2022 Kia EV6 first drive review

The 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD parked outside a building.

Craig Duff

Posted February 25, 2022


Kia’s EV6 is an impressive first foray into the world of battery electric vehicles. It needed to be, given the SUV will be competing with the Tesla Model Y.

The future is charging at us. For years the electric vehicle space was dominated by Tesla and, to a lesser extent, Nissan.

Now, most mainstream and premium manufacturers are joining the electrified race. They’re doing it quickly and they’re doing it at prices that are competitive, if still at a premium to traditional combustion-engined vehicles.

The tipping point isn’t far away though, as evidenced by Kia’s first electric car to sit on top of a bespoke EV-only platform.

Kia EV6 launch

 

The EV6 looks like a large hatch, and drives like a hatch, but is technically an SUV courtesy of the ride height. That pits it against the Tesla Model Y, which is a high-riding off-shoot of the hugely popular Model 3 sedan.

The Tesla Model Y hasn't landed here yet, but when it does, the game will be on.

Both companies will be supply-limited as a result of the chip shortage; Kia can only source 500 cars this year despite having 25,000 expressions of interest and up to 1800 deposits.

On this page

How much does the Kia EV6 cost?

As EVs go, the Kia EV6 starts at a competitive $67,990 plus on-road costs for the entry Air variant. The money buys a rear-wheel-drive platform with a 77.4kWh battery and electric motor developing 168kW and 350Nm, with a driving range of up to 528km.

The reality is, most drivers will accept a range of just over 400km, given they won’t want to drop the battery under 20 per cent (a quarter of a tank in the combustion-engine world).

Long term, it doesn’t do the lithium-ion cells much good to be completely depleted on a regular basis.

The good news is the battery supports 400v and 800v charging. That means the EV6 will deal with everything from home-plug trickle charging to 350kW DC fast chargers.

Plugging into a 22kW/h charger at lunch isn’t going to do you much good - these vehicles work best with a minimum of 50-75kW DC charging - if you’re only spending 60 minutes dining.

According to ChargeFox, a 350kW ulata-fast charger will add 400km of range in around 15 minutes, while the default 22kW chargers will add 30km in the same time.

Buyers of the EV6 GT-Line rear-wheel drive version will pay $74,990 for the privilege of having a more luxurious interior, though the 0-100km/h time is identical at 7.3 seconds.

Owners of the all-wheel-drive GT-Line will fork out $82,990 plus on-roads. The range-topping model can be instantly identified via the sunroof, and it hauls to 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

Range drops by around 50km to a WLTP standard of 484km.

Service intervals for the Kia EV6 are every 12 months or 15,000km and a pre-paid plan over the course of the seven-year warranty will cost just $1,584.

 

The Kia EV6 impresses for its road-holding ability, despite the heft of the battery pack.
The Kia EV6 isn't a small car, but it shrink-wraps around the driver.
The Kia EV6 can tow up to 1.6 tonnes, but that halves the battery range.

Is the Kia EV6 safe?

No one has crash-tested the Kia EV6 yet.

All EV6 versions have autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection with junction turning assist, lane keep assist, lead vehicle departure alarm, Driver Attention Warning with lead vehicle departure alert, multi-collision brake and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

There are also font and rear-parking seonsors, a full set of airbags (including the ANCAP-necessitated centre airbag to prevent head-collisions between front passenger in the event of a side-on crash) and front a rear parking sensors.

Isofix anchors and top tethers are attached to the rear outboard seats.

What’s the Kia EV6 like inside?

The EV6 interior is classy, without being over the top. It doesn’t pack the digital-only display that makes the Tesla a memorable experience.

What it does do is package a more tactile, user-friendly interface. The 12.3-inch infotainment display is intuitive and the similarly sized driver’s display panel shows exactly what you need to see.

Opt for GT-Line versions and the “augmented reality” display lets driver’s know where they’ve crossed the line in terms of amber arrows indicating in which direction they’re outside the lines. It is simple and effective.

The seats are comfortable in all models, but the GT-Line’s pews are demonstrably better in terms of fit and finish.

