This year could mark the tipping point for battery-electric vehicles. While they still make up a small share of the overall U.S. market, sales are expected to double — and one reason is the arrival of dozens of new models in all shapes and sizes.
That includes the 2022 Kia EV6. Since it made its splashy debut in New York’s Times Square last May, the electric SUV has generated plenty of interest. It not only delivers a reasonable amount of range but offers striking good looks.
Earlier this year, I got my first chance to check out the entire EV6 line-up during a daylong drive event in California. I jumped at an opportunity to log more time back home in Michigan — in this case spending a full week behind the wheel of the 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD.
Kia offers an assortment of packages for EV6 buyers to choose from, starting with a base, rear-drive model making a modest 167 horsepower while delivering a modest 232 miles range. At the upper end, there’s an all-wheel-drive GT-Line boosting that to 320 hp and 274 miles. The rear-drive GT-Line sacrifices some power, at 225 hp, but it also delivers the best range of the line-up, at 310 miles.
At least that’s what the EPA estimates. In reality, someone with a lead foot, like me, will watch the range gauge dip. And cold weather also takes its toll, as I’ll go into a bit later. Even so, I seldom felt the dreaded “range anxiety” while driving the EV6. And I did find the electric crossover a blast to drive, even with the single motor on the rear axle.
One reason is the shift to an entirely new “architecture.” Shared with sibling brands Hyundai and Genesis, the E-GMP platform is a skateboard-like design that moves batteries, motors and other key components below the load floor. This approach offers a number of advantages, starting with a near 50:50 weight distribution and an extremely low center of gravity. But it also frees up space normally devoted to an engine compartment for passengers and cargo, starting with the “frunk” under the EV6’s hood.
The EV6 is one of the most striking battery-electric designs to come to market so far. It doesn’t readily fall into a single design niche, however, blending SUV, sport coupe and even station wagon. So, we’ll lump it into the crossover category. Kia fans will notice familiar design cues, EV6 picking up on the brand’s latest “Opposites United” design language first seen on the updated Stinger model. But it pushes things further, largely to enhance range-extending aerodynamics.
The familiar Kia “tiger nose” grille becomes the new “Digital Tiger” design. The reality is that there’s not much need for airflow under the hood of an electric vehicle, so what little remains of the grille is actually sealed off and largely for show. A smaller grille below the bumper provides cooling air for the motors and battery pack, with smaller intakes feeding the air curtains that reduce turbulence around the front wheels. Cheating the wind is, of course, critical to maximize aerodynamic range.
The EV6’s headlamps now offer a sequential dynamic light pattern. The exterior door handles are now flush to reduce wind drag. A high rear deck doubles as a wind-cheating spoiler. And there’s a new, cross-car rear light cluster.
While it may have a compact footprint, the electric crossover’s wheelbase is precisely the same as the big, three-row Telluride, at 114.2-inch. From an interior volume perspective, the 2022 Kia EV6 actually falls into the midsize category, with 102 cubic feet for occupants and 27.7 cf for cargo. That nearly doubles to 53.5 cf with the second row folded down.
It also boasts a flat floor, which translates into even more room for passengers and their “stuff,” and a large center console adds to all the little nooks inside the crossover.
Inside, the Kia EV6 features a modern, minimalist layout with some surprisingly luxurious detailing. The interior design team also put an emphasis on sustainability. The “leather” in the cabin is actually vegan, and there’s been an effort to use recycled plastics, where possible. Slim front seats, meanwhile, help boost passenger space while reducing weight.
Twin 12.3-inch displays dominate the instrument panel, starting with a reconfigurable gauge cluster. The touchscreen infotainment system abandons Kia’s old UVO operating system for a newer technology with a more intuitive voice assistant. While many functions handed off to the touchscreen, there are still a number of manual controls, including a volume knob and toggles for the climate system — including steering wheel and seat heaters.
At the low end, you can order a base Kia EV6 Light for $40,900. This gets you a modest 58.0 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack with an estimated range of 232 miles. The rest of the line-up is packaged with a 77.4 kilowatt-hour pack. Moving up the spectrum, the all-wheel drive GT-Line makes a walloping 320 hp and 446 lb-ft. But range only climbs to 274 miles.
For those who want a reasonable amount of power and a full 310 miles of range, the 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line rear-wheel-drive model is likely the right choice. Its single, 225 hp motor is mounted on the back axle and still manages to give you a jolt when you stomp on the throttle thanks to the fact it also tops out at 258 lb-ft of torque.
Both the RWD and AWD GT-Line models add some welcome features including slightly grippier 20-inch wheels and tires. Disappointingly, the steering wheel heater I’d have liked on cold Michigan mornings comes only on the all-wheel-drive package.
With the larger battery pack, expect to keep your EV6 plugged in for at least 8 hours using a 240-volt Level 2 charger. But the Kia crossover is one of the first new battery-electric vehicles to migrate to an 800-volt internal electrical architecture. One advantage is faster charging when connected to the latest Level 3 public chargers, adding as much as 217 miles of range in as little as 18 minutes.
Safety and Technology
There are plenty of high-tech features, starting with a hands-free power liftgate. Qi wireless smartphone charging, an available WiFi hotspot and the ability to use Apple and Android smart watches to track vehicle information, such as charge status. You can also pair the EV6 to the Alexa voice assistant and, among other things, use it to “pre-condition” cabin temperature while still connected to a charger, reducing demands on the battery pack.
