The new Kia EV6 is a big deal for the brand and an even bigger deal for electric cars. It’s their first EV built on a dedicated EV platform and has received so much hype that we were absolutely bursting at the seams with anticipation. Thankfully, the wait is over and the EV6 is finally here.
Based on the new Electric-Global Modular platform (E-GMP) shared with the Hyundai IONIQ5, the EV6 is one part crossover, one part wagon, and wears a convention shattering body that will draw inquisitive stares wherever you take it.
It pulls off the same visual trickery that the IONIQ5 does, looking more like a compact hatchback in pictures but something entirely different in person. The first thing you’ll notice is that the EV6 is not a small vehicle, it’s more in line with a midsize offering like a Subaru Outback but not quite as long.
Wearing sleek bodywork moulded to appear slippery and chiseled at the same time, the EV6 is long and wide, with a wheelbase the same length as a 3-row Telluride. Not everyone wants an electric vehicle to resemble a spaceship, which this sorta does, but the public response after a few short hours of driving around town was overwhelmingly positive. The new “digital” Tigernose grille is a departure from conventional Kia design but it’s the rear that had me staring the longest. The taillights are embedded within a thin lightbar that lines the top edge of the rear hatch mirrored with a chrome strip on the bottom edge. It’s an intriguing piece of design that’s like nothing else on the road. Clever details like this can be found in the running lights and the rims and even the reverse lights.
It only gets better when you take a seat inside. In front of you a gorgeous curved display comprised of two 12.3-inch screens takes centre stage. One houses the instrumentation, the other, Kia’s excellent infotainment system. If you tether your Apple or Android phone, which cannot be done wirelessly at the time of this writing, it will display its respective OS in full screen glory and switching back and forth is simple. Kia has also gone capacitive button crazy like so many other manufacturers, but thankfully they left us two knobs that do double duty as either volume/tuning or temperature control.
Because electric motors are small and don’t require much hardware there’s a lot of room for passengers and cargo. The long wheelbase also pays dividends for back seat riders who will find NBA-friendly legroom.
The EV6 will make you think it’s a much more expensive vehicle than it is, and a starting price of $44,995 means you’ll be able to take advantage of federal and provincial rebates. For that entry-level sum you get a 167 hp single motor driving the rear wheels and a 58 kWh battery pack providing 373 km of range. You can upgrade to a 77.4 kWh long-range battery with a 225 hp single rear motor and it will allow nearly 500 km of range to a charge, an impressive figure and the ideal configuration of EV6 if maximum range is what you’re looking for.
Add all-wheel drive, and you get an additional motor on the front axle. Total power rises to 320 with a chunky 446 lb-ft of torque the instant you mash the go pedal. In ideal conditions you can expect up to 440 km of range from this configuration. An EV6 with the GT-line 2 package like the one Kia loaned me gets everything on the order form and tops out at $61,995.
Every EV6 gets an 800V charging system, not unlike the one found in the megabucks Porsche Taycan. It makes blazing fast charging speeds of up to 250 kW possible, provided you have access to a charger that can supply it. This means that even a base EV6 can add nearly a hundred kilometres of range in under 5 mins or go from 10-80% battery charge in just 18.
If you plan on using a Level 2 home charger, the EV6 can charge the extended range battery from 10-100% in just over 7 hours.
Plugged into a nearby fast charger, my EV6 used all 50kW of that station’s max power output and stayed there even past 80 per cent charge. And it did this in temperatures well below freezing.
After a recent experience in sub-zero weather with the Mustang Mach-E GT, the EV6’s efficiency was a very pleasant surprise. Much of that can be attributed to the sophisticated heat pump on Canadian market vehicles with the long-range battery that allows the EV6 to keep occupants warm and toasty on a frigid day by siphoning waste heat from electronic components and even capturing some from the outside air. I was averaging 20-25 kWh/100 km consistently throughout the week on a mix of frozen highway and city roads.
Kia tells me that the EV6 has been designed to offer drivers a sporty experience behind the wheel. They’ve given it quick steering and relatively stiff springs. Hustled through a corner, there’s minimal body roll and lots of grip but ride quality does not suffer over bumpy roads.
With a dual-motor car like my tester, there’s also a glut of power available at any time. Push the accelerator pedal to the floor and you torso will get glued into the seat as the g-force builds. It’s quite similar to the Mustang Mach-E, a vehicle benchmarked by Kia, and both offer sporty experiences behind the wheel, but like all electric cars you feel little connection to the road.
Paddles behind the steering wheel aren’t for shifting gears, as the EV6 doesn’t have any, but for altering the 5 levels of regenerative braking from near zero to full one-pedal driving. I found Level 2 a nice compromise for my driving style and stuck with it.
The EV6 is one of the most advanced vehicles you can get in this price range and even base models come with an array of standard safety features and driver aids including smart cruise control, lane keep assist, and forward collision avoidance. Things get extra impressive with the GT-Line 2 pack that gets an augmented reality head up display and highway driving assist that will centre the vehicle in the lane and even help with lane changes. With an army of 5 radars and 12 ultrasonic sensors a properly equipped EV6 is fully aware of its surroundings and it can avoid a collision scenario from the front or even the side with evasive steering, provided the nearby lanes are clear.
GT-line 2 also gets a 1.9 kW vehicle-to-load (V2L) system with two plug points, one in between the rear seats and one on the rear of the vehicle. You can power laptops, electronics, home appliances, and even camping equipment. In emergency situations it can also provide power to another EV.
The Kia EV6 gives consumers yet another option to go fully electric and with rising gas prices the time has never been better to consider one for your lifestyle. Even with Ontario’s limited charging infrastructure the EV6’s long range and relatively affordable price tag puts it in the reach of more consumers looking for a way to skip the pump. This is an EV you’ll actually want to own and drive and it’s available right now.