 

The 2022 Kia EV6 AWD boasts a head-up display and 12-inch infotainment screen.
The Kia EV6s rear seats are somewhat ... flat.
A flat cargo space gives the Kia EV6 a generous 520-litre capacity.

What’s under the Kia EV6 bonnet?

Rear-wheel-drive versions of the Kia EV6 adopt the 168kW/350Nm rear motor. It is enough for most motorists and won’t be left behind on back roads where initial acceleration isn’t an issue.

Spend the money on the AWD version and there’s 239kW/605Nm on tap. It looks significant on paper but in the real world doesn’t justify the extra spend unless you plan on launching the EV6 in a straight line.

For us, the RWD Kia EV6 GT-Line is the pick of the bunch … at least until the arrival of the all-paw GT variant later this year, that will match any comparable Tesla in the sprint stakes.

How efficient is the Kia EV6 GT?

Kia claims the regular EV6 is good for a 528km range. Realistically, you’re going to do 400-odd km before range-anxiety becomes an issue.

No one is going to worry too much about that level of performance unless they’re travelling interstate, in which case, the lack of infrastructure is the biggest issue, along with whether the charging stations is in use/operable.

That’s a reflection of our lack of consideration for EV infrastructure, which is an area everyone is trying to address, with ChargeFox at the fore.

An added advantage of the EV6 is the vehicle to load configuration that enables owners to use home appliances, from a laptop to a toaster, off the vehicle’s battery. The Kia will let you discharge down to 20 per cent of battery charge before shutting down those devices.

 

The 2022 Kia EV6 AWD can hit 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.
The Kia EV6 will launch a hi-performance version late this year with a 3.5-second sprint time to 100km/h.
The Kia EV6 looks lithe and aggressive, without being space-age futuristic.

How does the Kia EV6 drive?

Brilliantly, given the EV6 is more than two tonnes. You can’t pack this much lithium-ion into a car, even if it is secured in the floor, without incurring a weight penalty.

Kia invested a lot of time into developing the suspension to suit local roads, and the result is impressive. Even punching downhill into a tight corner doesn’t unsettle the big SUV.

Physics wins and you ultimately know you are piloting a heavy bus, but in terms of general dynamics, the EV6 feels planted and a lot smaller than its size would suggest.

Could it be better? Yes. The steering isn’t class-leading, mainly because it lacks feedback and the return from off-centre inputs is rudimentary.

The initial application of turn-in is acceptable, with the weight responding to how hard the driver is turning the wheel. Exit the corner and the steering becomes numb and doesn’t reflect the sporty character of the car.

That is one of the few black marks against this vehicle … and to be honest, it is more grey than black, given these versions of the EV6 aren’t intended to be overtly sporty.

Come the EV6 GT with a 3.5-second sprint time later this year and that steering calibration will most likely have improved.

Should I buy one?

Yes, though the jury is out until the Tesla Model Y arrives, presumbably in the latter half of this year … and then we see the pricing. Until then, the Kia EV6 represents the best large EV SUV on the market. The electric Kia is an awesome drive and the price isn’t horrible.

Though the EV6 is a game-changer, you'd be wise to consider the rear-wheel-drive GT-Line. It is a good compromise between less weight over the front wheels and plenty of get-up-and-go.

If you can afford the premium over a conventional internal combustion engine, the seven-year warranty means you may earn more when it comes time to sell … and ICE-enginered vehicles are no longer as popular.

In the interim, buyers will be driving a highly competent vehicle that, if they have solar panels on their house roofs and a battery in the garage, that doesn’t cost much to refuel.

 

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.


  • BYD Sealion 6
    Review

    2024 BYD Sealion 6 review

    The BYD Sealion 6 is a plug-in hybrid family electric SUV capable of achieving a range of over 1000km if the battery is kept recharged. Can it outshine the Toyota RAV4 Hybird and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the medium SUV segment?
  • Kia EV9 GT-Line
    Review

    2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line review

    The Kia EV9 GT-Line is an exceptional family SUV that stands out in every measure. It's a comfortable seven seat vehicle with fully electric propulsion and realistic battery size that delivers over 500km range.