Kia might not be the first automaker to latch onto the new all-electric trend, but it’s certainly making up for lost time with the introduction of the new EV6 SUV. The first of a forthcoming line of all-electric offerings from the South Korean automaker that will range from the EV1 to the EV9, the Kia EV6 has already nabbed the 2022 European Car of the Year award and now looks to replicate that success on the North American market. It’s already off to a promising start as the EV6’s corporate twin, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, was already named 2022 EV of the Year by Car and Driver, and we expect the EV6 to win some similar honors before all is said and done.
As we start to see the 2023 Kia EV6 for sale at dealerships across the country, let’s take a closer look at this intriguing new offering and see how the SUV stacks up when it comes to performance, range, and tech features. We’ll also dive into the high-performance EV6 GT trim, which, with nearly double the horsepower of the base version, is an exciting alternative for those who like to test their limits.
Performance and Range
The 2023 Kia EV6 can be tremendously fun to drive, but it all depends on how you set it up. The SUV is available with two distinct powertrain options: a rear-wheel drive configuration with a single electric motor on the rear axle or a juiced-up all-wheel drive dual-motor setup that dramatically enhances the SUV’s power credentials. While the rear-wheel drive setup will give you up to 225 horsepower to play around with, the all-wheel drive version ups that considerably to 320 or 576 horsepower.
We’d probably recommend the middle ground here, as the all-wheel drive dual-motor setup with a smaller battery pack still packs a considerable punch without sacrificing much in the way of range. While it still pales in comparison to the top-of-the-line GT model’s 3.2-second zero-to-60 time, the resulting 320 horsepower is enough to whisk you from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
Like many electric vehicles, the EV6 uses regenerative braking to help charge the battery every time you slow the car. This system is customizable, giving drivers four different levels of regenerative braking potency to choose from, including a one-pedal option. At Level 0, the system is entirely disengaged, allowing the vehicle to coast to a stop just like any other non-EV model on the road. At Level 1, drivers will feel the slightest bit of resistance when they let off the throttle, and it builds up from there, with Levels 2 and 3 offering steadily more regenerative braking.
The one-pedal mode, dubbed iPEDAL, offers the most efficient option, providing a near-instant slowdown as soon as you lift your foot off the pedal. It can take some getting used to but offers some real advantages when it comes to extending the EV’s range. Once you master the iPEDAL system, you might find yourself rarely engaging the brake at all, leaving all that momentum to be captured by the electric motors and fed back into the battery.
When it comes to range, it’s all about which battery you choose. The rear-wheel drive option will get up to 310 miles of range, with that number dropping to 282 miles for the all-wheel drive version (or up to 206 for the GT model). The all-wheel drive range is also affected by which driving mode is selected, with the EV6 coming with three distinct options: Eco, Normal, and Sport mode. Eco mode is the most battery-friendly, deactivating the SUV’s front-wheel drive in favor of extending the range with RWD only. Normal mode switches the EV6 back into AWD, while Sport mode takes the reins off completely, delivering maximum torque for improved acceleration and excitement. Naturally, this comes at the cost of range, but when you have the miles to spare, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity.
The real headline when it comes to the EV6’s battery is its lightning-fast charging time. When connected to a 350-kWh fast charger, the EV6 can charge from 10 to 80 percent in as little as 18 minutes and add 75 miles of range in just five. Even when fast charging isn’t an option, the EV6 holds up well, with the 11-kWh onboard charger topping off the battery in seven hours when connected to a Level 2 outlet.
Interior and Tech
Step inside the EV6, and you’ll find a cabin that’s thoroughly modern without being obnoxious. While some other EV makers have been known to pack the dashboard with every manner of screen, gauge, and widget known to man, Kia has taken a more measured approach. It’s not minimalistic by any means, but one can tell that a lot of thought has gone into designing an interior that gives drivers everything they need without all the superfluous embellishments. Nowhere is this more evident than in the dashboard’s touchscreen display.
