Kia redesigns its Niro small SUV for 2023

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Kia’s Niro EV (electric vehicle) small five-passenger SUV is all new for 2023, as it enters its second generation, and now has an expanded battery range of up to 253 miles between charges.

The EV model is one of three versions of the Niro available for 2023.

It comes in two trim levels, starting with the Wind model, with a base price of $39,550 (plus $1,325 freight), followed by the Wave, which begins at $44,550 and was our test vehicle for this report.

Also available are the Niro HEV (hybrid electric vehicle), which is a straight-up hybrid that starts at $26,590 and ranges as high as $31,490; and the Niro PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), which takes the Niro HEV a step further by allowing it to be recharged through an external electric power source.

The Niro PHEV begins at $33,840 and ranges as high as $39,590.

Both of the Niro hybrid models are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor.

There are two different electric motors used, however. The Niro HEV comes with a 32-kilowatt motor, while the PHEV version gets a 62-kilowatt motor.

The Niro EV is powered by a 150-kilowatt electric motor, which drives the front wheels. There is no gasoline engine, however, so the EV must be recharged externally when its battery runs down. It’s rated at 201 horsepower and 188 foot-pounds of torque.

Power for the Niro EV comes from a new 64-8 kWh battery pack, which gives it the longer range for 2023. There is a single-speed automatic transmission.

Although it remains a subcompact, the new Niro has grown from the previous version, and now has an overall length of 174 inches and a wheelbase of 107.1 inches.

Cargo capacity behind the rear seat has increased to 22.8 cubic feet.

Kia says the Niro has eight more cubic feet of passenger room and 50 percent more cargo space than the Tesla Model 3.

There is 6.3 inches of ground clearance.

Niro EV’s battery can be recharged from the 10 percent level up to 80 percent of full charge in about 45 minutes, using a DC fast charger. The 11kW onboard charger can recharge the Niro EV in under seven hours, using a Level 2 charger.

Charging it through a simple 120-volt residential power outlet can take up to 57 hours, however.

An optional heat pump and battery warmer help preserve driving range in cold weather. This $1,300 option was added to our tester, and included heated outboard rear seats.

Kia says the Niro’s new “bold” exterior design was “inspired by the ‘Opposites United’ philosophy that infuses inspiration from nature with aerodynamic refinement.”

It includes upswept daytime running lights along the sides of the new signature “tiger nose” grille, “which has evolved with the new Kia brand identity.” The rear end features boomerang-shaped LED taillights.

The Niro EV is distinguished from the hybrid versions by Steel Gray or black exterior trim, depending on the body color.

Our tester came with the Snow White Pearl premium exterior color ($395 extra), which was paired with Steel Gray trim panels on both lower sides, and vertical gray rear quarter panels. The bumpers were the same gray.

Inside, the Niro features premium materials and textured surfaces. Its design “borrows cues from the all-electric [Kia] EV6 for a tech-focused environment in all configurations and trims,” Kia says.

Our test vehicle came with the light gray interior with seats of SynTex faux leather. The interior makes use of animal-free textiles, from the seating surfaces to other elements throughout the cabin, and the headliner is made of recycled wallpaper, Kia says.

Other standard features of our Niro Wave EV included a power sunroof, LED projector headlights, LED fog lights, remote smart parking assist/forward parking-distance warning/reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, Highway Driving Assist, a head-up display, a Harman Kardon premium audio system, digital key, memory driver’s seat, heated/ventilated and power-adjustable front bucket seats, heated steering wheel, and LED interior lighting.

Kia Drive Wise driver-assist and safety technology on test vehicle included Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist; Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist-Rear; Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist; Lane Following Assist; and Safe Exit Warning.

There is also a rearview camera system with dynamic guidelines, wireless phone charger, USB/media port and 12-volt outlet, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, smart key with pushbutton and remote start, electronic parking brake, 16-inch alloy wheels, a smart power liftgate, roof rails, rear privacy glass, and dual 10.25-inch display with instrument cluster and navigation.

EPA has rated the Niro EV for 126 city/101 highway/113 combined mpg/e (miles per gallon/equivalent), using 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity per 100 miles.

Driving the Niro EV is fun, particularly because of the great low-end torque provided by the electric motor. The car can go from zero to 60 mph is about 7 seconds. The ride was smooth, and the front bucket seats were comfortable, at least for our limited around-town trips.

Total sticker price for our 2023 Niro Wave EV model was $47,570, including freight and options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at or on Twitter @gchambers3. His driving partner Emma Jayne Williams contributed to this report.

2023 Kia Niro EV

There is room for up to five people in the 2023 Niro EV, along with cargo space behind the rear seat.

There is room for up to five people in the 2023 Niro EV, along with cargo space behind the rear seat.

Kia America

The package: Subcompact, five-door, five-passenger, electric-powered, front-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: Kia’s Niro line of small crossovers has been redesigned for 2023 and includes two hybrid models (regular and plug-in) and the all-electric Niro EV. The Niro EV has a range of up to 253 miles on a full battery charge.

Negatives: Longer trips can be a challenge with battery range.

Engines: 150-kilowatt electric motor.

Transmission: Single speed.

Power/torque: 201 HP./188 foot-pounds.

Length: 174 inches.

Curb weight range: 3,721-3,803 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Cargo volume: 22.8 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 63.7 cubic feet (rear seatback folded).

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Fuel capacity/type: 64.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

EPA fuel economy (mpg-equivalent): 126 city/101 highway/113 combined.

Base price range: $39,550-$44,550, plus $1,325 freight (before any federal or state tax rebates/credits, if available).

Price as tested: $47,570, including freight and options (2023 Niro EV Wave).

On the Road rating: 8.2 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

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