2022 Kia Niro EV SX Touring

The Niro EV makes a good first impression, largely because it looks remarkably ordinary.
The Niro EV makes a good first impression, largely because it looks remarkably ordinary.

by Rushabh Shah | February 3, 2022

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When a gearhead such as myself hears the term “electric car for the masses” I can’t help but cringe a little. There is nothing that puts a smile on my face quite like some vintage metal converting gasoline into noise. However, after spending a week with the 2022 Kia Niro EV SX Touring even a die-hard internal combustion enthusiast is starting to see the light.

Speaking of engines, this particular flavour of Niro doesn’t have one, however it does pack a 64-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that supplies energy to the front wheels. Power is rated at 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft. of torque, and although that doesn’t sound like much, 0-100km/h happens in a swift 6.2 seconds, faster than the Nissan Leaf’s 6.5. The torque provided by this fully electric setup is enough to overpower the traction from the front wheels with ease, which we found was one of the only pitfalls of driving the Niro.

We noticed under hard acceleration the front end of the Niro would feel rather light, resulting in an unsettling vagueness in the steering. Other than that, with all the weight of the batteries down low and inside the wheelbase, the Niro EV feels stable and nimble. Unfortunately, there is no one-pedal driving mode available on the Niro, but there are paddles on the steering wheel that can be used to adjust the amount of regenerative braking on-the-fly and we found them useful. When used correctly, these can nearly eliminate the need for a brake pedal and put some juice back in the battery.

Speaking of putting juice back into the battery, in our testing it took about 60 hours to charge the Niro from empty on a standard 110V outlet. This can be reduced to under 10 hours with a 220V charger. If you’re looking for the fastest way to pump electrons into your Niro, a 100-kW DC fast charger will have you 80% full in about 54 minutes.

Range is rated by Kia at 385 kilometers, which oddly is less than the Hyundai Kona Electric at 415km which the Niro shares a platform with. It is also less than the Chevrolet Bolt EV at 417 and Tesla Model 3 Standard Range at 430 kilometers, respectively. One vehicle the Niro EV handily beats out for range is the Nissan Leaf Plus.

In our real world testing we are pleased to report that we were able to get remarkably close to the estimated range even with ambient temperatures hovering around the zero-degree mark, and the heat being used all the time. It should also be noted that the range estimate on the dashboard was very accurate and helped reduce range anxiety. When it’s time to charge up, you can use the excellent built-in charge point finder included in the Niro’s infotainment.

On the tech front, the Niro does feel a little dated in some areas. The digital instrument cluster would probably feel more at home in a 1980s GM product with its large seven segment displays rather than the slick modern typefaces being used in today’s market. In contrast, the center infotainment display is large and has decent resolution.

Generally, we found the software to be easy to use and the minute details such as the Nixie-tube inspired radio station display and the sounds of nature feature to be charming. Unfortunately, we found the Harman-Kardon stereo to be underwhelming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also on tap, however one thing you will not be tapping is a physical home button as there isn’t one – an oversight which seems to be commonplace nowadays.

The buttons that you do have feel like quality components and generally the fit and finish in the cabin of the Niro is good. There is still a plethora of hard plastics that we would like to see exchanged for soft touch materials. The seats were definitely the stars of the interior and they felt supportive and comfortable even for longer drives. On this top-trim tester they were heated front and rear, and ventilated up front.

One of the best parts of the Niro following the standard hatchback form is that head and legroom in the rear was excellent even for adults. Storage space was also first-rate as there are cubby spaces galore in this EV, and even a trick little cupholder/bin combo in the front console.

On the outside, the Niro EV makes a good first impression, largely because it looks remarkably ordinary. The Niro manages to look like a perfectly normal family hatchback with just a hint of something unique in its blanked-out grill and blue accents. If you are looking for a EV to blend in with the masses, the Niro fits the bill and because it does not have a sloping roofline like the Mustang Mach-E, you can truly take advantage of the full footprint.

So, what does all of this Kia EV goodness cost you? About $44,995 to start. I wouldn’t recommend that base trim level for the Canadian market as it does not come equipped with a heat pump to keep the cabin warm during the dark months. For comparison, the base Volkswagen ID.4 which handily has the exact same starting price of $44,995 comes standard with a heat pump. The only two trim levels that really make sense for this market are the EX+, which is pretty well the base model with a heat pump, heated seats, steering wheel, and the SX Touring here for a grand $54,695.

For that money, you get a power sunroof, lane keep assist – which we found to be a little frustrating to use as you have to intervene enough that you’ll just wonder why you don’t just steer it yourself, and a blind spot detection system. Also included is that lack-luster Harman-Kardon audio system. In comparison a similarly loaded rear-drive ID.4 is $52,995 and features 20-inch wheels, massaging seats, and a panoramic sunroof, with the option to go AWD for $5,000.

Looked at independently the 2022 Kia Niro EV SX Touring is a great EV for a small family, but when you look at what it competes with, it doesn’t really stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t offer the cool factor of the 2022 IONIQ 5, and it also doesn’t compete with lower priced options such as the Leaf. It looks like the Niro EV will be redesigned for the 2023 model year and at the very least from what we know now, it will offer a nice refresh inside and out. Our best advice is to either look elsewhere for this model year or hold out if the Niro is the EV that piques your interest.

See Also:

First Drive: 2022 Volkswagen ID.4

First Drive: 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5

2021 Kia Niro EV SX Touring

Vehicle Specs
Segment
Compact Electric Crossover
Engine Size
Full EV
Horsepower (at RPM)
201
Torque (lb-ft.)
291 at 0
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
523
Base Price (CAD)
$44,995
As-Tested Price (CAD)
$54,695
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About Rushabh Shah

Staff Writer

Rushabh is an avid car enthusiast since the day he was born. He’s an experienced detailer and largely does his own vehicle maintenance. On the side, Rushabh can often be found tinkering on his classic Porsche 911SC.

Current Toys: ’97 F355 Spider 6MT, '79 911SC Targa, ’00 M5, '13 750i Executive

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