Driving for Uber with a Kia EV6

Senior RSG Contributor Gabe Ets-Hokin shares his review of the 2022 Kia EV6 and what it’s like driving the EV6 for rideshare. Is this a vehicle rideshare drivers should consider on a day-to-day basis? Given all its pros, like the roomy backseat, good range, and passenger comments, the Kia EV6 should be on your shortlist. 

Kia made this story possible by loaning us a very fancy and expensive car for a week, but all opinions are our own.

In our continuing efforts to educate you, the Uber/Lyft-driving public, on the utility and enhanced earnings EVs can bring you, we reached out to the nice people at Hyundai/Kia for their latest and most interesting EV to date, the EV6. It looks cool, and promises performance, luxury and savings, but will it hold up to a week of rideshare driving in a busy urban market?

Quick summary:

What is a Kia EV6? 

It’s sleek. It’s fast. It’s futuristic. EVs have always been styled like…EVs, but the EV6 (and its sister model, the Hyundai Ioniq5) has the tech and features to match the car-from-the-future styling.

It’s based on the Hyundai/Kia E-GMP platform, which means a basic toolkit of battery, powertrain, and electronics that can be used in a variety of vehicles, from sportscars to big multi-passenger vans and SUVs.

The most notable feature of the E-GMP is its 800-volt “architecture,” which means the power output and charging input have greater potential than Hyundai/Kia’s prior 400-volt design.

So how much range and how fast to recharge? That’s the exciting news. The EV6 with rear-wheel drive (the one we tested) has an EPA-estimated range of 310 miles and Kia claims it can charge from 10 to 80 percent in 18 minutes. The bottom-spec car has a smaller battery and less range (232 miles), and the upper-spec cars offer all-wheel drive which makes the car faster and better for winter driving, but also cuts range to 274 miles.

Platform aside, the EV6 offers a lot for its $41,400 (base) MSRP. The basic car has a 167-hp motor (with 258 ft-lbs of torque), synthetic/cloth interior and plenty of standard features like heated seats and CarPlay/Android connectivity.

Spend some more dough, and you get a fancier interior, a bigger battery and lots more (225 hp) power and range. You also get an inverter that will power appliances or even charge another EV and 2,300 pounds of towing capacity, all for another $6,100. The higher trim levels also offer optional all-wheel drive, which cuts range but bumps hp to 320 and torque to 446 (!) lb-ft.

My test victim was a GT-Line, not to be confused with the plain GT, a 500-plus hp beast that will be in dealers soon. For a few grand more than the Wind, you get a big panoramic moonroof, premium audio, and a gorgeous, suede-appointed interior, but performance in RWD and AWD is the same as the Wind.

What’s it like to drive as an Uber or Lyft Vehicle? 

Kia calls its design language “opposites united,” and I can kinda dig it. The car is really a blend of many different and sometimes opposing elements. It looks like an SUV melded with a sports hatchback. The interior is spacious and luxurious, the seating position is aggressive and comfortable.

The driving experience is similarly all-things-to-all-people. It’s peppy; it’s an EV, after all, and the ride is controlled but with a touch of big-car mush. Handling around town isn’t nimble, with its long wheelbase and 19-foot turning circle, but it’s not tiring to drive. I liked the feel and layout of the controls, even though the control dial for the transmission can be annoying.

On the freeway, the EV6 is pure roadmaster. You are nicely insulated from noise, heat, and vibration. “It’s a spaceship!” was a common refrain from the passengers, and it’s easy to go way too fast in this car.

I didn’t have a lot of complaints about driving the EV6. One that stood out was the regen levels. Maybe there’s a way to lock it in at a preferred setting, but every time I set it at maximum—I love me some one-pedal driving—the car would revert to the 75-percent setting, requiring me to thumb the steering-wheel paddle that adjusted when I’d brake.

It’s also just big for a “sports” hatch, if that’s what the GT-Line trim is going for, but it still felt more sprightly than the Ford Mustang Mach-E I drove earlier this year.

Real-life range and charging

CAPTION: Yes, we do real-world testing here at RSG, and the EV6 packed 15.7 kWh into its battery in four minutes. At 4.2 miles per kWh, that’s 65.9 miles of range, which should be more than enough to get you back home. If you drive more than 375 miles (310 miles on a full charge plus 65 miles in four minutes of charge time)  in 12 hours, Sergio at the Show me the Money Club would like to have a word with you… 

The EV6 is outstanding for rideshare work, but it’s important to configure it for your terrain, driving style, and other needs.

It comes with two sizes of batteries, three different power outputs and a choice of all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. The Wind and GT-Line trims in RWD are probably the best bet for most drivers that don’t need AWD, as they can go an honest 310 miles (tested by me) in ideal conditions on an average mix of city and highway driving in the hill-infested San Francisco Bay Area.

My efficiency stayed at about 4.1 miles per kilowatt hour, which, if you multiply by the 77-kilowatt hours my test unit’s battery could hold, is 315.7 miles; I got to almost 310 before I lost my nerve and put it on the charger.

At the 300-kW EVGo DC fast-charger tucked in by the Whole Foods dumpsters in Berkeley, I saw first hand how EV charging technology has advanced in the decade I’ve driven electric vehicles. I plugged it in, spent the obligatory 2-5 minutes getting an EVGo (they should call it “EV No”) fast charger to work and then watched how long it took to get to 85 miles of range from 17 miles remaining. I wouldn’t believe the answer if I hadn’t seen it with mine own peepers:

Four minutes.

