Test drive: Is the Kia 2022 really the best car in the world?

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Kia is an electric car maker now. You can count on it, starting with the number six.

Kia EV6 is a compact electric SUV

Kia EV6 is a compact electric SUV
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Following two models that were also available with internal combustion engines, such as the Niro EV, the 2022 Kia EV6 is the first purpose-built electric vehicle.

As the number in the name suggests, there will be more to come, as next will be the EV9 full-size SUV, which has yet to be revealed in production form.

The EV6 features a hatchback body design.

The EV6 features a hatchback body design.
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The EV6 is also technically an SUV, although the relatively low roofline makes the compact model feel more like a five-door hatchback than something like the Kia Sportage, but its long wheelbase offers front and rear legroom that some SUVs would set up Full-size quad to shame.

The EV6's long wheelbase provides plenty of rear legroom.

The EV6’s long wheelbase provides plenty of rear legroom.
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The EV6’s slim design blends classic and futuristic elements and wouldn’t look out of place on an Italian car like the Alfa Romeo and its stance similar to that of the Jaguar I-Pace. Not a bad company. However, the broken rear roofline doesn’t cut it’s payload capacity.

The EV6 is equipped with dual digital displays and is decorated with synthetic and recycled materials.

The EV6 is equipped with dual digital displays and is decorated with synthetic and recycled materials.
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The rest of the interior is appropriately modern without being too quirky. Plastic and synthetic upholstery give it a unique look and feel while dual wide screens serve the instrumentation and infotainment system. There are a few welcome physical knobs and touchpad-style buttons to complement the touchscreen controls, but some are multifunctional and a little cumbersome to use.

The EV6's head-up display features augmented reality graphics.

The EV6’s head-up display features augmented reality graphics.
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The AR head-up display uses motion graphics to give precise directions when using the in-vehicle navigation system, rather than Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration. Neither of the latter two is wireless, which is disappointing in a car of the future, but the system may be updated with this capability in the future and there is a wireless charging pad on some models ready for that.

Pricing for the EV6 starts at $42,115 for the rear-wheel drive model with a small battery that offers up to 232 miles of range between charges. An optional larger package can increase that to 310 miles. There’s a 320-horsepower all-wheel drive system with a big battery and a range of 274 miles, with the top-of-the-line EV6 GT-Line e-AWD being as loaded as my test car checking out at $55,920. A federal tax credit of $7,500 is available for the purchase of all decor.

EV6 can be recharged up to 80% in less than 18 minutes.

EV6 can be recharged up to 80% in less than 18 minutes.
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Ranges are in the ballpark with those electric cars of a similar price and size, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, but the EV6 can charge more quickly than any of them (except for the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which shares its platform). It uses an 800-volt system that can fill it from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes on the fastest general charging systems, about half as long as the others. All fast chargers slow past 80% to help conserve battery life, so 20% can last more than twice the time if you need it.

An adapter that converts the EV6 charging port into a 110V 1900KW outlet.

An adapter that converts the EV6 charging port into a 110V 1900KW outlet.
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The EV6 is also equipped with a 110-volt outlet in the rear seating area and has an adapter with another outlet that can be plugged into the external charging port. They allow you to turn your car into a 1900-watt generator that can be used to power things in remote locations or even run a home refrigerator or air conditioner for up to 300 hours on a full battery.

The EV6's charging space is long but short due to the roofline design.

The EV6’s charging space is long but short due to the roofline design.
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The 4,500-pound all-wheel drive EV6 can also accelerate to 60 mph in a brisk 4.6 seconds and does so without any fuss. Throttle response is smooth, without the cramped and funky feel that some electric models still display. It’s also as silent as a TV on mute, but you can turn up the volume. Several digital engine sounds are available, including one that can be customized, but as is often the case, they all get scrambled after a while. I left them after trying them a few times.

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I never tire or tire of the ride quality. The EV6’s suspension has been tuned to near perfection. It’s a skill that remains one of the dark arts of automotive engineering, and the luxury brand couldn’t do it better without resorting to computer controls and adjustable air springs. It also has sharp and predictable handling when driven with little enthusiasm.

It was often easy for me to see how far the EV6 would go between trips to the plug. Unfortunately the expected range was never above 225 on a full charge and the efficiency meter showed I was getting under 3 miles per kWh most of the time, which would hold it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an EV6 engine uses the equivalent of 105 mpg of energy in combined driving. The temperature was mostly between 30 degrees and 50 degrees when I had it, which doesn’t seem cool enough to make that much of an impact, but could have a big one. Other testers came very close to or beat the range rating. Suffice it to say, your mileage will vary.

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Regardless, the EV6 is simply excellent all around, and others seem to agree. It was recently named European Car of the Year, and is one of the finalists for the World Car of the Year award.

Is it the best car in the world? I’m not sure, but I think overall it’s the best in its class, and a winner either way.

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2022 Kia EV6 GT

Base Price: $42,115

As tested: $55,920

Type: 5-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel drive

Powertrain: Dual Electric Motor

Power: 320 horsepower, 446 lb-ft

Transmission: Single speed automatic

Range: 274 miles

MPGe: 116 cities / 94 highways