Electric vehicles aren’t necessarily taking the world by storm, but the offering certainly increases every year. The Kia EV6 and Hyundai IONIQ 5 are the first ground-up electric vehicles offered by the group, with Genesis GV60 to follow soon. Each have their own character, with the EV6 aiming to be the athletic sibling, sporty and exciting. So is it?
Out of Spec Score: 85/100
Striking is a great adjective for the EV6. People debate over its actual category, as it could in theory be a big hatchback, short CUV, or even a wagon of sorts. The wagon nomenclature only matches it in part, but it does make my mind wander in imagining a future of EV wagons. With the wheel base identical to a Telluride, it is certainly no compact hatch. In photos it can appear smaller than it is, in part to a visual trick caused by short overhangs and the long wheelbase.
The front carries the distinct tiger fascia of Kia, though still very unique with EV6. The LED signatures are akin to squinting eyes and the slim grill is appropriately sized for an electric vehicle. The hood features an aggressive line slicing at an angle to the A-pillar, creating front shoulders of sorts over the wheels. Radar is incorporated into the lower front grill, which is black and angular in design.
The cladding around the wheel well is textured black, matching the mirrors and A, B, and C pillars, all of which are blacked out. The roof appears to gradually taper lower, though most of the effect is achieved by the body line below the windows gradually tapering upwards. As a result, the windows and shoulder line create a slim appearance. The roof extends with a small yet noticeable spoiler.
Around back, another spoiler of sorts is created naturally by the angling of the taillights and lighting signatures. An angle is created with chamfered metal accents descending down and lining the lower part of the rear hatch. The styling is unique, in part due to the ground-up electrically-minded platform allowing for sleek lines and a slim profile throughout.
Despite sharing a platform with IONIQ 5, the Kia interior appears to have a few more details, especially in the way of the center console. It floats above a large open storage area, housing the start button, seat temperature and heated steering wheel controls, and the shifter dial. In this case, the Wind trim has a somewhat brushed aluminum look, and despite being plastic it appears and feels relatively premium.
Your gaze is also likely to jump to the dual screens, one behind the steering wheel and an identical one in the center, angled slightly towards the driver. The steering wheel is a two-spoke design, with ample controls and drive mode selector. The Wind, even with the tech package, has a notable, disappointing lack of interior ambient lighting.
Below the center screen you’ll find the panel to adjust temperature, volume/tune, and navigation shortcuts. However, it is done via a polarizing toggle button, as there are only two dials. This interior was donned with two-tone treatment, with misty gray leather seats and matching accents on door cards and part of the steering wheel. Though titled misty gray, it felt nearly tan in color, but I enjoyed the two-tone styling.
Rear passenger space is very generous, allowing me to easily sit behind myself at 6 foot in height. Premium interior feel also extends to the back row, with air vents on the B-pillars. The seating and climate control is comfortable all around, and after 1,000 miles in an EV6 from Chicago to Dallas, I felt like I could turn around and do it all over again. The interior feels more premium than most Tesla offerings while still undercutting the price. Though at nearly $57,000 priced as tested, it definitely doesn’t undercut some of Kia’s other combustion offerings with similar interior treatment.
The EV6 provides a perfect amount of performance for the vast majority of the average buyer. It can’t keep up with a performance model from Tesla, but just about anything else would be left behind by the AWD powertrain. The sprint to 60mph is around 4.5 seconds, with the notorious electric torque impressing anyone off the line. There are a couple driving modes, ranging from eco-friendly to full-on sport. The latter is definitely territory for fun throttle mapping. And you can even hold the drive mode button on the steering wheel to access snow mode, which featured incredible traction control calibration in active snowfall in my testing.
The actual power figures of the EV6 are an impressive 239 kW (321 hp) and 446 lb-ft torque for the long range AWD, as is this Wind variant. RWD brings it down to 225 hp and 258 lb-ft torque. But the AWD Wind I spent ample time in felt plenty capable for most anything around town and ample passing speed on the highway. The throttle response is excellent, and adjusts according to the regenerative braking level as set by the paddles on the steering wheel. The highest level, iPedal, is a great one-pedal driving, while the lowest setting mimics many combustion cars with plenty of coasting capability.
The bigger battery, as equipped here, is 77.4 kWh, up from the smaller 58 kWh. It can grant up to 274 miles of range in mixed driving, with our highway tests resulting in up to 250 miles at 70 mph constant. It’s quite impressive, though can be reduced drastically by cold weather. The cold also affects charging rates. In optimal conditions, you can see upwards of 240 kW speeds, but no battery preconditioning results in much slower charging in the cold.
Lastly, the ride comfort and road noise are always something to consider in cars at this price point. Road noise is especially crucial to have dialed in an EV, as it becomes more prevalent and apparent due to the lack of engine and otherwise normal combustion powertrain. The tires are made by Kumho and feature their K-Silent system, a sound absorbing technology to emit less resonant noise than others due to a polyurethane foam insert within the tire. The suspension is dampened very well for mixed driving, comfortable enough for lengthy road trips and dynamic enough for sporty driving. It’s not adjustable on the fly, but for a statically set suspension, I left every drive impressed.
Interior room is decent, though slightly less than its IONIQ 5 counterpart in the storage capacity, being nearly 25 cubic feet in the trunk and 50 with the back row folded. Like IONIQ 5, the frunk is minimal, almost amusingly so. Picture a compact level 2 EVSE and perhaps a detailing cloth, and that’s all that will fit in the space just shy of a cubic foot. Though RWD variants will provide a slightly larger space.
