EV'entful comparison
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Kia EV6 Test Drive

April 17, 2023

Mark D Larsen

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In our quest to identify what will be our next EV, we have taken a Volkswagen ID.4, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited, and a Ford Mustang Mach-E for test drives. Today we decided to go to our local Kia dealer to check out the EV6. They had several in the lot, with two blues, one white, and one red right up on the front row, as you can see in the photo on the right.

The salesperson who greeted us, Tyson Green, asked if we would be more interested in a “performance” or “luxury” version. We told him that we much preferred that latter, as racing doesn’t appeal to us in the least: we simply want a practical, reliable, dependable EV with nice creature comforts and up-to-date technology. The white EV6 seemed to fill the bill, so we started to check it out, inside and out. Unlike most sales personnel at dealerships, Tyson was well prepared to answer our questions, and demostrate the EV6’s functions and features. It was refreshing to see that a dealership is training its employees to deal effectively with the electric vehicle market.

After spending several minutes pushing buttons, adjusting vents, positioning seats, and exploring the options and controls in EV6’s touchscreen, we then felt confident enough to take it for a test drive. Like with the Mach-E, Tamara preferred to occupy the passenger seat rather than take a video of the test drive from the rear. We opted to take the freeway down to the airport highway, which has much less traffic, so that we could focus on using the car’s adaptive cruise control, autosteer, and lane change features instead of worrying about others cars all around us. We were both impressed with how quiet and smooth the EV6 drove. It was much more relaxing that in our Model 3 that seems rough and noisy in comparison. Tamara also remarked that she felt much more comfortable in the EV6’s seats than in our Model 3, although she could still slide sideways on tight corners. On the plus side, the car had hand grips over the doors for such turns, something that all the EVs we have test driven have, yet our Model 3 conspicuously lacks. Indeed, handgrips are a feature that we miss in our previous Nissan LEAF.

The EV6 shares the same powertrain as the Ioniq 5 and the Genesis GV60, Hyundai’s E-GMP platform, so I was already familiar with how to initiate cruise control and lane keep. The only notable difference is that the EV6 has such controls on the opposite side of the steering wheel, which strikes me as an unnecessary attempt to be “different” than its sibling EV. I will note that those controls would take some getting used to, as I have been so conditioned to using the Model 3’s stalk for those functions over the last 5 years. I did appreciate being able to “pause” and “resume” cruise control by pushing a button —something that one simply cannot do in a Tesla. I also really liked the heads-up display on the windshield, making it much easier to keep my eyes on the road while reading the posted speed limit icon, my own set speed, the lane centering display, and curved red line warnings when the car detected other vehicles in a blind spot. The lane change feature was easy to engage and very smooth, although I discovered that the blinker wouldn’t turn off automatically. The trick I learned was to only tap the stalk while engaging lane change instead of fully pushing it. That worked well, but would again take some getting used to.

Although the driver assist features were similar to those in the Ioniq 5, the EV6 had several buttons that were unique. For example, there were actual buttons to push along the front of the console to turn on and adjust the heated steering wheel and seats, as well as ventilated seats. We had inadvertently pressed those latter buttons when initially exploring the EV6’s features, and Tamara commented while on our test drive that she could feel her seat keeping her cool. Inexplicably, however, when we got back to the dealership, we noticed that my ventilated seat button was also engaged, yet I didn’t feel any cooling at all. Either there is something faulty in the driver seat’s connections or there is a setting that also needs to be set via the touchscreen before the venting would work.

There was one button that would likely prove confusing for new owners: a switch that toggles between the stereo and the climate control. If you toggle for the latter, the dials adjust the cabin temperature, but toggling again causes them to adjust the volume of the speakers. We managed to figure it out, but I could imagine that having to take your eyes off the road and looking way down to verify which toggle was engaged before turning the dials would be distracting when driving. Speaking of paying attention, like in Teslas, the EV6 requires hands on the steering wheel when using cruise control and autosteer. I did note, however, that the amount of “torque” one has to apply to the wheel is much less, and is usually detected simply by the car making its own tiny adjustments while staying centered in the lane. Although I would prefer a capacitive solution like in Mercedes EVs, I would be much happier with this very subtle hands-on feature than the erratic, if not dangerous, amount of torque I have to apply in our Model 3.

Something that we didn’t expect to discover was that the EV6 had an operational sunroof, i.e., not only a small glass roof over the front seats, with a power cover, but that it would also open the glass to allow ventilation. That is a nice feature, one that we had in our old Subaru, but I have to admit that actually we seldom used it. What we do appreciate is being able to let more light into the cabin through a glass roof on occasion, but not necessarily more air.

I had read in several reviews that, only when parked, one can watch videos from a USB device on the touchscreen of the Ioniq 5 and EV6, so I brought with me a thumb drive with a few MP4 movies on it. Alas… I could not get the movies to play. In fact, the USB icon on the media touchscreen remained stubbornly grey, unable to recognize my thumb drive, let alone open it to view its contents. I guess I’m going to have to do some more research to determine if that feature really exists, and if so, how one needs to properly format the USB device and videos to be readable.

Another feature we asked about was if the EV6 had a comparable “dog mode” like in our Model 3, but both the salesperson and the manager were unaware that it was possible. After returning home I easily found on the internet that both the Ioniq 5 and EV6 do have such a feature, but it is called “utility mode.” It is more cumbersome to engage, and not a touted function, but it most certainly is possible.

Overall, we were pleased and impressed with the EV6. Tamara liked it a lot —although not as much as the Mach-E, but she has a soft spot for Mustangs, having had one that she really loved in her youth. I think it is a good-looking car, with sportier styling that the Ioniq 5, but I still prefer the latter both inside and out. As I’ve expressed many times, I have a pet peeve against front-to-back cup holders, and the non-adjustable, fixed position of the center console is more intrusive in the cabin’s space. Still, I would be happier with an EV6 like this one, or any of the other EVs we have test driven lately, than our current Model 3. Which EV will be the next one occupying our garage…? Hmmmm.