2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD review
Superlatives sometimes ring hallow and years of writing car reviews has proven to me that it’s a lot harder to go gaga over a new vehicle and not sound like I’m on the car company payroll than it is to whine and moan about a vehicle that falls flat.
But here goes anyway.
Kia’s EV6 GT-Line AWD gets nearly everything right to entice buyers who may be leaning toward an EV (electric vehicle). The EV6 looks fabulous with its slim lights and sleek nose, handsome sporty profile and muscular haunches.
Thankfully, Kia starts with bold futuristic styling, but on the more practical side, the interior is well thought out and beautifully executed. Fast charging is possible, the drive is spirited and its range is the best of the electrics I’ve tested this fall.
Kia’s EV6 GT-Line AWD could be the best electric car I’ve driven yet as it scores on the main points, looks, power, drivability, range and charging efficiency. I’ve already drooled over the looks, but power?
Yes, like all EVs the acceleration from its torquey twin electric motors (one front, one rear) is impressive. The AWD model boasts 320 horsepower and a torque rating of 446 delivered via three drive modes that allow a driver to go with Eco to save juice which is normal for peppy takeoffs, and it also has a Sport mode for outperforming most non-Porsches. Remember too, it’s AWD, so traction is good in the wet and winter slop.
EV6 drops its battery packs between the front and rear wheels just below the vehicle’s floor so the center of gravity is low and well spread out. The cornering is sporty, although steering feedback could be more precise. Sport mode helps that some yet because there is some push in high-speed turns due to that battery weight. After a few days behind the wheel, that becomes less noticeable.
The ride is firmer than in the longer-wheelbase Ioniq 5, so it can become a bit thumpy on really rough roads. But the control is good, so in normal or highway drives, it’s pleasant enough and certainly better than any SUV or large crossover.
Inside, this brilliant Runway Red (bright metallic red) Kia delivers a clean yet stylish dash and seating. A highlight is the twin 12.3-inch screens that are linked as one, so it’s visually pristine. The functionality is good too as you can just swipe the screen for a full menu of options.
The seats are a black, suede-like material trimmed in white vegan leather. In fact, the seat material is made of recycled plastic, but one would never know it by seeing it as the material looks and feels like suede. The black door panels include white armrests and satin chrome door releases — again fresh and modern. That satin chrome is used elsewhere for trim too, including the flat-bottomed steering wheel’s hub and lower section.
The dash is enlivened by a gray textured trim that insinuates modernity and then there’s the huge flat console that sticks up from between the seats like an aircraft carrier deck, yet not connecting to the dash. Under it is a large cubby perfect for a purse and there are plastic side hooks there to snag small plastic grocery bags. Smart interior design.
Atop the black gloss console is a rotating satin chrome gear shift dial (I’d prefer a lever, but I’m getting old), plus at the front edge buttons for the standard heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. Excellent, no screen tapping and sliding to search for these basic functions!
A wireless charger is embedded atop the console too, along with dual cup holders and a small covered storage box. Extra plugs are on the floor up near the firewall and each seat back includes a plug for rear-seat gamery.
Rear outer seats are heated and all seats are comfy with good hip and lower back support. The driver’s seat is powered, naturally.
Overhead EV6 features a small sunroof that powers open and includes a shade, plus the GT-Line adds a Meridian surround sound system with 14 speakers. Nice.
A minor interior complaint, the steering wheel (for me) partially blocks the speedometer located on the far left of the digital instrument screen. However, the GT-Line comes with a heads-up display, which cures that. It may remain a problem in the lower Light and Wind trims.
In the back is a power hatch and oodles of cargo space, although a touch less than the Ioniq 5 had when the rear seats are lowered.
What about the electrics, the charging and battery range?
It’s excellent too in that the 77.4 kWh lithium ion battery pack accepts fast charging at 800 volts, so a 10% to 80% charge can happen in about 18 minutes. That’s great when traveling, plus the range is rated at 274 miles, but my full charge registered 278. Kia seems to underestimate ranges so you’re pleasantly surprised by the real deal.
This IS the real deal because I just have a 120Vt outlet in my garage and still got about a 20% charge overnight. For practical purposes that meant I could run errands around town, about 30 miles, then plug in before dinner and was back to a full charge in the morning. The Ioniq 5 would not do that, despite being able, like the Kia, to do a quick charge from a high-volt charger. Not clear on why the Ioniq was so resistant to a 120V charge.
