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Video: Tesla Model Y Vs. Kia EV6: Best Against Next

27:15 min
By Cars.com Editors
August 3, 2022

About the video

Tesla Model Y Vs. Kia EV6: Best Against Next — Cars.com

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(upbeat ambient music) Those wanting an EV SUV haven't had many options until now and now we're seeing a new one introduced almost every other month. We think the Model Y is a standard for this class. We named it our best EV of 2022.
And we bought one for the purpose of comparing this new class of vehicle to the Model Y. Now, if you think SUV, you may not look at the Kia EV6, which is new for 2022 and say, yeah, that's an SUV, but it's a high riding hatchback with available all-wheel drive, and like the Tesla, that means it's an SUV in today's market. So the Model Y we ordered in July of 2021 and arrived in November of 21 is a long range version with all-wheel drive, and it has a rated range of 326 miles. We got some options on it, including a third row and a tow hitch and the estimated price when we bought it was right around $60,000. Though, if you were to buy the same SUV today, you'd be looking at more than $72,000. Kia is no stranger to EV's and the EV6 is their modern electric car, and it's got modern Kia styling features value. It really does imbue the characteristics of Kia that we've known in their sedans and SUVs. We are testing the EV6 GT Line, which is the top trim level, not the high performance GT, but the GT line. And it has a rated 274 miles of range. And our test car was $57,000 as equipped. And so we took the EV6 and the Model Y and for a week we tested home charging, fast charging, acceleration street manners, comfort, cargo. And in the end, it was closer than we thought. So let's take a look at some of the differences and where we saw the greatest spread between these two cars. So we performed measured acceleration testing on these cars and zero to 60 mile an hour was actually almost identical. The difference though was in quarter mile speed. When we ran it out through the quarter mile above 60 miles an hour, the Tesla really stretched its legs. It was a half a second faster than the EV6. And that's a lot. And really showing just how much faster at the quarter mile mark. It was 12 miles an hour faster than the EV6. And you may think, okay, well, a quarter mile, who's really accelerating to a quarter mile in a street? These are SUVs, that's a sports car, you know, measurement, but it really played out on the street how much extra acceleration the model had. Yeah, that was something we could feel when we were doing our driving loops. I felt it when merging onto the highway, making kind of passing moves on the highway, when you needed reserve power, there was just a lot more left when you driving the Model Y versus when you're in the EV6 and try to do the same thing, there was just, it was a much more modest response in terms of the power. On the flip side, moving into the eco mode really makes response much more gradual, almost too much. in my view. Yeah, and we measured acceleration in eco mode versus sport and normal mode in the EV6. And in the Model Y, we measured acceleration in chill mode versus the standard mode. And with both cars, it's two seconds slower. And that's an eternity when you're talking zero to 60 in quarter mile, you're not getting full acceleration when you're in eco mode or chill mode. So both of these SUVs have one pedal driving functions, but they're implemented in different ways. And I think we kind of had different takes on 'em. I liked what Kia was doing with the EV6's paddles that in other cars are shift paddles, in this case, there are paddles on the steering wheel, that control level of region. And I liked being able to tailor it to the level I wanted, but when you're using eye pedal, the one pedal driving mode, it was not willing to stay in that mode of on every time you restarted the car. And that was something that I would've liked to see it, retain it, 'cause that's something Tesla does. It's one of the ways the Model Y is different is it's really incredible use of profiles to retain driver settings and this is one of 'em, but what was your take going in, in terms of which one was your favorite? So I like the Model Y in that regard, because I felt there were too many options and they were difficult to figure out in control. Yeah, to open up the owner's manual and figure out how to use that feature. There are five different region modes, there's auto, the three region settings. And then there's the I-pedal, one pedal driving mode in the Model Y, there are only three. And the most aggressive hold is also the way that Tesla says is the best way to preserve range. So I enjoy driving in that mode all the time, not just to preserve range, but also I just feel I can drive more smoothly in the one pedal driving mode. One of the things you first notice when you start driving the Model Y is just how firmly it rides. It's got sports car levels of suspension, firmness, and that is in stark contrast to how the Kia rides. Yeah, there's a big difference between 'em, my take on the Model Y, it's too firm riding for me and ours has the smaller wheel entire option that you can get on the Model Y, it has 19 inch wheels and tires. You can get 20 inch wheels and tires. I wouldn't recommend that because it's plenty firm as it is with the 19s. Well, we reviewed the Model Y, the first one we reviewed had the optional 20 inch wheels, and we were like, we're gonna be smart and order the 19 inch wheels that will ride better. (laughing) Jokes on us, right? Yeah, that didn't work. How we should have got the cooler looking wheels. That's the thing too, 'cause the EV6, it has larger wheels, it has a 20 inch wheel, entire package on the trim we tested