Electric Vehicles (EVs) are starting to catch on and make a deeper impact on the automotive landscape, now making up about 10% of global car sales and just over 6% here in the USA. With a larger percentage of the public finally realizing the EV movement is coming and there is no stopping it, buyers, including a good portion of the enthusiast base, are looking for “exciting” EVs, and Kia has stepped in to offer one of the more exciting vehicles found in their all-new EV6 GT.
The new 2023 Kia EV6 GT takes the ‘normal’ EV6 and turns the dial up to 10 to be the brand’s most powerful and fastest vehicle ever. While that may not mean much to most, you must understand that the new Kia EV6 GT is an electrifying stunner not only for its unique looks that most like, but it has the power to run with the high-performance crowd. Classified as an SUV, the EV6 GT may be misleading to some in thinking that its sleek silhouette is the structure of another to-be-forgotten economy car that seats 5. No, no, there’s a serious punch under the sheet metal of this Kia with many other ‘fitting’ bits.
From its 21-inch wheels and electronically controlled adaptive suspension, to the large 15-inch brake rotors up front clamped down by 4-piston monoblock neon-colored calipers, the Kia EV6 GT has the right parts to support its power output. That power output is to the tune of 576 horsepower and 545 lb-ft of torque powering all four wheels.
As an EV, the EV6 GT touts two electric motors, one for each axle. Up front, there’s a 160kW motor and a 270kW rear motor that work together to get the EV6 GT up to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds in some tests. I know, that’s exotic car performance levels! Not only can the EV6 GT hit 60 mph in an amazing time, but it feels up to the task of tackling track duties for a limited time. I say limited time because the EV6 GT has a tradeoff for its performance where its range is only 206 miles as rated by the EPA. Such a range is easily obtainable in the real world as I put it to the test in a drive to Orlando, FL, and back to Jacksonville, FL.
Jumping in and driving the EV6 GT is a nearly thoughtless task as it starts off in the normal drive mode. Such a mode doesn’t take full advantage of the power output, feeling as if it holds back a bit to conserve the battery power. The Eco drive mode does even more to hold back the power, and there are nifty steering wheel pedals that allows you to dial up or down the braking regen levels and enable one-pedal driving. The Sport mode adds a bit of punch, but the real magic happens in the GT drive mode, which can be quickly dialed up at the press of the neon green GT steering wheel button. The GT mode dials up everything, not just the power output but the steering effort increases, the adaptive dampers firm up, the braking feels sharper, and traction/stability control is dialed back. In the GT mode, the EV6 GT is prone to outrunning a Lamborghini Huracan EVO Spyder RWD and even a 2021 Ferrari Roma, which is according to Kia’s independent testing performed by AMCI.
The feeling from the ride quality in the EV6 GT is quite adaptive and tends to be agreeable in most conditions. When the adaptive dampers are firmed up in Sport or GT drive modes, it feels as if you have a small pogo-stick effect going over road imperfections at times. Otherwise, the EV6 GT is decently tuned for a good balance of sport and comfort on the road in the Normal drive mode. Also, there’s a customizable My Drive Mode that you can set the individual driving characteristics, such as the suspension, steering, braking, and motor response.
To add a little more entertainment to the driving experience, Kia added a clever adaptive sound design system that adds a selection of cabin sounds to nearly mimic engine sounds that are almost comical because they sound realistic if you tune them just right through the touchscreen settings. The sound even allows you to “rev” up virtual engine if you have the vehicle in park. Such a feature may be more of a novelty to most but can act as a comforting reference of engine sound if you’re not used to the near silence of an EV drivetrain, leaving you with just wind and tire noise to contend with when you don’t use the 14-speaker Meridian sound system. You’ll also get a kick out of having a drive mode that shifts torque more to the rear wheels, along with having an electronic limited-slip differential.
