It's no secret that the automotive industry is inevitably marching toward widespread electrification, so it shouldn't be surprising that most automakers are growing their lineup with all-electric options. The Kia Niro EV, which is an electrified version of the subcompact Niro crossover, is Kia's take on the all-important electric vehicle.
Having debuted just last year, changes are minimal for the 2020 Kia Niro EV. The biggest visual tweaks are the new restyled headlights. On a more practical note, the base EX trim gains an 8.0-inch touchscreen and the EX Premium now comes with a 10.25-inch touchscreen.
Choosing Your Kia Niro EV
Unlike the ordinary Niro lineup, the Kia Niro EV is offered in just two trim levels: EX and EX Premium. The EX starts at $40,210 including destination, while the EX Premium carries a $45,710 sticker price.
All Niro EVs are equipped with a 64-kWh battery, which juices up a single electric motor making 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This setup is good for an EPA-estimated 239 miles of range, and the Niro EV returns 123 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe) city, 102 MPGe highway, and 112 combined.
Drain the battery completely, and it takes about 9.5 hours to recharge when tethered to a 240-volt outlet. Use the included fast charging equipment, and that time drops significantly, with 80% of the battery power able to be restored in just 75 minutes. For those in a rush, fast charging for 30 minutes buys around 100 miles of range.
Both models are strictly front-wheel drive, as all-wheel drive isn't available. Four different driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, and Eco Plus) adjust parameters such as climate control and regenerative braking in order to improve range or performance.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
Like its hybrid brethren, the Kia Niro EV is strictly a five-seat crossover, though that fifth passenger won't find the rear middle seat too comfortable. The 37.4 inches of rear leg room and nearly 40 inches of rear head room makes this a fairly spacious option for four, however.
Cargo space is a bit on the smaller side, with 18.5 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 53 cubic feet with it folded down. Unfortunately, the back seat doesn't fold flat, which diminishes real-world cargo space.
The Niro EV comes equipped with a full roster of active safety features, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, a pedestrian warning system, and a driver attention monitor. The EX Premium trim adds rear parking sensors.
2020 Niro models haven't been evaluated by either crash test agency, but the NHTSA gave the hybrid 2019 Niro a four-star overall safety rating, citing concerns with passenger side performance in the frontal crash test. The IIHS had more positive remarks, naming the standard Niro a Top Safety Pick Plus.
For 2020, all Kia Niro EVs get upsized touchscreens. The EX now sports an 8.0-inch unit, while the one found in the EX Premium now measures 10.25 inches. Both have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as Bluetooth and hands-free connectivity.
Moving into the EX Premium trim adds additional tech features like wireless phone charging, a Harmon Kardon audio system, navigation, and satellite and HD radio.
The more affordable of the two Niro EV trims is the EX. Among its standard features are heated and power-folding outside mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, fog lights, a 10-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, cloth and synthetic leather upholstery, automatic climate control, push button start, and a 7.0-inch driver information center.
The only major option is the Cold Weather Package ($1,100) that adds a heated steering wheel as well as a battery heater and heat pump for better cold-weather range.
Upgrading to the EX Premium brings about ventilated front seats, a power sunroof, an eight-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, wireless phone charging, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, adjustable mood lighting, synthetic leather trim with blue accents, and LED taillights.
The 2020 Kia Niro EV EX Premium comes with plenty of tempting features, but it also requires shelling out an amount that's uncomfortably close to $50,000. For that reason, we'd stick with the base EX trim, which is already nicely equipped.