This is pretty exciting for me, my first EV review! I’ve driven electrics before, even reviewed the Tesla Model 3 when it came out thanks to an early adopter; but whenever they have arrived in the RFD loaner garage, I haven’t had the chance to take one for a week. So it was with some excitement that I plugged in my first EV, the 2019 Kia Niro to an extension cord in my driveway.
Only it didn’t work. I came out the next day to the same charge that I closed out the evening staring down. I chalked it up to user error, since I didn’t really read any of the instructions or manuals, I just figured I’d plug it in and see what happened.
The next night, I tried again and it worked fine. Perhaps I didn’t click the charger all the way in? The next morning I noticed that after 18 hours or so, it didn’t quite get a full charge, more like 3/4 of a..uh…tank, but it was good enough. I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s take a quick look at the Niro and where it fits in the Kia lineup.
Niro EV Overview
The Kia Niro starts at just $23,490, which is a nice attainable price for a nice little crossover. The regular Niro fits above the Soul and below the Sportage and comes in FE, LX, EX, S Touring, and Touring trim levels. It tops out at $32,250 starting MSRP for the highest trim level.
The Niro EV is a different thing though, as with most automakers it gets it’s own real estate on the Kia website. Starting at $38,500 it’s not cheap compared to the normal Niro, but it’s not dramatically more expensive.
The Niro EV looks pretty much like a regular Kia Niro. They note on their website that the traditional “tiger shark” nose styling, prevalent across all Kia models, is kept in-tact but they filled it in to keep air flowing around the car (vs. through it with a traditional radiator-equipped car) and that’s the easiest way to spot a Kia EV, that or the goofy blue accents.
As with the outside, the inside just looks like a regular car. The biggest difference is the area just ahead of the center console, it rises up like a Star Trek control panel at the hands of Captain Picard (who is easily the best, fight me) and houses all of the drive, neutral, and reverse controls plus some other stuff.
Here, this is it:
It’s classy looking and not drastically different than a bunch of non-EV controls that are coming out these days. Rotary knobs for everyone!
The rest of the interior looks just like a Kia Niro. Which it is.
Acceleration is quite good, and by quite good, I mean like 90s hot hatchback good. With a undramatic whoooosh the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds according to C&D. That’s not just quick for a crossover, that’s just generally quick. A 1988 Acura Integra Type-R is in the 7 second range and my 2001 Honda Prelude was in the same realm.
It’s a little unsettling, floor the Niro and it will chirp the wheels around 25 MPH and run you up to highway speeds with efficiency and almost complete silence. Aside from some wind noise an a tiny bit of sound from the EV components, all you hear are your own thoughts, which go something like “wait what?”. I’m not sure if “Sport” mode actually makes it go faster, but my butt dyno said that it did, could be EV trickery!
She’s a witch! Burn her!
Elsewhere it is what you would expect, it handles like a compact SUV. The electric voodoo only applies to the drivetrain, the rest is normal crossover stuff. This isn’t a track car, but it might surprise someone at a stoplight.
I guess a discussion of range fits in with the driving section? As I noted, this is the first time I actually had to live with an EV for a period of time. So little things like turning on the air conditioning and watching the range drop several miles, made me a little nervous. I guess that is to be expected.
But, in a petrol powered car, you can’t just connect it to something in your driveway and wait up in the morning and be able to drive it further than you could when you went to sleep. So, as long as you have access to a plug overnight, you’re good. If you don’t, you had better have access at work or somewhere else or perhaps you’re not ready for EV ownership.
The Niro is an interesting animal, it legitimately feels like a regular car, and not anything particularly special or interesting, which is actually nice. I don’t really like the overly gimmicky all-electric/EV vibe. They are trying too hard. Aside from that “I’m eco” blue accents prevalent across the exterior and interior, the Niro EV is just a regular ole compact crossover. Which I like, it’s easy to use, not overly complex and is what electric’s should be – normal.