Every year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (yep, that’s MAMA for short) hosts its popular Spring Rally at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The annual event gives automotive journalists a chance to get seat time in a wide range of vehicles from a host of automakers.
This year, nearly 20 brands brought around 70 vehicles for media to experience, including a bevy of all-electric models. Wasting no time, we wanted to see how many of these EVs we could test and shoot before the event concluded. When the dust settled, we managed to evaluate five separate models.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat
First up, the new Lightning. Ford trotted out two of these battery-powered pickups for media to experience: a midrange Lariat and a top-shelf Platinum model. We got time in the Lariat and it was impressive to say the least. Despite riding on a traditional ladder frame, the truck’s structure is as unyielding as a bridge abutment and the independent rear suspension provides a smooth, controlled ride with zero shimmy over rough pavement.
Two battery sizes are offered in the Lightning, the larger of which clocks in at 131 kilowatt-hours and provides up to 320 miles of range between charges. Obviously, we didn’t have time to exhaust that energy reservoir, but we did experience the Lightning’s electrifying performance. With standard all-wheel drive courtesy of a motor at each axle, that large pack provides 580 horsepower and a crushing 775 pound-feet of torque. Not surprisingly, when you open the taps, this truck flies, shoving you back into your seat as the tires scratch for traction. The acceleration here is shocking for a vehicle what weighs a good bit more than three tons.
As for capability, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds and haul more than a ton. Its innovative Mega Power Frunk (front trunk) is not only weather-tight and lockable, it offers more than 14 cubic feet of storage space as well as a range of power outlets and USB ports.
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Downsides to the lightning are few. Some of the materials used in the cabin aren’t that great and the truck is expensive. Including $1,795 in destination fees, the Lariat model with a long-range battery starts at around $80,000, while the Platinum version kicks off at about 93 big ones. Another disadvantage to this all-electric F-150? It’s completely sold out.
2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD
Hands down, one of the best electric vehicles you can buy today is the Kia EV6. This hatchback-like crossover does just about everything well. Not only does it look great and offer a thoughtfully designed and high-quality interior, it also delivers strong performance (especially in GT-Line trim), has competitive range, recharges at breakneck speed thanks to its 800-volt battery architecture and is even reasonably priced.
GT-Line all-wheel-drive EV6s are graced with a potent 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. They also come with a 77.4-kWh battery pack that provides an estimated 274 miles of range. In comparison, rear-drive GT-Line models are significantly less potent (having just 225 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque), but they deliver up to 310 miles of range, a few more than a comparable version of the closely related Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The EV6 is a well-balanced electric vehicle, one that has no glaring vices. The performance it provides is stellar, the acceleration is potent and you’ve got to love the interior’s duet of 12.3-inch screens. The example tested here isn’t cheap, checking out for $57,410 including $1,215 in destination fees, though that’s not an insurmountable price for a thoughtfully designed EV.
2022 BMW i4 M50 Gran Coupe
One of the more surprising vehicles I tested at the MAMA Spring Rally was the BMW i4 M50 Gran Coupe. At first, I was completely indifferent to this rakish four-door car, but its stellar performance and responsive infotainment system quickly won me over.
This is the first fully electric vehicle from BMW’s vaunted M division. As such, the i4 M50 Gran Coupe packs a wallop, 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque courtesy of a standard all-wheel-drive system. That’s enough beans and franks to propel this car to 60 MPH in as little as 3.7 seconds, and it feels every bit that quick when you pounce on the accelerator, even in the rain.
Despite its sloping roofline, this car’s back seat is still plenty roomy and comfortable. The liftback rear also makes it easy to load cargo into the trunk. Of course, you’ve got to love the two dashboard-mounted screens in this car. They look great and BMW’s latest infotainment system is colorful and super responsive. The rest of the i4 M50 Gran Coupe’s interior is well built and premium, but some of the materials aren’t quite as nice as what you get from Audi and Mercedes-Benz these days. That is not to say this Bavarian brawler’s cabin is cheap, it’s just not as regal as some of the competition.
There are plenty of things to love about this rakish liftback, though range is one of its weaknesses. With available 20-inch wheels, the i4 M50 Gran Coupe is only rated at 227 miles, a figure that is middling at best, however, if you stick with the smaller 19-inch rollers, that number increases to a much more competitive 270 miles. Fortunately, this car can DC fast charge at an impressive 200 kilowatts, so even with relatively limited range you’ll be able to get back on the road without wasting too much time.
