Over the past couple of years, automakers across the land – even ones that have built electric vehicles in the past – have been trotting out their One Hero EV intended to bring them into the emissions-free promised land.
Ford has the Mustang Mach-E, BMW has the iX, Volkswagen has the ID.4, and Hyundai has the Ioniq 5. For whatever reason, they’re all some sort of compact crossover with mild sporting pretensions and, for Korea’s other mainstream auto brand, that role falls to the 2022 Kia EV6.
Par for the Hero EV course, the EV6 is a relatively flamboyant-looking crossover. It seats five, thrusts away from a stoplight with way more urgency than the average person would expect, has a fashionably minimalist interior dominated by screens, pop-out door handles, and, of course, runs on pure electricity.
A lot like every other Hero EV out there, the EV6 is a very important car for the company that made it. Fortunately for Kia, it lives up to its own hype.
Size and style-wise, the Kia EV6 doesn’t really fit into any of the traditional crossover segments other than whichever one the Ford Mustang Mach-E occupies (i.e. the one known in my mind as the “new-age sporty crossover that’s not quite a crossover” segment). Admittedly, it’s quite a cool looking ride, pulling off the trick of appearing aggressive and sports car-esque from the front, but substantially SUV-like from the rear. The hockey-stick motif that flows from the bottom of the doors and into the rear light bar is neat, the fenders are attractively bulbous, the rear spoiler’s laterally protruding edges make it look like it has devil horns, and the intricate LED headlight signatures look quite cool.
However, you know how a lot of cars look better in real life than they do in pictures? To my eyes, the EV6 sort of does the opposite. It’s quite striking in photos but, in the metal, its spaceship-like exoticism is slightly undermined by a stubby front end and drab-looking paint. (Y’know how Mazda’s Soul Red shimmers and shines in the light? Yeah, this doesn’t really do that.)
Fortunately, I’m quite a big fan of the interior design that’s sharp, attractive, and clean. The bezel that houses the two screens is curved, while the centre controls do that BMW thing of canting themselves towards the driver. A lot of two-spoke steering wheels end up coming off as cheesy and weird, but the EV6’s somehow side-steps that. The top of the dash is made of hard plastic but Kia has thrown a textured surface on it that makes it feel less stark.
Opt for either of the top GT-Line packages and the car will come with the Hyundai Group’s very capable and natural-feeling Highway Driving Assist II suite of semi-autonomous tech. It’s an advanced lane-keeping, steering assist, and adaptive cruise control combination intended to aid the driver – though not do the driving. It’ll even do turn signal-activated lane changes, but only if it detects your hands on the wheel – which sort of defeats the purpose of the car doing it on its own in the first place.
Blind-spot monitoring throws up red indicators on the head-up display in addition to the orange lights on the physical mirrors. This car also features Hyundai/Kia’s mirror-mounted cameras that take all of the guesswork out of changing lanes by showing a live look at either side of it in the instrument screen with the signal activated.
As of this writing, neither the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the EV6, but for what it’s worth, the Korean equivalent to those bodies gave it 91.9 out of 100 safety points.
Mostly because of its touch-heavy interior, getting to grips with the Kia EV6 is a bit of a mixed bag. Key controls like the gear selector knob and steering-wheel buttons are, thankfully, still physical and intuitive. Just like it is in other Hyundai Group products, the centre touchscreen is logically laid out and easy to use, while most of this cabin’s general ergonomics are good. I qualify that with the word “mostly” because I would’ve liked the driver seat to move further down. Just like the Ioniq 5, the top of the instrument display was obscured by the steering wheel (and I’m not even that tall), hiding the speedometer, range, and advanced driver-assist status readouts in my preferred driving position.
Another potential pain point may be the touch-sensitive panel underneath the central air vents. Flanked by a pair of physical knobs, this row of touch inputs does double duty in controlling both the HVAC and the infotainment systems, with occupants able to switch between the two via – you guessed it! – a touch button.
In HVAC mode, the hard knobs control temperature but turn into volume and tuning knobs when in infotainment mode. It’s a pretty nifty solution that admittedly cleans up the cabin from inhabiting too many buttons but, just like every other touch-sensitive control out there, they’re practically impossible to use without looking. Also, on more than one occasion, I found myself cranking up the temperature and/or grazing the auto-climate button when I wanted to turn up the volume.
In its base short-range rear-wheel-drive trim, the EV6 comes with LED headlights, heated front seats, one-touch up and down front windows, keyless entry with push-button start, the full double-12.3-inch screen setup with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six speakers, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Step up to the long-range version and, in addition to that bigger battery, the car also gets solar glass up front, tinted windows, a heated steering wheel, a powered driver’s seat with memory, wireless charging, and a heat pump to draw waste heat from the electric powertrain and uses it to warm the cabin.
Spring for the all-wheel drive-only GT-Line Package 1 and Kia throws in that very capable highway driving assist function, remote smart park, nicer wheels, ambient interior lighting, a powered front passenger seat, a smart power tailgate, and a surround view camera system.
Loaded to the gills in GT-Line Package 2 form, the Kia EV6 comes with an “augmented reality” head-up display, a premium audio system, and vehicle-to-load capability which lets the car power appliances and electronics from either the exterior charge port or an outlet underneath the rear seats. While not what I’d call spectacular, the upgraded stereo doesn’t sound bad, while calling the head-up display “augmented reality” is, in reality, a bit of an oversell. For example, the arrows warning you that you’re drifting out of your lane are overlaid onto the actual road, but their positioning is haphazard and not always exactly where it should be. Also, the graphics themselves just aren’t as sharp as other systems, but their presence is still appreciated – especially when they became the main display I relied on for instrumentation.
