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Up Close With the 2022 Kia EV6: Coming Out Swinging

kia-ev6-2022-01-angle--exterior--front--silver.jpg 2022 Kia EV6 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The 2021 Chicago Auto Show gave us a chance to check out Kia’s first foray from the ground up into the battery-electric vehicle market with the 2022 Kia EV6 all-electric crossover. While still very much preproduction, what we saw and already know indicates the EV6 should be a very strong effort from the South Korean manufacturer, though — in a familiar refrain for these auto-show takes — we’ll have to wait until we drive a production version to render a verdict.

Related: More Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Roomy, Stylish Inside

Thanks to its all-electric platform, the EV6 has substantial front and rear legroom. Like the Nissan Ariya, the floor-mounted center console isn’t connected to the dashboard, granting the front cabin a spacious feeling. That console is longer than the Ariya’s, by the way, and it has more storage underneath, as well as some neat ambient lighting.

Another positive is screen setup: The EV6’s dual 12-inch displays form one continuous piece atop the dashboard, with one serving as the instrument panel while the other functions as a touchscreen. And while many of the controls inside the EV6 are touch-sensitive (we’ll get to that soon), there aren’t any goofy controllers (see: Lexus, Genesis) or overreliance on a single, nontraditional display (Tesla).

We can’t be sure all the interior features will make it to production on all versions of the EV6, but the display model featured some neat patterns and textures on the dashboard and console armrest. The front seats are well cushioned and bolstered without feeling restrictive, though we question whether such bolstering is enough to handle the performance of the 576-horsepower EV6 GT.

Exterior Looks Better In Person

Is the EV6 really an SUV? Is it a wagon? Yes and no to both. With available all-wheel drive, it probably fits best into the SUV or crossover segment, but in truth, it’s part of a growing number of EVs that all share the same wagon-y, crossover-y shape. And I like it. I’m not certain photos do it justice, but in person, the EV6 has a commanding presence with aggressive front styling, muscular fenders and — in GT guise, at least — an almost menacing stance.

Some Interior Flaws

Though they may be in vogue at the moment among manufacturers, the EV6’s usage of some capacitive, touch-sensitive controls is a significant downside in our eyes because they’re harder to use no matter how sleek or futuristic they might look. Major consumer studies indicated owners don’t care much for them, either. Of course, you’d be hard pressed to find an EV on the market that hasn’t prioritized form over function to at least some degree. To its credit, Kia at least has physical controls for some primary items, like stereo volume.

In back, there’s more than adequate legroom, headroom and shoulder room for adults. But the high beltline and low roof make the backseat feel a bit enclosed, and the rear seat sits low enough to the floor that adults’ knees may be uncomfortably elevated. I don’t think you’d quite have a mutiny on longer trips, but it’s not the best situation — and we saw better at this very auto show: The Nissan Ariya felt more open in the back, though it’s a little snug on headroom.

An EV6 for Everyone

Kia will offer the EV6 in two battery sizes with either rear- or all-wheel drive, and with single- or dual-motor powertains. Targeting a range of 300 miles for the longest-range version, the EV6 will vary in power from a modest 167 hp to the GT’s 576 hp (which should propel the latter to 60 mph in an estimated time of less than 3.5 seconds). With that kind of expected performance and a relatively well-executed interior, the EV6 should become a solid option for EV shoppers. Most EV6 models will go on sale in early 2022, with the high-performance GT coming toward the end of that year.

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