Nov 252019

Not satisfied with reversing nearly every clean air and water regulation enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since its inception in 1970, the federal government has decided to take on California’s clean air laws. Despite these efforts, new and improved electric vehicles (EVs) will keep rolling off production lines, due in large part to California’s successful emissions standards.

Initially, EVs did present certain challenges. With minimal electric ranges, the first EV models helped coin a new phrase, “range anxiety.” Tesla reversed that with ranges of 300-plus miles and other manufactures followed suit. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently tested the 2019 Kia Niro EV EX Premium and its range of 200-plus miles will set minds at ease.

Kia first introduced the gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Niro in 2017. It was followed by the Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid in 2018 and in 2019, the Niro EV completed the lineup.

Knowing that this vehicle uses no gasoline is a thrill, but that it does it without immediately losing power or range elevates the experience. Powered by a 201-horsepower electric motor with 291 lb.–ft. of torque, lithium ion polymer battery and assisted by an onboard charger and adjustable regenerative braking via paddle shifters, the Niro EV has an estimated electric range of 239 miles.

When testing other EVs, LTR has seen the starting range quickly evaporate once the throttle or any other function like air conditioning was engaged, but not on the Niro. After charging overnight on a 120-volt plug in the garage, the range read 263–285 miles and dissipated at a normal rate, much more like gasoline, even with the air conditioning running. Of the four drive modes that come standard, Normal, Sport, Eco + and Eco, most of the test drive was conducted in the latter.

On the outside, it stands out from its siblings with a unique front fascia with a closed off grille for improved aerodynamics. It stands out among EVs with a Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge plug located in the front of the vehicle.

Early electric vehicles were small and light to help extend the range but the Niro brings the convenience of a crossover utility vehicle with seating for five and a rear seat that folds flat to expose 53 cubic feet of cargo room.

It’s also loaded with standard features, like a blind spot monitor, that help justify its starting price. Technology like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smart cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert (essential in any parking lot and assisted by a whirring sound so that it can be heard by pedestrians), a smart key with push-button start, and AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM audio system are all standard.

As the premium trim, the test model also included more exclusive features like a power sunroof, heated and ventilated leather front seats, Harmon Kardon premium audio, navigation with an eight-inch touchscreen, and a rear parking sensor.

Pricing for the Niro EV starts at $39,545. The as-tested pricing came to $47,155.

Sí: The Niro EV beckons to the open road with an impressive range and with a quick charger that extends electric power.

No: Already a bit pricey, not sure the added features for the Premium trim warrant more than $10,000 extra from the base.


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