Excellent range. The all-electric 2019 Kia Niro EV has an EPA-estimated range of 239 miles, which delivers approximately four hours of highway driving and is one better than the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Plenty of power at the ready. An absolute blast to drive, the Niro EV delivers zippy performance with 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. The rotary shift knob is easy to use, while the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel offer four driving modes that adjust brake regeneration level, heating and air conditioning settings, and maximum speed.
The second level is the default setting each time the Niro is started. You could choose Sport mode for a more engaging drive, but the default is a good compromise, allowing for single-pedal driving under most circumstances – an especially nice feature in stop-and-go driving where you can feather the pedal and, in most instances, avoid using the brakes altogether.
Although torque is nearly instantaneous, it still takes 7.8 seconds to make the run up to 60 mph from a full stop. Until you get adept at it, single-pedal driving can often feel jerky.
As versatile as the standard Niro. Is the Niro a crossover, hatchback, or wagon? The styling of the Niro family defies easy categorization, unlike the similar Hyundai Kona, which is a subcompact crossover.
Small on the outside, big on the inside. The EV’s battery sits underneath the vehicle, with no impact on cabin space. Tall passengers can sit in comfort in the rear seats, although we think two adults – rather than three – will find it more comfortable back there.
Cargo volume is also laudable, especially with the rear seats folded. The Niro EV’s standard 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seats expands to a maximum of 53 cubic feet behind the first row. Few electric vehicles outside of the Tesla Model X can make a similar claim.
Two well-equipped trims. Kia offers the Niro EV in two trims: EX and EX Premium. All models come with auto-leveling headlights, LED exterior accent lighting, front fog lights, heated and power-folding outside mirrors with LED turn signals, acoustic windshield glass, and alloy wheels.
Inside, the Niro EV has a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a 7-inch instrument display panel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, cloth seats, a 7-inch color touchscreen, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.
The EX Premium adds such niceties as LED turn signals and taillights, a sunroof, leather seats (heated and ventilated in front), a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging, a Harman Kardon audio system with HD radio, and navigation.
On the safety front, Kia includes nearly all the safety technologies we want in today’s new cars. The Niro EV comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.
Final thoughts. The 2019 Kia Niro EV has a competitive driving range and comes well equipped. The downside here is that it's available in just 12 states. If you live outside those states, you have to make a special arrangement to acquire one.
In any case, buyers may be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit as well as local incentives. For example, California buyers are eligible for at least a $2,500 rebate ($4,500 for low-income residents). As a result, your effective final cost may rival the standard Niro's MSRP.