and it's also firm riding, but to me, it lacked the busyness of the Model Y's ride. And also some of the harshness you get when you're traveling on pockmarked or pothole pavement that we have in abundance here near Chicago. It's just not set up to work in that situation. And the Kia can manage it. It's still firm, you still feel it, but it didn't feel like you're getting beat up in the process. But the noise is what gets me. There's this tire impact noise and tire impact harshness. That's what grates on me more than actually feeling it come up through the seat. Yeah, it's much more noticeable as a whacking sound when you go over a bump in the Model Y that is not nearly as pronounced if you hit a similar impact in the EV6. And I thought the EV6, like get on the highway and just cruising along, it manages noise pretty well. There's like minimal intrusion from surrounding traffic. So it does that job well, and it's a harder job to do well when you don't have an internal combustion engine providing noise as well. Yeah, I was really surprised by how quiet the EV6 rode, both in tire noise, wind noise. It was very well kept. Another area where we saw a big difference was handling. We set up a small cone based handling course and open a lot. And again, these aren't sports cars, right? They're SUVs, but the Tesla has sports car like handling and it comes with the sacrifice of other areas. But if we're talking handling, it's flat, it's quick, it's composed. It's more than it needs to be for being an SUV in terms of how quick that steering is, how agile it makes it feel, how flat it stays in corners with that big, heavy battery pack down low. It really does well on that front. And the Kia looks like an aggressive sporty car. Doesn't drive that way, it's competent, give it that, but it's not the engaging car to drive. It doesn't have the sharpness, it's a little soft. It's definitely the one that drives more like an SUV. Yeah, the Kia is more relaxed. I still enjoy driving it though, even if it's a car, like, I don't know if someone's gonna be pushing these really to the limit. And it was a little bit more livable I thought being in the Kia than kind of that more on the sharp edge that the Model Y was traveling on. I agree that it does drive more relaxed than more comfortably than the Model Y. The bummer is I don't fit comfortably in the car. In fact, I didn't like driving it because of how poorly I fit in the car. And that came from two areas, one, limited headroom, specifically to this GT line. It has a sunroof that actually opens, it's not just a fix the glass panoramic roof. So it dips down into the interior. Secondly, visibility is awful. It's really bad. I didn't think anything could make the Model Y look good as far as visibility, but it's really bad in this car. That short roof line you get with the Kia results in short side windows that limit your visibility over shoulder, but more limiting over shoulder views for me was where I was positioned. And I was looking right at the B pillar. Yeah. and was completely blocked from checking views that way. Also the interior color scheme of our test car had an effect on visibility, at least from a perception standpoint, we had the GT line, like you were saying, and it was an all black interior with a black headliner. And when I was driving in it, I felt like I was in a cave. You felt it kind of coming down around you and already with that roof line, it is more closely around you. So that combined with the lack of over shoulder visibility, made it a challenge at times, just kind of feeling like you had a good sense of what was around you when you were driving. Well, neither of these provide great natural visibility. They have electronic aids to help give you that comfort, but one car definitely works better than the other in that area. Yeah, it was with the EV6, we liked how they include those blind spot views, right in that digital instrument panel, whether you're turning left or right, you get a pop up view. In the instrument panel though, at times it was blocked a little bit by the steering wheel, depending where you had it set, but it's in your field of view more so than in the Tesla where those blind spot views are on the central screen. And the same way Kia has done a better job in terms of the other side of blind spot warning, which is just sometimes either lights or icons. They put those warnings in the right spot where you're naturally going to be looking. <v Presenter>Yeah. When you're getting ready to change lanes, as opposed to, again, with the Tesla, it just has the central screen. So everything is packed in there one way or another. And that's not always where you have to be looking when you're driving. And that's why it was better for the EV6. In addition to our standard driving test, being EVs, we also wanted to test home charging and fast charging, and home charging is arguably one of the most important aspects of owning an EV. It's kind of what determines whether or not you're gonna have a successful EV ownership experience. And well, tell us about the home charging test. So the Model Y in EV6 were both charged on a 48 amp Wallbox Pulsar Plus EVSE that was connected to a 60 amp circuit. And they were charged for an hour. When we charged the Tesla had 65 miles, and we were able to bring it up to 111 miles. And that was 46 miles of range added an hour. With the EV6, we started with a little bit more miles of range, 74, and it increased to 107 miles of range after an hour. So 33 miles of range was added. So significantly less than the Tesla Model Y was able to add. And they were both given about the same amount of energy. It was 11.5 kilowatt hours with the Model Y and 11.2 kilowatt hours on the EV6. So it really shows the Tesla's advantage here that it's able to give more miles of driving range