Efficiency is perhaps a blend of performance and practicality categories, and we found our efficiency to be pretty consistent in the 3 mi/kWh range. Sometimes it reached to 4, but the range always felt sufficient. It’s a common factor people get nervous about, comparing numbers between all types of EVs. But in the real-world application, most people can thrive on less range than they expect. Even in my fairly driving-heavy weeks, I think 175 miles would be more than adequate for myself.
Overall it takes a perfect blend of practicality, providing the ground clearance close to that of many CUVs and the storage capacity to match, but the overall lower, sleeker shape allows for more efficient numbers than most any CUV in existence. Every time I expected to bottom out on a dirt pull-off for photos, I didn’t. The ground clearance is impressive, allowing me to crawl out of any easily accessible trail and pull away faster than most combustion sports cars.
The technology aspect of EV6 feels mostly-baked, but not quite as forward thinking as the styling might lead you to believe. The cockpit features two 12.3” widescreen displays, one in front of the driver and one in the center, angled slightly. Their pixel resolution is excellent and they even feature a brilliant matte finish to reduce glare and even some fingerprints. The bezels around the display are black, helping hide the actual edges much better than the white bezels of IONIQ 5. The driver display adapts to your drive mode, using a color to showcase immediately which is selected. When a turn signal is used while driving, a circular “gauge-like” dial pops up showing a useful cutout of the side camera to display blind spots. Interestingly, Tesla started offering this exact functionality just after EV6 was released. This blind spot camera, along with an excellent 360 camera, is part of the Technology package which was an optional upgrade on the Wind.
Apple CarPlay displays beautifully, taking the entire display, but Android Auto leaves a sizable gap on the right side. You can supplement it with split-screen, opting to show something else, but ironically it is not very customizable. A future update could allow Android Auto to take the full screen, but until then it leaves that feature drastically desired. CarPlay and Android Auto also require a wired connection, as no wireless options are available from the factory. Furthermore, it requires a USB type A cable. The EV6, unlike IONIQ 5, does include many USB-C ports, but the actual data port for mobile phone use is USB-A. I hope and expect this to change in a future model year, hopefully near future.
Other minor quips include the steering wheel control for skipping tracks being reversed. Flipped the switch down goes to the next track, and toggling it up goes to the previous track. Sure, your mind can adapt, but not willingly at first. The lower display for climate control and navigation is also a unique integration. I personally enjoyed the Easter egg of a dynamic display retailing various uses for two knobs, but many people have complained about the integration. It can be frustrating to attempt to make quick changes to temperature or entertainment volume when the other screen is toggled active, but then again, it’s just a quick toggle to the one you want. Volume control on the steering wheel is convenient, and I actually found myself wishing for a temperature control as well, similar to the Prius of old.
Driver assist is excellent, bordering on Tesla autopilot reliability. Highway Driving Assist (HDA) 1 gives you full adaptive cruise control with lane assist and blind spot monitoring, essentially most of the features found in modern driving assistance systems. But HDA 2 takes it a step further, allowing for lane changes on your behalf by using its corner radar and cameras to check for safe maneuvering. It also has self-parking capability, and you can even use the key fob buttons to move the car forward and backward, retrieving it from a tight space.
The Meridian sound system is quite good. It’s not the best I’ve heard, maybe not even top five, but it holds its own and allows plenty of customization in the sound stage. It does tend to feel a bit quiet, on both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but that actually checks out, logically speaking. Most cars feel “loud” when you reach 2/3 volume, give or take. The Kia EV6 allows you to use all of the volume range, without destroying ear drums, and I find that actually useful.
At first [digital] glance, I fell in love with the Hyundai IONIQ 5, and I felt partial appreciate for the other E-GMP cars like this Kia EV6 and Genesis GV60. But after spending ample time with the Kia and Hyundai, I found a slight edge for my preference being the EV6. The styling is striking in person, in a way I truly love. Even the mid-spec, the Wind, turned an incredible amount of heads while driving around, and it offers a lot of value, especially with Technology Package equipped. With EV6 Wind vs. IONIQ 5 SEL, I would definitely choose the EV6. The highest trim is harder to decide, with GT-Line adding more styling and partial glass roof with opening moon roof. The IONIQ 5 incorporates a full glass roof and unique coloring inside and out. But the consensus I reached is that you simply cannot go wrong either way.
The E-GMP vehicles are an exciting new offering in any flavor, and it leads to exciting forethought on the future of Kia electrification along with its sister brands. Their styling is stunning, the technology is mostly brilliant, and the car as a whole feels genuinely futuristic. Perhaps it doesn’t capture the distant future, but the heading is set and the path is beautiful. For a first ground-up attempt, I am highly impressed.
- Exterior design 9/10
- Interior design 9/10
- Materials 8.5/10
- Build quality 9/10
- Comfort 9/10
- Capacity 8/10
- Acceleration 8.5/10
- Handling 7.5/10
- Efficiency 8/10
- Connected services 8/10
- UI/UX 9/10 [Unless you own an Android (in which case, like 6/10, sorry Emad)]
- Active Safety 10/10
Editor’s Assessment 8.3/10
- Value 8/10
- Market placement 9/10
- Editors Influence 9/10