2023 Kia Niro EV
Not Flashy, Just Great
Like many recent Kias, the compact Niro is available with several levels of electrification, from hybrid, to plug-in hybrid, and even full battery electric. And while we don’t play favorites around here, the full-EV Niro has certainly piqued our interest. So, let’s check out the 2nd-gen of Kia’s unique little EV utility.
While Kia’s fantastic EV6 has garnered all the recent headlines and won just about all the awards too, including our own most recent Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year, it’s just one of the many full battery electric vehicles the brand has available.
In fact, this 2023 Kia Niro EV is already in its 2nd generation and offers a lot of the same things as the EV6 in a more everyday practical utility-minded package.
Kia keeps it simple here, no further decisions to make once you decide to go the Niro EV route; just one 150-kW 201-horsepower front-wheel drive setup, with a 64.8-kWh battery delivering 253-miles of range, which it uses quite efficiently, at 29 kWh/100 miles. It also charges faster than the last gen, but still well short of dedicated EV platforms like the EV6, at just 85-kw, getting you to 80% in about 45-minutes.
Much like the Niro Hybrid we tested a few months ago, with no all-wheel drive and just 6.3-inches of ground clearance, the Niro embraces the urban utility part of sport utility with room for 22.8 cubic-ft. of cargo, and a healthy rear seats folded max of 63.7.
The Niro clearly looks far less outlandish than the EV6, but there’s certainly something to be said for that; though it also appears much more distinctive than last gen with either a painted silver or chrome coated front skid plate and flow through D-pillars that Kia calls Aero Blades.
EV specifics include a unique front fascia with integrated charge port door, steel gray trim, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Things are relatively normal inside too, with mostly the same well laid out interior as the hybrid. The quality of switchgear and materials are more than acceptable, with many sustainably sourced, including the use of eucalyptus leaves and recycled wallpaper.
Whether you choose Wind or Wave trim, you’ll get dual 10.25-inch screens; one for driver info and one for infotainment; they’re not the largest on the market, but the size appears just right to us, and Kia’s touchscreen interface remains one of the best. Front seats are very comfortable, and there’s true full-size adult leg and headroom in the back seats.
Kia has clearly aimed the Niro EV at people interested in making the switch to battery power, but don’t necessarily want a completely unfamiliar driving experience. The moderately low power output here helps, but they’ve also adjusted programming so that it doesn’t deliver all that power right from the get-go, as there is definitely a familiar progressive nature to the throttle pedal and the acceleration it delivers.
Something we experienced at our Mason Dixon test track, where it was slow and steady off the line and to 60 in 7.1-seconds. While that’s not particularly fast by EV standards, it is more than 2-seconds quicker than the Hybrid we tested earlier this year; though it’s also a tenth slower than last gen’s Niro EV.
Power didn’t seem to be building all that much down the ¼, but we finished in a respectable 15.8-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour. Things felt much sportier in our cone course, where the EV’s lower center of gravity improved on the Niro’s already notable handling chops. Turn-ins were sharp, with very little input needed, minimal body roll, and a quite neutral feel throughout. There is a Sport mode to go along with Normal and Eco, though it mostly just seemed to add weight to the steering, which we greatly appreciated.
Multiple levels of regen braking are available, including full 1-pedal driving. And just like the EV6, you can tap into the Niro’s battery to power all sorts of things. Base Wind pricing blows in at just $40,875; doing the Wave, another 5-grand, at $45,875.
So, whether you’re looking for a full Battery Electric Vehicle, minimal battery power, or something in between, Kia has you covered with the Niro. But it’s the 2023 Niro EV that allows you to join the next generation, without looking like you’ve gone all in. Yet another reason why Kia is slowly but surely becoming an electric vehicle leader.
- Motor: 150-kW FWD
- Horsepower: 201
- EV Range: 253 miles
- 0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
- Battery: 64.8-kWh
- Torque: 188 lb-ft
- Efficiency: 29 kWh/100 miles
- 1/4 Mile: 15.8-seconds at 92 MPH