The Kia EV6 demonstrates the problems of retractable door handles
Automotive fads come and go, but some should go and never come back. From shag carpets to hood scoops, some trends look great at first but don’t age well. Could this be the case with the retractable exterior door handles? They sound great in theory – improving a vehicle’s aerodynamics, looking futuristic, and sitting flush with a car’s doors so nothing gets stuck on them. But the reality is a bit different, especially when it comes to the Kia EV6’s retractable door handles.
Learn more about flush exterior car door handles and why critics are complaining about the handles on Kia’s first production electric vehicle.
What is a retractable door handle?
It looks like something from the 90s, but the retractable car door handle is a relatively new feature designed to keep the exterior of the car flush and pretty, Tuning Blog reports. Essentially, the handle sits flush with the rest of the door instead of sticking out like on a typical car. In many cases, a pocket door handle is the same color as the bodywork so that it blends in with the rest of the car.
The retractable door handles operate electronically by sliding them with a key or lightly touching them. They look cool and futuristic, but they raise a few security issues. Fortunately, the manufacturers have solved these problems.
“As a rule, the handles have an electric extension mechanism. In an emergency, however, it must also be possible to open the doors in the event of a power failure,” reports Tuning Blog. “A so-called emergency release function should therefore be available for electrically retractable door handles. In the event of an accident, it must be possible to unlock the recessed door handles in order to allow the door to be opened quickly.
You will find these door handles on Tesla, Mercedes, Land Rover and Citroën vehicles and even as retrofits on certain Porsche models.
And now Kia, which has managed to shake off its embarrassing reputation by stepping up its game, has incorporated retractable door handles on its first all-electric production model, the EV6.
Reviewers complain that the Kia EV6’s pop-up door handles are a hassle
According to Kia’s feature and function videos, the 2022 Kia EV6’s retractable door handles work through a multi-step process. First, you must press the engraved button in the center of the handle to unlock the door. Then press down on one side of the handle, which pops out the other side. Finally, pull the handle to open the door.
Although these steps may seem less efficient than pressing a button on a key fob and pulling the door handle, some car enthusiasts believe that the benefits of a sleeker look and a more aerodynamics outweigh the hassle. But it really comes down to personal preference.
Owners have taken to the KIA EV forums to discuss their opinions – and express their frustration – regarding the Kia EV6’s retractable door handles. A reviewer complains that the handles are hard to find at night. When the sun is shining, there is usually no problem spotting them. But at night you practically need a flashlight to find the handle.
And drivers on the Speak EV forum claim that the passenger doors stay locked even if the driver exits. There are ways around this annoyance, like unlocking all the doors, but the problem can be frustrating if you get out, close the driver’s door, and all the doors lock. It’s not clear if a locksmith would be able to get you back in the car as quickly as they could with a typical car door.
Many drivers report that this is not a problem on the Hyundai Ioniq 5, even though it is similar to the Kia EV6.
Are these handles really great?
Some people love retractable car door handles, while others aren’t so keen. A commenter on the KIA EV forums mentioned that new users who don’t know how to open these door handles might scratch them. Still, other drivers said they quickly adapted to the new feature.
But what happens if the power fails or the car electronics malfunction? Or what about cold or heat disturbing the sensors?
At the best of times, retractable car door handles could be very annoying. In the worst-case scenario, owners could end up with a child stuck in a hot car. Hopefully, as we get used to these new door handles, assuming they stick around, automakers will come up with better designs. In the meantime, EV6 owners will just have to live with the flaws or get rid of the car.
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