Tesla Model Y vs. Kia EV6: which is better?


The Tesla Model Y is one of the most popular EVs on the market, thanks to its generous size, support for Tesla’s excellent charging infrastructure, and great interior tech. But while other carmakers have traditionally played catchup with Tesla, these days there are plenty of alternatives to the Model Y — like the Kia EV6.

The EV6 isn’t as immediately recognizable as the Model Y, but it still sports a sleek design and solid range. Like the Model Y, it’s also available in a few different variants, so you can find the right model for your needs.

But ultimately, which EV is better? We put the Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y head-to-head to find out.

Exterior

2023 Kia EV6 GT
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

Perhaps the most immediately obvious difference between the cars is their exterior designs. The Model Y has a more traditional Tesla look, with a tallish body, pronounced wheel arches, and a sloped rear window. If you’ve seen a Tesla of any kind before, you’ll recognize the design language. It’s a good-looking car, to be sure, but after years and years of Teslas mostly looking the same, it doesn’t necessarily feel all that unique anymore.

The Kia EV6, on the other hand, sports much more modern styling. Its angular lines and sporty silhouette make it look like a far more expensive car than it is, and its subtle details, like the sloped nose at the front, add a layer of uniqueness that the Tesla doesn’t have. The EV6’s design differs slightly across models, with the higher-end models like the EV6 GT offering more aggressive touches and styling like green brake calipers. But for the most part, the overall look remains the same.

Both of these cars look good, but I prefer the more aggressive styling on the EV6.

Interior

The interior of a Tesla Model Y.

Tesla has always been all-in on minimalism in its cars, and the Tesla Model Y is no different. The car offers a spaceship-like interior, with a large horizontal display at the front. Tesla has been criticized for using somewhat cheap-feeling materials in the interior of its cars, but if you like the minimalistic look, you’ll appreciate the Model Y. The car is also relatively spacious. It offers 30.2 cubic feet of trunk space with the rear seats up in the two-row model. If you get a three-row model, you’ll get less space, of course.

The EV6’s interior looks a little more traditional on the inside, but there are still plenty of modern features and touches. The seats are comfortable and feel relatively premium. Unlike the Telsa, you’ll find some dedicated controls, instead of everything being located in the touchscreen. But many of those controls are still capacitive, so they still feel like touch displays and lack a physical click. The EV6 only comes in a two-row option, and offers 24.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row.

Battery and charging

Of course, a big part of any discussion about EVs is always battery and charging.

The Model Y comes in two variants — the Long Range model, which offers 330 miles of range, and the Performance model, which sits at 303 miles of range. The Model Y charges at up to 250 kilowatts, which is quite fast and means you can fully charge in under 30 minutes.

The EV6 offers more variants. The base model is the EV6 Wind, which has a range of 310 miles for the rear-wheel drive model, or 282 miles for the all-wheel drive model. Next is the GT-Line, which has a range of 310 miles for the RWD, or 252 for the AWD. Last but not least is the Kia EV6 GT, which offers 206 miles of range. All of these models support charging at up to 350kW, which means you can charge from 10% to 80% in only 18 minutes — though you’ll have to find a charging station that supports those speeds.

In general, the Model Y offers a longer range, but the EV6 can charge faster.

Tech and infotainment

Roberto Baldwin/Digital Trends

One of the biggest advantages of getting a Tesla is how tech-forward it is. Almost everything on the Tesla is controlled through the touchscreen, and Tesla offers a well-designed user interface with intuitive controls. Not everyone loves controlling things like climate control through a touc screen, but at least Tesla’s software is better-designed and easier to navigate than almost anyone else’s.

The EV6 is a little more traditional, but Kia (and parent company Hyundai Motor Group) has put a lot of effort into improving its infotainment experience. Right now, the EV6’s software is pretty easy to navigate, with an app-like layout. Unlike the Tesla, the EV6 also supports CarPlay and Android Auto.

Both cars offer some autonomous features that allow the car to drive by itself on the highway, but the Model Y offers support for Tesla’s so-called Full Self Driving mode, which costs extra and doesn’t really live up to its name. There are plenty of other features available as optional add-ons, like the EV6’s camera-based blind spot monitoring and 360-degree camera views for parking.

Performance

View of the front of a 2023 Kia EV6 GT.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

EVs are known for their quick acceleration, and both the Model Y and the EV6 are great examples of that. Both of these cars offer incredible acceleration and responsive steering, making each of them pretty fun to drive. If you really want the fastest driving experience, however, the EV6 GT might be the way to go.

While the Tesla Model Y Performance can get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, the EV6 GT steps that up to only 3.2 seconds. Now, you probably shouldn’t base your buying decision on that difference — these are both superfast cars. AThe base models are a bit further apart. The Model Y Long Range hits 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, while the EV6 Wind takes over 6 seconds.

Price

Then there’s the price, which is another point of differentiation. At the time of this writing, the Tesla Model Y costs $54,990 for the Long Range model and $58,990 for the Performance model. The EV6 Wind, on the other hand, starts at $48,700 and increases to $61,600 for the EV6 GT.

Those are dealer prices, but the Inflation Reduction Act, announced in 2022, may tilt the odds in Tesla’s favor. Because it’s assembled in the U.S., the Model Y is still eligible for a $7,500 tax rebate, while the Korean-built EV6 no longer qualifies.

Conclusions

Both the Tesla Model Y and the Kia EV6 are excellent electric cars, and they both offer a host of helpful features. But one might be better than the other for certain situations. If you want better tech and a more minimalistic interior, the Tesla Model Y is worth considering. But if you want a more comfortable interior, tech like CarPlay, and a lower base price, then the EV6 is the way to go.

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