by Michael Butler
The 2020 Kia Niro EV is, as its name suggests, the electric version of the Niro SUV. While the latter has been around since the 2017 model year, the electric variant took a little while longer to get here, only debuting last year. The Niro EV occupies a space in the market that is becoming an increasingly hot battleground for manufacturers: the electric subcompact crossover market. This little eco-friendly SUV does battle with competitors such as the Hyundai Kona EV and Chevrolet Bolt and has a lot going for it. It provides good interior space, a ton of safety features, an impressive infotainment system, and a competitive asking price starting at just $39,090 before incentives. Under the proverbial hood of this little EV hides a 201-horsepower electric motor with 291 lb-ft of torque which it sends to the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gearbox. This relaxed little subcompact crossover might just be the perfect city companion in the USA, but there are some shortcomings.
The 2020 Niro EV forms part of the first Niro generation introduced back in 2017. For 2020, the Niro EV crossover gets a set of redesigned headlights and improved tech. The EX trim now gets a standard eight-inch infotainment display, while EX Premium models get a 10.25-inch display.
See trim levels and configurations:
The Niro 4-door EV might not look like an especially exhilarating car to drive, but its electric powertrain provides entertaining performance. Under its skin, the Niro EV packs a single electric motor mounted to the front axle for a simple yet effective front-wheel drive system. This setup is good for 201 hp and 291 lb-ft and is linked to a 64 kWh battery pack. You won't set the tires alight, but there is a constant surge of power on offer, and the 0 to 60 mph time of 7.5 seconds is pretty impressive, as is the 50 to 75 mph time of only five seconds. It can get up to decent speeds too, with a top speed of 103.8 mph. But a key selling point for any electric vehicle is its range. The Niro EV achieves 239 miles on a charge, giving it a combined MPG equivalent of 112 according to the EPA. Charging is relatively quick on a DC fast charge network, taking as little as an hour to charge from 5 to 80%, but a level 2 charge takes 9.5 hours to achieve a full charge.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Niro EV does battle in one of the most important car market segments and does so with confidence. The Niro provides better build quality than competitors such as the Chevrolet Bolt and even the Tesla Model 3, and 2020 sees the little Niro receiving improved infotainment tech and updated styling. On the inside, the Niro EV delivers a clever package, and despite the slightly odd dashboard layout, there's lots of space for personal items and good passenger space overall. On the road, this little EV is quick enough for most daily driving situations but is far from entertaining to drive. This is one of its greatest downfalls and turns what could have been a great crossover into an OK one. We still appreciate this electric vehicle's hefty list of standard features, solid range, and competitive pricing. But there are a few downsides, including the lack of a safety review of the 2020 Kia Niro EV from any major safety agency.
Kia offers the Niro EV in two trims: the EX and the top of the range EX Premium. As a city-dwelling electric crossover, the Niro will most likely only ever be driven for short distances, and if that's what you're planning on doing, you might as well save some bucks and go for the entry-level car. It still offers many features to keep you comfortable and entertained, such as an eight-inch infotainment display, automatic climate control, push-button start, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Driver assistance features in the EX include forward collision avoidance assist, blind-spot warning, and smart cruise control with stop and go. All this can be yours for under $40k. Going for the EX Premium adds luxuries such as a power sunroof, a Harman Kardon sound system, and wireless phone charging, but at $44,590, the price of the 2020 Kia Niro EV crossover in this spec is nearly $5,000 above base, although both models qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Kia Niro EV: