2022 Kia EV6 All-Electric Crossover: First Drive Review

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2022 Kia EV6
The EV6 crossover is an all-new electric vehicle and Kia’s first dedicated electric model. A compact, 5-seater, the EV6 is an attractive, practical blast to drive and ready to take on existing models in the crossover EV segment. Built on the Korea-based automaker’s new electric-global modular platform, the 2022 Kia EV6 is the first new model of the company’s Plan S electrification strategy to produce 11 new electric models globally by 2026. Kia previously sold the Soul EV and Niro EV in the U.S. — electric versions of existing models. The new platform lets Kia maximize the packaging and performance for a new range of electric models.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The Kia EV6 is available in three trim levels: Light, Wind and GT-Line. Kia offers the EV6 Light exclusively with rear-wheel drive, while the Wind and GT-Line are available with rear-wheel drive or dual-motor e-AWD. The EV6 Light starts at $40,900 followed by Wind at $47,000 and GT-Line at $51,200. The EV6 Wind e-AWD is $50,900, and GT-Line e-AWD is $55,900. In June 2021 Kia began accepting reservations for a First Edition EV6 priced at $58,500, and those 1,500 First Editions were spoken for in 11 hours. Prices do not include a destination charge of $1,215.

© Kia AmericaExterior Design
The 2022 Kia EV6 exterior is a collaboration between Kia’s three design studios in Seoul, Frankfurt Germany, and Irvine California, incorporating a new design philosophy called Opposites United that resulted in the EV6. Design elements include a Digital Tiger grille that shows Kia’s latest tiger-nose design, headlights with a sequential dynamic light pattern, flush-mounted door handles, a high rear deck and full-width rear light cluster. The EV6 also incorporates a novel design element: the lower door trim above the rocker panel kicks up at the rear door and continues through the rear fender before connecting with the taillights to sweep across the hatchback.

© Kia AmericaKia EV6 Power
The 2022 Kia EV6 features a low-mounted underfloor nickel-cobalt-manganese battery pack available in either 58.0 kWh or 77.4 kWh sizes. The EV6 Light combines the 58.0 kWh pack with a 168 kW rear motor for a total output of 167 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; it has an EPA-estimated range of 232 miles. The EV6 Wind and GT-Line receive the larger 77.4 kWh battery paired with the 168 kW motor for total output of 225 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; it has an EPA-estimated range of 310 miles.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceDual-Motor AWD
The EV6 Wind e-AWD and GT-Line e-AWD add a 70 kW motor at the front axle combined with a 165 kW motor at the rear and the 77.4 kWh battery for a total output of 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque. Estimated range with e-AWD is 274 miles, due in part to a unique front-motor disconnect device that Kia estimates increases range by 6 percent. A top-of-the-line EV6 GT is expected to arrive later, powered by the 77.4 kWh battery with a 160 kW front motor and a 270 kW rear motor for a total output of 576 horsepower. When equipped with e-AWD, the EV6 also adds a heat pump to reduce the drain on range that can occur in cold climates.

© Kia AmericaDrive Modes
The EV6 driver may select between Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes that change acceleration and responsiveness. With e-AWD a Snow mode gets added to the drive mix, and each mode changes how the front electric motor is engaged. In Eco mode the front motor is only engaged briefly at launch and disconnected during normal operation to maximize range. In Normal mode, the front motor is engaged at launch and available at all times, but with disconnect when not needed for more efficiency. In Sport mode e-AWD is always engaged and the torque will be varied front and rear for more dynamic driving in varying conditions. In Snow mode e-AWD is always engaged and the torque split is 50/50 to maximize traction and stability.

© Kia AmericaRegenerative Brakes
The 2022 Kia EV6 features a regenerative brake system that uses the electric motors as generators to capture energy and story it in the battery. The system allows the driver to choose between four regen levels to adjust the aggressiveness of the regenerative brakes for different conditions and driving styles. Level 0 is the least regen and allows the vehicle to essentially coast, and the most aggressive is I-Pedal which will bring the vehicle to a complete stop, allowing one-pedal driving. The driver selects the regen level with paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, similar to shift paddles in other vehicles. In the lower levels, the driver can increase the amount of regen by holding back on the left paddle.

© Kia AmericaInner Space
The 2022 Kia EV6 offers 102 cubic feet of passenger space in a modern, eco-friendly interior with extensive use of recycled plastic, synthetic vegan leather surfaces for some trims, LED lighting and slim front seats to maximize rear-seat room. The instrument cluster and infotainment screens are dual 12-inch TFTs that form a wide, horizontal curved display. An available augmented reality head-up display projects graphics in a three-dimensional image that appears to be over the hood of the car. As a crossover, the EV6 has 27.7 cubic-feet of cargo room behind the second row and 53.5 cubic-feet of cargo room with the second-row seats folded.

© Kia AmericaFast Charging
The 2022 Kia EV6 features a 400V to 800V multi-charging architecture for ultra-fast DC charging that operates on DC chargers with speeds from 50 kWh to 350 kWh. With 800V fast charging from a 350 kWh charger, up to 60 miles of range can be added in under 5 minutes, and the battery will charge from 10 percent to 80 percent (217 miles) in under 18 minutes. With a 10.9 kW onboard charger for Level 2 charging, the EV6 will recharge from 10 to 100 percent in 7 hours and 10 minutes.

© Kia AmericaPower Source
The 2022 Kia EV6 can also function as a power source for computers, camping and tailgating. The EV6 has vehicle-to-load functionality that allows electricity to flow from the battery to an integrated charging control unit that provides 1900 watts of power. A 110-volt power outlet is located in front of the second-row seat base, and an adapter can draw power from the external charge port. From a full charge, power can be drawn for approximately 36 consecutive hours.

