Rivian R2 vs Kia EV6: is one of these top EVs better?

Rivian R2
Rivian

The Rivian R2 is finally coming. After months of rumors and speculation, Rivian finally took the wraps off of the upcoming SUV at an event in Los Angeles. The R2 is positioned as a cheaper alternative to the much-loved R1S, offering many of the standout features and design elements but at a more approachable price.

But it enters a market filled with serious competition. The Kia EV6 is one of the most-loved EVs out there, thanks to its stylish and unique design, solid range, and stellar charging speed. It’s a different beast than the Rivian R2, to be sure — but how do the two compare? We put them head to head.

Design

The differences between the Rivian R2 and Kia EV6 are perhaps no more apparent than in their design. They look completely different — and they’re different sizes too. The Rivian R2 is a midsize SUV, while the Kia EV6 is more of a crossover. They both only have enough room for two rows of seats, but the R2 is definitely larger, and that will translate to more space on the inside, which we’ll get into later.

Front three quarter view of the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

If you’re a fan of the overall design of the Rivian R1S, you’ll like the look of the Rivian R2. The newer SUV looks similar to the R1S but a little smaller. It offers the same oval-shaped headlights and a long light bar across the back. It’s still boxy and big and very modern-looking.

The Kia EV6 looks quite different. Apart from being much smaller than the R2, the EV6 looks much sportier, and much less rugged. It has curved lines throughout, with slim, slanted headlights at the front. Perhaps the only similarity is the fact that it has a long light bar across the back of it, though that light bar still looks quite different, curving around the side of the car and down toward the wheels.

Interior and tech

The interiors of the two vehicles are quite different as well. The Rivian R2, as you might expect, is much roomier than the EV6 — so much so that Rivian is touting the ability for people to sleep in there by folding down both rows of seats and putting in an air mattress. The interior of the R2 is built to look rugged, too, just like the exterior, but it still looks approachable and friendly. Toward the front of the R2 are two displays — one large infotainment display and one digital instrument display.

Rivian is also touting the R2’s self-driving features. The R2 will have a generous 11 cameras and five radars dotted around its exterior, and according to Rivian, this will allow the car to drive completely hands-free and eyes-free on the highway. Of course, it remains to be seen if this is available when the R2 first comes out.

Interior of the Rivian R2
Rivian

The interior of the EV6 has a lot going for it too. The EV6 offers a curved touchscreen at the front, loaded up with Kia’s infotainment system. Unlike the R2, it supports Android Auto and CarPlay, allowing it to better integrate with the rest of your digital life. It’s much smaller than the R2, but it still offers a decent amount of space for both passengers and cargo with its hatchback trunk. After all, it is a crossover-sized vehicle — not a sedan. It has some driver-assistance features, but they’re not quite as impressive as what Rivian claims the R2 will offer. Instead, you’ll get lane-centering and adaptive cruise control, along with a parking assistant and blind-spot cameras, with the right options.

The Rivian R2 is bigger and more tech-focused; however, the Kia EV6 is far from old school — it still offers some great tech features, and CarPlay support may be enough to sway some buyers.

Performance

The Rivian R2 isn’t out yet, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about its performance. We do know that it’ll be fast, though. According to Rivian, the R2 will be available in single-, dual-, and tri-motor variants, with the tri-motor model offering the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds. That’s pretty impressive for a car of this size.

Front three-quarters view of a 2023 Kia EV6 GT in a desert setting.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

But the Kia EV6 is fast, too. The EV6 is available in single- and dual-motor variants, with the base rear-wheel driver versions of the car offering an acceleration to 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds, with 167 horsepower. That’s the slowest version, but go for the fastest model, the Kia EV6 GT, and you’ll get to 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds, with a hefty 576 horsepower. That still isn’t as fast as the fastest version of the R2 — so if you really want something quick, then the Rivian R2 is the way to go.

Range and charging

We also don’t yet know all that much about the range of the Rivian R2. Rivian has said that the SUV will deliver “more than 300 miles.” Some estimates suggest that the R2 will offer up to 330 miles in the version with the largest battery — the base model is likely to have a lower range. We’re hoping that it’ll still deliver at least 300 miles of range, but some reports indicate that it may be closer to around 270 miles. We don’t have full details about the charging speed of the R2 just yet, but we’re expecting that it’ll be similar to the R1S, at around 220 kilowatts. That’s not bad, but not as fast as the EV6.

Side of the Rivian R2
Rivian

The 2024 iteration of the Kia EV6 offers a bit more variation in range. The most you can get out of an EV6 is 310 miles, however, that’s for the slower rear-wheel driver variants with the larger battery, or the Wind RWD and GT-Line RWD models. The lowest-range model is a much lower 206 miles. Most people will want to avoid this — it’s nice that Kia is offering a performance version of the EV6, but 206 miles is simply too low. The EV6 can charge quicker than the R2 will. The EV6 supports charging at up to 35o kilowatts with the right charging station. That’s super fast and means that you can charge the car from 10% to 80% in under 20 minutes.

Pricing and availability

There’s a big difference in the pricing and availability of these two cars. Why? Well, the EV6 has been out for some time now, and you can get one right now if you want to. The Rivian R2 was only just announced and won’t start shipping until the first half of 2026. You can “reserve” one now, but that only really gives you a place in line (the $100 reservation fee is refundable).

The price of the cars is a little different too. Rivian says that the R2 will start at around $45,000 though it’s possible that figure will change a little by the time the car is officially released. The Kia EV6 starts at $42,600, which isn’t that much lower — but it is a little cheaper.

Conclusions

Both the Rivian R2 and the Kia EV6 have a lot going for them. Importantly, only one of them is available right now, so if you’re in the market for a new car and deciding between these two, the EV6 is the way to go. When the R2 does roll out, it will be a compelling option for those who want a little more space and like Rivian’s design sensibilities. The EV6 is still a great car, and if you’re in the camp of not wanting anything that doesn’t have CarPlay, it may be a better choice for you.

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