2022 Kia EV6 Review:Driving Impressions

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Feb 04, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Kia deals!

The 2022 Kia EV6 is the first step in Kia's transformation from a producer of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). As such, Kia designed the EV6 to compete against other electric vehicles (EVs) and bring buyers of traditional cars into the EV fold. Kia says that most EV6 customers will be first-time electric-vehicle buyers.

The Kia EV6 is a 5-passenger vehicle that is one part hatchback and one part crossover utility. With a wheelbase as long as the midsize Kia Telluride SUV, the EV6 uses its BEV architecture to offer impressive interior space and a flat floor. The front seating position, which is higher than a typical hatchback, makes getting in and out easy and provides an elevated command-of-the-road feeling from the driver's seat. A variety of powertrain choices—each battery-electric, of course—enables the buyer to get the performance they desire at a reasonable price.

Kia builds the EV6 on Hyundai's new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The same platform is the basis of the recently introduced Hyundai Ioniq 5. It will also support future Kia EV models, including the coming Kia EV9 crossover utility that the automaker teased at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show. The key technical advance is 800-volt multi-charging that enables the Kia EV6 to go from a 10-percent battery charge to an 80-percent charge in less than 18 minutes using a DC fast charger (DCFC). Depending on the model, the EV6 can offer up to a 310-mile EPA-certified range. At the EV6's introductory driving event in Napa, California, Kia executives said the company plans to market 11 EV models globally by 2026.

2022 Kia EV6 Price and Release Date - Find the best Kia deals!

Available now at many Kia dealers across the United States, the 2022 Kia EV6 comes in three trim levels: Light, Wind, and GT-Line. The EV6 differs from many electric vehicles in terms of distribution because it will be available in all 50 states at its introduction. Sales of some EVs have traditionally been confined to just a few states with stringent zero-emission vehicle standards.

The base Light trim is rear-wheel-drive (RWD) powered by a single electric motor. With a base price of $40,900, the EV6 Light has a 58-kilowatt-hour (kWh) nickel-cobalt-manganese battery pack that delivers an EPA-rated 232 miles of range on a full charge. The Wind (base price of $47,000) and the top-level GT-Line ($51,200) are available in RWD and dual-motor all-wheel-drive (AWD) form. With their 77.4-kWh battery packs, the rear-drive Wind and GT-Line trims have a more extended range (310 miles) than their AWD siblings.

The subject of this driving impression is a 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line with dual-motor AWD. In that form, the powertrain has a 74-kW front AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor and a 165-kW rear AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor for a combined 320 horsepower. In this configuration, Kia estimates the range on a single charge to be 274 miles. Kia says this version of the EV will accelerate from zero-to-60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds. The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD test vehicle had matte gray paint ($695) and the GT-Line suede seat package ($295) in addition to the 20-inch black-finish alloy wheels, heat pump, heated steering wheel, and heated outboard rear seats that are part of the GT-Line AWD features. It carried a suggested retail price of $58,105, including the $1,215 destination charge.

Independent Expert Opinion: Design, Comfort, and Utility - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD Matte Gray Front Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

Observers could regard the Kia EV6 as a "segment buster" because it provides unmistakably car-like aspects while other attributes are reminiscent of a crossover SUV. The federal government refers to the EV6 as a small station wagon, and though "station wagon" might have unfortunate connotations for some, that moniker describes the vehicle well. The Kia EV6 offers a roomy, comfortable cabin with plenty of storage space accessed by a rear hatch. At the same time, it delivers car-like ride and handling enhanced by the smoothness and power of electric-motor drive.

Compared to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 with which it shares so much mechanically, the Kia EV6 has a more traditional interior with a broad console extending back from the dash. The console contains the on/off button, a rotary forward-reverse selector, and a wireless-device charging pad.

The driver information and infotainment display captures immediate attention. It consists of two 12.3-inch TFT touchscreens placed side by side to form a broad horizontal curved display extending across two-thirds of the dashboard. The screens are blue-light-filtered to reduce eyestrain, and their effect is quite stunning.