Kia claims it’ll take 18 minutes (OMG! Think of all the amazing opportunities I’ll miss!) to get to 80 percent charge (about 250 miles) from 10 percent; I got from less than five to 27 percent in four, so that sounds about right to me, and other reviewers have confirmed it.

By the way, the base-model EV6 Light doesn’t charge any faster, despite taking in fewer electrons for the same percentage of fill up; charging speed is about the room left in the battery, not the total capacity. And like all EVs, fast charging past 80 percent isn’t a good use of fast-charging resources.

Both range and charging speed are affected by both hot and cold weather extremes, but the EV6 has the equipment (like battery warming and heat-pump HVAC) to minimize that. Range tests from Norway show the car will lose about 30 percent of its range in a Norway winter. If it’s colder than that where you live, you should consider moving.

Keep in mind extreme weather affects ICE fuel economy too, plus you’ll likely not need as many miles of range driving in snow and slush (I would assume, not being a person exposed to a lot of true winter weather).

But charging remotely isn’t what makes most EV miles happen. Keep the car charged at home, start your day with a full battery, and in stop-and-go city driving, and you’ll likely be on the road for over 12 hours before you need to charge.

If you’re a long-trip practitioner, or you have a long commute before you get to the area you like to operate in, that amazing fast-charging makes the EV6 a prime choice as an Ubermobile; drive conservatively, start with a full charge, and you can drive 810 miles a day with two 18-minute charge breaks.

In fact, an EV6 drove 2,800 miles with only seven hours of charging, beating the Tesla record by five hours.

How’s the tech?

If you’re a gadget freak, you will love the EV6’s cockpit. Calling a car’s instruments a “cockpit” usually sounds pretentious but in this case…I mean, just look at it! There’s that huge, wide, curving screen, along with a full complement of dials, levers and switches. And Kia’s infotainment has everything you need, and then some.

Honestly, all the options and menus can border on the ridiculous. You can change the piped-in sound effects, listen to the sounds of the surf or the forest, change the ambient lighting settings, add a second phone to the Bluetooth system and probably 70 other things I only had a week to discover.

But it’s not hard to figure out the important stuff—nav, Bluetooth, climate controls—and it’s all well thought out and functional. Two nits; the Bluetooth can get buggy sometimes (like all cars), and there’s no wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, which seemed odd given the car’s otherwise 22nd-Century tech.

One more tech note: if you have to sell a kidney to get the upgraded Meridian Audio system, do it. With seven speakers and a VCR-sized amp in the trunk, wrapped up in the EV6’s snug, soundproofed cabin, it’ll make an audiophile out of anybody. I could hear the difference between the original and remastered versions of songs I’d heard for years and had a discussion with a passenger about “the space between the notes” that made me sound like a hipster, and I don’t even know who Arcade Fire is.

What makes it good for rideshare?

The EV6 is one of the better rideshare vehicles I’ve tested. It qualifies for Uber Comfort, Uber Comfort Electric and (depending on market) Lyft Preferred, so there’s a small potential for greater earnings.

It’s also incredibly spacious in the back seat, with a Bentley-like 39 inches of legroom. You can even recline them if you figure out how (the Hyundai Ioniq5’s seats can slide forward and back).

Cargo capacity is average, but better than you’d think, and there’s 50 cubic feet available with the seats down; taking four adults with an average amount of luggage shouldn’t be a problem.

There’s a frunk, but it must be some kind of joke. I thought it was the air filter housing until I realized an EV doesn’t need an air filter and opened it up; it might fit a small deep-dish pizza without the box. I guess it’s to fit a charging cable and maybe a few tools, but seriously Kia? Why?

But passengers don’t care about frunk or trunk most of the time, unless you’re an airport player. What they do like is the easy ingress/egress, wide, comfortable seat, business-class legroom, great sound system, and futuristic Gangnam-style experience that is the back seat of the EV6.

If one passenger in 10 asks about my Bolt, and half talked about the Tesla, almost every single passenger had questions about the EV6. To say passengers like it is an understatement.

I felt like Willy ‘ Wonka driving it, which is fun if you’re in a good mood (and if you’re not in a good mood, go home, prepare a large beverage and watch Mr. Rodgers re-runs for the rest of the day).

Tiny frunk aside, the Kia is comfortable, easy to drive, incredibly safe, fun, has all the accessories and configurations you could possibly want, and passengers adore it.

Should you get one?

Well, doesn’t the above say it all? Of course you should get one. Or should you? Equipped

the way mine was, the EV6 is way past $55,000 and if you don’t go get one now it might not be eligible for the new $7,500 tax credit since it’s not made in North America.

The base model is more reasonable at $42,500, but it has about 50 miles less range and a lot less power, though it charges just as quickly. The sweet spot may be the mid-level “Wind” trim with the bigger battery and available AWD at around $47,500,

I set up a spreadsheet and, figuring a 20 percent down payment, 4.0 percent interest rate, 60-month loan, average insurance, and electricity at 13 cents per kWh, a new EV6 will cost 34 cents a mile to operate; a 30-mpg, $30,000 ICE sedan like a Toyota Camry will cost 36. This is if you drive 40,000 miles a year; the savings shrink at less than that, and at about 20,000 miles reach parity.

I wouldn’t usually counsel getting a car over $30,000 for rideshare, unless you like to drive nice cars and think it’s worth the extra money. And if that’s the case, you don’t need me to tell you to buy this car or that; if you want the latest and greatest for your work car and are happy to pay an extra 10 or 15 cents a mile to get it, it would be on my short list.

What do you think? Would a car like this EV6 work for you? Tell us in the comments below or join our Uber & Lyft EV Drivers group on Facebook.

-Gabe @ RSG