Base Camp: 2023 Kia Niro EV

Is the base Niro EV the one to get, or do you spring for the Premium?

By Matthew Guy Wheels.ca

Mar 6, 2023 3 min. read

Article was updated 9 months ago

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Setting aside conversations about the impact of electric cars and the state of public charging infrastructure in many parts of this country (those are rows we can save for another day) there’s no arguing there are more choices in the market than ever before. Kia has taken an interesting tack by offering multiple options in similar segments, one of which is the  Kia Niro EV.

Occupying a unique space in terms of size – larger than a Hyundai Kona, smaller than a Toyota RAV4 – the Niro is available as either a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric. It’s the latter we’ll focus on today. Starting at $44,995 for an entry level Premium trim, it has an advertised range of 407 kilometres when its 64.8 kWh battery is full of juice. Its electric motor is capable of making just over 200 horsepower and 188 lb.-ft of torque, all of which is available the instant its driver flexes their big toe. Kia says the Niro can hoover enough electrons from a Level 3 100kW fast charger to replenish its battery in 45 minutes (bank on 9hr overnight charge if using a Level 2 you’ve installed at home; figure about 2.5 days when plugged into a standard 120V household outlet).

Only the midnight-hued Aurora Black is offered as a $0 colour on the Niro Premium, with Snow White Pearl and Steel Grey costing an extra 250 bones. The absence of roof rails is a dead giveaway to this trim’s base status but features like heated sideview mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels are present. And if anyone mistakes those towering LED tail lamps for something out of a Cadillac catalogue, Kia won’t argue.

Kia Niro EV

Inside, customers will find heated seats up front (important in an EV since they help occupants warm up quickly but don’t use much juice), automatic climate control, and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. That wheel is peppered with buttons, some of which control the brand’s intelligent cruise control system which can act as a useful anti-fatigue device on long journeys. Infotainment is taken care of by a 10.25-inch multimedia interface which features built in nav and the ability to haul in satellite radio stations. It also works well with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Another 10.25-inch screen sits ahead of the driver as a gauge cluster and may be configured umpteen different ways.

What We'd Choose

It’s a $3,000 walk to the Premium+ trim, a level which sounds like a soup cracker but actually adds a few key features – some of them important to the EV ownership experience. Atop this list is a heat pump, a piece of kit which warms the cabin more efficiently than a resistive heater and should be considered a must-have in order to stretch the driving range of any EV. It’s tempting to recommend the Premium+ for this feature alone.

But there are a few extra goodies included for yer extra 3 large, such as a power liftgate at the rear and wireless device charging in the cabin. Seats are upgraded to a cloth/synthetic (read: fake) leather mix, the steering wheel gains heat, and urchins in the peanut gallery are #blessed with an armrest in the centre of their bench.

Toss in the newfound ability to select tasty colours like Runway Red or Mineral Blue (for $250, natch), and the Premium+ trim becomes an easy recommendation.

Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one - or the required options - which earns a passing grade.


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