Car fads come and go, but some should leave and never return. From shag carpets to hood scoops, certain trends sound awesome at first but don’t age well. Could that be the case with exterior pop-out door handles? They sound great in theory — improving a vehicle’s aerodynamics, appearing futuristic, and lying flush with a car’s doors so nothing gets caught on them. But the reality is a bit different, especially with regard to the Kia EV6‘s pop-out door handles.
Here’s more about flush exterior car door handles and why critics are complaining about the handles on Kia’s first production EV.
What is a pop-out door handle?
It sounds like something from the ’90s, but the pop-out car door handle is a relatively new feature designed to keep the car’s exterior flush and pretty, Tuning Blog reports. Essentially, the handle lies flush with the rest of the door instead of sticking out as it would on a typical car. In many cases, a pop-out door handle is the same color as the body so that it blends in with the rest of the car.
Pop-out door handles work electronically by swiping them with a key or lightly touching them. They look cool and futuristic, but they raise a few safety concerns. Thankfully, manufacturers have addressed those issues.
“As a rule, the handles have an electric extension mechanism. In an emergency, however, it must also be possible to open the doors if the power supply fails,” Tuning Blog reports. “A so-called emergency release function should therefore be available for the electrically retractable door handles. In the event of an accident, it must be possible to unlock the recessed door handles in order to enable the door to be opened quickly.”
You’ll find these door handles on Tesla, Mercedes, Land Rover, and Citroën vehicles and even as a retrofit on some Porsche models.
And now Kia, which successfully shed its embarrassing reputation by stepping up its game, has incorporated pop-out door handles on its first fully electric production model, the EV6.
Critics complain that Kia EV6 pop-out door handles are a hassle
According to Kia Features & Functions Videos, the 2022 Kia EV6’s pop-out door handles work through a multi-step process. First, you have to push the engraved button in the center of the handle to unlock the door. Next, press one side of the handle, causing the other side to pop out. Finally, pull the handle to open the door.
Though completing those steps might seem to be less efficient than pressing a button on a key fob and pulling the door handle, some car enthusiasts think the benefits of a smoother look and more aerodynamic vehicle outweigh the hassle. But it really boils down to a personal preference.
Owners have taken to KIA EV Forums to discuss their opinions — and vent frustration — regarding the Kia EV6’s pop-out door handles. One commenter complains that the handles are difficult to find at night. When the sun is bright, there’s usually no issue 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 remained locked even if the driver exits. There are ways to work around this annoyance, such as unlocking all the doors, but the issue could be frustrating if you get out, shut the driver’s door, and all the doors lock. It’s unclear if a locksmith would be able to get you back into the car as quickly as they could with a typical car door.
Many drivers report this isn’t an issue on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 even though it’s similar to the Kia EV6.
Are these handles really all that great?
Some people love pop-out car door handles, while others aren’t as enthusiastic. One commenter in KIA EV Forums mentioned that new users who don’t know how to open these door handles could scratch them. Still, other drivers said they quickly adjusted to the new feature.
But what happens if there’s a power failure or the car’s electronics malfunction? Or what about the cold or heat messing with the sensors?
In the best-case scenario, pop-out car door handles could be highly annoying. In the worst case, owners could end up with a kid trapped in a hot car. Let’s hope that 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.