2019 Kia Niro EV

Style

Motortrend called the Kia Niro EV a “friendly electro-waganoid.” That’s an apt description. Like a number of other EVs, the Kia Niro slips between segments as a compact SUV or beefy hatchback wagon. That said, the Kia styling is crisp and handsome. The proportions work well for its raised ride height.

The Kia Niro EV is nearly a foot longer than its closest competitor, the 258-mile Hyundai Kona EV. The two vehicles are very similar in height and width.

Performance

Kia developed the Niro EV to ride in the most accessible and familiar way—even for drivers inexperienced with electric cars. Its 201-horsepower motor mounted to the front axle yields a zero-to-60 performance of about seven seconds. That’s more than sufficient for daily commuting even if not quite as quick as affordable, long-range EVs, such as the Hyundai Kona and Chevy Bolt.

After all, this practical family vehicle is not designed for sportiness but rather for a solid and comfortable ride. Launches are modest—with power held back to prevent the darty driving found in some of the competition.

The cabin is very quiet until the car reaches high speeds—when the whine of the electric motor slightly encroaches into the interior. The thousand-pound battery pack provides good stability and a low center of gravity but doesn’t hold the vehicle back from capable highway maneuvers. The Niro EV’s top speed is 105 miles per hour.

Drivers choose from four levels of regenerative braking via paddles mounted on the steering wheel. At Level 0, the Kia Niro EV freely coasts when you lift your foot off the pedals. Adjust the regen to Level 3 for an experience approaching single-pedal driving. Drivers commonly need to pull and hold the left paddle to bring the Niro EV to a complete stop. In most cases, after starting the car, the battery-electric Niro will creep forward to about 4 miles per hour.

2019 Kia Niro EV

Efficiency/Range

The official EPA rating for the Kia Niro EV is 239 miles. Our full day of driving suggest that the real-world range might be closer to 250 miles. The Niro’s range is in line with the Bolt and Kona—its primary competitors in the price segment.

The additional size and weight of the Niro EV make it not quite as efficient as those similar EVs. The Kia’s official combined efficiency is 112 miles-per-gallon equivalent, compared to the Bolt’s 119 MPGe and the Kona’s 120 MPGe.

Charging

2019 Kia Niro EV

The Niro uses the CCS standard for DC fast charging. It’s capable of up to 100 kilowatts—future-proofing the Niro for when more of the compatible stations become available. That will allow you to charge the Niro EV from empty to 80 percent in about an hour.

Using a Level 2, 240-volt charger commonly installed at home, you can add about 25 miles of range for every hour plugged in. That means a full charge from zero in about 9.5 hours.

The port is located in the front, off-centered to the driver’s side. That’s generally a good location, especially when pulling directly forward to park.

Passenger/Cargo Room

Among the emerging breed of affordable, long-range EVs, the Kia Niro EV is the most spacious. The Niro offers four more inches of legroom compared to the Kona. It provides 96.6 cubic feet of passenger volume—besting the Bolt and Kona each with approximately 94 cubes and the LEAF Plus’s 92.4 cubic feet. Kia raises the rear cabin by nearly two inches to make room for the large battery pack under the floor. Therefore, foot room is slightly compromised in the back—and rear passengers sit with knees elevated.

With the seats down, the Kia Niro EV offers 54.5 cubic feet of storage compared to the Kona’s 45.8 cubes. The Niro also provides about 25 percent more cargo space than the Tesla Model 3.

The Niro EV’s build quality is commensurate with Kia’s orientation toward value. Its interior makes abundant use of hard plastic. Nonetheless, the overall build quality and fit-and-finish are high. The grade of materials is better than what’s offered in the Chevy Bolt. Certainly, the seat comfort beats the Bolt’s notoriously thin cushions. In the higher EX Premium trim, the appointments, tech, and stitched leather approach the level of luxury brands.

Price

Price has not yet been announced but will likely start near the Kona Electric’s $36,500 starting point. The plug-in version of the Niro starts at $28,500.

The Niro EV will be sold in a dozen states: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

The Niro EV is offered in two trim levels: EX and EX Premium. (There is no base trim.) Standard content includes push-button start, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto functionality, automatic climate control (single zone), and a host of driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, lane-centering steering assist, and blind-spot warning. The Premium trim adds LED head- and taillights, a sunroof, leather front seats that are heated and ventilated, an 8.0-inch center touchscreen rather than a 7.0-inch unit, and Harman Kardon audio.

Kia Niro EV specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: TBD
Est. tax credit: $7500
Technology: Electric Vehicle
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 239 miles pure electric
Battery size: 64 kWh
Charging rate: 7.2 kW

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