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Home Road Trip Telluride or Bust! Attempting a 2,148-Mile EV Road Trip in Our Kia EV6

Telluride or Bust! Attempting a 2,148-Mile EV Road Trip in Our Kia EV6

by Staff

We imagine the stress of naming a car comes second only to naming your child. This name, after all, will be slapped on thousands, if not millions, of trunk lids, floor mats, keychains, and countless other accessories. No pressure, right?

Which brings us to our long-term Kia EV6. How do we feel about its name?

As far as alphanumeric car names go, EV6 couldn’t be more straightforward — “EV” stands for electric vehicle, while “6” signifies its hierarchy in Kia’s EV lineup. The upcoming 2024 Kia EV9, for example, is the EV6’s larger sibling with more space and three rows of seating. The naming scheme sounds futuristic now—if a bit uncreative—but will that still be the case once EVs are the norm?

“Real” names don’t run the risk of getting stale, and Kia has had some good ones. Sorento and Cadenza ooze Italian sophistication, while Stinger is sporty and aggressive. Meanwhile, seeing a Borrego, Sedona, or Telluride badge on Kias past and present, will likely inspire outdoorsy folks to dust off their Patagonia jackets and hit the open road to visit these picturesque locales in America’s southwest.

So we decided to do just that in our EV6. More than just fancy selfie backdrops, these three waypoints are off the beaten path, far from the networks of fast chargers that are mostly relegated to interstate highways and big cities. Would we be spending more time admiring Arizona red rocks, or anxiously waiting for our EV6 to charge in a sketchy parking lot?

To map out our journey we decided to forego the EV6’s native navigation system because, quite frankly, it leaves much to be desired. An update adding a route planner has recently been added to the EV6, but it wasn’t installed at the time of this trip. We’ll report back on it soon in another update. Instead, we mostly relied on the A Better Route Planner (ABRP), a simple yet robust app (which was recently purchased by Rivian) that suggests charging stops along your journey based on your vehicle’s state of charge at the start of your trip and other parameters. To be extra safe, we verified the status of those charging stations via PlugShare, and periodically monitored the EV6’s battery and indicated range to make sure we had enough juice to get to our pit stops.

And with that, our EV road trip started from MotorTrend headquarters in El Segundo, California with a detour to San Diego for my pup’s preferred doggy daycare (thanks mom and dad!) and Las Vegas for a quick business trip. From there we headed east to our first destination.

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Sedona, Arizona

Located a few hours north of Phoenix, the small mountain town of Sedona is nestled among towering red rock mountains. It’s paradise for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to hundreds of hiking and off-roading trails, and a handful of vortices that are said to have “healing energy” due to their unique geographic features. Unfortunately the only healing we relied on during our stay in Sedona came in the form of Pedialyte and bedrest due to gastrointestinal issues that likely came from a restaurant in Vegas (that will remain unnamed since we’d rather not be called an idiot sandwich).

Sedona’s majestic sunrises and sunsets doesn’t exactly inspire us to part with a big chunk of cash to purchase a minivan, but Kia was hoping it would do just that by naming its three-rowed family hauler after the picturesque mountain town. The Sedona name stuck around for over two decades and three generations before it was replaced by Carnival for model year 2022.

In one of our final tests of the Kia Sedona, we deemed the minivan (or “Multi-Purpose Vehicle” in Kia speak) to not be “the game changer” the automaker hoped it would be, but still a “refreshing breath of fresh air in a stale segment.”

Getting to Sedona from Sin City

This leg of the journey was relatively easy. After leaving Las Vegas with a mostly charged battery, we stopped in Kingman, Arizona for a potty break and a quick charge at an Electrify America station where we added about 101 miles of range in 17 minutes. After another stop at Williams, Arizona, we were in Sedona in time for an epic sunset. There are a good number of Level 2 chargers at hotels and a few public spots, but the city gets extra points for its handful of Level 3 units at Posse Grounds Park.

Telluride, Colorado

Colorado has no shortage of epic ski towns and Telluride, located on the western part of the state, is among them. There was still a surprising amount of snow on the mountain in mid-June, but the town was very much in summer mode, packed with visitors on mountain bikes and walking along the river.

As far as car names go, this is a homerun, as the vehicle it’s attached to is more than capable hauling a family of seven to their winter and summer adventures, and more.  It’s part of the reason why we named the Kia Telluride our 2020 SUV of the Year, and likely why Kia can’t make enough of them. Given the three-row’s popularity, one would think Telluride would be teeming with Tellurides, but alas we spotted exactly zero.