Options range from a 14-speaker Meridian Premium Audio system to an augmented-reality head-up display. When using the onboard navigation system it projects arrows that show you precisely where to make a turn, among other things.
Add a “roster” of advanced driver assistance systems, such as forward collision warning with auto-braking, remote smart parking assist, blind-spot assistance and highway driving assistance, among others.
The 2022 Kia EV6 also gets what is technically known as “Vehicle-to-Load” functionality, something the automaker demonstrated during a lunch break by using the car to power up some kitchen appliances. The battery pack can easily be tapped into should you suffer a blackout at home, need to power tools at a work site or, perhaps, a TV while tailgating.
The Kia EV6 proved to be one of the quietest of the new BEVs I have driven lately. But that’s not always a plus. Some drivers simply want aural feedback. And, for them, the South Korean crossover offers several options. Enter the infotainment system’s Setup screen, go to Sound settings and you can pick a “soundscape” to your liking. It will give you a digitally simulated audio track matched to your right foot.
I’m glad I had a first chance to drive the EV6 out in California wine country. With its steep grades and winding back roads it proved a perfect place to put the handling of the new model to the test. And the EV6 lived up to my expectations.
I split the day in half, starting out in the GT-Line rear-drive model, then switching to the all-wheel-drive package. The base engine provided a reasonable amount of power, with the instant torque of its single motor able to deliver reasonable off-the-line acceleration and the muscle needed to climb steep grades as well as make high-speed freeway passes.
The added muscle of the all-wheel-drive package was a pleasant surprise, 0-60 launch times coming in around 4.6 seconds — about 0.6 seconds faster than the Mustang Mach-E AWD model (though slower than the Mach-E GT).
The crossover’s low center of gravity and weight distribution helped compensate for both its added mass and the low-rolling resistance tires that trade off some grip for improved range. The EV6’s steering is quick and offered a reasonable amount of feedback in corners, making it easy to correct when I felt the back end begin to come loose in tight corners.
Back in Michigan, I got to focus on what the rear-drive GT-Line could deliver. You definitely sacrifice performance without the second motor, the RWD model taking 7.3 seconds to get to 60. That’s still about a half-second quicker than the rear-drive version of the Volkswagen ID.4, one of its most direct competitors.
Going into the week, my concern was whether the rear-drive layout and low rolling resistance tires would be up to the job during a snowy week on Michigan roads. The EV6 proved more than up to job, maintaining grip on all but the iciest pavement I ran into. Even then, its traction control and antilock brakes made it reasonably sure-footed.
One of my favorite features of the EV6 is its four levels of brake regeneration. At its most basic, “regen” is used to help recapture energy lost while braking, something that can add significant range over a long trip, especially if you’ve got steep drops like you’ll experience in Napa and Sonoma Counties. With the EV6 you can increase the amount of regeneration. The higher level the more you slow when lifting off the throttle. In 1-Pedal mode, it’s almost like downshifting a gas engine several gears. And you may find yourself flipping from throttle to brake during only the most aggressive cornering maneuvers.
2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD specifications
|Dimension||L: 184.8 inches/W: 74.4 inches/H: 60.8 inches/Wheelbase: 114.2 inches|
|Powertrain||One AC Synchronous Permanent Magnet Motor with a 77.4 kWh LIPO battery|
|Fuel Economy||116 mpg city/94 mpg highway/105 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||225 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $51,200; As tested: $53,700, not including $1,215 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Kia began taking advance orders for the EV6 last June. It sold out the 1,500 First Edition models — priced at $58,500 — in just 11 hours. And the automaker admits it could take a while to meet the rest of its order bank. It’s “negotiating” with the parent company back in South Korea to boost the anticipated supply of the electric crossover.
The mid-range Wind is likely to be the high-volume trim package, with prices ranging from $47,700 for the rear-drive version, to $52,400 for the all-wheel-drive tech package model. The GT-Line is my preference, however. It adds a variety of driver assistance, comfort and convenience features for a relatively modest markup.
The GT-Line RWD model starts at $51,200, with options like suede seats and Steel Matte Gray paint bumping that to $52,190. You’ll start at $55,900 with all-wheel-drive. (Add $1,215 to all these numbers for delivery fees.) Pricing has yet to be announced for the 570-hp EV6 GT model that Kia plans to launch either late this year or earlier in 2023.
As with most of the latest-generation of long-range battery-electric vehicles, you’re paying a premium to go electric. But you get a lot for your money with the EV6 — a striking design, inside and out, plenty of power, good range and reasonably quick charging. And, when you factor in the current $7,500 federal tax credits, as well as lower energy and maintenance costs, it starts looking like a much better deal.
If 2022 really is going to be the tipping point, with battery-electric vehicles starting to move into the mainstream, the EV6 will be one of the products that could help win over BEV skeptics. The 2022 Kia EV6 really stands out from the crowd. If you’re looking for an all-electric crossover, it belongs on your shopping list.
2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Kia EV6?
It’s the first battery-electric offering from the South Korean brand featuring its new E-GMP platforms, which will serve as the base for a wave of EVs expected from the company for the next several years.
How much will the EV6 cost?
The pricing ranges from $42,115 to $57,115, which includes the $1,215 destination charge, depending on the trim level, according to the company. The company’s now sold out First Edition models went for $58,500 and it hasn’t released pricing for its GT model coming next year.
Where is the EV6 built?
The new EV is being built in the company’s home country of South Korea as its Hwasung plant.