By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – I had completely forgotten that the Kia Niro being delivered was an EV; that is an electric vehicle. It wasn’t a hybrid or a plugin hybrid; both have gasoline engines that work in tandem with electricity generating batteries. The Kia EV had no gasoline engine, it was completely electric.
I was scheduled to go to Chelsea in a couple of days. That’s about 60 miles from here. Now I’ve written about range anxiety, I’ve theorized about it and I’ve participated in panel discussions on the subject. But for the first time I experienced it and the feeling was almost immediate.
At the heart of the Niro EV were the 64 KWh liquid-cooled Lithium ion Polymer battery and the electric motor that made 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque.
The Kia Niro doesn’t come with a charger but for peace of mind and practicality you would be wise to get one to go with this car. And whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to know or to learn a little bit about electricity.
It takes 60 minutes to charge the battery to 80 percent of its capacity with a DC fast (100kW) charge. A DC 50 kW charge will do the job in 75 minutes. A 240v (Level 1) will take 9 hours and 35 minutes for a full charge and 120 v (Level 1) will take 59 hours. Really, that is what the media information said.
Just plug the Kia Niro EV in, the plugs in the front of the crossover. But the settings have to be right to match the current flowing into the car. I opted not to call and get the right settings for my 120v outside socket. Besides I didn’t know whether eight or nine hours charging overnight with 120v would be of any use.
And I thought it might not be a bad thing if I could say that I drove Kia Niro for a week and didn’t charge it. It had a range of 257 mile; officially it is 239 miles, when I started the test drive. There was one full day and 97 miles left when I wrote this review. That wasn’t bad, I drove about 160 miles.
Beyond the silence, there wasn’t that much difference in the electric driven Kia EV and a gasoline engine powered car. Kia said the Niro EV makes a whir to alert pedestrians but I never heard it; of course I was inside the car. The Kia EV was silent but the everyday sounds of driving with windows down created the connection needed between movement and the crossover.
There are two cold weather packages; 1.0 had a battery heater, heat pump and heated steering wheel. That’s what my test car had. But I was also concerned about heat. Not in the car but outside. It was hot and humid during most of the test drive yet I refrained from using the air conditioner; it did reduce mileage the few times I used it. But as soon as I turned it off, the range increased.
To say the Kia Niro EV was smooth is kind of nutty. There were no gears because there was no transmission. The torque which was just about instant gave the car a rate of acceleration from just about any speed that was surprisingly quick.
It had most of the bells and whistles that you’d expect on a premium crossover. There was forward collision warning, adapter cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, driver attention warning, blind spot collision warning with rear cross traffic alert and parking sensors.
Of course there was satellite radio, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, wireless smartphone charging and a premium audio system. The Niro EV was equipped with heated and cooled front seats, it had a rotary shifter and four drive modes: sport, normal, eco and eco+.
The back seats were comfortable, spacious and there was plenty of headroom and ample legroom as well. Kia said the Niro EV could carry five people and I think it could. It would be snug for three adults in the back seats but there people could sit back there in relative comfort.
Lest I forget, there was a moonroof, regenerative braking, LED headlights and daytime running lights, as well as push button start stop and push button lock unlock. The base price of our 2019 Kia Niro EX Premium was $44,000.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com