Currently (get it?), Kia also supplies buyers with a card for 1000 kWh of free charging over three years at Electrify America outlets across the country. That’s said to be worth about $3,000, so free juice for a road trip, if you can find an Electrify America charging station en route. There’s but one in our area, in West Allis.
Naturally, EV6 is chock full of safety equipment such as smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic, lane-keeping, parking sensors and such. Most of these not only warn you, but help maneuver the car to avoid accidents. Oh, and there’s a 360-degree camera.
Its cost remains a concern, at least for the top-shelf GT-Line. List price is $57,115 with delivery. Just the suede-like seats were added here for $295 to bring the total to $57,410.
But if economy is more your style, there are two other trims, the Light being the base at $42,195. It is rear-drive with one electric motor creating 167 horsepower and range of just 232 miles. Tires are 19-inchers as opposed to 20 on the GT-Line. But the Light has the same interior digital instrument panel, wireless charger, power driver’s seat and nav-based smart cruise. Seats are cloth and the hatch is manual though
Move up to the mid-level Wind trim ($52,195 including delivery) and there’s a larger battery as in the GT-Line and its single electric motor creates 225 horsepower. Range is 310 miles, so roughly that of a Tesla Model Y.
Wind also adds gloss-black lower front fascia, the power hatch, vegan leather seat trim, cooled front seats and the Meridian sound system. Another plus, for campers, there is a vehicle-to-load (V2L) external power port so a person can charge another electric device, or run a lamp or computer at a remote camping site, etc.
GT-Line basically loads everything aboard. Its second motor delivers that extra 362 hp, plus there are automatic pop-out door handles, body colored wheel arches, the sunroof, flat-bottomed wheel, suede and vegan leather seat trim, rear parking sensors, Highway Driving Assist 2 (a partially autonomous driving system with automatic lane changing), HUD, 360-degree camera, an enhanced version of the forward-collision avoidance system, and deluxe scuff plates.
Other stuff you might care to know:
- EV6 offers Smartwatch connectivity so you can start it and more from your watch.
- A heat pump uses waste heat from the coolant system to keep the battery warm in cold weather, like in Wisconsin. That avoids the cold sucking down your battery power in winter. Kia claims at 20 degrees the battery is at 80% of what it would be in mid-70 degree summer weather. Bingo!
- Paddle shifters on the steering wheel provide four levels of regenerative braking to let you drive with one pedal, the accelerator. I liked the most severe level in that it slows the vehicle quickly and regenerates battery power best. After a day of driving you find you’re rarely using your brake pedal, except in an emergency.
- The AWD model weighs about 250 pounds more than the RWD models.
- Yes, there’s a tiny frunk in front, so you can hide valuables, etc.
- The digital screens are glare resistant, a major positive.
- Last amazing fact, the 114.2-inch wheelbase is the same as for Kia’s Telluride mid-size SUV, which explains why there’s so much room and why ride quality is as good as it is.
This is the top performing electric of the year, and there’s not much year left. Plus while some electrics aren’t sold in Wisconsin, the EV6 is.
Note too that some electrics are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and some states also offer incentives. Wisconsin does not. However, Wisconsin adds a surcharge of $75 for hybrids and $100 for EVs to make up for lost gas tax revenue from these type of vehicles.
FAST STATS: 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD
Hits: Refined futuristic styling inside and out, excellent acceleration + 3 drive modes, easy handling, and AWD. Clean stylish dash, big dual screens, heated/cooled supportive front seats, heated outside rear seats, flat-bottom wheel, HUD, opening sunroof, solid safety systems, Meridian stereo w/14 speakers, wireless phone charger, power hatch. Fast charging and sufficient overnight charge on 120 outlet, nearly 280-mile range.
Misses: Heavy feel in turns, firm ride, rotating shift dial, steering wheel partially blocks speedometer portion of screen, GT-Line is costly.
Made in: Hwasung, So. Korea (future builds in Georgia)
Power: 2 168kW electric motors w/77.4 kWh battery, 320 hp/446 torque
Transmission: 1-speed reduction gear
Weight: 4,500 lbs. (est.)
Wheelbase: 114.2 in.
Length: 184.8 in.
Cargo: 27.7-53.5 cu.ft.
Tow: 2,300 lbs.
Range: 274 mi/278 observed
Base Price: $57,115 (includes delivery)
GT-Line suede seats, $295
Test vehicle: $57,410
Sources: Kia, www.kbb.com