The electric car world has made its decision. There are Tesla-style EVs, ones built as electric from the ground up, that look and feel like the future, and there are boring EVs, sharing bones with gas-powered models, that look and feel like any other car. The Tesla model won, so where does that leave the Kia Niro EV?
The Niro EV is honest, at least. It’s a Kia Niro, except instead of being powered by a gas engine, it has a fully electric drivetrain. The two versions are about as similar as Kia could get away with, given the $10-$15,000 difference in MSRP, depending on how you option things or how hard your local Kia dealer leans on you.
There are a couple of different ways to look at the Niro EV, then.
On one hand, it’s a preview of a potential future: What if the future of cars was exactly the same as now, except we ran our cars off the power grid instead of hauling crude out of the Gulf of Mexico, refining it, shipping it, and pumping it into our gas tanks. How nice is it to drive a car that is nearly silent and wonderfully quick off the line?
On another hand, it’s a thought experiment in making a car as inconvenient as possible: What if a car was totally normal, except you couldn’t refuel it at any gas station and knew that its drivetrain technology was, if we’re being charitable, about two or three years from being painfully obsolete? Kia’s EV6 is already rolling out, a generation ahead of this Niro in its digital and mechanical design, to say nothing of its styling.
But I don’t know which of these thoughts appeals to you? Or do you not want a theoretical and thematic review of the Niro EV at all? Are you just curious if it’s that much nicer than a plug-in hybrid, or are you one of the five people wondering if you should get one of these or a Nissan Leaf instead?
I’ll be driving this car through this weekend, putting in plenty of miles criss-crossing LA and heading to Palm Springs and back. Let me know what you want to know!