Like many advocates for electric vehicles, in the past I've been willing to look past the weaknesses and point to some day in the future when we'll finally "be there". Well I think we've hit that point and while EV's are still mostly limited to sedans and crossover-wagons, the future is bright for bigger vehicles too. Today though, we're talking about our experience taking the all-new Kia EV6 to Electrify Expo in Long Beach where we had a chance to meet with a variety of companies that are filling in the gaps that will ultimately make an EV practical for all prospective car buyers.
So let's start with a bit of background about my history with Kia and EVs. I was part of the launch of their first mass-consumer EV - the Soul EV all the way back in 2015. At the time it was an exciting rarity to have a vehicle that didn't "look" like it was an EV. Competitors at the time were designed to attract a certain type of buyer who was willing to look past the significant weaknesses and pay more ... just for the right to look smug knowing that his car didn't use gas.
At the time, we were amazed to see a rage of 93 miles and that the relatively small batter only took 33 minutes to reach 80%. I can tell you though ... range anxiety was real. On our test drive that day we coasted into the parking lot with the range meter at zero miles.
Regardless though, it was a fun time and it hooked me on the promise that it was only a matter of time before we had a proper charging network, better battery technology and cars designed to be practical and not just technology demos.
Frankly speaking, the experience of driving an EV is superior in almost every way except for the aural experience since we're are trained to think of the big throating V8 growl as a sign of power, instead of the whining of the electric motors as they spin up to speed.
While 2015 seems like it was ages ago, it isn't. I have favorite shirts that are older and my own Kia Soul is a 2013 that I love very much.
Now though, it's 2022 and across the board, we have an industry full of amazing EV products that are being brought to the market. Kia though continues to be an unexpected leader. If I had placed a bet back then I would have said Toyota, Nissan, or GM/Chevy would have been the ones leading us into the future but right now Kia and Hyundai are in the lead.
Both the Niro EV and the new EV6 are excellent vehicles and at $41,400 starting MSRP (as low as $33,900 after Federal Tax Credit) for the EV6 is an incredible bargain that is packed with technology, drives great, looks sharp, and has a huge cargo hatch in back as well as ample second row space.
For moderately more you can get the model we tested, a GT-Line RWD, for $51,700 with plenty of amenities and specs including a 310-mile range, 800V multi-charging architecture that when connected to an ultra-fast DC charger can go from 10-80 percent charge (217 miles) in less than 18 minutes, 21 different Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Augmented Reality HUD and more.
On specs alone, the EV6 proves that manufacturers are capable of delivering everything we've asked for to make EVs practical - space, range, tech, and price.
Inside the cabin, the driving experience was good though I found road and wind noise levels to be higher than I'd prefer. However, this is not unexpected since EVs are still optimized to reduce weight where possible and range is a bigger selling factor than simply being ultra quiet.
The only thing missing to make EV ownership fully practical is a more robust charging network.
On our trip to Electrify Expo we had no problem getting there and was able to use the charging ports in the Long Beach Convention Center parking garage. While slow, it's still about planning your journey and I originally projected to be there for several hours so I could get enough charge to make it back home (117 miles) without stopping.
Unfortunately I decided to leave early and immediately realized my mistake once I got on the 5 headed home.
Even this though isn't that big of a deal since we found a Walmart with a row Electrify America DC Fast charging stations and in about 37 minutes added over 80% charge, costing us only about $27.
If you've never had a chance to drive an EV then I highly recommend that you check out one of the upcoming Electrify Expo events when it comes to your city and/or plan to attend your local auto show when it comes to town. I can write another 1,000 words but the feeling of pure power pouring to the wheels with an instant torque response is something that you simply have to experience in person.
Electrify Expo Dates:
- Seattle - July 23-24
- NY - Aug 27-28
- Miami - Oct 8-9
- Austin - Nov 11-13
Plus, it's a great opportunity to see some other folks that are addressing the other aspects of electrification such as Currently who operates on a subscription model to deliver battery pack chargers to your work or home so that those of us who live in urban area without home chargers can be one step closer to EV ownership.
This review is obviously more of a narrative than a "review" but EVs are a different sort of beast where the challenge is "are we ready for EV or stick with ICE for another generation" as much as it is should I buy an Kia EV6 or a Hyundai IONIQ5.
Thankfully, the answer is yes ... consider both ... and place them head to head with other crossovers that are still ICE. This is finally an EV that is less of a compromise and more simply a great choice if you are looking for an inexpensive, spacious, family car that is packed with tech and fun to drive!