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This i4 M50 Gran Coupe is fitted with a few options groups including a driver-assistance package, a high-performance package and more. Still, its advertised price is fairly reasonable, $76,670 including $995 in destination fees, which is not bad for a super-quick, zero-emissions M car from BMW, a highly respected automaker.
2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge
It’s not the newest or fanciest EV available, but damn if the Volvo XC40 Recharge isn’t a compelling option. An electrified version of the several-years-old XC40, this battery-powered SUV nevertheless manages to feel like more than the sum of its parts thanks to a conservative but upscale interior and plenty of thoughtful touches.
Beyond all that, the Recharge offers strong performance courtesy of 402 horsepower, 486 pound-feet of torque and standard all-wheel drive. The acceleration this Volvo delivers is far more potent than I expected. In fact, it can hit 60 MPH in a lickety-split 4.7 seconds.
Below your feet and between the axles is a 78-kWh battery pack. That’s a good size energy reservoir, though the XC40 Recharge’s range is middling at best. According to the EPA, this vehicle is only expected to go 223 miles between charges.
This Volvo’s interior is rife with premium materials and interesting features. The door panels, for instance, have been designed to accommodate a large, 15-inch laptop computer. In the center console there’s a small waste bin with a spring-loaded lid; this receptacle is also easily removed so you can wash it. Finally, the XC40 Recharge features an Android-based infotainment system that’s snappy and intuitive. This includes a host of Google services from the Play Store to a digital assistant to maps, which are always up to date.
How much does all this Swedish (or is it now a Chinese company?) goodness cost? The XC40 Recharge shown here checks out for a not unreasonable $60,090 including $1,095 in destination fees.
2022 Genesis GV60 Performance
Finally, one of the best vehicles on hand at the 2022 MAMA Spring Rally was the Genesis GV60. This little pumpkin seed-shaped SUV shares fundamental components with the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, including the underlying E-GMP platform and 77.4-kWh battery pack. But beyond these basics, the vehicle looks and feels totally different.
Offered in two models, Advanced and Performance, this all-electric Genesis wows with a stunning interior and cutting-edge technology. Pop open a door and it’s immediately obvious this all-electric SUV’s cabin is incredible. The materials and colors used are adventurous, the quality of everything is undeniable, plus, there are several unique design touches, like the circular mirror control knob and the light-up glass hemisphere on the center console that automatically flips over to reveal the shifter once the vehicle is turned on.
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As for tech, the GV60 features facial recognition, so it automatically unlocks the doors when you approach. It also offers ultra-wide-band communication that works with Apple’s Car Key feature, so you never have to carry a bulky fob around again. This Genesis also has a fingerprint reader on the console. Once you’re inside, you can start it up with just a tap of your preferred digit.
The base model delvers a potent 314 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque, though the Performance trim packs an even stronger punch, 429 ponies with the same 446 pounds of twist. This version, however, also features a boost mode that’s accessible from a button on the steering wheel. It ups the horsepower to 483 and torque to 516 pound-feet for 10 seconds, which makes the GV60 feel like a roadgoing rocket ship.
Like the XC40 Recharge, range is a weakness of this luxurious vehicle. The Advanced model offers 248 miles between charges, the Performance grade just 235. But just like Kia’s EV6, the GV60 has an 800-volt battery architecture that rapidly recharges. This vehicle can go from a 10% state of charge to 80% in about 18 minutes when hooked to a DC fast charger.
Including $1,090 in destination fees, the 2022 Genesis GV60 starts at around $60,000, though the Performance trim kicks off at about $69,000. All things considered that pricing isn’t too bad, especially for pre- apocalyptic 2022, but this SUV’s availability is. Quantities are said to be extremely limited and the automaker is only offering the GV60 in four states: California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
Now may be the time to go electric
If you’ve been on the fence about getting an EV, there’s never been a better time to make the switch (assuming the vehicle you want is not sold out, only available in limited markets or impacted by supply-chain issues), especially with gasoline prices north of $5 per gallon. Of the vehicles tested here, the Lightning and GV60 drew the biggest crowds. And after driving both, it’s easy to see why. Obviously, these vehicles are brand spankin’ new, but they’re also the most impressive of the five tested here, though for totally different reasons. The Ford is as familiar as your favorite pair of pants, yet it offers shocking performance and capability with the refinement of a luxury vehicle. As for the Genesis, it feels opulent and is loaded with clever touches including some cutting-edge tech you can get anywhere else.
We didn’t have a chance to evaluate the Chevy Bolt EUV, Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, Subaru Solterra or several other all-electric models that were at the MAMA rally. But make sure to check out EV Pulse for exhaustive coverage of these vehicles and a whole lot more.