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Kia is now an electric car manufacturer. You can count on it, starting with the number six.
After a few models also available with internal combustion engines, like the Niro EV, the 2022 Kia EV6 is the brand’s first purpose-built electric vehicle.
As the number in the name suggests, there will be plenty more to come, next being the EV9 full-size SUV, which has yet to be revealed in production form.
The EV6 is also technically an SUV, although its relatively low roofline makes the compact model look more like a five-door hatchback than something like a Kia Sportage, but its long wheelbase offers front and rear legroom that would put some full-size SUVs to shame.
The curvaceous styling of the EV6 mixes classic and futuristic elements and wouldn’t look out of place on an Italian car like an Alfa Romeo and its stance is similar to that of the Jaguar I-Pace. Not a bad company. The sloping rear roofline reduces its cargo capacity, however.
The rest of the interior is suitably modern without being too extravagant. Plastics and synthetic upholstery give it a unique look and feel, while the two widescreens serve for instruments and the infotainment system. There are some welcome physical buttons and touchpad-style buttons to complement the touchscreen controls, but some of them are multifunctional and a bit cumbersome to use.
An augmented reality head-up display uses animated graphics to give precise directions when using the in-car navigation system, rather than Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration. None of these are wireless type which is disappointing in a future car but the system may be upgraded to this capability in the future and there is a wireless charger on some models which is ready for it.
The EV6 starts at $42,115 for a rear-drive model with a small battery that offers 232 miles of range between charges. An optional larger pack can increase that to 310 miles. A 320-hp all-wheel-drive system with the big battery and a 274-mile range is available, with a top-of-the-line charged EV6 GT-Line e-AWD as my $55,920 test car. A federal tax credit of $7,500 is available for the purchase of all versions.
The ranges are close to those of similarly priced and sized electric vehicles, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, but the EV6 can be charged faster than any of them (except the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which shares its platform.) It uses an 800-volt system that can fill it from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes on the fastest public charging systems, about half the time needed to others. All fast chargers slow down after 80% to help preserve battery life, so the last 20% can more than double the time if you need it.
The EV6 is also equipped with a 110-volt outlet in the rear seat area and has an adapter with another outlet that can be plugged into the external charging port. They let you turn the car into a 1,900 watt generator that can be used to power remote locations or even run a home refrigerator or air conditioner for up to 300 hours on a full battery.
The 4,500-pound all-wheel-drive EV6 can also accelerate to 60 mph in a brisk 4.6 seconds and does so without any issues. Throttle response is seamless, without the clunky, funky feel that some electric models still exhibit. It’s as quiet as a TV in mute mode, but you can turn up the volume. Several digital engine sounds are available including one that can be customized, but as is often the case, they all become squeaky after a while. I left them aside after trying them several times.
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I never got tired of the ride quality, nor tired of it. The EV6’s suspension is tuned almost to perfection. It’s a skill that remains one of the dark arts of automotive engineering and a luxury brand couldn’t have done better without resorting to computer controls and adjustable air springs. It also exhibits crisp, predictable handling when driven with a bit of enthusiasm.
I mostly bothered to see how far the EV6 would go between trips to the plug. Unfortunately, the expected range was never above 225 on a full charge and the efficiency meter showed I was getting less than 3 miles per kilowatt hour most of the time, which would confirm that. According to the EPA, the EV6 uses the equivalent of 105 mpg of energy in combined driving. The temperature was mostly between 30 degrees and 50 degrees while I had it, which doesn’t seem cold enough to have that much effect, but can. Other testers came very close to the range rating, or beat it. Needless to say, your mileage will vary.
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Other than that, the EV6 is nothing short of excellent, and others apparently agree. It was recently named European Car of the Year and is one of three finalists for World Car of the Year.
Is it the best car in the world? I’m not sure, but I think overall it’s best in class, and a winner, either way.
2022 Kia EV6 GT
Base price: $42,115
Type: 5-seat SUV, 4-door, all-wheel drive
Powertrain: Twin-motor electric
Power: 320 hp, 446 lb-ft
Transmission: single-speed automatic
Range: 274 miles
MPGe: 116 city/94 highway