In another context, one might regard the heavy use of interior plastics as a negative. Still, in the EV6, the broad expanses of plastic are a plus because they are fashioned from recycled materials. The upside is they also look good. One could make the case that the EV6's interior is richer-looking than the Ioniq 5. The "100-percent vegan leather" surfaces amplify the richness. The comfortable front seats use "slim-line" steel construction to add to the already ample rear-seat legroom. The LED lighting is energy-efficient and spreads illumination throughout the large cabin.

The Kia EV6 has a generous 24.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the 60/40 split-folding rear seatback. The rear seatbacks don't entirely fold flat, but the EV6 has 50.2 feet of interior cargo space with them down. The power-operated liftgate operates hands-free. And if you're seeking to hide a small item or two, the small storage space under the front hood is a likely spot.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD Matte Gray Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

It is logical to expect an electric vehicle to deliver a high-tech in-cabin experience. The Kia EV6 doesn't disappoint. Its twin 12.3-inch instrument and information screens don't simply command attention for their size. They are also bright, clear, and easy to operate. Previous Kia infotainment and connected services have a positive reputation, and the EV6's system builds on that. The icons on the touchscreen are clear, and the use of the system is immediately intuitive. The system also readily integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions.

One misplaced piece of "efficiency" in all the goodness is the knob required to do double duty for the audio system and climate control. In practice, this results in turning up the temperature when you want to turn up the audio volume and vice-versa.

That fumble aside, the infotainment system is the gateway to the Kia Connect experience, which Kia formerly referred to as UVO. In the EV6, the Kia Connect system is expanded. Among the innovative features is "last-mile navigation," which provides users with walking directions to their destination after leaving the car behind. The find-my-car function uses the vehicle's onboard cameras to capture images of its surroundings to help you figure out where you left it. While those functions might not be helpful on a day-to-day basis, more familiar functions like connected routing with real-time traffic input will allow you to avoid traffic jams. It also uses artificial intelligence to learn your preferred routes.

Kia Connect in the EV6 enables owners to use Apple and Android smartwatches to view battery status and vehicle notifications, and smart speaker integration lets owners use their Alexa or Google Assistant to control some vehicle functions like climate control before entering the vehicle. Kia Connect also offers stolen-vehicle recovery and immobilization, although it will not enable the car to autonomously drive back into your possession.

Perhaps the most practical everyday functions are the Wi-Fi hotspot that enables the use of personal devices in the vehicle and over-the-air updates to map and infotainment systems. The newly enhanced voice assistance enables voice control not only for things like changing a radio station or making a phone call but also the EV6's climate control and seat and steering-wheel heating.

On the advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) front, the Kia EV6 offers leading-edge functions like navigation-based adaptive cruise control. The system uses information provided by the nav system to lower the vehicle's speed before entering curves. That system works in conjunction with the EV6's Highway Driving Assist II system that keeps the EV6 at a set distance from the vehicle in front of it and keeps the car centered in its lane, even around curves. The system will also facilitate lane changes on superhighways, with the driver activating the system using the turn signal indicator. To veteran drivers, using the system to its fullest is a leap-of-faith moment, but the system worked flawlessly in my tests.

The EV6 is loaded with ADAS, including active blind-spot warningautomatic emergency stop assistance, and rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist. These systems use automatic braking to prevent or mitigate accidents.

One of the Kia EV6's most intriguing technologies is the vehicle-to-load (V2L) function that enables the vehicle's battery pack to serve as a mobile power source. It could be a boon for campers, tailgaters, and those who find their home power knocked out by a thunderstorm.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2022 Kia EV6 - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD Matte Gray Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

This litany of leading-edge features might suggest that the EV6 is nothing but a rolling collection of technology. However, after hours behind the steering wheels of both AWD and RWD versions, it became evident that the EV6 offers an interesting, involving driving experience. Though the Kia delivers excellent straight-line performance and road-holding aided by a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, it also became apparent that the driving experience is very different from a conventional car with similar performance credentials.

