Surrounded by the blue skies of Palm Springs, windmills – as crisp white as the 2021 Kia Niro EV – spin in the hurrying winds. Sand jumped across the flat, dark sidewalk, and I pinned it to the ground. Tire smoke suffocated the cabin, as this completely nondescript refrigerator on wheels scorched the front engine of what looked like a city block.
full disclosure: Kia loaned us an electric Niro with a full tank of electricity. He served yelling faithfully around Los Angeles for a week and out to Palm Springs and back.
The Kia Niro EV delivers 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque, the latter number available straight from the stop sign. Makes for a fairly noisy car. It’s not from the propulsion system – like all electric cars, it’s nearly silent. The noise comes from the high-pitched tire screeching as you roast your way through every intersection you can make. It’s amazing. No car that looks like this should go like this. Nothing boring and rational has to be so silly.
To put this in small perspective, the Niro is essentially a hatchback/mini-cross version of the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid, which is somewhat similar to Hyundai’s competitor to the Prius. The Ioniqs is content with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing around 140 horsepower with its hybrid engine. Similar models like the Kia Forte or what pretty much don’t have the same bones and live on with 120 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque midway through the rev range.
The Niro EV doesn’t double that power number, but it looks like it does. It’s not like 200 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque is a lot in the summary, but it’s definitely plenty for the Kia Niro. Overwhelmed is the word. Overcome is the feeling. This is something like a very heavy hatchback. Well, hot hatchbacks are light and smart. Better said, the Kia Niro EV functions as a muscle car, just one boxy.
I don’t know exactly if I’d be looking for a muscle car version of a somewhat utilitarian hatchback, but when I found myself plunging into the driver’s seat, I couldn’t help but collapse, skrrrt ‘I’m on my way around Southern California like someone who just signed a new charger lease agreement. With traction control off, the Niro EV is a hugely antisocial vehicle.
It wouldn’t be funny if the car wasn’t completely electric. This thing is supposed to be environmentally friendly. It is the most environmentally conscious model in the Nero range. reasonable. I refill dr. My Brunner is in the collaborative version.
Let me briefly address a very practical evaluation of the Kia Niro EV, for anyone who is particularly curious about what it’s like to live for an extended period of time.
The ride is fun, as is the interior. It does not present itself as exceptional in any meaningful way; Prius feels more special. It’s roomy and comfortable, but the trunk area is smaller than you might think. Flat floor followed and He has no deeper vacation As if you were entering, say, a Nissan Leaf. There is also no frunk! Instead, there is a fake hood that takes up unnecessary space. You can get two cubic feet up for groceries or bags you don’t want to be lounging on your passenger seat, but Kia didn’t bother with that.
I will also say that the Niro EV’s range and charging are excellent. Its EPA value is 239 miles, and I’ve seen 200+ similar numbers in my time. I didn’t have to worry about charging, even after mysterious Incident involving a confused Porsche Taycan driver trying to use the same charger as me and then coming back to find my car wasn’t charged. It was as if the Taycan driver had unplugged my car, reached their car, charged it, and left.
But the car got me everywhere I needed to go, with a spare range. Taking sips of electricity around Southern California’s plentiful chargers was no less convenient than driving a gas-powered, slightly cheaper car. Good thing it was good—this Niro EV read $47,155 on the window sticker with the $1,100 cold weather package. You get a battery heater, a heat pump, and a heated steering wheel, I guess if you drive into the Sierra in the winter you go see the snow once a year. The same parts in the hybrid version are more than 12 thousand cheaper.
Let me make a more brief digression. For whatever reason, all my car-related friends are obsessed with electric conversions for classic cars. You can take something old and cool but mechanically hopeless (my Volkswagen Beetle, for example) and drive a simple high-torque electric motor into place. Save some space for the batteries and you have a simple and reliable tire smoking machine. The Kia Nio EV follows the same basic premise – it’s an all-electric conversion of a hybrid car made by Kia as a company, not by an unemployed engineer in their garage. This is what it feels like: an ordinary car with an electric motor.
This Niro tells us two things about EVs as they become more common. The first is that these vehicles are fun by nature, and are better suited to American driving than any expert would think. American driving is an endless loop of traffic lights, ramps, and then quiet highway decals. The Niro EV does the last part just fine, almost in silence. It makes the first two parts spontaneously interesting, as it cranks up as fast as a Honda tuned to a mute. I don’t know how many fit the profile of “I want a car that functions as a CR-V that was boosted in the 2000s but doesn’t irritate the neighbors,” but Kia certainly covers the market.
The second is that electric cars should offer you something in return. The trade-off is that it’s more annoying than gas cars (although it’s hardly felt in Southern California in the midst of rising gas prices) and so should make you feel that it’s somehow worth it. I don’t know how much I felt I was saving the world in any meaningful way, clogging the same highways as everyone else in Los Angeles, smog or not. If anything, this Niro has made me feel that electric vehicles are less environmentally responsible than I’ve ever felt before. The car does not ask you for any concessions. It has a lot of range, the interior looks quite natural. There’s nothing behind the wheel that makes you feel like you’re doing a good job. You’re just another idiot who puts his right foot on the ground, ripping ass on the road.