Kia’s first dedicated electric vehicle, the 2022 EV6, impressed us greatly at launch and again when it arrived in the CNET garage early last year with its strong balance of performance, range and, most importantly, value. And I wasn’t the only one. The EV6 went on a veritable award tour last year, racking up multiple car and SUV of the year awards, including the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. (Full disclosure, I am a NACTOY juror.)
So, it should come as no surprise that when choosing our next long-term test vehicle — a car that I’d have to log thousands of miles driving over the course of the next year — we went with the EV6. Of course, at the time we spec’d our tester, the red-hot EV6 GT had only just been announced and was not yet available, so we’d have to make do with less than its 576 horsepower. Still, the more conservative trim levels still have plenty to offer.
We went with the 2022 model year’s EV6 Wind e-AWD model, partially because we’ve already evaluated the top trim GT-Line model and partially based on a hunch that this is the sweet spot in the lineup. Our choice nets us a dual-motor, all-wheel drive system with a combined 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. Mated with Kia’s Long Range 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the EPA estimates I’ll average around 274 miles of range per charge, which works out to 3.125 miles per kilowatt-hour taking factors like battery reserve into account.
Skipping the full-fat GT-Line means I’ve had to do without a sunroof, larger 20-inch wheels, color-matched GT-Line body trim and a few other bells and whistles. So far, the 19s have proven to be the slightly better choice for range and comfort, while the rest of the differences are purely aesthetic. Going with the less expensive Wind e-AWD allowed us to keep around $2,000 of our hypothetical budget in our pocket; the electric SUV arrived with a $55,105 sticker price including a $1,500 Technology package, the $1,295 destination charge, $495 for the off-white Glacier paint and $415 worth of floor mats and cargo covers.
Setting up the Kia Access smartphone app upon delivery, I gave our Kia the nickname Linka after the Eastern European, wind-themed Planeteer. The app allows me to remotely monitor the EV6’s location and charge state, as well as send remote commands to lock and unlock the doors, open the hatch or activate the climate controls. It’s also a handy hub for keeping an eye on the EV6’s service cycles, not that it needs much maintenance at all.
Right away, I ran into the biggest nit I have to pick with the 2022 EV6. Unlike its HMA E-GMP cousins, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60, the Kia EV6 does not ship with an included home charging cable. The EV does include the automaker’s handy V2L adapter that lets you get juice out of the battery to power appliances or electronics in an emergency or off-the-grid, but you’re on your own when it comes to sourcing a solution to get power into the darn thing.
To be fair, I’d recommend that any prospective EV owner consider having a permanent charging station installed anyway to streamline daily charging convenience. Still, an included 110-volt or 240-volt charging cable and brick would come in handy as a transitional charging solution during the first weeks of ownership and then for emergency charging on the road. New owners can take advantage of the included Kia Charge Pass, which includes 1,000 kW of Electrify America DC fast charging, but that’s highly dependent on actually being near a station. Fortunately, I live near quite a few.
Unfortunately, I’m merely the EV6’s steward for the year, not its actual owner, so I’m not able to take advantage of the free Kia Charge Pass charging. Instead, I’ve paid for every kilowatt-hour consumed out of my own pocket. It’s a bit of a bummer, but it has allowed me to observe the cost of frequent DC fast charging.
I took delivery of Linka in late November 2022 and have driven around 4,120 miles over the last seven months. Around two-thirds of those miles are around town on surface streets and b-roads, with the rest being highway miles in moderate traffic with a few longer road trips mixed in, as well. Unfortunately, an uncharacteristically rainy winter season has left my favorite dynamic roads closed due to landslides until only very recently, so most of my testing so far has been in Normal or Eco mode, with only infrequent dipping into the Sport program. Over its lifetime, I’ve averaged efficiency around 3.3 mi./kWh, a touch better than the EPA reckons, with individual trips occasionally stretching as high as 4.0 mi./kWh.
I almost never charge the EV6 beyond the 80% mark — fast charging gets much slower and more expensive for that last 20% — and never let it drop below around 20% for safety. That means I get around 150 to 160 real-world miles between charges. Electrify America charges around $0.48 per kWh and, on average, my 20% to 80% DC fast charge sessions cost me around $20. At around the 1,800 mile mark, I smartened up and opted into EA’s Pass Plus program. For $4 per month, the plan reduces the per-kWh price to $0.36, dropping my average 20-80% session to just $16 and basically paying for itself after just one charge.
I’ve also been able to supplement DC fast charging with the occasional slower level 2 charging included with long-term parking at the San Francisco and Oakland airports and for free at certain retail establishments, which is a nice bonus. Overall, I’ve spent $414.55 on charging for the year so far, working out to around $0.10 per mile not including insurance costs, which have been covered by Kia for the duration of this long-term test. (Insurance costs for EVs tend to be higher than combustion cars, which you’ll want to factor into your own calculations.)
Finally, there’s the matter of maintenance, or rather, the lack thereof. Most modern vehicles, EV or ICE, probably shouldn’t need serious maintenance within the first couple hundred miles, but the EV6 looks to be particularly easy to maintain for years to come, requiring only occasional coolant and brake service every few years. The first major scheduled maintenance event isn’t due until 24,000 miles, when the EV will need a tire rotation and inspection of its brakes, air conditioner, 12-volt battery and suspension components. The next major replacement, brake fluid, isn’t until 48,000 miles or about two years, whichever comes first.
Of course, there’s routine maintenance that needs tending to. So far, I’ve only had to keep an eye on tire pressure as the temperature fluctuates (for safety and optimal efficiency) and top off the washer fluid as needed. With all of the rain, I’ve also had to regularly keep the rear camera clean. (Kia should really consider adding a washer for this, too.)
The biggest takeaway at this first milestone confirms what I already know: Fast charging is perhaps best reserved for charging when far from home — on road trips or when out and about. To make the EV6 truly cost effective, I’ll need to get at-home charging sorted, ideally using cheaper off-peak power, which we’ll tackle in the next update.