The Kia Niro is already available as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, but now Kia is going all the way with electrification. After a concept-car tease at CES 2018 and an overseas unveiling, the all-electric 2019 Kia Niro EV finally makes its United States debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Kia calls the Niro a crossover, but the vehicle lacks some key crossover qualities. The Niro has a tall roof but a low overall height, and all versions (including the Niro EV) lack all-wheel drive (they’re front-wheel drive only). It’s a bit confusing, but not surprising. Crossovers are incredibly popular right now, so it’s easy to see why Kia used that label to attempt to increase the Niro’s appeal.
The Niro shares the same basic platform as the Hyundai Ioniq, which is also available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric flavors. The Niro EV’s electric motor produces 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque, and draws power from a 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. It’s the same setup used in the 2020 Kia Soul EV, which debuted alongside the Niro EV in L.A.
Kia did not have a U.S. EPA range estimate ready at the time of publication, but it previously said the Niro EV would achieve 236 miles of range on the European testing cycle. The U.S. rating will likely be lower than that.
The Niro EV is equipped with a Combined Charging Standard (CCS) DC fast-charging system that can recharge the battery pack to 80 percent capacity in 75 minutes, or add 100 miles of range in 30 minutes, according to Kia. Charging from a more common Level 2 AC source takes substantially longer, at 9.5 hours for a full charge.
Aside from the all-electric powertrain, the Niro EV is similar to the other versions of Kia’s pseudo-crossover. So the Niro EV gets an available 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a host of driver aids including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and a driver attention monitor.
Pricing for the 2019 Kia Niro EV will be announced closer to the electric car’s launch. The Niro EV will share showroom space with an updated version of the Soul EV, making Kia one of a handful of automakers selling multiple electric cars.