Kia’s first fully electric vehicle, the EV6, makes a statement about both Kia’s future and the future of electric cars. The first thought on a road trip in an electric vehicle is that whichever automaker scales best will win. The scale of a combined Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis now entering the EV market in force, along with their generous warranties and proven reliability, sets the EV6 up for a bright future. Especially considering how great it already is in the present.
The EV6 is a crossover with plenty of room for a family of four, though its performance and fastback silhouette make it just as impressive on a windy road or a night on the town as it is sitting in a carpool line. The GT-Line comes with some sportier styling, tinted windows, and upgrades like electric front seat adjustment and wireless phone charging. It’s also available with all-wheel drive, though it does trim the range down from 310 miles to 274 miles on a full charge.
After two weeks with the EV6, from cobblestones to cruise control, it performed excellently across all phases: performance, technology, and comfort.
Where We Tested
We tested the EV6 with city driving in Charleston, South Carolina, and by taking it on a 450-mile road trip to Lake Norman, North Carolina. The focus on safety really shines on a road trip, where the smart cruise control and lane following assist make driving long distances less fatiguing, keeping you alert to traffic movements, displaying a real-time image on the dash of all your surrounding vehicles, and keeping you in your lane.
The Best Reason to Get a Kia EV6
The best reason to get a Kia EV6 is that it doesn’t make you choose between your head and your heart. You’re buying an excellent car, and you’re buying into what is arguably the most promising EV ecosystem in the world. With a fast charger, this thing charges quick: Kia says it can charge from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes. The way the battery is designed takes a massive amount of power when the battery is low and decreases as the state-of-charge increases, so charging from a low state-of-charge is much faster than charging the last 10%.
As for the heart, it’s a blast to drive. The GT-Line tested has 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. That’s more torque than a BMW M3 sedan. The silhouette is even more attractive in person that it in in pictures. The interior is luxurious, and the panoramic dashboard display and HUD are bright and easy to customize. While the EV6 starts at $41,000, the model tested in the GT-Line was $58,000. But new tax credits put it more within reach, so it’s a great time to buy an EV.
The View From the Back Seat
There’s plenty of head room in the back seat for a tall adult, and plenty of legroom for car seats, even when the car seats are rear facing. The moon roof on the model driven was small, but the trunk was massive for luggage, gear, and a travel stroller and travel cot for the kiddos. The GT-Line’s perforated suede seats are something you’d expect in a sports car, and the wide dashboard screen makes it easy to backseat-drive the music selection.
Despite how great the onboard tech was for safety and driver awareness, the infotainment system is a tad difficult to get the hang of at times. For example, I couldn’t sort out how to advance channels on the XM radio from the steering wheel, as the toggle switch you’d expect it to be controlled by switched the audio source instead of switching tracks. A minor quibble that could be user error on my part, or if not, a firmware update.
The Electric Cool Range Battery Test
The range for the AWD EV6, while impressive at up to 274 miles fully charged, is still limiting on a road trip from a logistical standpoint. The 236-mile drive from Charleston, South Carolina, to Lake Norman, North Carolina, normally takes a half a tank of gas in a Subaru Ascent. For this trip, even though we started with 98% battery, we still needed to charge along the way because we were going to an area without nearby chargers, and we needed to account for both grocery store runs and the return drive to the closest supercharger on our way home.
EV infrastructure isn’t particularly ubiquitous yet in North and South Carolina, so wise planning was a must. Driving 30 minutes out of the way for a supercharger is a pain, but well worth it for reduced time at the charger.
Because you cannot use Tesla Superchargers in non-Tesla vehicles in the United States, we stopped at Electrify America fast chargers. New Kia buyers get 1,000 kilowatt hours of free power from Electrify America, which equates to roughly 2,500 to 3,500 miles. The ones we visited were all in Wal-Mart parking lots, and we encountered at least four out-of-order chargers. At the functioning chargers, we encountered bugs on three occasions that interrupted the process before charging was complete, forcing me to restart and re-enter my payment info. It’s helpful to use charging apps where other drivers report outages, similar to Waze users reporting accidents. When checking the apps to confirm that chargers up to 350-kilowatts were reported as being functional prior to driving out of our way, we’d occasionally find that only the 150-kilowatt chargers were currently operating.
That said, charging at a fast charger is more fun than any gas station stop. There’s an EV subculture that is chatty and congenial. We ran into the same family from Atlanta at a Columbia, South Carolina, fast charger on the way to Charlotte and on the way home, and we traded stories from the trials of charging on the road.
The Bottom Line
By 2027, there will be 14 Kia EVs on the market. And that doesn’t count all the ones produced by parent company Hyundai and its luxury subsidiary, Genesis. The EV6 is a beautiful car from a company that will soon be an EV leader. And because of its track record, you know the company will be around to honor that decadelong warranty. But perhaps the best thing about the EV6 is that when you’re in it, feeling the instant torque and the smooth and quiet ride, you’ll forget you ever thought of it as a practical decision.