2019 Kia Niro EV Review

2019 Kia Niro EV - Kia Niro EV adds more spark to all-electric competition

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 Kia's Niro EV has joined the parade of fully electric vehicles . No fuel, gasoline or diesel, is needed. Battery-powered electricity will carry this front-wheel-drive subcompact sport utility vehicle along North American roadways to a projected range of 239 miles.

Close competitors are the all-electric, front-wheel-drive Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt, both hatchbacks, and the Hyundai Kona EV, which also identifies itself as an SUV. Whether SUV, wagon or hatchback, these vehicles handle cargo via a liftgate and an open load floor.

The all-electrics have to contend with road range anxiety. This anxiety is lessened these days with extended range for the four competitors mentioned above. All exceed a range of 200 miles with the Niro at 239 miles, Bolt at 238 miles, Kona at 258 miles and the Leaf, if powered by an optional and larger battery pack, 226 miles.

Niro's manufacturer is reassuring and, on behalf of the all-electric car industry, points out that Level 1 (120 volt) and Level 2 (240 volt) recharging stations abound in the United States. More than 45,000  outlets are available in the U.S. Recharging time depends on battery pack depletion. For commuting or "running around town" purposes, overnight charging at home keeps the range of travel at a reassuring level.

With the Niro, recharging is simple. This is true for competitors as well. The tested Niro came with a 120-volt outlet recharging unit and 16-foot cord. After the Niro EV's 239 range dropped to 215, it was plugged into a normal household 120-volt outlet at the house detached garage's front exterior. The recharger was left on overnight although one could read on the vehicle's cabin information panel about the recharging process and pull the plug when it reached 239. But, rest and sleep intervened from keeping an eye on the process.

The next morning, the plug was pulled and the Niro's range was at 239. The range is shown in big and bold numbers on an information panel behind the steering wheel. The numbers are slightly to the left of the steering wheel.

Everything necessary to an owner of an all-electric vehicle  is provided by Kia, not only including the range but also what type of driving is being done (economical, normal, aggressive) and when the 64kWh lithium ion polymer battery is being recharged (braking and slowing down).

On a short trip of 32 miles, the Niro EV's range began at 239. When the trip ended, the numbers were 237. On the return trip, the ending number was 213. Since the traffic was suburban, there was a lot of slowing down and braking.

Kia has covered the bases when it comes to Niro EV owners and their degree of range anxiety. Kia's seven-inch color navigation screen has information on the nearest public charging station as well as directions on how to get there. If in a suburb such as Schaumburg, there will be a long list of nearby recharging stations. Recharge costs vary and, if public, can be free.

The test Niro EV came with the standard 120-volt cord and recharging unit. If the battery pack requires a full recharge that could take 15 hours. If only a partial recharge, much less time. An optional 240-volt unit,  can do the recharge in half the time of the 120-volt unit. The optional unit could cost $500 to $700 plus the cost to a laborer to install the 240-volt household outlet. A fast charge unit, popularized by the higher-priced all-electric Tesla, will accomplish the recharge feat in minutes.

Recharging has its variables such as state of the battery, how big the battery is and how many miles one wants to travel. If it is a short 30-mile commute and it is a Kia 64kW battery pack down to a range of 125 miles, why not simply plug in nightly and be fully recharged to a range of 239 miles by morning?

Electricity does cost money, perhaps an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Check your electric bill for exact rate.

Pushing a button on the dashboard starts the electrical process. A dial on the console has a R,N and D on it. Turn the dial to D and one is driving forward. Turn the dial to R and the Niro EV is in reverse. N is neutral. To keep the vehicle from moving push a big round button with a P (park) on it. So simple.

Niro's EV is designed for comfort as well as functional purposes. Plus it is an extremely quiet vehicle. This silence has to do with not having a gasoline or diesel engine and also with adequate if not superb insulating factors to keep out road noise.

Standard on the base $28,500 model are power windows, exterior mirrors and door locks, intermittent wipers, air conditioning, cruise control and  a host of sound and safety equipment.

As a standard bonus the Niro EV can be managed remotely by Kia Access with the UVO link app. The link connects to a compatible smartphone to the EV to check battery satus, charging schedules, remote lock/unlock, remote climate control, 24-hour roadside assistance and more. Roadside assistance is provided for five years or 60,000 miles. Warranty coverage for battery and powertrain is 10 years or 100,000 miles. The base limited warranty is five years or 60,000 miles.

Since the test model was a $44,000 EX Premium there were at least a dozen upgrades or extras including power sunroof with sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats (power for driver), harmon/kardon sound system with subwoofer, wireless phone charger, mood lighting, LED interior and taillamps.

The Kia EV is in the same $35,000 to $45,000 price category of other all-electrics in the 200- to 250-mile range, namely the  aforementioned Bolt, Leaf and Kona EV. More expensive all-electrics with much more range include Tesla and Jaguar i-Pace.

 

FAST FACTS

Vehicle: EX Premium model of 2019 Kia Niro EV

Type: subcompact, four-door, five-passenger, all-electric sport utility vehicle

Price: $44,000

Engine: battery pack, 201 horsepower

Performance: 0 to 62.1 miles per hour in 7.8 seconds

Braking: 62.1 mph to 0 in distance of 137 feet

Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 106.3, 172.2, 71.1, 61.4, 6.1

Leg room: 40.1 inches front, 37.7 inches rear

Cargo: 18.5 cubic feet rear seat upright, 53 cubic feet rear seat flat

Turn circle: 34.8 feet

Tires (215), alloy wheels: 17-inch

Brakes: discs, 12 inches front, 11.8 inches rear

Weight: 3,854 pounds including 1,008-pound battery

Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles powertrain and lithium ion battery, five years or 60,000 miles base warranty and roadside assistance

Assembly: Korea

Information: www.kia.com



Jerry Kuyper

Born on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Jerrold E. Kuyper quickly became familiar with tractors, pickup trucks and related agricultural equipment. He left that behind to graduate from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and attend graduate schools in Evanston and Chicago. He was hired as a reporter for the Kenosha News, a daily newspaper in Kenosha, WI. After a stint of a dozen years at the Kenosha News, he became a columnist, layout, page and sections editor at the Northwest Herald, a daily newspaper based in Crystal Lake, IL serving northwest Chicago suburban communities.

While with the Northwest Herald he helped create, write reviews and opinion columns as well as edit the newspaper's Wheels section, a 16- to 40-page broadsheet that appeared weekly in the newspaper's Friday edition. Wheels was devoted to reviews of new vehicles, looks at automotive history, current trends in the automobile world and columns by automotive enthusiasts. Midwest Automotive Media Association members who contributed to reviews and columns included Mitch Frumkin, Phil Arendt, Matt Joseph and James Flammang as well as photo journalist Doug Begley and dragster specialist Fred Blumenthal.

Kuyper, who lives in Salem Lakes, WI, is a founding member of MAMA, is married, has three children and six grandchildren.