SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Kia Niro EV rounds out the Niro trio, and is essentially the most spectacular on paper. With the identical 64-kWh battery and 201-horsepower electrical motor because the Hyundai Kona Electrical, it is rated at 239 miles of driving vary between prices. Granted, 239 miles is lower than the 258 miles the Kona EV will get on paper, so we have been desirous to see what the variations have been between the same EVs. After spending an icy, frigid weekend driving (and falling in love with) the Hyundai Kona Electrical round Michigan we hopped on a aircraft, and headed to Santa Cruz to check out 2019 Kia Niro EV (and to flee the chilly).
With an extended wheelbase and longer total than the Kona, the Niro EV provides just a little extra rear legroom — about three inches further. As a 6-footer, I did not discover it uncomfortable to squeeze in behind a good taller driver. This bodes properly for these of us with automotive seats we have to set up behind our EVs. The Niro EV additionally boasts extra baggage area than the Kona, with 18.5 cubic ft behind the rear seats, and 53 cubic ft with the seats folded down. We have been impressed by the big rear opening and the spaciousness of the cargo space.
The driving force’s seating place took plenty of adjustment to get comfy in, an issue we did not have within the Kona. It doesn’t matter what we did, we felt like we have been sitting too excessive up within the car, however finally it started to really feel pure as our focus shifted from the inside round us to the highway in entrance of us. Nonetheless, each time we received again within the automotive, we felt the necessity to attempt to enhance the seating place. A minimum of the seats have been comfy and supportive.
Fortunately, Kia did not go overboard with the styling of the Niro EV, and that goes for the inside, too. The oddest factor is the massive rotary gear selector. Whereas it appears like it will be in the way in which of the cupholder, it did not intrude with grabbing our espresso, and it is extra intuitive to make use of than the Kona Electrical’s separate PRDN buttons. The remainder of the inside is about what you’d anticipate. There’s plenty of plastic, a middle stack that is perhaps just a bit too busy with buttons and controls, a well-incorporated touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster.
It is quiet once you flip it on and start to drive away, as you’d anticipate. Pay attention fastidiously and you will hear the spacey hum of its pedestrian warning system at low speeds, which shuts off as you strategy 20 miles per hour. From there, you can hear the whine of the electrical powertrain as you speed up. There’s just a little extra noise than within the Kona, which other than the appears is the primary clue that the Niro EV is just a little sportier feeling than its subdued sibling. Mash the throttle, and the Niro is glad to spin the entrance wheels with its 291 pound-feet of immediate torque. It’ll push you again into your seat in a decent 7.Eight-second Zero-62 mph hustle, however it feels even faster than the acknowledged determine due to ample torque and linear acceleration.
The Niro EV provides 4 ranges of regen really feel, selectable from the paddles on the again of the steering wheel. The settings vary from free coasting to almost sufficient regen to permit for one pedal driving. You possibly can maintain the left paddle to carry the Niro to a cease for those who’re dedicated to bypassing the brake pedal fully. There’s some creep once you take your foot off the brake at a cease, like a standard automotive, however for those who introduced the automotive to a standstill utilizing the regen paddle, it’s going to stay stationary till you get again on the accelerator.
Just like the Kona, the Niro EV has Eco, Regular and Sport driving modes. Eco is already fairly responsive. It is onerous to make an EV like this really feel sluggish with a lot twist down low. Sport mode actually sharpens the response from the proper pedal. It beneficial properties and maintains pace with ease, and we discovered it simpler to get excited behind the wheel of the Niro than the Kona EV. The longer wheelbase and low middle of gravity make it really feel secure and planted, whether or not rounding corners or aiming for a spot a mile down the freeway. Even the marginally stiffer suspension gives extra highway really feel, which suggests the Niro is just a little chattier and barely much less stress-free than the Kona.
Our enthusiasm did not have a lot of a detrimental impact on sensible effectivity. Once we first received within the automotive, it confirmed a spread of about 260 miles. After placing 100 miles on it, it nonetheless confirmed just a little over 150 miles remaining. Positive, we misplaced a number of miles of estimated vary whereas hustling down the freeway, however we have been nonetheless pacing forward of the automotive’s EPA rated 239 miles of vary.
There are most likely quite a few causes for the distinction within the acknowledged vary between the all-electric Kona (258 miles) and Niro (239 miles), however the one that stands out when evaluating spec sheets is the ultimate gear ratio for the 2 automobiles. The Kona Electrical has a ultimate gear ratio of seven.981:1, whereas the Niro EV’s is increased, at Eight.206:1. This might additionally assist clarify why the Niro feels quicker, torquier and usually sportier than the Kona. Weight may very well be one other issue, as the marginally bigger Niro EV (three,854 kilos) is heavier than the porkiest Kona Electrical, which ranges from three,715 to three,836 kilos.
Kia hasn’t introduced pricing for the Niro EV but, however we have been instructed to anticipate a beginning value much like that of the Kona Electrical, which begins at $37,495. After the tax credit score, the Niro EV needs to be proper round $30 grand. Kia says it should solely be offered in 12 states — California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington — at a complete of 103 dealerships, the place it needs to be on sale by the top of the month. Kia instructed us it does not have plans to promote past these markets, so that you should not maintain your breath for those who hope to purchase one within the Midwest.
EVs have up thus far been obtainable and sensible for brief journeys, however basically have been a distinct segment car for a really particular purchaser. The promise of EVs is that they could in the future get away of that area of interest, a future we’re optimistic about — impatient for, even. The Niro EV does not appear to be some stopgap car whereas we’re ready for higher EVs; it is good by itself, the sort of automotive you’d anticipate to personal for a very long time. And extra necessary, it isn’t just a few chilly equipment. Just like the Kona Electrical and the Chevy Bolt, this new era of long-range, comparatively inexpensive EVs have a spark of life in them.