This test involves three of the five electric midsize SUVs for sale in Canada.
The Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia EV6, and Volkswagen ID.4 all start at $45,000.
Absent from this review are the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y.
This comparison test started out as a 1-on-1 bout between the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Volkswagen ID.4 but at the very last second, an opportunity came up to include the hot new Kia EV6. Its addition proved to be eye-opening and served as proof that the Korean automakers are fearless and determined.
Like you, we are watching fuel prices reach historical heights. In fact, while we had these three EVs in our possession, the average price of one litre of petrol in Canada soared to nearly $2. It thus felt good driving about in our three vehicles for the day but one of the many debates surrounding EVs remains pricing and affordability.
Despite these three vehicles starting out at $45,000 (before incentives), we are not looking at vehicles that will replace a four-year-old AWD compact SUV that was purchased new for $32,000. What’s more, EV alternatives in the large-compact and midsize segments are, at the time of writing this review, limited to only five models, with at least three more on the way in the next few months including the Nissan Ariya. Affordable options continue to elude buyers.
Now, although we stated in the video that there was no winner in this bout, for the sake of calling out a winner, we’ve rated them as follows. We stand by the fact that all are impressive, but here you go:
#3 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro AWD S
The members of this head-to-head happen to all be top-trim models, so even less affordable (all pricing details before any and all incentives). The cheapest was the 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with AWD with the optional Statement package and Kings Red paint job. As tested, it retailed for $58,490.
Included for the price are a heat pump, a digital instrument panel, a 12-inch touchscreen display (up from the standard 10-inch), satellite radio, 8-way power front heated and massaging seats, wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, 20-inch wheels, a power hatch and loads more.
Physically, the ID.4 is the more conventionally-designed vehicle in the trio. Even so, it will visually stand out in a lot, and it really does ooze Volkswagen, in the best possible way. The ID.4 is the shortest of the bunch, but this is far from negatively affecting the SUV. In fact, its tidier overall dimensions make it seem far more manageable to drive when compared to the “massive” IONIQ 5 which is only 6 cm longer overall. Despite being the shortest in the test, the ID.4 offers the largest trunk with a generous 858 litres of usable space. Elsewhere, rear legroom and general volume for occupants is on par with the competition.
The ID.4’s main failings have to do with its infotainment system and ergonomics. The laundry list of “issues” starts with the lack of independent rear window switches to the complete or nearly lack of physical buttons. Of the few on hand, all feature haptic feedback and, for the most part, are too sensitive. Accidentally brushing up against the temperature controls beneath the touchscreen is all far too common. Meanwhile, the pads on the steering wheel require precision to activate. And finally, the VW ID.4’s shifter is an afterthought, especially for drivers intent on maximizing efficiency.
This SUV includes only “two” brake regenerating modes: “D” and “B”. The former is “Drive” which enables coasting while “B” authorizes maximum regenerative braking. Without paddles, toggling between the modes annoyingly involves reaching for the shifter every time.
One of the elements included with the ID.4 that is missing with the others is what VW calls Intuitive start. Essentially, like a Tesla, get in and drive. This feature does have a drawback though: If you’re in the habit of propping yourself up slightly off the seat via the footrest when reversing at low speeds, the ID.4 will automatically stop thinking you’ve suddenly evaporated.
Driving the 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 is a congenial affair. On less-than-smooth roads, the ID.4 runs out of dampening which results in a jouncy ride. Otherwise, handling is good and predictable. Brake pedal travel is extremely long unless in “B” where the electric motors pick up the pedal’s slack and steering is weighty and precise.
The ID.4 is the least powerful in this group but even so, it moves swiftly. With the standard 82 kWh battery (the largest of the group) and the available dual motor configuration, the output is rated at 295 horsepower and 336 lb.-ft. of torque. The AWD layout proved to be capable of handling a pair of snowfalls. Winter driving would be more enjoyable if the ESP could be fully deactivated though…
On a full charge, the range is an estimated 386 km. Relatedly, charging turned out to be an issue. Level 2 charging never performed as indicated by Volkswagen and the ID.4 fared worse on Level 3 chargers. Despite their 50+ kW capacity and the SUV’s potential 125-135 kW charging capability, the VW had a hard time consuming more than 30kW at a time. Plugged into a 350-kW charger, the ID.4 froze at 47kW.
#2 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 Preferred Long-Range Ultimate
At $60,999, this is the second priciest member of the trio and lands on the podium’s middle step. To say the IONIQ 5 is loaded is an understatement. Included for the price are a heat pump, twin 12.3-inch instrument panel, and touchscreen display, heated, cooled, and power-operated front seats, heated rear seats, satellite radio, wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, 20-inch wheels, a power hatch and loads more.
Like the majority of Hyundai’s latest creations, the IONIQ 5 is visually incomparable. It is retro-modern in design with equal parts Italian, anime, and Korean styling cues. It is also forever frozen in time. I’ve mentioned the Hyundai Motor Group’s tendency to overdesign its vehicles many times, so I won’t add to this point. Suffice it to say that it’s a stunner.
