Following a full-week test drive in Central Texas, the new 2019 Kia Niro EV has given us a new perspective on all-electric compact SUVs.  Where previously, we might have passed on a compact EV compact SUV,  the Niro EV EX Premium – with its generous spaces, many convenience features, premium amenities and a range approaching 250 miles – could easily find its way to our garage.

A net delivered price under $40,000 makes it even more attractive.  

The Niro EV is the third ‘green’ version of the compact SUV from Kia since the introduction of the Niro Hybrid in 2016.  We have driven all-three of the current Niro models – hybrid, plug-in-hybrid and now the EV.  Hands down, the EV would be the choice for us.

Overall, Niro EV does not look like an EV as many others do.  Absent the Hybrid Blue accents and closed up grill – it looks like its siblings, but performs better

We were mostly impressed by its better drive manners both around town and on the highway.  With its thousand-pound battery mounted low between the axles, the EV drives much more planted than its siblings. Its steering is better and – of course – the instant torque gives it quick and solid acceleration from start or at any speed.

2019 Kia Niro EV EX Premium as Tested

The 2019 Niro EV EX Premium Kia loaned us was a sharp looker in Snow White Pearl with a Charcoal interior.  Its Front and rear bumpers and spoiler were body color.  The wheel arches, side sills and belt-line moldings were Black with fender and rocker cladding a Dark Gray. It rolled on uniquely styled 17-inch alloy wheels mounted with P215/55R17 tires.

Our Niro EX Premium featured automatic LED Projection headlights, LED positioning and turn signal lamps, front Fog Lamps, LED DRL plus LED rear and stop lights. Other elements of note were the Roof Rails, Power Tilt/Slide Sunroof w/sunshade and Power Heated and Folding Side Mirrors with LED turn lamps.

The MSRP for our Niro EV EX Premium was $44,000.  With a Cold Weather package (battery heater), Premium Launch Edition Package and delivery – the list price was $47,155. 

Applying the Federal EV tax credit of $7,500 – the net price was $39,655.

Powertrain and Battery

Energy and power come from a liquid-cooled 64 kWh lithium ion polymer battery that is located under the cabin floor.  It powers a 201-horsepower electric motor (front wheel) that drives the Niro. 

Niro comes with a charging cord that offers either standard household current charging (59 hours) or – using its 7.2 kWh charger- plugged to a 240v outlet (think dryer plug) – will charge the battery to full in 9.5 hours.

Note: Range available shows more than the ‘official’  239 mile rating

A Combined Charging System (CCS) fast-charge capability is standard on Niro. 

It enables a 100-mile recharge in 30 minutes or 80 percent of battery charge in 75 minutes using public charging stations.

Of Note: the Niro EV’s power port is behind a door on the driver side of the closed grille, making connection – at home or in public – easier than  more typical side-port systems.

Range

Range for Niro is rated at 239 miles – battery charge only.  But you can and will do better.

As with all EV’s, regenerative braking is standard on Niro.  But it gets a boost on Niro with their Smart Regenerative Braking system.  It uses Paddle Shifters to enhance the regenerative braking energy return to the battery during deceleration while driving.  In concert with other features of that system – a driver can be returning charge to battery and increasing their range measurably while on the toad.  

We gave that a test – intentionally taking a 250-mile overnight round trip without charging the battery.  Resisting the urge to plug it in overnight and returning home the following day, our Niro EV showed 136 miles of range still available.

Drive Modes

In addition, there are four Drive Modes – Eco, Normal, Sport and Eco +.  Driver selectable, they enable automatic adjustment of regenerative braking response levels to favor battery charging or favor drive performance.

Driving locally, where we usually have a charging source nearby, we liked the Sport mode with the added punch it gave the Niro’s instant torque acceleration.

Interior

The Niro EV EX Premium interior finish features include a Black High Gloss upper console panel, satin chrome door handles and high gloss door garnishes.  Hybrid Blue accents in the cabin include metal trims, and stitching on the door arm rests and the Niro EV-only leather trimmed seating.

Front seating is 10-way power adjustable driver with 6-way manual for the passenger. Front seats are heated (3 levels) and ventilated. 

The front console armrest includes cupholder, functional switches and the Rotary Gear Shifter.

Rear seating is 60/40 split-folding with a center armrest and storage.  Interior lighting is all LED – reading lamps, console, cabin and cargo spaces.  The console even offers adjustable mood lighting.

Did we mention room?  There is lots of it in the Niro EV cabin.  Head room is 40.1/37.7-inches front/rear, Legroom 41.7/37.0-inches front/rear and Shoulder room 56.0/55.1-inches front/rear.

Seating four comfortably, bring all the gear you want.  Its generous 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats also has an underfloor storage bin   Fold the seats down – make that 53.0 cubic feet of space.

Technology / Infotainment

Niro EV EX Premium comes with an 8-inch Touchscreen Navigation Display and Harman/Kardon Premium Audio system with Clari-Fi and 8-speakers with Sub-woofer.  Features include SiriusXM and HD Radio, Bluetooth technology w/Voice Recognition and the Kia UVO link Infotainment System w/Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

Convenience elements include Steering Wheel Mounted Audio Controls, Wireless Phone Charging, USB Input Jacks, Front Fascia Power Outlet, USB Charging Ports (2) and Smart Key w/ Push-Button Start.

Safety

A full complement of safety features come on the Niro EV.  They include Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Hill Start Assist, Rear-View Camera with dynamic guide lines, Forward Collision Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Pedestrian Warning system, Parking Distance Warning front and rear, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Following Assist.

Niro EV is also equipped with Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Parking Brake and a Tire Pressure Monitoring system. 

Warranty

The Kia  10 Year / 100,000-mile Limited Powertrain warranty not only covers the drive components, but also the battery.

2019 Kia Niro Lineup

The 2019 Niro EV comes in two trim levels: EX MSRP $38,500 or EX Premium $44,000.  Learn more and compare the two trims here: https://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/niro-ev/2019.

Niro also comes in a hybrid and plug-in-hybrid versions.  Learn more about them by going to  https://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/niro/2019    or   https://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/niro-plug-in-hybrid/2019

 

KEY DATA

  • Model:                 2019 Niro EV
  • Trim:                    EX Premium
  • Class                   All-Electric Vehicle
  • Segment             Compact SUV/CUV                        
  • MSRP:                $44,000
  • Tax Credit:         $7,500 (Federal)
  • As Tested:         $47,155 / $39,655 – after Tax Credit
  • Powertrain:        150 kW AC Electric Motor
  • Transmission      Single Speed Direct w/Four Drive Modes
  • Horsepower:      201
  • Torque:               291 lb.-ft.
  • Battery               64 kWh Lithium Ion (Liquid Cooled)
  • Range               239 miles All-Electric
  • Acceleration:     0-60 mph under 7.8-seconds
  • Top Speed        103.8 mph
  • Charging
    • Level 1 – Home
      • 120-volt AC conventional power outlet
      • 59 hours to full charge
    • Level 2 – Home or Public
      • 240-volt EVSE 7.22 kWh AC Charger
      • 5 hours to full charge
    • Level 3 – Public
      • DC Fast Charging (CCS)
      • 100-mile charge in 30 minutes
      • 80 percent of full charge 75 minutes