2023 Kia Niro EV road test

The 2023 Kia Niro is an all-new design with technical improvements over the outgoing 2022 model. 2023 Kia Niro EV road test
The exterior has been re-penned to offer a visually exciting shape with futuristic looking lighting shapes both front and back. Up front, the lights have been redesigned and add a dramatic element to the overall look of the Niro. The daytime running lights frame the lower edge of the headlights, resulting in an unusual shape, mimicking a line graph. The nose of the compact crossover retains the distinctive tiger nose grille. Just in case you forgot the the head of design at Kia is German native and former VW group designer Peter Schreyer, have a look at the new side blade design, situated behind the rear wheel on each side. The idea clearly inspired by the switchblade design from the Audi R8 Super Car.
The Niro’s cabin has also been completely redesigned. The single 8.25 inch lcd touch screen on the console has been replaced with a pair of LCD screens, one 10.25 inch unit mounted in the centre of the dash and another thin control panel mounted down below the larger unit. Rotary knobs have all but disappeared from the 2023 model and those functions have been incorporated into the two LCD screens. One large rotary knob on the console functions as the gear selector, as was the case with the previous model. Two small rotary knobs on the dash, control the levels for the different functions accessed on the screen. The system makes the interior much cleaner looking, however, it does come with some flaws. The area around the knobs are touch sensitive. Many times reaching to adjust the audio volume I ended up touching the area alongside the rotary control which switched the function of the knob to temperature control. Once you train yourself to use the steering mounted audio controls this is less of an issue.
2023 Kia Niro EV interiorA 150-kilowatt single motor in the Niro provides 201HP and 188 lb ft of torque.
Kia lists the range of the Niro EV as 407 kms with its 64.8-kilowatt-hour battery, an improvement of 22 kms over last years model. Based on my rural and highway driving with temperatures in the low teens Celsius, I never seemed to get maximum range above 368 kms. I suspect with more city type driving, the average range would likely climb to match Kia’s projected range. To address the side effects of cold weather on battery capacity, an optional heat pump conditions the battery as well as provides heat to passengers during the winter months.
The Niro comes with the capability of level 3 fast charging. The challenge is still trying to find the infrastructure to effectively and economically charge during the time owners are away from their home chargers. Without a 220V home charger I was relying on the 110V charger supplied with the vehicle. At times the charging times were over 40 hours. That time should be around 6 hours with the 220V option.
Without an internal combustion engine, storage on the Niro includes a small cavity under the front hood as well as the rear hatchback area. The rear storage measures out at 646 litres while the “frunk” adds 20 litres of hidden storage, ideal for valuables and perhaps the charging cables.
One compromise in the Niro EV is the lack of a spare tire. Lift the floor deck in the rear and a container of tire sealant sits in a small cutout. The position of the battery precludes any chance of dropping a tire under the rear storage floor.
Sitting in the drivers seat, the extra room offered with the new longer, wider design, is apparent. The top of range model we are testing is fitted with comfortable and supportive, multi adjustable cloth covered seats. The Niro’s controls are quite easy to access and use once you get the hang of the many features on the multi function steering wheel. 2023 Kia Niro EV
One issue I did have in the cabin, is the position and size of the rear view mirror. The electronic features tied into the mirror mean that there is a larger blacked out area in the top centre of the windshield. At 6 feet tall, the lower height of the roofline and depth of the mirror connections made this a bit distracting and obstructed a portion of the view through the window.
General chatter about EV’s is that they all have similar driving characteristics. The 2023 Kia Niro EV comes with adjustable driving modes, ECO, Normal and Sports. I left the vehicle in normal mode and much to my surprise, gone was the typical Electro-fueled surge that ends up selling EV’s to sport minded drivers. In its place was a gentle almost docile progression from a full stop. The feeling is very similar to that of a traditional gasoline powered vehicle. For anyone seeking the electron surge driving style, the Niro will satisfy when the setup is switched to Sports mode.
The Niro isn’t sold as a sports car or a luxury vehicle and out on the road, the ride is comfortable and otherwise cheerful. It will not disappoint if you are looking for an affordable EV in the category of economy offerings.
Kia lists the Niro EV at a starting price of $44,995 for the Premium trim level. The top line Limited we drove starts at $52,995 plus options, surprisingly paint colour being one.
I have to admit I still have a hard time rationalizing that much money for a vehicle with limited functionality. I do love the economy associated with plugging in at home a whipping past gas stations as the price of fuel rolls up and down on an hourly basis. That being said, a 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid with a lesser trim level, starts at $29,995. However, I don’t have any range anxiety with the Hybrid model and I will save $15,000 on the initial purchase (plus the 8% interest at current rates). If you are specifically looking for a battery powered EV however, few vehicles offer the range and features of the Niro EV at the price point before government rebates.
For more information and exact packaging details visit Kia.ca