Conquering Telluride in an EV6

It wasn’t easy. The quickest route from Sedona to Telluride snakes through desolate parts of northern Arizona and southern Colorado via US-89 N and US-160 E, with a couple 62.5 kW Level 3 ChargePoint chargers along the way. Instead, we decided to head east on I-40 where we were able to charge in Winslow, Arizona before stopping off for an overnight stay in Gallup, New Mexico. This was a 52-mile detour, but the network (and speed) of the 150 and 350 kW Electrify America chargers along I-40 was worth the peace of mind.

We departed Gallup with a full battery, 219 miles of indicated range, and a 211-mile journey to Telluride with no Level 3 chargers along the way. We anticipated a long pitstop to power up on a Level 2 charger along the way, but were pleasantly surprised to reach Telluride with the battery’s stage of charge at 25 percent, giving us 53 miles of range to play with despite climbing a little over 2,000 feet in elevation from Gallup. We’ll chalk it up to the mild temps and the winding mountain roads (slower speeds and lots of regen).

Telluride has relatively few charging options, with a dozen or so Level 2 units for the entire town. There’s a pair of 75 kW EV Connect chargers and its operators are cashing in on that scarcity. We paid $0.75/kWh, which came out to $40 to add 167 miles of range,  by far the priciest charging session of the trip.

Telluride to Anza-Borrego

From Telluride we doubled back through Gallup where the EV6’s 800V battery system showcased its super fast charging capabilities and needed just 14 mins to add 131 miles of range. We continued a couple hours west and decided to overnight in Flagstaff where our hotel’s complimentary Level 2 charging had us departing the next morning with a full battery. To get to Anza-Borrego, ABRP suggested charging pit stops in Kingman, Arizona and again in Indio, California. However, we needed two additional stops, first in Needles, California and again in Chiriaco, California. We’re guessing the hotter temps and strong head wind were to blame for unplanned stops. Aside from a handful of L2 chargers at a hotel in Borrego Springs, California, this pocket of California desert has few charging options, which limited the amount of exploring we could do in the EV6.

Somewhere between this very long leg, our EV6 crossed the 10,000-mile mark, giving us plenty of time to reflect on our experience thus far. No issues to report, and the EV6 is a comfortable cruiser in which to cover hundreds of miles.

Anza-Borrego State Park

Less than a hundred miles east of San Diego is Anza-Borrego State Park, a vast desert landscape full of funky rock formations, hiking trails, and countless other points of interest, many of which require four-wheel drive to get to. The EV6 would’ve been out of its element on such trails, but that wouldn’t have been the case if we were in a Kia Borrego.

Introduced back in 2008, the Borrego was a proper body-on-frame SUV powered by a V-6 or an optional V-8 (Kia’s first). Despite its off-road chops, 7,500-pound towing capacity, and good looks. The Borrego was a one-model-year wonder, due to bad timing—”What isKia, or anyone, doing introducing a midsize, truck-style framed, V-6- and V-8-powered sport/utility into a shell-shocked economy still getting used to $4- to $5-per-gallon fuel prices?” we wrote in our First Test. “Kia has to be asking itself the same thing.”

Given the rarity of Kia’s brute ute (22,663 sold in the U.S. ), we had no expectations of spotting a Kia Borrego in Anza-Borrego. But just as we approached the outer boundaries of the state park, a statue of Bigfoot wearing a flower crown caught our attention. As we slowed to admire the rare creature, we did a double take at the orange SUV parked behind him – a Kia Borrego! And with this double jackpot of rare sightings, we concluded our range-busting EV road trip on a high note. Was this a sign that the EV6 should’ve been named Bigfoot or maybe even Sasquatch? Absolutely. Take your pick, Kia.

EV6 EV Road Trip Tally

Miles covered: 2,148

Broken chargers: 0

Sedonas spotted in Sedona: 0

Tellurides spotted in Telluride: 0

Borregos spotted in Borrego: 1!

For More On Our Long-Term 2022 Kia EV6 Wind AWD:

MotorTrend’s 2022 Kia EV6 Wind AWD

Service Life

6 mo/11,946 mi

Base /As Tested Price

$52,695/$55,500

Options

Wind Technology Package ($1,500: Surround view monitor, blind-spot assist), Tow hitch ($540); Auto-dimming mirror ($350); Floor mats ($170); Cargo cover ($150); Cargo mat ($95)

EPA City/HWY/CMB Fuel ECON; CMB Range

120/98/109 mpg-e; 282 miles

Average Miles/KWH

3.4 mi/kWh

Energy Per Cost Mile

$0.11

Maintenance and Wear

$168.32 (5/23: First service inspection and  tire rotation, $168.32)

Damages

$345.13 (5/23: 1-tire replacement from screw, $346.13)

Days Out Of Service/Without Loaner

0/0

Delights

Speedy acceleration, sharp looks, quick charging

Annoyances

Door handle doesn’t automatically pop out, clumsy navigation, high seating position

Recalls

None

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