Behind the wheel of the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5: similarities, differences and what makes each EV tick
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Apr 28, 2022
Michael Bettencourt

The EV6 and Ioniq 5 are two of the most popular EVs to hit the market this year. Electric Autonomy Canada does a head-to-head comparison between the crossovers on performance, charging speeds and driver experience

With many Canadians considering an electric vehicle for their next car, the waiting lists for the KIA EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are long enough that both companies have temporarily suspended new and pre-orders as they try to work through the backlog. Photo: KIA (left image), Hyundai (right image)

The EV6 and Ioniq 5 are two of the most popular EVs to hit the market this year. Electric Autonomy Canada does a head-to-head comparison between the crossovers on performance, charging speeds and driver experience

With many Canadians considering an electric vehicle for their next car, the waiting lists for the KIA EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are long enough that both companies have temporarily suspended new and pre-orders as they try to work through the backlog.

Nearly identical in price, the two Korean-designed crossovers are direct competition for each other on the market and are built on the same E-GMP (for Electric-Global Modular Platform) battery architecture. This is not surprising. The Hyundai Motor Group bought a controlling interest in Kia in the late 1990s, and the two Korean firms often share engineering resources and parts but carefully maintain unique interior and exterior styling, while the brands are run as distinct companies, with separate headquarters and production plants.

The result: both these EVs come from trusted and known automakers, boast high charging speeds, distinctive bodies, plus impressive driving range and overall value offerings.

To understand why both are so popular, and what future customers can expect from one or the other vehicle, Electric Autonomy Canada went behind the wheels to get deep insight into two of 2022’s most popular EVs.

Design differences: low and sporty, boxy but funky

During a one-on-one sit-down interview with Kia Canada’s chief operating officer, Elias El-Achhab, about the March launch of the Kia EV6, El-Achhab insisted the electric crossover was not a “corporate twin” of the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

“The driving dynamics are different, the suspension, the interior space and cabin setup, the styling is different,” listed El-Achhab. ”It’s our most technologically advanced vehicle…and it’s a halo vehicle from a design perspective as well.”

Both vehicles use lithium-ion polymer batteries mounted low in the body as a structural component. This helps handling and interior room, as most EVs that have been designed from the ground up are now offering. But from a customer perspective, a quick glance at the two of them parked next to each other will tell you that each has its own unique visual style. The Ioniq 5 is the boxy yet funky older brother (arriving to market a couple months ahead of the Kia), with the EV6 the lower and more sportingly aggressive of the two.

Though the Ioniq 5 has been described as closer to a high-riding large hatchback than a crossover, it’s still taller than the sleeker EV6, the Kia’s much lower roofline providing noticeably less headroom upon first hopping into the driver’s seat.

The Kia EV6 on the other hand is lower and sleeker, drawing comparisons to the similar silhouette of the Jaguar i-Pace electric SUV. Both vehicles sport a steeply sloped windshield as well as rear glass, making visibility out the Kia’s rearview a touch more constricted, though the greater slope means the lack of a rear wiper in the Kia is not quite as missed as in the Hyundai.

Both of the particular vehicles we tested were fully loaded models, the Ioniq 5 Ultimate AWD (MSRP: $59,999 before freight and taxes), and the GT Line 2 for the Kia EV6, clocking in at $61,995. These prices may sound elevated for mainstream Korean brands in what the government calls a small station wagon in the Kia’s case, and a full-size car for the Hyundai (even though the Kia is six centimetres longer) – though mid-size five-seat crossover is likely the most accurate description.

Quick charging promised, not always delivered

Where these EVs shine compared to even the priciest models on the market is in their quick charging capabilities. Both the EV6 and Ioniq 5 are listed as having top DC quick charging speeds of 250 kW when using the fastest 350 kW-capable quick chargers.

For comparison, those are charging speeds right up there with $150,000+ Porsche Taycans and Tesla models using the latest V3 Superchargers. But can they actually reach those quick charging speeds? Well, perhaps, but judging from multiple tests, not very often in around zero-degree temperatures.

The first time pulling up to a 350-kW station in the Ioniq 5, after a Volkswagen ID.4 pulled away, was after an hour-long drive with the car at just 16 per cent charge in -2°C weather. Given Hyundai’s 18-minute estimate of quick charging from 10-80 per cent, it was slightly disappointing to see the Ioniq 5 estimate 34 minutes to an 80 per cent charge soon after being plugged in. Charging started in the mid-60 kW range and didn’t rise much further, topping out at 125 kW (according to the charger screen readout) at 55 per cent charged and holding until 75 per cent charged, when it began ramping down.

Interestingly, checking the Electrify Canada app later, it said that the Ioniq 5 reached a max charging speed of a blazing 255 kW, even though I had never seen anywhere close to that onscreen.

