2023 Kia Niro EV Pros
– The Niro’s updated styling delivers personality.
– Surprisingly fun to drive.
– Standard battery provides an estimated 407 km of range.
2023 Kia Niro EV Cons
– The $47,883 base price is steep.
– The $50,883 Premium + delivers important features like the heat pump – which should be included in the base car.
– Charge port doors should not be mounted in the front.
Look, if you’re going to buy a new electric vehicle, it’s simple really, shop for Hyundai and Kia first. At the moment, they offer the widest range and variety to select from. In fact, unlike nearly all other automakers, they already sell overlapping products, price-wise. The Kia Niro EV sits on that fence which bridges the narrow gap between the Soul EV and EV6.
And this might be the all-new 2023 Niro’s current and main obstacle to glory. Wedged between the Soul EV and EV6 price- and content-wise, the Niro’s calling cards are its semi-conventional crossover design and pleasing driving experience. The reasons why you shouldn’t get one boil down to the front charge-port door location if you live anywhere where snow is common, and for $50,000, the EV6 is a far more modern and special vehicle.
For $47,883, the base 2023 Kia Niro EV Premium includes a decent collection of features. Namely, it comes with dual 10.25-inch displays, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Kia Connect, and loads more. Stepping up to the $50,883 Premium + is where most shopping for this EV should go. It adds the heat pump, power hatch, heated steering wheel, and a few more items.
The tested Limited, at $55,883, is nothing more than an exercise in adding weight in the otherwise lithe EV. If you must have the side blades, they are only offered in this trim. Between you and I, they’re partially novel but once more, not worth the investment.
One motor, one battery
All Niro EV trims are fitted with the same sized battery pack and front-mounted electric motor, unlike the Soul EV. The latter’s larger 64.8 kWh battery feeds the 201hp and 188 lb.-ft. of torque motor. While the output is modest, the relatively lightweight Niro, at 3,800 lbs, moves briskly. The 0-60mph sprint time is rated at 7.1 seconds, so add an extra .3 seconds to 100 km/h.
The Niro’s brilliance also lies in its ride quality. As a result of its reasonable curb weight, the small electric Kia is tossable and almost entertaining. Its chassis is responsive enough to respond smartly to steering inputs – seriously, the EV’s personality surpasses its looks.
Said 64.8 kWh battery will provide, according to Kia, up to 407 km of range. My time with the Niro EV revealed a maximum indicated range of 345 km on a full charge. Conditions were cool-ish, hovered around 0 degrees Celsius, and with little to no snowfall. This roughly 15% drop in the indicated range is extremely acceptable as 30% drops are not uncommon. Recharging the battery is easy at home. With the included 11 kW onboard charger and a Level 2 charger, only about six hours are required for a fill-up. On a Level 3 DC fast charger, at 100 kW, 45 mins will take you to roughly 80%. As with all Kia EVs, the vehicle provides four brake regenerative modes including one-pedal drive.
What hurt the first-generation Kia Niro’s full potential, I think, was its lack of, um, styling. It was boring, almost lifeless. The all-new Niro is far more attractive and thankfully, despite its headlights being positioned on the front fascia’s absolute extremities, it is spared any weird catfish-design fetishes seen on the Sportage, for example.
No matter the trim, reasonable 17-inch wheels are standard, as are LED positioning, daytime, and taillights. The only trouble with versions is that, if you want colour, will insist on a Premium + or greater.
Surprisingly well-thought interior
Kia invests heavily in details and the Niro is no different. The cabin’s configuration holds a series of controls already found in most of its recent vehicles. Specifically, the switchable HVAC/audio control panel and centre console layout. The principal detail here is that the 10.25-inch touchscreen is fitted to the dashboard’s curve. At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal but the decision demonstrates an incredible amount of design wherewithal.
The dashboard is slanted and curved and cascades into the door cards. This same “plastic fall” travels down the door panels and incorporates the power window controls and door handles – I’m blown away. One thing however shocked me: Water managed to infiltrate into the cabin from the driver-side door on at least two occasions.
Kia Niro EV
I frankly really enjoyed driving it. It left a deeper positive impression than the Soul EV perhaps because I was expecting to be bored, and I wasn’t. Between it and the Soul EV, I’d opt for the Niro as it won’t be as common. Nearing the $50k mark, I’d hold out for an EV6. But, the water infiltration thing got me thinking once more about build quality and durability…
In the Niro’s immediate segment, we have the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona, and Soul. At this point in time, I would one more grab whichever is available.