Review: Kia Goes After a New Crowd With the Upscale 2022 EV6
A little less curb appeal means more range for the new electric SUV
It’s a testament to the swiftly changing EV landscape that SUV shoppers 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) all compete for the attention of green-seeking buyers who need a little extra space in their gas-free commuter.
The EV6 also faces off against its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, on the shared E-GMP platform that provides lightning-fast charging capabilities, excellent driving range and surprising performance, all wrapped in a reasonably practical package. That Kia’s entry manages to look and feel different in so many ways from its otherwise electrically-identical Hyundai counterpart is an impressive accomplishment — albeit not every instance of putting function over form works in the EV6’s favor.
A Solid Foundation
Kia’s access to Hyundai’s E-GMP platform brings a bunch of goodies to the EV6’s spec sheet, including 350 kW charging capability (which can fill its power pack from 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes), the choice between 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 near 100 hp upgrade over the base rear-wheel drive model, and a match for the all-wheel drive version of the Ioniq 5. Its 77.4 kWh battery is also shared between the two vehicles, but the Kia makes better use of its storage capacity, boasting a range of 274 miles in all-wheel drive trim 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 chunky visage of the Ioniq 5, which from certain angles channels a wheeled Nintendo cartridge, Kia’s crossover adopts a more anonymous profile, relying on details in the headlights, the rear hatch and the back pillar to differentiate it from similarly slippery SUV shapes.
While not homely, the EV6’s more conventional and aerodynamically efficient looks do make it a little less visually special than its Hyundai counterpart. There’s far less to distinguish the Kia from its rivals when it comes to passing an eye test, although that may appeal to some shoppers sick of the look-at-the-future poses struck by many modern electrics.
More troubling is the headache induced by its flush door handles, which on the trim level I drove required me to push the rear portion to unlock, then twist my hand around to flip out and grasp the lever that actually opens the door. It was an awkward ballet each and every time, and an ergonomic nightmare that could have easily been avoided. Another unusual misstep is the EV6’s lack of a rear wiper, an error ported over from the Ioniq 5, and one that will cause no end of frustration come winter in cold weather climates.
Once you’ve managed to crack open the driver’s door (which has a self-closing feature that caught me by surprise), you’ll discover that the Kia’s interior is a little less subdued. Although the Ioniq focuses on the straightforward presentation of its twin LCD gauge and infotainment displays, the EV6 offers a storage-friendly console that swaps in a gap between the center stack in place of the Hyundai’s longer unit. Think “game room” versus “clean room” and you’ll catch the vibe that the EV6 is throwing down versus its Ioniq companion. Cabin room remains comparable between the two, so there’s no penalty aside from a smaller frunk that can’t match the Hyundai’s forward capacity.
Incremental Handling Chops
The final key difference between the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is much more difficult to suss out. Kia claims a more focused suspension tune for its iteration of the EV SUV, intended to provide a sportier flavor on roads that reward more aggressive driver inputs. While certainly no slouch in the handling department, it was difficult for me to perceive any meaningful fast twitch muscle upgrade after having sampled both vehicles. This won’t be an issue for 90% of buyers, who are less likely to slalom than they are to sling hockey bags and soccer balls into its cargo compartment.
Acceleration, as with most modern electric vehicles, is excellent when it’s time to exert undue influence on the Kia’s forward momentum. Off the line the EV6 exhibits the familiar neck-snap of instant-on torque, which gradually tapers off after merging onto the highway. It’s not a high-performance machine by any stretch (that title being reserved for the upcoming over-muscled GT model), but it’s certainly well above average SUV fare on the gas-fired side of the spectrum.
A Near-Luxury Gambit
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. Both these price poles feel in keeping with the feature set and capabilities that the EV6 has to offer, but it’s important to note that this makes the electric people-mover the most expensive model in the brand’s lineup, easily eclipsing both the larger Sorento plug-in hybrid SUV and the fire-breathing Stinger grand tourer. It’s also somewhat more expensive than comparable Mustang Mach-E and Ioniq 5 trim levels at the top end.
The only other Kia to have circled the $60,000 mark was the K900, an ultra-niche, full-on luxury sedan that moved only a few hundred examples a year over its brief North American run. That the brand has chosen to return to this price pinnacle with an electric model speaks to where Kia sees its future heading far more eloquently than any plush executive trolley from the past.
With the even more expensive GT model on the way, the EV6 is positioned to not only soak up families of more modest means at the entry level, but also soft-launch a push for premium privileges among those more concerned with the content of a car’s character than the provenance of the badge on the hood.
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