Incredible smoothness and quiet are the two factors that stand out when accelerating. With the 320 hp of the dual-motor EV6, a progressive application of the accelerator pedal results in progressively higher rates of speed without all the noise, vibration, and commotion that usually accompany the process in an ICE vehicle. Because the initial rush is from the electric motor's immediate torque, the 225-hp rear-drive GT-Line feels almost as strong on initial tip-in as the dual-motor. Indeed, the Kia EV6 is one quick crossover.

At the same time, the EV6's horsepower is pitted against more mass than which the typical gasoline-powered crossover is likely to contend. The dual-motor GT-Line AWD has a curb weight of more than 4,500 pounds, about 500 pounds more than a 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe with a turbocharged engine. Even with much of that weight in the battery pack low in the chassis under the floorboards, it is a lot of mass. While it might seem paradoxical to say the EV6 feels simultaneously very quick and very heavy, that is the reality. Still, the EV6's cornering is exemplary, and torque is always there to add a correction if needed.

Going fast isn't the Kia EV6's only virtue, either. The vehicle turns stopping into an art because it offers four different levels of regenerative braking. Those easily accessible levels enable the driver to select as much or as little regeneration-braking with which they feel comfortable. A selection of I-Pedal mode is the most aggressive regen level, and it enables one-pedal driving in most instances. To accelerate, apply more pressure to the accelerator. To slow down and ultimately come to a complete stop, simply lift. No brake pedal action is required.

The dual-motor eAWD versions of the EV6 also offer four differentiated, driver-selectable driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow. Each has its attributes. For example, Eco is designed to maximize range on a charge, limiting the power and employing the front drive motor only on launch. In comparison, Sport mode is AWD all the time.

Of course, none of this matters if the car takes unnecessarily long times to recharge. The Kia EV6 addresses that issue head-on with its 800-volt architecture, essentially doubling the voltage of most contemporary EVs. The move to this ultra-high-voltage scheme has several benefits. First, the battery pack will accept more power more quickly than lower-voltage systems. This results in lower charging times when using a DCFC. Kia says the EV6 will go from a 10-percent charge level to 80 percent in just 18 minutes. It also enabled Kia engineers to specify more efficient, higher-power electric drive motors. According to Kia, the EV6's motors can operate at much higher rpm than previously used motors and are oil-cooled rather than water-cooled.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2022 Kia EV6 - Find the best Kia deals!

While it remains to be seen how the Kia EV6 will perform in everyday life, the crossover/hatchback/station wagon does an exemplary job of cutting across segments to hit the sweet spots of consumer desires. It offers extended range and quick-charging capabilities that make it a more viable option for car buyers on the fence about the practicality of an EV for their situations. It features an impressive array of ADAS technology, and its connectivity is leading edge.

Beyond all the technology, the EV6 is a versatile vehicle with plenty of room for five passengers and their gear. Considering its length, the EV6 offers exceptional interior volume complemented by a flat floor throughout. Its driver information and infotainment screens not only are impressive in size but also in their clarity and ease of operation.

With all that it brings to the table, the 2022 Kia EV6 should rapidly expand the number of consumers who take the plunge into a BEV future. One can question the future popularity of a Kia-brand model that is five inches shorter in overall length than a 2022 Kia Sorento yet has a base price of more than $40K. But the available $7,500 federal tax credit should alleviate some of those worries. In total, the Kia EV6 has all the right stuff to change the way the general public thinks about the Kia brand…and the way they think about electric vehicles.

Jack R. Nerad has been reviewing cars, trucks, vans, and sport utilities for more than three decades. He managed the editorial efforts of Motor Trend magazine and Kelley Blue Book and currently is the host of the SportsMap Radio Network program America on the Road, which is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and other outlets.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2023 J.D. Power

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