When it comes to going electric, Kia has made it easy. The Niro subcompact SUV (many would call it a hatchback) is available as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or a full EV. That’s key because it offers consumers the choice in the level of electrification that will work for them.
There are no bad options here, as the hybrid starts at an extremely affordable price in the mid-$20s, and offers up to 53 mpg combined. The Niro plug-in hybrid at $33,840 offers 33 miles of electric driving, more than enough so that the average American driver will rarely have to use gasoline. Finally, the Kia Niro EV provides 253 miles of range for about $40,000 to $45,000.
The Kia Niro EV is built to compete in urban and suburban environments, with a full list of technology and comfort features, pretty good performance, and seating for five with a fold-down second row for cargo.
With a starting price around $40,000, the Kia is not eligible for the current Federal tax credit, but it is eligible for many state-level credits, so you may be able to knock a couple thousand dollars off your bottom line depending on where you live.
One of the selling points of the Niro is that it looks like a regular vehicle. Kia didn’t go to the trouble of making it look funky as an EV fashion statement, so it looks like most small SUVs. One kind of cool thing they did do was offer an optional two-tone package, with the C-pillar area and some of the exterior trim in a contrasting color. That’s enough to get attention without trying too hard.
The Niro EV interior is appropriately futuristic and high-tech. The seats are upholstered in special fabric and the gear selector is a dial on the console. However, Kia also uses real buttons for many controls you’ll want when driving, so you don’t have to find your way through touchscreen menus to turn on the seat heaters, for example. The back seat is spacious, with plenty of leg room for adults.
Up front, the higher-end Wave trim offers heated and ventilated seats, and a heated steering wheel. You won’t find anything to criticize in here — it’s a nice, appropriate interior for the car.
Kia found a good balance of power, range and cost for the Niro EV. The car is available with a single motor and front-wheel drive. The battery pack offers good range at 253 miles on a full charge, and DC fast charging capability is standard. The Niro EV can go from 10%-85% charge in 43 minutes on an 85kW DC fast charger. That’s a good timeframe for a sit-down lunch or a weekly shop at the grocery store.
When it comes to performance, the Niro EV’s 201 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque may not sound impressive compared to other options. Certainly the car’s 7-second 0-60 time is not the breathtaking 3 seconds of some crazy powerful EVs, but that’s because our sense of “fast” has been skewed. The Kia Niro accelerates as well as it needs to, and it’s got more speed under your foot than most people will use in regular driving.
Safety and Technology
Kia didn’t skimp on technology in the Niro. The EV comes with Kia’s Drive Wise package, including 20 standard collision avoidance and other safety features. That means standard blind-spot assist, emergency braking, rear cross-traffic assist, lane keeping, highway-driving assist, and navigation-based smart cruise control that even works in stop-and-go traffic. Front and rear parking assist is part of the Wave trim package.
On the dash, you get a single pane of glass with the driver information display and a large 10.25-inch center touchscreen display. Android and Apple phone support, as well as both Alexa and Google Assistant support are all included, as is wireless device charging. Wave trim includes a Harman Kardon audio system and a head-up display. Everything works well and intuitively.
Driving the Niro EV is unremarkable. That’s not a slam in any way, however, as the reason it’s unremarkable is that there’s no criticism to make. Nothing annoying happens, and it’s easy to park with the sensors and the camera and automatic mirror adjustment when you put the Niro in reverse to parallel park.
It’s easy to find the limit of the Niro’s power — but that limit is appropriately high. You won’t scare yourself or others in this car, but it’s got plenty of power to get on any freeway from a short on-ramp. Visibility is good in all directions, and the Niro just goes where you point it. It’s not a sports car, nor does it offer ludicrous acceleration. This is a car built for folks who are looking for a comfortable, efficient EV, and that’s what it is.
2023 Kia Niro EV Specifications
|Dimension||L: 174 inches/W: 71.9 inches/H: 61.4 inches/Wheelbase: 107.1 inches|
|Powertrain||150kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor; direct drive transmission with FWD|
|Fuel Economy||113 mpg-e/253 miles of range|
|Performance Specs||201 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $39,550; As tested: $46,465 including $1,325 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The trim walk and option list on the 2023 Kia Niro EV is refreshingly short. You can get into the base Wind trim for $39,550, or the upgrade Wave trim for $44,550. The Wave trim gets you the Harman Kardon audio system, enhanced driver assistance features, a sunroof, LED headlights, head-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and remote smart parking assist, which will pull the car into and out of tight spaces automatically.
With all that for $5,000, it’s a no-brainer to get the upgrade Wave trim. Once you’ve done that, there are only a few accessories you might want to add on. Remember that both trims carry a $1,325 destination fee.
The bottom line: If you’re looking for an affordable and useful EV, the Kia Niro is a great choice.
2023 Kia Niro EV — Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Kia Niro EV qualify for the Federal EV tax credit?
No, it does not. But it does qualify for many state tax credits. Ask your tax professional to be sure.
Is the Kia Niro EV a good buy?
Yes, according to US News & World Report, the Kia Niro is a good SUV.
How long is the wait for a Kia Niro EV?
Models are available at dealers; special orders take about 18 weeks.