Kia’s sporty electric SUV is long on sporty, short on SUV.
Hey," we said to the MotorTrend test team as it pulled its instruments off the 2022 Kia EV6. "You guys all have something on your face. Something really odd-looking. Goodness gracious, are those … smiles?"
Sure enough, the EV6 had elicited that rare sign of positive emotion among our jaded testers, and for much the same reason its platform mate, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, earned that same infrequent accolade. Given free rein from its electronic nannies, it turns out the Kia EV6 likes to go sideways—earlier and even more so than the Hyundai does.
Unexpected Results At The Test Track
"Wow, I was not expecting this," road test editor Chris Walton said. "Well, I was halfway expecting it because we noticed the rear weight bias [49/51 front/rear]. But I wasn't expecting entry and midcorner oversteer." While the Ioniq 5 showed signs of a willingness to rotate as it careened around the skidpad, the EV6, with its 4-inch-shorter wheelbase, proved to be even friskier than the Hyundai. Walton was so intrigued that he attempted to drift the all-wheel-drive EV6 all the way around the circle, but its front motor kept straightening the car out. "I tried to do the entire skidpad sideways, but I only got about a third of the way around." (The Hyundai, which began to straighten later, drifted through two-thirds.)
We noticed the same tail-happy behavior = on our public-road test loop: Push the EV6 hard into a corner, and it leads from the back. Which is not to imply you should avoid following Kia EV6s for fear that one will suddenly spin out in front of you—the EV6 has decent grip, generating 0.89 g on the skidpad before Walton decided to do his pro drifter impersonation. Its stability control system will prevent tail-wagging when fully on and curtail it before it gets out of hand in partial-off mode. Nothing dangerous here—just good old-fashioned unleash-the-teenager-within fun.
"It's a back-to-basics car, surprisingly," Walton said. "You have to get all the braking done before starting the turn-in. It hates trail-braking. The steering is a little lifeless, but it's very precise and intuitive. It doesn't feel like the heavy car [4,693 pounds on our scales] that it is." The EV6's figure-eight time of 25.9 seconds at 0.71 g further highlighted its dynamic bona fides, a number just 0.2 second behind that of the Hyundai.
How Quick Is The 2022 Kia EV6?
For our acceleration test, we were curious to see how the EV6 stacks up against both the Ioniq 5 and the Tesla Model Y, the current benchmark by which dual-motor E-crossovers are measured. With 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque to motivate itself, the EV6 sprinted to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, a tenth slower than the slightly lighter Hyundai but with similar acceleration characteristics. Even with traction control off, the test team reported that the EV6's launch was drama-free with no wheelspin. While its acceleration didn't feel quite as dramatic as the 2020 Model Y Dual Motor Long Range we tested at 4.1 seconds to 60, unlike many other EVs, the EV6's power doesn't feel as though it trails off at higher speeds. That said, the quarter-mile came up in 13.3 seconds at 101.2 mph, again a tenth of a second (and 1.5 mph) slower than the Ioniq 5 and almost a second behind the Model Y.
Braking performance was a mixed bag. The EV6's best 60-0-mph stop of 117 feet was fine—better than the Hyundai and the Model Y. But our first hard stop elicited a worrying bang accompanied by a very long stopping distance. The second run gave us the 117-foot figure, but on subsequent stops the performance notably deteriorated. Although the Kia felt more stable under panic braking overall than the Hyundai, we felt the pedal should offer more feedback, and we wish the brakes were more robust in general.
"The brakes definitely won't last long when driving it like a hot hatch," road test analyst Alan Lau said. "Powerful powertrain but not enough stopping power."
A Sporty SUV In A Strangely Shaped Package
While the EV6's driving characteristics elicited grins, other aspects of this vehicle seemed to elicit an itching in our scalps—yes, this Kia had us scratching our heads. For starters, there's the price. The as-tested MSRP for our top-of-the-range AWD GT-Line model just crested $58K, a long way from the base model's $42,115 starting price. Even after incentives, that seems like a lot of money given the EV6's price and packaging.
The packaging itself was another puzzler. Kia advertises the EV6 as an all-electric SUV, yet its limited headroom—thanks to a rakishly low roof combined with a high floor under which the battery pack resides—make it feel like more of a hot station wagon. Even our shorter staffers noted with some alarm how close their noggins were to the EV6's headliner. That, and the EV6's half-pane sunroof effectively turns the back seat into a cave.
Some of the ergonomic choices are really baffling, as well, such as the combination stereo and climate controls. We don't mean that they're combined on one panel; rather, a capacitive-touch LCD screen and a pair of dials switch between these two functions—the left-hand dial, for example, serves as either power/volume or driver-side temperature control, depending on which mode the panel is in. Therein lies the trouble: If, when reaching for said dial with the intention of changing the volume, your finger happens to come close to the auto climate touch-pane next to it, the volume stays the same but the temperature changes. Hopefully you weren't planning to turn the volume down in a hurry, because you're now unable to change it (or press it to turn the stereo off) until you press another section of the screen to change the panel back to the stereo controls. This didn't happen to us just once or twice—it happened repeatedly, even after we knew to look out for it. It's hard to imagine Kia coming up with a worse idea short of mounting the horn inside the cabin.
Speaking of inappropriate noises, while all EVs are required to have an external noisemaker at low speeds (to warn the sight-impaired of their otherwise-silent approach), the Kia pipes in a droning faux engine note at all speeds, not unlike what Audi does in the E-Tron GT. Except in the E-Tron GT it sounds cool. In the EV6, it just grated on our nerves.
Kia EV6 May Not Be A Great SUV, But It's Pretty Great
So yes, the EV6 has some challenges. Perhaps if Kia marketed the EV6 as a hot hatchback rather than an SUV, we might be a little less baffled. As a sporty electric car, though, we're as pleased as can be with the Kia EV6's test-track results and their real-world implications. We've known for a while now that the speed and smooth power of electric cars can make them a lot of fun to drive, but the Kia's tail-first antics were not the sort of fun we were expecting from an EV—and we call that a very pleasant surprise, indeed. Hey, Kia, how long before we can get a rear-drive version of the EV6 in for testing? Walton's eager to drift it all the way around the skidpad.
|2022 Kia EV6 AWD GT-Line Specifications|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$58,105|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front- and rear-motor, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|