Having the 206-mile range is just enough to make a valid case for the EV6 GT when you factor in its exotic-level performance. I was able to match such a range even when traveling slightly above the 70-mph speed limit on the interstate during my travels. The 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and the 800-volt architecture of the EV6 GT allow for a quite fast charge, taking just 18 minutes from a 10% state of charge up to 80% using a 350 kW DC fast charger.
I put the charging time to the test using an Electrify America DC Fast Charger, and the claimed charge speed is legit in my comfortable 80-degree environment during this time of year in Florida. The charging rate tiers up to around 225 kW and retains such through most of a charge cycle under 80% state of charge. After 80%, the charge tapers off, and it may take as long as 25 minutes or more to reach 100% if you so choose to. At home, using my new Enphase 40amp level 2 (240-volt) charger, I had no issue topping off a full charge overnight from around a 13% state of charge, hitting a steady charge rate of adding about 21 miles per hour on average.
On the road, you’ll manage to match the EPA estimates in the real world, which comes to 74 MPGe highway, 85 MPGe city (around 2.5 kWh), and 79 MPGe combined.
If EV6 buyers are looking for a longer range, the Kia EV6 GT-line or standard rear-wheel-drive trims will suffice to get a longer range, and as much as a 310-mile range in the base rear-wheel-drive EV6.
Kia’s technology has advanced well to keep up with the pace of its competition. I would even go as far as to say the Kia brand, alongside of its Hyundai and Genesis counterparts, have some of the best mainstream infotainment system setups in the market. In the Kia EV6 GT, the system mimics that of many other family brand vehicles incorporating a curved screen setup with the digital driver’s gauge cluster and a similar-sized 12.3-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system.
Where things tend to depart from tradition is the use of the audio and climate controls, which are combined into a row of touch-capacitive buttons and two turn knobs that serve double duty for the dual-zone automatic climate control temp adjustment or as the volume and tuning knobs. The dual-use of the controls seems like a great idea at first, but you often mistakenly hit the touch-capacitive button areas when you do something as simple as turning the volume knob. The access the climate controls, you either press the dedicated touch-capacitive Auto button or an audio/climate toggle button. After using the system for a while, you tend to get used to it, but it again becomes frustrating with the unwanted button touches.
There’s the simplistic pairing of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is only integrated through a USB connection. The wireless phone charger is located just ahead of the armrest, which may be a good location for some but could warrant unwanted screen touches for its location.
The seating areas are surprisingly spacious inside of the EV6 GT, except for it having the front heated sports seats that are heavily bolstered. I would highly advise those shopping for the EV6 GT to first try out the front seats, which are manually operated and lack lumbar or an adjustable headrest. I found the seats to be “livable,” but they don’t allow you to have much body movement, which is part of the purpose of them fitting the aggressively sporty nature and theme of the EV6 GT.
In the back, the seating area is just large enough for two adults that may be slightly over 6 feet tall, like myself. The center seat, thanks to the flat floor of the EV6 GT, is accommodating as well, but you may run out of shoulder room before anything else fitting three adults back there.
The cargo volume at 24.4 cubic feet is just enough for three roller cases and is easily accessed through a power rear liftgate.
Kia’s level of autonomy and active safety features rests on par with the competition and the EV6 has earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. The use of the adaptive cruise and highway driving assist is nearly seamless and doesn’t surprise with unexpected situations for its level of semi-autonomous driving with your hands still on the steering wheel. The 360-degree camera system comes in handy as do the front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic warning/emergency braking, and forward collision warning/emergency braking if you ever need it.
The Kia EV6 GT is a bargain if you consider the collective of its features and astonishing performance for such a mainstream vehicle. While EVs are naturally rather expensive, the Kia EV6 GT, starting at $61,600, and my test car landed at the same, only having to add in the floor mats and destination charge coming to $62,865, keeps things reasonable for a performance-oriented EV. There’s nothing else with this much performance on the market at such a price, and that makes the EV6 GT somewhat of a bargain in my book – a vehicle that you don’t want to overlook if you’re looking to get into the performance EV world.