Nimble Compact Crossover Is Among The Best
When the all-electric Kia Niro was introduced in 2019 it followed the 2017 Niro hybrid and then the 2018 Niro plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Clean Fleet Report has been impressed with all three versions, as well as Kia’s eco-friendly philosophy that this year saw the debut of the all-new, all-electric EV6. Keep an eye on Kia as they continue to be a leader introducing new electrified models.
The 2022 Kia Niro EV has a single 150-kilowat (kW) motor that produces 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. It’s 0 – 60 times are just under eight seconds, but it felt quicker than that, especially when zipping around town or in Sport mode. The other driver-selectable drive modes are Eco, Eco+ and Normal, with Eco being the default setting. Normal is the compromise setting for range and responsiveness, while Sport mode is where a bit more spirited driving is found.
The Niro EV has an EPA estimated driving range of 239 miles, but in our real-world driving delivered 273 miles. This range is outstanding and equals or exceeds electric vehicles costing far more.
The liquid-cooled 64-kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion polymer battery pack is replenished through plug-in charging and regenerative braking. The regenerative charging system converts kinetic energy into electric energy, when applying the brakes or coasting, and stores it in the battery. This process can be viewed on a dash gauge where you can watch the power flow into and out of the battery.
The Kia Niro EV also has one pedal driving. The steering wheel-mounted paddles adjust the amount of brake regeneration. When set in the strongest level, it will bring the Niro to a complete stop when you lift your foot off the accelerator. Once mastered (which takes little time), one pedal driving means you do not need to depress the brake pedal, resulting in smoother driving. By continuing to hold the left side paddle, the Niro will remain stopped until released. There are multiple benefits to one pedal driving, including extended brake life and reduced driver fatigue.
The 7.2 kW onboard charger has three plug-in charging options which be controlled by an app to can set the day and time of recharging.
- 120V (Level 1) – 2.5 days to 100%
- 240V (Level 2) – 9 hours, 35 minutes to 100%
- 480V DC Fast Charging – 1 hour, 15 minutes to 80% with a 50 kW charger
- 480V DC Fast Charging – 1 hour to 80% with a 100 kW charger
Here is more information on how to charge your Niro EV.
Driving Experience: On The Road
The Niro EV’s 3,854 pounds feel solid and confident on the road. The well-distributed weight is due to the under-floor battery placement that creates a low center of gravity, resulting in very good driving dynamics. The motor driven power steering was well-tuned for road feel, with maneuvering in town, especially parking, being easy. The heated steering wheel is just the right thickness for comfort and control.
The front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension delivered a smooth and stable ride; tire and wind noise are at a minimum. The 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 215/55 Michelin Primacy all-season tires tires were quiet, but limited sporty driving.
The regenerative braking system, with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist, produced straight and true stops with no brake fade. The pleasant braking whine when stopping reminds you no gasoline is being burned.
But what is that other noise when driving under twenty miles per hour? Have aliens landed? Not quite, but the sci-fi whirring noise, heard when driving slowly, is the Pedestrian Warning System. Consisting of a speaker mounted behind the front bumper, this futuristic sound lets pedestrians know the Niro EV is close by. Without it, there is no sound at all coming from this all-electric crossover.
Smooth Design: In and Out
The new Kia logo is the only change to the 2022 Niro EV. The stylish and uncluttered design is a carry-over from the previous year. The front grille is closed off with a diamond patterned faceplate, and the lower air intake is trimmed with a tasteful blue accent. The charge door is located on the front, which is far more convenient than when placed on either fender. The LED daytime running lights, located in the bottom fascia, complete the clean front end design. The gently sloped hood draws a smooth profile to the A pillars, leading to a near-flat roof, with rack rails and a shark fin antenna, that tails off to an integrated spoiler over the rear hatch window. The horizontal LED taillights and smooth surfaced hatch finish off the rear. Blue accents adorn the lower rear fascia; a very demure “Eco electric” badge rests on the lower right corner of the hatch.
Climbing inside, the spacious cabin includes ample leg and headroom up front and enough for two six-footers in the rear seat, separated by a center armrest with cup holders. The fold-down 60/40 split rear seat produces a cargo area, with under-floor storage, that has easy access through the large hatch opening. The flat floor also provides for extra cabin space and legroom.
Clean Fleet Report was driving the Niro EV EX Premium model with comfortable and supportive heated and ventilated front seats. All seats were covered with SynTex, a synthetic leather seat material that is soft to the touch, resists spills and is easy to clean. The driver gets 10-way power adjustable with lumbar, while the passenger gets 6-way manual adjustments and fully reclining seat function. Outward visibility is excellent as the 6.1-inch ground clearance results in an outlook on the road a bit higher than a sedan, but not as high as a SUV.
The center dash houses the 10.25-inch touchscreen for navigation and the 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, with a subwoofer, that plays AM/FM and SiriusXM and wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Smartphone integration is via Bluetooth and the UVO app. The leather-wrapped steering wheel had controls for audio, telephone and cruise control. Big thanks to Kia designers for the knobs and wheels to control the radio and automatic temperature control.
Comfort and convenience features include rear view camera, smart key with such button start/stop, Auto Hold, power-folding heated outside mirrors, cargo cover, carpeted floor mats, LED interior lights and adjustable mood lighting, rear passenger HVAC vents, driver and passenger power windows with automatic up/down, power door locks and luggage net in the back.
Safety and Warranties
The Niro EV comes with an extensive list of standard safety features, including seven airbags, forward emergency braking and collision warning, stability control, smart cruise control, blind spot monitoring, park assist with front and rear sensors, vehicle stability management, traction control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring system, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert.
The National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Niro EV its highest safety rating of Five Stars.
The 2022 Niro EV comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Battery – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
The 2022 Niro EV comes in two trim levels with these base prices, before options but including the $1,225 destination fee. The Niro EV qualifies for federal and state credits, and in some states, is eligible for a HOV sticker.
EX Premium: $45,875
Observations: 2022 Kia Niro EV
Kia is all-in with vehicle electrification and Clean Fleet Report is glad it is. We have reviewed the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles from the company, and have been impressed with them all.
For versatility, peppy acceleration, ride comfort, excellent range, an impressive list of standard safety equipment, and an outstanding warranty, the 2022 Kia Niro EV is hard to beat. Before visiting your Kia dealer, talk with your tax advisor for clarity on the federal and state credits, and then make an appointment to meet with a Kia factory-trained electric vehicle specialist. Don’t be surprised if you drive home in a Niro EV.
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Story and photos by John Faulkner.
[See image gallery at cleanfleetreport.com] Kia Niro EV Competitors (some on price, some more costly, but with better features)
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