The 12.3-inch screen is easy to navigate and, most importantly, doesn’t overextend itself. Some automakers want to cram everything from A/C and radio controls to navigation, entertainment, and lighting into their touchscreen displays, which results in an interface that’s notably less useful and requires lots of menu diving. The EV6, on the other hand, knows that sometimes the old ways are the best and features plenty of physical buttons on the center console that free up the touchscreen to do what it does best. In addition to the physical knobs, a touch-sensitive bar located below the infotainment screen represents the best of both worlds, switching between functions to allow drivers to access climate controls and infotainment features while leaving the touchscreen itself free to display GPS directions, charging settings, driver-assistance features and the like.
Speaking of driver-assistance features, the EV6 is packed with some of the latest tech on the market. Like many Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Kia’s Highway Driving Assist 2 combines adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic lane change functions to largely automated driving duties on certain roads. The system even includes a novel navigation-based adaptive cruise control function, which uses GPS data to slow the vehicle as it approaches a corner. Other advanced automation tech includes Remote Smart Park Assist (RSPA), which makes slipping into tight parking spots easier than ever. Using the keyfob, drivers can even use the RSPA system to make the EV6 park itself in a spot that might be too narrow for most drivers to navigate. When you’re ready to retrieve your ride, just press the keyfob again, and the vehicle will safely remove itself from the spot, effectively acting like a sort of digital valet.
While the EV6 is, by definition, a compact crossover, it punches well above its weight when it comes to interior space. At 15.3 feet long and 6.2 feet wide, the EV6 can comfortably seat five while still packing 24.4 cubic feet of cargo space into the trunk and 50.2 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. This ample amount of space is partly due to the SUV’s design but can also share some credit with its EV setup: without the need for a transmission tunnel, the cabin is much roomier than one might expect from a vehicle in the compact class, giving passengers plenty of legroom.
The EV6 is sporty enough to satisfy the needs of most drivers, but for those seeking a little extra excitement, Kia has you covered. In late 2022, the automaker will release a more powerful GT variant of the SUV dubbed the EV6 GT. The high-performance model will see an impressive slate of upgrades to its powertrain, hardware, and aesthetics, giving drivers a thrilling alternative to the base EV6.
As one might expect, the GT-Line model sees a massive upgrade in the power department, with Kia swapping out the 320-horsepower setup found in the regular EV6 for a new dual-motor design that sends power to all four wheels to the tune of a hair-raising 576 horsepower. Like any EV, the EV6 benefits from the near-instant torque unique to electric motors, which don’t have to steadily work up to speed like their gas-powered forerunners. This allows the EV6 to produce a whopping 545 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to leave an indent in your headrest when you put the pedal to the metal. In fact, Kia claims that the EV6 GT-Line will be able to tear from zero to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds––faster than the 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe. The GT version of the EV6 will represent the upper end of the lineup. There are three GT trims in total––the GT-Line (RWD), GT-Line (e-AWD), and GT (e-AWD).
On the hardware front, the EV6 GT will see an adaptive damper, an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, and improved front and rear brakes, all included as standard. The sporty SUV will also get a new set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires to accompany its 21-inch wheels, adding all the traction you need for some high-speed antics. Kia has added a set of new drive modes to the GT version as well, including a fun Drift mode that shifts power to the rear wheels to enable some fishtailing fun. Aesthetically, the souped-up model will get new sports seats, neon-green accents, and GT logos throughout, as well as a modestly restyled front and rear end.
Unsurprisingly, the one area where the GT version trails behind its base model counterpart is in the range department. The GT is outfitted with the same 77.4-kWh battery pack as the other trims, which reduces the SUV’s range by 100 miles. That said, the EV6 GT still gives drivers some 206 miles to play with, which should be more than enough range to open it up and see what it can do.
The EV6 Gets It Right
Whether you choose the affordable rear-wheel drive version, the well-rounded all-wheel drive option, or the no-holds-barred GT, the EV6 represents an exciting new offering for Kia drivers looking to get in on the all-electric trend. The EV6 is a promising debut from the veteran automaker, and if the early reviews are any indication, there’s a lot to get excited about on the horizon as Kia works to introduce a full lineup of all-electric vehicles. The EV6 doubles down on everything there is to love about electric vehicles, leveraging the powertrain’s high-performance capabilities to deliver an exciting ride that still manages to be both practical and affordable. The GT model provides a thrilling driving experience for those who don’t mind splashing out a little more cash, while innovations like the SUV’s one-pedal driving system prove that sometimes it’s less important to be the first to the party than it is to get it right when you finally arrive.