every hour using the same amount of energy. And that's a benefit that you're gonna see in your day to day, because you won't have to spend as long connected to your charger to go the distances you need to go. We also tested fast charging. So we were in a unique position because we had two of the fastest chargers available nearby. We ended up 90 miles west of Chicago, where there was a 350 kilowatt electrify America charger that the EV6 can charge on. And there was also nearby a 250 kilowatt supercharger, which is currently the faster supercharge option. The Tesla can charge at a maximum 250 kilowatts. And the EV6 can charge at a maximum 240 kilowatts. Well, what does that mean? We wanted to show which one will charge from a point A to point B percentage faster and how much range it adds. What we observed is that the Tesla started off strong. It went straight up to 250 kilowatts, as soon as we plugged it in. And for the first 10 minutes , it was adding more range, faster charging speed than the Kia. After 10 minutes, though it nosed over and it started going slower and slower, whereas the Kia sustained its charge. So even though the Kia didn't hit its maximum 240 kilowatt charge speed, it averaged much faster kilowatt speed throughout the test. And basically that meant it added similar amounts of range in 10 minutes, less time. What's most important to the consumer though is how much range was added per minute? And for that, the Kia was nine miles of range per minute. And the Tesla worked out to little less than six miles. So here, the advantage goes to the Kia. It's also worth noting, I feel like the Model Y's integration with the supercharge network in the car. So it's easy to find those 250 kilowatt chargers and just filter by the fastest ones. If that's all you want or dial it down to look for slower supercharges and then navigate to them easily using the car. Yeah, that's a great note, especially when we're talking about road trips and on the road charging. The Model Y has a legit trip planner function where it's totally automated, you put in a destination, it will tell you what charger it needs to go to, how long it needs to stay there. The EV6 has some function, but it's more a manual. Like you can look for chargers in the area and you can see how far you can go, but it won't guide you there automatically. And one time when I was looking for a charger, 'cause I was down on charge, I said, please find me a charger to the voice command. And it directed me toward a supercharger. Yeah. it's not compatible to charge. So there's that part of it too. If you are looking at road tripping, I think, the charger is one part of it, but the function is to get you there and to give you the information you need for a successful road trip, I think the Tesla still has the advantage. But we can't talk about these cars without talking about their user interface, which is how you control everything in the car. And it's especially notable because, well, there's only really one way to control everything in the car, in the Model Y and that's the large touch screen. Yeah, everything or most everything is centralized to that screen. And sometimes what's there, we've noticed because it's our long term car that it can change. What's there in terms of what features are shown where, we've gone through some software updates where features have gone away from the front screen and they've come back. But I think where the interface is at right now, I like it, I feel like it's pretty usable, but there are some things that I think they've taken too many controls into there. One of 'em is the windshield wiper controls, which are managed through the screen, apart from a missed button on the end of the turn signal stock, that you can use it that way. But on the flip side, when you get in an SUV like the EV6, it feels pretty normal. There are some interesting design elements to it, but it has controls where other gas powered cars have 'em, whether it's windshield wipers or something else. And you're not necessarily having to learn as much as you do when you get in the Model Y for the first time. Yeah, the EV6 has a control layout for the climate controls and audio system. That's swappable. So it's a capacitive screen in buttons that if you hit one mode, you see climate and the two dials are the dual climate control for temperature. You hit in the button again, it becomes a volume in tuning now. And I think that's really interesting in a way that gives you a volume and tuning knob, which is not a given anymore. They are disappearing, save the tuning knob. Yeah. And volume who cares about manual transmissions, give me a volume and tuning knob, right. So it's great that they give you both options 'cause for me and how I use climate control and this may be different for other people. I set it on automatic and I leave it and I don't fuss with it. And so with the climate control in automatic mode, then I can just have my tuning controls and I'm all good. The other thing we have to mention about the EV6 and using its controls seating position, and at least for you and me and how we fit in the car, having the instrument panel was nice, but it wasn't perfect. Yeah. Just the relationship between where I was driving with the wheel and what I was able to see on the screen was a problem because when I had the steering wheel set where I wanted, I wasn't able to see important readouts like speed and charge level, so I kind of had to work around where the screen was to see those things. I mean the seats themselves, I liked quite a bit in this vehicle. They're nice and wide, they're in this GT line finished with this. Like I thought it was a pretty nice suede style material. Yeah. But it was yeah, just the relationship with that digital dashboard. Yeah, I mean I had very little seating options