Despite the two cars sharing the same platform and five-door lifted-hatchback layout, the Kia EV6 does not get the Ioniq 5’s nifty interior features like its sliding centre console and rear seats, or recliner-style driver’s seat. However, it’s still quite a practical car. There’s lots of legroom in the back, but because it’s not quite as upright as a traditional crossover like the Toyota RAV4, headroom is tight if you’re any sort of tall. Even at average height, my head was almost touching the ceiling while sitting up straight.
This Kia’s 690 L of cargo room (1,322 L with the seats folded down) is a fair amount, although it should be noted that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its 770-L cargo area is bigger, likely due to the EV6’s sleeker, less boxy body. Just like the Ioniq 5, though, the only semblance of a “frunk” here is a small suitcase-shaped storage area atop the electric motor.
Sitting up front, there’s a fair amount of storage cubbies and cupholders, although I’m not a fan of the mandatory-for-Apple CarPlay USB port that basically places your phone in the cubby on the floor. Retrieving my phone from down there every time is a bit of a reach, and the germaphobe in me became mildly upset about putting the device that occasionally touches my face so close to the filthy winter-worn floor mats.
The Kia EV6 may have skipped the sliding centre consoles and lounge-style interior quirks of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, but the two cars are quite similar when it comes to the big stuff like ride comfort and drivability – not surprising, since they share a platform and powertrain. The suspension here remained perfectly comfortable throughout the entire test, with my body undisturbed by potholes and speed bumps. The decently shaped seats inside of this top GT-Line Package 2 car, meanwhile, are three-stage heated and cooled up front, while the outboard rear seats are heated with two stages to choose from. The steering wheel is heated in all but the base EV6.
In dual-motor all-wheel drive guise, the Kia EV6 delivers 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of instant electric torque reasonably smoothly. Kia says it’ll hit 100 km/h from a dig in just 5.2 seconds, which is sufficiently speedy for most. No, it isn’t as quick as the Porsche Taycan or Ford Mustang Mach E GT – a 576-hp EV6 GT is coming soon, if you’re looking for that kind of fun – but like the Ioniq 5, this GT-Line model approaches bona fide hot hatch territory when it comes to straight-line speed.
Also solidly executed are three different simulated motor noises that are adjustable and selectable via the touchscreen. Very similar in premise to the Mercedes-Benz EQS’s selection of sounds, the speaker-relayed electric car noises here don’t sound nearly as extra but are still quite pleasant and unobtrusive, even at their loudest level. They sound just like what the average person would imagine a sci-fi car would sound like and, a little remarkably, Kia’s system even lets you configure the tone equalizer-style and the way with which it responds to throttle inputs.
Given its relation to the fantastic Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6 excels in everyday driving in pretty much all scenarios and criteria. It’s easy to place in parking lots and around the city while being stable and smooth on the highway. Brakes do their job well, as does the steering, which is light but reasonably fun to operate.
Its rear-biased powertrain and low battery-weighted centre of gravity make it a decently thrilling steed in the corners, too. To my hands, it’s not quite as athletic as the Mach-E (although to be fair to the Kia, that’s in relation to the more expensive Mach-E GT), but it honestly isn’t too far off.
As tested, combining the EV6’s long-range battery and all-wheel drive powertrain mean an official range of 441 km but, of course, your literal mileage will vary according to usage and ambient temperature. Case in point: when I picked this Kia up in the relative chill of early March, 95 per cent charge was only good for an estimated 307 km of range, according to the car’s onboard computer. A little over 200 km of mixed driving later, the battery was depleted down to 17 per cent, giving the EV6 an effective, real-world range here of 256 km from a theoretical full charge, illustrating just how drastically even mild winter weather affects electric car range.
Per official Kia numbers, the 800-volt, 350-kW-compatible EV6 is able to DC fast charge from 10 to 80 per cent in just 18 minutes – in ideal conditions, of course. Plugging my tester into a 350-kW fast-charger, the car went from 17 to 81 per cent in 40 minutes – double the quoted time and another side effect of the cold. For the record, this was done at the freezing mark, and for a cost of a little less than $14.
This isn’t really the car’s fault so much as an infrastructure problem, but the bottom line is this: I still do not recommend buying a non-Tesla EV if you don’t have a place to reliably charge it at home overnight or at work during the day.
In any case, those looking for the most range-abundant EV6 will want the single-motor long-range model, which boasts an official range of 499 km. The base short-range EV6 is rated for 373 km.
The least expensive EV6 available starts at $44,995, but the range-topping GT-Line Package 2 car you see here will command at least $61,995. Add $250 for red paint, $100 in A/C tax, and a non-negotiable destination charge of $2,000, and the EV6 as-tested stickers for $64,345 before a $5,000 federal incentive (which this top EV6, indeed, qualifies for since the GT-Line additions are billed as optional packages). That’s a couple grand more than an Ultimate Package Ioniq 5 and practically the same money as a Premium trim Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Just like the Mach-E and Ioniq 5, however, the Kia EV6 is a remarkably pleasant car regardless of its price. It’s stylish inside and out, can be had with every tech feature its manufacturer could think of (including Kia’s spectacular advanced driving aids), and is also a comfortable, practical, and decent driver’s car, too.
There are some interior usability gripes to deal with, and some of its luxury car-like features aren’t quite luxury car-grade. And, of course, be sure to have somewhere you can charge it without having to sit in it twiddling your thumbs for, like, an hour. But by and large, the 2022 Kia EV6 is yet another solid step towards an all-electric marketplace.