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I drove the $40,000 Kia Niro EV and found it’s a solid electric SUV for people who want something more traditional than a Tesla

A white Kia Niro EV electric SUV is seen in a parking lot against an overcast sky, with a Tesla charging station in the foreground.The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Tim levin/Insider

  • I tested the 2023 Kia Niro EV, a $39,550 electric SUV. 
  • The Niro EV brings bold, futuristic looks, 253 miles of range, and some cool features. 
  • But it isn’t as exciting as some other electric options on the market. 

Lots of new electric cars are hailed as impossibly quick and cutting edge “Tesla-killers” that will revolutionize the way you drive. 

The 2023 Kia Niro EV is none of those things. And that’s perfectly fine. 

The new Niro, which just got a big redesign for its second generation, isn’t flashy, fast, or all that fun. It isn’t packed with acres of touchscreens or gimmicky features. But it gets the job done and is a solid choice for anyone who wants a regular SUV that just so happens to run on electricity. 

The front of the Kia Niro EV electric SUV against an overcast sky and Dunkin' Donuts in the background.The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Tim levin/Insider

Before we dive into the details, know that the Niro EV Wave that Kia lent me came out to $46,495 before fees and included features like a power sunroof, head-up display, and ventilated seats. The base Wind model costs $39,550 and offers the same range and performance as its pricier twin.

What stands out: Executes all the basics nicely 

Kia and its Hyundai sister brand have been crushing it design-wise lately, and the new Niro is no exception. It’s bold, unique, and features a contrasting boomerang-shaped body panel that adds a little extra flair. It’s stylish inside, too. It gets a quirky, two-spoke steering wheel and dual 10.3-inch screens on a single swoopy panel. 

The Niro EV also delivers all the smoothness and quietude you’d expect from a car that swaps a rumbly gas engine and transmission for silent electric motors. And it offers a solid EPA range of 253 miles

The interior of the Kia Niro EV electric SUV taken facing the windshield, featuring gray steering wheel and seats, darker accents,The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Tim levin/Insider

Its regenerative braking system predictably slows the vehicle down when you let off the throttle, creating energy that’s fed back to its battery pack. (That’s something some much higher-end manufacturers haven’t perfected.) It comes with a generous array of standard safety tech, including blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping. 

Plus, Kia has spiced the Niro up with a few more exciting touches. A touchscreen strip below the main display houses both the climate and media controls, and you toggle between them by tapping a little icon that looks like the Uno reverse card. The leftmost knob, for example, can adjust the volume or temperature. 

A touchscreen strip in the Kia Niro EV electric SUV showing buttons for the volume and climate settings.The 2023 Kia Niro EV’s dual-function touch panel.

Tim levin/Insider

A head-up display on my tester projected important driving info onto the windshield. And when I activated the optional Highway Driving Assist 2 feature (which conveniently follows lane lines and adjusts speed to keep up with traffic), the head-up display showed cool graphics of nearby vehicles on the road that the Kia was sensing and reacting to. The new Niro EV can act like a mobile generator thanks to some included household outlets, but that’s not a standard feature.

What falls short: Missing some of the excitement of other EVs

Still, the Niro EV — particularly in entry-level form — is more of an appliance for getting from A to B than a state-of-the-art piece of tech to show off to friends. 

A light-colored steering wheel in the Kia Niro EV electric SUV.The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Tim levin/Insider

It lacks the sort of instant, perky acceleration most electric cars offer. And it can’t charge all that quickly either, taking 43 minutes to go from 10% to 80% on a fast charger. Kia says its more advanced EV6 can do the same in just 18 minutes. 

Since it shares a platform with hybrid siblings, it doesn’t have the same clever packaging and spacious feel as a Tesla or EV6. When you build an electric car from scratch (rather than repurposing the basic structure of a gas model) you can take full advantage of the more compact components and greatly expand interior space. 

A white Kia Niro EV electric SUV seen from the rear in a parking lot against a blue sky.The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Tim levin/Insider

Unlike in a Polestar 2 or Ford Mustang Mach-E, you won’t find a spacious front trunk or a large iPad-like touchscreen. For some buyers, that might all be perfectly OK. 

Still, it’s worth noting that more exciting vehicles — like the Polestar 2, Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model 3, and Hyundai Ioniq 5 — retail for only slightly more. And some similarly capable models can be had for much less. The Chevrolet Bolt EUV, another compact electric SUV, offers 247 miles of range and starts at just $27,800. Since the Niro EV isn’t made in North America, buying one won’t get you a federal tax credit

The driver-facing screen in the Kia Niro EV electric SUV, showing a speedometer and other gauges.The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Tim levin/Insider

Our impressions

The Niro EV is a good all-around electric SUV, but some rivals are more competitive on price and pizzazz. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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