because I had to be on the floor. If the seat wasn't lowered all the way down, my head was brushing up on the grab handle of the roof, no matter what. And to see the instrument panel, I had to move the steering wheel in a position that was not comfortable to my driving or I had to adjust the seat in a way where I didn't really fit in the car. So yeah, the steering wheel blocked the instrument panel. When we were looking at cargo volume for these cars though, the Tesla Model Y had a pretty big advantage over the EV6. Using our own measurements just to get comparable numbers between brands, the Model Y had nearly 24 cubic feet of cargo space when you count both the rear cargo area and the front trunk, and the EV6 by comparison had around just 18 counting both of those spaces and the EV6 has a smaller cargo area, but where it really has a smaller space is the front trunk. The Model Y's is nearly three cubic feet and the EV6 is just a quarter of a cubic foot. So it's minuscule by comparison, and that makes it a much less usable space. Let's talk features for the money. So you gotta take consideration the cost of these vehicles. The Model Y is now $12,000 more than when we bought it because of price hikes over the past year. So if you bought our car now, it would actually be $72,000, in the EV6, it's $57,000. So what do you get in the Model Y for that much money that you don't get in the EV6? I think the trip planning function that we talked about is a definite advantage as well as its update ability. Yeah, definitely the update ability that can really make a lot of changes to the car from update to update, that's something that other automakers are exploring, I guess you could say, but they have not gone nearly as far as what Tesla's done. And that's something that it's almost like the Model Y's anti-aging feature that as the car goes along, it's still going to get changes to it where the EV6 will be more static. Yeah, the EV6 does have some over there, update functionality, but it is not as comprehensive as the Model Y where the Model Y can change driving characteristics and the EV6 isn't at that point, yet. There are also things that the EV6 has for less money that the Model Y does at this price. And there are even things that the EV6 has in addition to the Model Y, what I think of is the vehicle to load feature, which may seem like a novelty. It's really a power sharing. It kind of turns your car into a giant portable battery where there are household 120 volt, 15 or 16 amp outlets in the car, and that is equivalent to what's in your house. And that is mighty impressive, because most outlets in regular internal combustion engine cars can only power like a small electronic device or recharge a small battery. Whereas this pretty much anything that plugs into your home, 120 volt outlet, you could plug into this car. Yeah, it's something that really extends the usability of those outlets, like you're saying what you can plug into it. And it's an innovative feature that using this built in giant power source and sharing it with other devices. Yeah, it's using its EV-ness to its full capacity and probably useful for camping or adventure type stuff. You're out somewhere without a power source. It could even charge an EV like we did with a Model Y slowly. Yeah, very slowly. Or it could be a backup power source for any kind of a home appliance and in a power outage. So very useful. And the Model Y doesn't have any AC outlet. In fact, it only has USBC outlets and there's no other way really to take advantage of larger electronic devices like the EV6 can. So as far as what the EV6 has at this price range that the Model Y does or makes you pay extra for, the summon feature for the Model Y is also a feature that's shared in the EV6, maybe not to it's fullest capacity, but on the key fob, you can move the EV6 forward and back out of tight spaces when you're not in the car. And then also there's an auto lane change feature on this top trim level, where if you change lanes, when the feature is activated, it'll automatically change the lane when it feels it's safe to do so. We haven't talked yet about the tax credit that the EV6 is also eligible for. That's right. If you are eligible as well as the car, you can get up to a $7,500 tax credit, which will help offset some of the cost of the EV6. When we added up the 20 plus categories that we scored, we were surprised how close the results really were. It was the Kia that edged out the win here. And what really stood out though was just how the Tesla's advantage on paper, as far as range and efficiency, didn't really play out as big of a differentiator as we thought it would. It was the most efficient in our testing, and it had the most rated predicted range. And there were other areas where it was better than the EV6, but just by a little bit, it wasn't significant enough to where it really makes up that massive price difference. This would've been a very different test if it was done a year ago or even late last year before these massive price hikes on the Model Y, priced it way out of the EV6s price range, because what you're getting in the EV6 is actually really good. Even though we are talking about an almost $60,000 Kia SUV. So how should you use these results? The EV6 isn't the right car for everyone, just like how the Model Y isn't the right car for everyone. So what you need to do is take a look at our results. Find what's most important to you. If it's a sporty driving SUV with a lot of acceleration and great home charging, you know what, that Model Y looks pretty good. But if you wanna save a little money and want a comfortable EV with a more normalized experience, because well, the Tesla does a lot of polarizing things. Then EV6 is looking pretty good. Either way, read the full results here at cars.com/news.