The cabin is a combination of functionality and ergonomics. The emphasis is on space and for occupants, the available volume is very generous. The IONIQ 5’s trunk may be the smallest size-wise of the trio at 531 litres but it’s still very accessible. On that subject, getting in and out of the Hyundai is made easy thanks to large door openings and a high roofline. The IONIQ 5’s versatility also comes from the plentiful storage options including the center console up front that slides fore and aft for maximum flexibility.
The dashboard features a twin-12.3-inch display setup that is very Mercedes-Benz-like. Unlike the Volkswagen, navigating through the menus is far simpler and more intuitive. The only hiccups are a lack of physical controls for the seat- and steering-wheel heaters. To access them, the infotainment system must come online which can take a very chilly and uncomfortable 30+ seconds.
Once underway, however, all is forgotten and forgiven. It’s no wonder why everyone who comes into contact with the IONIQ 5 has nothing but praise for this EV. As tested, the 5 included Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system or, in other words, the dual-motor layout. With the larger 77.4kWh (from the standard 58kWh unit), the system’s total output is a wonderous 320 horsepower and 446 lb.-ft. of torque. Despite tipping the scale at over 4,500 lbs, the IONIQ 5 is incredibly quick, far more so than the ID.4.
In fact, with the sole exception of the VW’s ultra-tight turning radius, the Hyundai (and EV6) beats out the ID.4 on the road. Most satisfying is its ride quality. The dampers are tuned for forgiveness and comfort. Over even rougher surfaces, the IONIQ 5 is smooth thanks in part to its long wheels base and solid structure. Steering assistance is spot on while the brake pedal delivers excellent response.
Of the 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5’s numerous highlights, the included five brake regeneration modes are tops. With the provided steering wheel-mounted paddles, the driver can toggle between 0, 1, 2, 3, and i-Pedal. The latter equates to one-pedal driving which is one of the best features of an EV. The paddles also enable effortless mode selections while driving.
As specified, the IONIQ 5 can travel up to 414 km between charges. Unlike the ID.4, charging the Hyundai was trouble-free whether on a Level 2 or Level 3 plug. On one occasion, on a 50kW charger, the car fed itself 44kW without hesitation. For a full charge, on a Level 2 home charger, it will require 6 hours and 43 minutes and about 62 minutes on the 50kW fast charger. On a 350kW charger, given its 800V multi-charging architecture, a 10-80% charge will be completed in just over 17 minutes.
#1 2022 Kia EV6 Long Range GT-Line Package 2
The last-minute addition of the new EV6 to this test caused the other two EVs to simply step aside. The loaded GT-Line with Package 2 retailed for $62,245 making it the priciest here. Like the IONIQ 5, it included a premium audio system, a large sunroof, cooled front seats, and all the technology including the twin-12.3-inch display setup.
Without saying the EV6’s boundless details justify the extra $1,245, they do. For one, the substantial screens are curved and not flat as in the IONIQ 5. The center console featured actual controls for the steering wheel and seat heaters, and coolers. There are textures and visual accents throughout the car’s cabin that capture the gaze and touch. It’s all very impressive. And like the IONIQ 5, navigating the infotainment system is relatively instinctual and can be mastered quickly enough.
The Kia EV6 is also a testament to design. There’s no succinct way to describe its appearance. The EV6 is a cross between a supercar, a premium luxury sedan, and a high-performance SUV. Somehow, it looks much smaller than the IONIQ 5 when in actuality, it’s longer, as wide, but lower.
The lower roofline, despite giving the EV6 a fastback profile, is a rare source of complaints. Ingress and egress, in both rows, is perilous for the noggin. Head clearance is very limited even when comfortably seated in the front. Even so, the Kia’s extra 10cm of overall length over the Hyundai endows it with the second largest trunk at 690 litres.
Although nearly all mechanical components are shared with the IONIQ 5, the Kia EV6 drives as though it had never heard of its fraternal twin. Somehow, in spite of this fact, the EV6 is nimbler, lighter on its toes, and gifted with a far more dynamic driving experience.
It’s not as cossetting as the IONIQ 5 but its chassis does not punish like the ID.4 or worse, the Tesla Model Y. As far as EVs go, the EV6 might be the most communicative from behind the wheel. Factor in the power, the five brake regen modes, the styling, and you have an extremely compelling vehicle.
The bottom line
We stand by the fact that there are no “real” winners in this lineup although the Volkswagen ID.4 is certainly beaten on many fronts when facing off with the Kia and Hyundai. Other than ride comfort, we’d probably select the ID.4 over the Ford Mustang Mach E. Volkswagen at least made an effort design- and material-wise for the ID.4’s interior. Lastly, the Tesla Model Y, starting at over $75,000, would be our last pick even though it offers the most range. It would also be the first in your driveway if you chose to go this way.
Once more, to support our initial no-winner judgment is the fact that all three electric SUVs managed an identical 28-29 kWh per 100 km on our 150-km test loop. From highways speeds of 115km/h to crawling through city traffic, all proved to be efficient enough.
The bottom line is that these EVs pose no actual compromises, so long as they’ll take a charge, other than pricing.