© Kia AmericaOn the Road
Kia offered us the opportunity to drive the EV6 GT-Line in both rear-drive and e-AWD configurations, based out of the Montage Healdsburg and driving through Northern California Wine Country. When two different versions are on tap during a press drive, we usually prefer starting in the base version and then moving up to the more powerful variant, but in this case the first experience was driving the GT-Line e-AWD — the dual-motor version with a combined output of 320 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque.

© Kia AmericaPowerful Dual Motor
As with all electric vehicles, power deliver in the 2022 Kia EV6 is incredibly smooth and maximum torque is instantly available, making Kia’s claim of zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds believable — at least in Sport mode with the more aggressive accelerator and power delivered to all four wheels. Whether at cruising speed or exiting a gentle corner, the constant torque makes the EV6 e-AWD very quick.

© Kia AmericaDrive Modes
The EV6’s available drive modes allow the driver to tailor performance to personal preference and varying conditions. In Normal mode, all-wheel drive via the front electric motor is available at all speeds. The drivers can feel the torque delivery to the front wheels under hard acceleration or during spirited driving out of corners. While cruising, the EV6’s front motor disconnect helps increase total range. It’s interesting to watch the torque distribution graphic in the driver information display reveal when torque is applied in various driving situations.

© Kia AmericaTorque Distribution
In Eco mode acceleration is less aggressive, and the front motor is only used briefly at launch and then disconnected for efficiency; the torque-distribution graphic shows power only to the rear wheels. Choosing Sport mode increases the responsiveness of the accelerator, and both motors are available at all times and all speeds, increasing the performance and driving dynamics in all conditions.

© Kia AmericaSport Mode
Sport mode increases the performance level and fun of the EV6, especially on long and winding backroads. With torque constantly delivered to all four wheels, the car is well balanced and exits corners with commendable composure. Dialing in brake regen adds an additional element of feedback as the car enters corners, and the driver can use that energy to transition through a series of corners, similar to a driving enthusiast trained to left-foot brake in certain situations.

© Kia AmericaRegen Brakes
The regenerative brake system in the EV6 is really impressive, and the driver’s ability to choose the level of braking really adds to the driving experience. While cruising at highway speeds we prefer Level 0 with minimum regeneration, so the experience feels similar to coasting when releasing the accelerator. For spirited driving on twisty backroads, the more aggressive regen of Level 2 or Level 3 adds to the car’s balance and dynamics as it enters a corner. Level 3 combined with Sport mode gives the EV6 an aggressive mode to attack the road, making this crossover feel like a responsive sport sedan.

© Kia AmericaRegen Accelerator
While cruising at a steady speed in the EV6 and then shifting the regen setting down a level, it is interesting to feel the change in the accelerator as well. At higher regen levels the car not only has more aggressive regen braking, the accelerator pedal requires more pressure to accelerate as well. This behavior isn’t noticeable once driving at a selected level, but simply when changing to a lower level. During our press drive we did not use the EV6’s aggressive I-Pedal mode that facilitates full one-pedal driving, which can bring the car to a complete stop without touching the brakes under certain conditions. We like Level 3 best for constant driving without stops, but would probably choose I-Pedal for low-speed city driving or stop-and-go situations.

© Kia AmericaInterior
The interior of the 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line is comfortable and attractive, with the synthetic vegan leather and suede seats and dual curved-screen dash, which blends well with the horizontal dash design. The right touchscreen is angled slightly toward the driver and easy to reach.

© Kia AmericaDual-Purpose Controls
One of the most interesting aspects of the interior design in the 2022 Kia EV6 is the control panel below the center vents, which includes controls for both the climate system and the infotainment / navigation —just not at the same time. With a knob on each end and touch buttons in between, at the touch of a button the controls toggle between climate control and infotainment. The knob controls either dual temperature zones or volume and tuning, with other relevant buttons in between. It’s a surprisingly attractive, intuitive and innovative design element.

© Kia AmericaHeated Seat Controls
The buttons for the heated seats, heated steering wheel and ventilated seats of the EV6 are positioned at the front of the center console, which seems to be a logical and convenient location. However, we discovered one slight drawback to the center control panel. When adjusting the comfort control or infotainment it is easy to rest a hand on the console and inadvertently turn on a heated seat or the heated steering wheel. With time a new owner would likely learn to avoid doing this, but it did happen occasionally during our test drive.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceEV6 GT-Line
When our turn came to drive the less powerful, rear-wheel-drive EV6 GT-Line, we were pleasantly surprised to find it also quick, sporty and a fun driver. Although this variant has less power, torque is still instantly available and acceleration feels right for a car of its size. Accelerating hard out of tight corners in the GT-Line without the advantage of the front motor caused a bit of wheelspin, although as we grew more comfortable with the car, we learned to modulate the accelerator enough to avoid the rear spin while still enjoying the spirited drive.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
As its first electric vehicle on a dedicated EV platform, Kia’s EV6 delivers as an attractive, fun vehicle that should be a strong challenger to competitors such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan Ariya, Polestar 2 and Tesla Model X. We prefer the extra power of the e-AWD for the performance advantage as well as better all-weather capability, although the rear-drive EV6 is equally as fun. The driving range and fast charge times are competitive with others in the market, making the 2022 Kia EV6 a strong consideration in the growing crossover EV segment.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Great design; fun to drive; powerful e-AWD; regen brake options.
Cons: Position of heated seat controls; vehicle feels heavy.
Bottom Line: Attractive, sporty new Kia EV offers decent power, AWD, up to 300 miles of range and competitive charge times.

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