Is it a hatchback? Is it a wagon? Is it a crossover? Does it even matter anymore?
It's not easy to define Kia's upcoming electric EV6 in traditional terms. Is it a hatchback? Is it a wagon? Is it a crossover? Hell, is it a supercar? Do these words even matter anymore? Electric vehicles are blurring every line and when a company like Kia produces something as beautiful and practical as the EV6, gives it 576 hp and a sprint time of 3.5 seconds in GT trim at the cost of $80,000, perhaps its time to start compiling a new automotive glossary.
Electric vehicles won't take over the world until we have a charging infrastructure to support them, which is only a matter of time. If you're fortunate enough to have a good infrastructure for the EV lifestyle where you live, you'll certainly be considering Kia's first dedicated battery-electric vehicle. So, let's take a closer look at its coolest features.
Sure, looks are objective. However, we think it would take a ridiculously cynical person not to appreciate the intricacy of the EV6's design. It blends and bends genres like a St. Vincent album to the point everyone is going to just shake their head in wonder and file it under "alternative." We would hate to define the EV6 as just a hatchback, a crossover, or a wagon. Hell, add a sliding door on one side, and maybe Kia has itself the coolest looking minivan on the planet.
In the EV6, Kia has perfected the floating roof look we already love on the Kicks, and the "digital" take on Kia's tiger-nose grille style keeps things down to earth at the front. At the back, the taillights create leading lines into the rear spoiler to create a kicked-up style we think will be fondly remembered over decades to come.
The GT is the top trim, but not everyone needs that much performance. The base model is named EV6 and should start around $56,000, while the middle-trim GT-Line will start around $60,000. Both have two battery choices, a 58-kWh power supply suitable for 230 miles of range and a 77.4-kWh unit that will go 316 miles using the European math. The shorter range models come with a 167-hp motor in rear-drive form and 231-hp for all-wheel-drive models. The longer-range EV6 and GT-Line in rear-wheel-drive form get a 225-hp motor, while AWD models get a 320-hp motor connected to both axles.
In GT trim, the EV6 will be around $80,000 and only comes with the larger battery and all-wheel-drive. The motors generate 576-hp, 538-lb-ft of torque, and you'll need something like a McLaren 570S to take it off the line.
The EV6 features 800- and 400-volt charging capabilities, but Kia says that you don't need extra components or adapters. When the stars align and more powerful chargers present themselves, the longer-range battery can be taken from 10 percent to 80 percent in just 18 minutes. For quick top-ups, Kia says you can add 50 miles of range in 4.5 minutes.
Texans, in particular, will be pleased to know the EV6 also has a vehicle-to-load function, turning the car into a power supply that can "operate a 55-inch TV and an air conditioner simultaneously for more than 24 hours." And, if a friend or relative runs out of juice in their EV, you can rescue them using the EV6 as a charger.
Regenerative braking essentially means that when your foot is lifted off the accelerator, the electric motor provides resistance to slow the vehicle, and uses that to send a charge back into the battery. The EV6 has various settings, starting with one to three representing mild, moderate, and strong regeneration; drivers can use the steering wheel paddle to switch between them with ease.
The vast majority of drivers have yet to experience the joys of one-pedal driving. On the EV6, the i-Pedal setting is the "one-pedal driving mode." With i-Pedal, you don't have to come all the way off the accelerator to brake and, with a little practice, you can drive smoothly with just the accelerator pedal. There's also an "Auto" setting that will decide what you need in terms of energy recuperation.
One of the physics-versus-chemistry problems automakers have to solve when it comes to battery-powered vehicles is cold weather. The cold harms batteries, in both the short and long term. The most immediate issue is that the cold can reduce range dramatically, and the word you'll hear when automakers address it is thermal management. Poor thermal design in the early days led to fires, but good thermal design now leads to preserving a battery's range and life. High-voltage batteries, traction motors, and power electronics all have an optimal range for operation, and automakers have taken to using the HVAC heat pump to moderate their temperatures.
According to Kia, its next-generation heat-pump-based thermal management system allows the car to retain 80% of its optimal range, even down to 19-degrees Fahrenheit. The same thermal management technology works with the fast-charging system to reduce the harmful impact of that on the battery cell's lifespan.
The EV6 rides on Hyundai's E-GMP modular platform, which uses smaller and lighter components, so the automakers using it don't have to rely so heavily on aerodynamic design to reach its range goals. The batteries are encased in an ultra-high-strength steel frame to protect them from impacts, while the rest of the frame still absorbs and deflects crash energy from entering the passenger compartment. With no engine or transmission tunnel, like most all-electric vehicles, it opens up more room for the passenger compartment and cargo space.
For this generation of vehicles, Kia's UVO infotainment and telematics system is called Kia Connect. In the EV6, it's accessed via dual 12-inch curved screens that connect in the middle. Also available will be an augmented-reality head-up display to project relevant information such as vehicle speed, turn-by-turn directions, and driver aid info into the driver's line of sight on the windshield. The EV6 also arrives with Kia's Highway Driving Assist 2, which adds the ability to change lanes automatically while signaling, and adaptive cruise control with lane-centering steering assist. Remote Smart Parking Assist, or "Smaht Pahk" if you prefer, is also available for owners to guide the vehicle in and out of parking spaces from outside the vehicle.
One of our favorite things about electric vehicles is that they are compelling automakers to back up their eco-friendly drivetrains with eco-friendly interiors. In Kia's case, the slim, lightweight seats are upholstered with material created using recycled plastics. According to Kia, the upholstery is the equivalent of 111 plastic water bottles being put to better use than being in a landfill. We touched on interior space, but it's worth noting here that the EV6 has 18.3 cubic feet of trunk space with the rear seats up. It then has an additional 1.8 cubic feet of front-trunk space on the two-wheel-drive models and less than a cube for the all-wheel-drive vehicles.