The Kia EV6 is one of the most distinctive new designs of the past year and, unlike the closely related Hyundai Ioniq 5, it doesn’t play any retro cards. It’s all Euro-hatch panache, with a near-premium feel, and it’s just the right size inside for four adults.

Versus the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which was a finalist last year, we also find the Kia EV6 a little better on real-world range, driving ease, and interface aspects.

Single-motor rear-wheel-drive versions of the EV6 make 225 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions make 320 hp and 446 lb-ft. Both have a 77.4-kwh battery pack, with range ratings of up to 310 miles for the single-motor and up to 282 miles for the dual-motor.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 fast-charging - Lacey, WA2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 fast-charging – Lacey, WA

The EV6 excels in some aspects that make it a good road-trip companion. On a 350-kw CCS connector, the EV6 can recover an 80% charge in less than 18 minutes. While we’ve found that isn’t always reproducible depending on the temperature, it’s one of the faster EVs in its class even when it’s charging on a 150-kw connector.

In driving dynamics, we’re still not wild about the numb steering feel. And the physical package itself isn’t perfect. Front seats feel too propped-upward, while in back the door cuts are given short shrift in the way of aerodynamics and styling. Taller people will probably have enough space in the rear outboard seats, but getting in and out requires some ducking—and parents loading toddlers in will need a learning curve.

That said, the interface is impressive. We especially appreciate the real row of buttons that can instantly be retasked from audio and navigation to climate controls.

2022 Kia EV62022 Kia EV6

Among the three Hyundai/Kia/Genesis models built on the parent company’s E-GMP dedicated electric vehicle platform, the EV6 is the only one offered in all U.S. states—with Kia taking the most proactive approach to making the EV6 available in higher numbers from the start, versus the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

The 2023 model year marks the introduction of the high-performance Kia EV6 GT. With a combined output of 576 hp and 546 lb-ft of torque, the GT can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds—albeit with rated range down to 206 miles. It also backs up the forward thrust with a dedicated sport suspension with dynamic damping control, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, larger ventilated front and rear disc brakes, and Z-rated tires. Yes, it’s a bit of a distraction from green-car priorities, but we’re happy to see Kia is also showing that electric can outperform gasoline.

2023 Kia EV6 GT2023 Kia EV6 GT

We can’t ignore that otherwise, the 2023 EV6 lineup has narrowed, with the loss of the base-battery version, and prices have been hiked on the rest of the lineup—making the new entry point $49,795 including destination. Furthermore, reports of people who’ve managed to buy an EV6 at sticker price or very close to it remain few and far between.

Will the Kia EV6 top our other five finalists and become our Best Car To Buy 2023? Check back Jan. 4.

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