2023 Kia EV6 Review: Just as practical as it's cool (and it's really cool)


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Pros: Good range and rapid charging; excellent tech; top safety scores; compelling design; wild GT performance

Cons: No federal tax credit; gauge design needs a rethink; GT has limited range and no power seats

One thing is for certain: The 2023 Kia EV6 will turn heads. We’ve tested multiple versions at this point, from a base Wind RWD to the new high-powered EV6 GT with our GT-Line AWD long-term test car in between, and each manages to turn heads wherever they go. Ours included.

Beneath those great looks, though, is a massive amount of substance. This electric crossover provides a just-right selection of virtues that shoppers for an EV and/or a crossover should be looking for. It has better-than-average range and far-better-than-average charging capability. Its performance ranges from ample to “holy cow, my neck hurts.” Its interior satisfies the apparent need for an EV interior to be futuristic, but still manages to be highly functional thanks to easy-to-use technology, thoughtful storage and abundant passenger space. We also found it has a more useful cargo area than a pair of top competitors despite the official specs saying it has less.

Put it all together, and the Kia EV6 isn’t just one of the most appealing electric vehicles, it’s one of the most appealing new vehicles, period. You may end up liking another EV better (perhaps the mechanically related Hyundai Ioniq 5, for example), and its lack of a federal tax credit may rule it out for budget reasons, but shoppers of EVs and crossovers alike definitely need to check it out.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2023?

The previous entry-level trim, the EV6 Light, has been discontinued. Kia barely built any, so it’s hardly a loss that will be felt. Nevertheless, the Wind trim level becomes the entry point by default and also gets a $1,000 price hike, effectively raising the EV6’s base price even further. The elimination of the federal tax credit for EVs built outside of North America (the EV6 is built in South Korea) also doesn’t help on the value front. So that’s the bad news. The good news is the addition of the new EV6 GT, the 576-horsepower high-performance variant that whips to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. We go into greater detail about it in our EV6 GT first drive review.


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What are the EV6 interior and in-car technology like?

In short, it’s super cool. From the piping of colorful lighting and swoop of metal trim on the center console, to the vibrant dual displays, there’s nothing else that looks quite like this (OK, so the Niro copies it a bit). If you want your futuristic car to look futuristic, this delivers. It should be noted there are considerable appearance and materials differences in the Wind and GT-Line trim levels, with the latter resulting in a sportier and richer environment. Is the difference worth about $4,000? Probably not, but that’s one for you to decide. The GT builds off the GT-Line with unique neon yellow accents and grippier seats, but the latter are manually adjustable, which is a misstep for a car that commands a luxury car price tag.

Despite the futuristic look, every variation of the EV6 cabin is still perfectly usable by people used to the way cars operate now. There’s still a separate instrument panel, there are still traditional buttons and knobs, and even the touch-capacitive controls are better executed than those found elsewhere (cough, Volkswagen). Now, there is one wrinkle to that last bit, as the row of touch-operated buttons under the touchscreen serves double duty as climate controls and infotainment shortcuts – a swap button must be pressed to go between climate and infotainment. This is an added complication, but it also seems like a smart compromise between creating an uncluttered look and maintaining usability.

The standard 12.3-inch widescreen-oriented touchscreen is basically the same unit you’ll find in other Kias, which is great news since it’s one of the better infotainment systems out there. The menus make sense, simple tasks like changing a radio station are easy, responses are quick and it looks good. We also like the 60/40-split screen functionality that lets you look at audio and navigation, for instance, at the same time. We love the placement of the wireless phone charger right by your elbow in the center console, but wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available, meaning you have to forego using them or plug your phone into one of the USB ports below the dash, and store your phone in the large under-console bin best suited for a purse.

Another thing that needs work is the instrument panel design. Although there are three different motifs offered, they’re laid out the same with too-small speed and range readouts placed in locations where they’re frequently blocked by the wheel hub. There's too much viewable real estate devoted to nothing. The GT-Line and GT do feature an augmented reality head-up display that projects enhanced info out over the road, and gives you cues for where to turn when using navigation, which is helpful for keeping your eyes on the road.

How big is the EV6?

Huge! But also small! The EV6’s electric powertrain architecture allows it to have an extreme cab-forward design and relatively gigantic wheelbase (the same as the three-row Telluride), which means it provides immense backseat legroom for a vehicle that’s in between Kia’s Sportage and Sorento in length. We could put a rear-facing child seat in the back and have someone 6-foot-3 up front barely touching the firewall with their toes – usually their knees are jammed up against the dash. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is similar to this, but even the Mustang Mach-E doesn’t go quite this far in terms of providing a family-friendly interior.

Up front, an open floor plan is bisected by a handy bin perfect for a sizeable purse or small backpack. Front headroom can be tight, though, at least with the GT-Line’s standard sunroof. Part of that has to do with the fact that the EV6 has a much lower roof than the SUV norm – it has barely more ground clearance than the typical car, too.

Cargo space turns out to be better than its official measurement of 24.4 cubic-feet behind its back seat. We could fit more luggage in the back than in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Mustang Mach-E despite both reporting more space on paper. All of the above EVs offer less than what you’d expect in a compact or midsize crossover SUV, however. In particular, the EV6’s racy roofline limits the height of any bulky objects you might fit back there.

What are the EV6 range and performance specs?

