New SUV

2022 Kia EV6 is a 577-hp, fast-charging crossover that showcases a new design direction

The Kia EV6 is coming to North America in a few months, boasting impressive performance.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The future of Kia is here. The first model built on Kia's new dedicated electric vehicle platform, the 2022 Kia EV6 brings rapid acceleration, quick charging capability, and advanced driver assistance features to the table all in a crossover package that features a fresh design.

At its front, the 2022 EV6 has a new take on Kia's typical 'tiger nose' grille. The 'Digital Tiger Face' features daytime running lights that include a sequential dynamic light pattern. The sides are sleek with a character line that runs from the bottom of the doors to the rear wheel arches. A sloping C-pillar has a gloss black insert and above sits a wing-type roof spoiler.

The car's 114-inch wheelbase is about 11 inches longer than the Kia Soul's. That helps the crossover get the same cabin space of a midsize SUV out of its compact package.

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line

2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

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The EV6 will be sold in two different two trim levels, GT-Line and GT. Kia will also sell the model in a variety of powertrain configurations. Long-range models will have 77.4 kilowatt-hour battery packs while standard-range has 58.0-kilowatt-hour packs. Buyers can get the EV6 GT-Line with either powertrain. The EV6 GT will only be available with a long-range battery.

Kia has given standard-range versions of the car one electric motor while all-wheel drive EV6s have one motor at the front and one at the back. The 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery has a total output of 577 horsepower and 546 pound-feet of torque.

The crossover has the ability to get up to 316 miles (WLTP) on a single charge. The long-range, two-wheel drive EV6 is the most efficient. This model can get from zero to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds. The performance-focused EV6 GT accelerates from zero to 62 mph in a quick 3.5 seconds. That model has a top speed of 161 mph.

The GT version gets an exclusive electronic limited slip differential.

The crossover will be capable of charging at a speed of 800 volts, getting from 10 to 80 percent charge in just 18 minutes. That would allow the car to get 62 miles of range in as little as 4.5 minutes. Currently, 800-volt charging is rare. Called ultra-rapid chargers, the high-powered machines deliver the fastest charge currently available to a modern vehicle. The Porsche Taycan can utilize these types of chargers but most other EVs cannot due to their strength.

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The car's electronics allow for new vehicle-to-load functionality that is capable of discharging energy from the battery to supply power, up to 3.6-kilowatt-hours worth. That's enough to power a 55-inch television or air conditioner.

Kia's regenerative braking system allows for power to be regained at various levels, regulated via paddles on the steering wheel. One-pedal driving is available.

Kia has made the seats out of recycled plastic, each has the material from 111 plastic bottles.

A curved infotainment system sits on the dashboard housing the all-digital instrument cluster and infotainment touch screen under one housing. Each measures 12 inches. The car also features an augmented reality head-up display system that shows alerts from the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), vehicle speed, and turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

Kia has renamed its Uvo technology "Kia Connect" and added real time services and over-the-air updates for the new model. The system can give drivers details on charging point pricing, allow them to see their charging status, plan smart charging schedules, and check range radius.

A 14-speaker Meridian sound system is available. Active Sound Design is also available. It provides drivers with audible feedback to the speed the car is traveling via the interface.

Kia has given the EV6 flexible interior packaging and numerous storage areas. There's 18.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the second-row erect. With those seats folded, the number increases to 45.9 cubic feet. That's slightly less than what you'll get in a Kia Niro. There's also a front trunk that provides an additional 1.83 cubic feet of cargo space for two-wheel drive models while all-wheel drive versions get less than half of that.

The crossover has a long list of standard and available safety technology including Safe Exit Assist, lane centering, adaptive cruise control, highway drive assist with lane change functionality, and remote parking assist (Kia's version of Hyundai's Smart Park, made famous by the Super Bowl ads last year).

The EV6 will be produced in South Korea. It will go on-sale in select global markets starting from the second half of 2021, with online reservations beginning from March 30 in some markets.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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