The first five minutes plugged in added five kW and the following 23 minutes added 29 kWh, suggesting the indicated onscreen max DC charging speed of 125 kWh was the more accurate figure.

After an unsuccessful search for a 350-kW charger on a different network, a necessary second trip to the same Electrify Canada station yielded a very similar result: slow ramp up to 128 kW max this time, all on the same charge curve as earlier.

When I brought the Kia EV6 to the same Electrify station a few weeks later, it showed the same charge pattern: slow at first and then hitting 133 kW — nowhere near its rated 250 kW max, even at a slightly warmer 4°C air temperature.

These vehicles have relatively large 77.4 kWh batteries, which both automakers like to quote as being able to quick charge from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 18 minutes on a 350-kW charger. But that’s in ideal conditions, ones clearly never reached with either vehicle in these chilly temperatures, despite lots of trying.

The best observed quick charging speed in either vehicle was 177 kW, at one of the new Ivy DC quick chargers that recently opened at an OnRoute rest stop along Highway 401.

Lesson: don’t avoid 150 kW chargers even if your vehicle is capable of more, especially in wintertime.

Savvy drivers will also be able to practice some helpful driving tips that can also help prime their vehicle battery for optimum charging. Unfortunately, there’s no direct quick charge pre-conditioning function on either vehicle, a feature that helps warm up the battery and helps achieve faster quick charge speeds at DC charging stations. But there is an optional Winter mode meant to do much the same thing, though it does use more battery power than normal, so not ideal to use if you’re getting nervous about reaching your next charge stop. Plus, it’s not as fun as Sport mode.

Sport mode in both of these electric SUVs truly transforms them, from quiet people movers to enthusiastic go-getters. So it is possible to warm up the battery even more to reach quicker and hopefully closer to “ideal conditions” charging speeds by driving the vehicles harder in Sport mode for full acceleration and i-Pedal mode for maximum regeneration, one-pedal driving.

Even though we didn’t hit their max charging speeds after multiple quick charge sessions, both the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 offer quick-charging hardware that’s comparable with some of the quickest charging luxury vehicles on the EV market. That’s a major feat for vehicles starting under $45,000 and eligible for the current Canadian federal EV rebate.

Luxury vehicle-worthy technologies inside as well

Both the EV6 and the Ioniq 5 provide high-end features inside as well, including standard accent interior lighting and wireless phone charging, a heat pump and heated steering wheel on all but the base 58 kWh models, with available luxury features like cooled front seats and heated rears, panoramic roofs, two-motor all-wheel drive and even a “summon” function on top models, which allows owners to silently power their vehicle forwards or back using just the key fob. This could be handy to remove the vehicle from tight spots, but in practice, this function was a little too finicky to use often.

It’s worth pointing out some notable differences inside: the Hyundai has a steering column-mounted shifter, freeing up space for its unique movable centre console that slides back and forth, leaving more space and only cupholders between driver and passenger. The Kia’s centre console is fixed, with a rotary dial shifter and a start button surrounded by an LED lighting strip and accent lighting, providing a more nightclub-ready ambiance after the sun goes down.

Both vehicles feature flat-bottom steering wheels, but the darker Kia’s interior seemed sportier and of slightly higher-grade materials, with touch-sensitive buttons at the front of the console for seat and steering wheel heat controls, versus the Ioniq 5’s slightly less convenient screen-based commands for these functions.

The Kia has less overall passenger space and a smaller cargo area thanks to its lower height and more steeply sloped rear glass (690 versus 770 litres of luggage space), while both have the same tiny, token front trunk that can maybe fit a charging cable in all-wheel drive models, and just a little more in rear-drive models.

Marketing high-end value

And finally, perhaps the most important value for many buyers in any EV purchase: the range. Even base 58 kWh models of the Hyundai and Kia are rated at 354 and 373 km of range, respectively, while their long-range versions are rated as high as 488 and 499 km, leaving only pricier Tesla models (and perhaps the $100,000+ Lucid Air) currently ahead of them in overall range on the market as this is written.

Putting all these advanced charging capabilities, high-end interior features and range figures together, it’s no surprise that both models are huge hits for their respective companies.

Kia has temporarily stopped taking new orders for the EV6. Hyundai Canada continues to take orders for the Ioniq 5, but the longest wait times (for the long-range Ultimate AWD) are into 2023, according to a company spokesperson. Kia’s El-Achhab says the automaker hopes to bring 3,000 to 4,000 EV6s into Canada this year. Judging from the roughly 1,500 units of the Ioniq 5 that Hyundai Canada sold in the first two months of 2022, the Hyundai seems likely to have the much greater volume of available units this year.

If market response is anything to go by, Hyundai and Kia have created unique yet related EVs that provide top technology, style and range at a relatively low price for these two electric crossover corporate cousins, not twins.

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