pedal braking also seems stronger here, with better stability when lifting off the throttle to add a touch of trail braking when entering a bend. It's not quite a sports car, but the EV6 AWD definitely has me grinning.
The EV6 AWD also has me stoked for the even more powerful EV6 GT that'll arrive later next year. That bad boy will have 576 hp and a 0-to-60-mph time of just 3.5 seconds. I can't wait.
Pricing hasn't yet been finalized for the full EV6 lineup. Right now, all I know is that the $58,500 fully loaded EV6 First Edition, which is based on the long-range AWD, has already been fully reserved. Orders will open for other trim levels closer to the car going on sale next year.
I will of course reserve final judgment until I can spend more time with the EV6 next year. But for now, consider me impressed. I can't wait to get another crack at this EV.
Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.