With the Light trim level extinguished, every 2023 EV6 comes standard with a 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack that provides different ranges depending on drivetrain and motor type. The maximum charging output is 240-kW, which is incredibly rapid, especially at this price range. This allows it to theoretically recharge from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes, but that is dependent on a particular 350-kW fast charger managing to crank out the EV6’s 240-kW maximum, which is far from guaranteed.

Just like gas-powered crossover SUVs, the EV6 comes standard with two-wheel drive (specially, rear-wheel drive) and offers all-wheel drive as an option. Unlike gas-powered SUVs, however, the EV6’s all-wheel drive comes from adding a second motor to power the front axle, which considerably ups performance in addition to provided added all-weather traction. It therefore doubles the usual $1,500 to $2,000 price tag of AWD.

The Wind and GT-Line trim levels come standard with a single motor powering the rear wheels that produces 225 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. This might not be an eye-popping output, but it’s also equivalent to the base turbocharged engines of similarly priced luxury compact SUVs. Its 0-60-mph time of 7.2 seconds isn’t quite as quick as those (the EV6 is very heavy), but it’s close. EPA-estimated range with one motor is 310 miles.

The all-wheel-drive Wind and GT-Line’s added front motor results in a total output of 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 drop to 5.1 seconds. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, though, as range drops to 282 miles with the standard 19-inch wheel/tire combo. Get the 20-inch combo and it drops to 252 miles (the ride suffers too, we’d definitely skip them).

The new-for-2023 EV6 GT gets more powerful front and rear motors, which ups output to 576 hp and 545 lb-ft. The 0-60 time drops to 3.4 seconds. The range plummets to a meager 206 miles. Longer trips won’t be very fun.

What's the EV6 like to drive?

The EV6 has many traits that fit the electric vehicle norm: immediate torque, a low center of gravity, one-pedal driving capability and an eerie quiet augmented by artificial, futuristic noises (that can be turned off). However, the Wind and GT-Line won’t try to snap your head from your neck when you plant your foot – even with the far more powerful all-wheel-drive versions. The car more judiciously doles out power to prevent wheel spin and improve drivability, which may be a downer for those moments when you want to show off what your new car can do, but it's ultimately better for efficiency and a smoother drive.

If you’re like, “to hell with that,” the new 2023 EV6 GT is the EV6 for you (pictured above). It’ll try to snap your head off and you’ll definitely have a great time showing off what its 576 hp can do. You can read more about how it specifically drives in our EV6 GT first drive review.

Although the EV6 certainly has a low center of gravity plus wheels pushed to the corners, we wouldn’t say it’s a particularly involving car to drive. The steering is well-weighted and precise, but feedback is muted. Road holding is certainly better than the typical SUV, but still feels taller and more remote than a sporty car. Certain versions of the Mach-E, Polestar 2 and even Ioniq 5 show more signs of life. The new GT certainly ups the involvement thanks to its chassis upgrades, but it’s hardly a game changer in this regard.

What other Kia EV6 reviews can I read?

Kia EV6 Long-Term Review

Autoblog is testing an EV6 GT-Line AWD for a full year. You can find all our posts in the link above and follow along as we actually live with an EV6.


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Kia EV6 Wind RWD Road Test

We test the base model EV6, the rear-wheel drive Wind, and go over how it differs from the GT-Line.

 

Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD Road Test

Read how the rear-wheel-drive EV6 differs from the more powerful AWD version.


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2023 Kia EV6 GT First Drive Review

Read more about the new-for-2023, high-performance EV6 GT.

 

Kia EV6 Luggage Test

A deep dive into the EV6's cargo capacity. Despite the specs indicating it has 24.4 cubic-feet of space behind the back seat (and therefore less than the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Mustang Mach-E), we discover it actually has more than both in terms of actual luggage.

 

2022 Kia EV6 First Drive Review

Our first review of the EV6 goes into more depth about its engineering and design.

What is the 2023 EV6 price?

Because the Light base trim level was discontinued for 2023, the Wind becomes the base trim. Its asking price also goes up by $1,000, which when put together, means the EV6’s base price is $8,000 more than last year. It’s also important to note that the EV6 is no longer eligible for the same $7,500 federal tax credit as the Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4 are (at least until March, it’s complicated, here’s what we knew at the time of this writing).

All prices below include the $1,325 destination charge. Also remember that all-wheel drive increases performance in addition to providing all-weather traction. Every GT is all-wheel drive.

Wind RWD: $50,025
Wind AWD: $53,925
GT-Line RWD: $54,225
GT-Line AWD: $58,925
GT: $62,925

The only noteworthy option is the Wind Technology package ($1,500) that adds blind-spot warning, a surround-view parking camera system, reverse automatic braking and remote parking control. These are standard on the GT-Line and GT.

Below, you can see the design differences between the Wind (left) and GT-Line (right).

What are the EV6 safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Every EV6 comes standard with automatic emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, a driver inattention warning system, and adaptive cruise control (Highway Driving Assist) with stop-and-go capability and lane-centering steering assist. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, and reverse automatic braking are optional on the Wind and standard on the others. The GT-Line gets the Highway Driving Assist 2 system, which gets automatic lane changing and the ability to learn and adjust itself to individual driving style.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the EV6 a Top Safety Pick+, the best-possible outcome, for its best-possible performance in every relevant crash protection, crash prevention and headlight category.

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