The Niro that heralded a new era of electrification at Kia when it debuted in 2016 has entered its second generation. As before, the new Niro offers a choice of multiple alternative powertrains and suits the needs of a wide range of environment-conscious customers.
The 2022 Kia Niro broke cover on November 25, at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show. With its launch still a few months away, here’s what we know on the new Kia electric car:
2022 Kia Niro Exterior
The 2022 Kia Niro has an unmistakable road presence with a bold design inspired by the Kia HabaNiro concept from the 2019 New York International Auto Show. In addition to being significantly more premium, its exterior is quite funky as well, with a strong focus on tapping young customers. The silhouette is largely similar, but there is a greater degree of extremity at the rear, explained later in this section.
At the front, the Niro’s upper grille is slimmer, edgier and noticeably wider, covering the whole width of the SUV. The vertical headlamps and their striking ‘heartbeat’ LED DRL provide a confident look and aggressive styling to the SUV. The lower grille is taller and larger, adding to its assertiveness.
On the sides, the 2022 Kia Niro has new edgy mirrors and a contrast C-pillar, a feature that instantly reminds us of the HabaNiro concept. This feature would make the all-new Niro instantly recognizable, and it’s not just an aesthetic feature. It enhances airflow and improves the vehicle’s aerodynamics. However, we would like to point out that the Hyundai Bayon, also unavailable stateside, has the same style of lights.
The windscreen is extremely raked, in a steeper angle compared to the first-gen Niro. Another noticeable change is the relocation of the registration plate area from the bumper to the tailgate. Where the first-gen model has rounded elements for soft styling, the second-gen model has sharp lines for edgy and aggressive styling, and this applies to the rear windows and quarter glasses, too.
2022 Kia Niro Interior
Kia has been making great progress in the past decade in the area of interior design, and the 2022 Niro is the latest example showcasing that achievement.
The cabin of the Niro goes on a diet to free up space for occupants and be aesthetically pleasing. The slim and fluidic dashboard with its stylish off-center curves, the sleek panel merging the fully digital instrument cluster and the touchscreen infotainment system, the chic center console, the dial-type electronic gear selector, and the luxurious two-spoke steering wheel borrowed from the EV6 have made the Niro a more upmarket SUV.
The rising door armrests for the front occupants go well with the new curvy dashboard design. The smaller switches and other physical controls complement the new minimalist interior theme. Kia has used several eco-friendly materials in the 2022 Niro, such as recycled wallpaper (for the headlining), Bio PU with Tencel from eucalyptus leaves (for the seats), and BTX-free paint (for the door panels).
UVO Connect system
Kia should equip the 2022 Niro with the new UVO Connect infotainment system that is snappier and more intuitive and features more connectivity options in all markets. On-demand Find My Car with Surround View Monitor that shares images of the vehicle’s surroundings using cameras, Last Mile Navigation that provides walking directions to the vehicle, Connected Routing cloud-based route calculation system, etc., could be among the new features. The next-gen model should come with over-the-air (OTA) software upgrade capability as well.
Kia updated the UVO Connect app with improved graphics, revised menus, and additional functionality in June 2021. It may update the app again when launching the next-gen Niro EV, although not as extensively.
The updated UVO Connect app (called UVO Connect 2021 on the Google Play and Apple App stores) has new icons for a cleaner look. It features a new customizable home menu that allows the user to enable shortcuts for frequently used functions. Enhancements in the app include a revised settings menu and improved biometric identification as well.
In addition to introducing features to bring the Niro up to date with the rest of the Kia family and competitors, Kia is constantly looking for feedback. UK-based TopElectricSUV.com reader Gill Nowell (Twitter: Gill_Nowell), who has owned a Kia e-Niro for a year and driven it for 8,000 miles, looks forward to minor revisions like a backlit Auto Hold, directly switchable drive modes (from Sport to Drive), and a more intuitive regenerative braking system. Gill, who is convinced that the Niro is fundamentally a great family car, is looking for “virtuous tweaks, rather than any wholesale adjustments” on the incoming SUV.
2022 Kia Niro powertrain
Kia has not announced specs of the new Niro EV, but here’s what we know of the car in this aspect:
The first-gen Kia e-Niro packs a 64 kWh (356 V, 180 Ah) lithium-ion battery pack and a 150 kW (201 horsepower)/395 Nm (291 lb.-ft.) electric motor. It has an EPA-estimated range of 239 miles. The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric with the same setup has an EPA-estimated range of 258 miles.
In some markets, the e-Niro is available with a smaller 39.2 kWh (327 V, 120 Ah) lithium-ion battery pack that gives a range (WLTP) of 179 miles. The motor generates 100 kW (134 horsepower) and 395 Nm (291 lb.-ft.) of torque in this spec. Kia may not offer the standard-range configuration in the all-new Niro EV, at least not in the UK, where more than 95% of the first-gen model orders are for the long-range variant. Paul Philpott, President and CEO, Kia UK and Ireland, revealed this tidbit to Autocar magazine. The company may address the needs of short-range EV buyers with the Soul EV henceforth.
The Niro has not migrated to the advanced Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). So, its electric variant is unlikely to have a flat floor or feature wireless vehicle charging. Kia will not offer high-end exterior features like virtual mirrors, pop-up door handles or a solar roof on this entry-level EV.
The Kia Niro hybrid and Kia Niro PHEV will continue to be available for customers and markets that aren’t ready to adopt battery-electric cars. The all-new Niro likely sits on an improved version of the eco-car platform that debuted in 2015. Expect close to 275 miles of EPA-estimated range in the all-new Niro EV when it reaches the U.S. in the second half of next year. As for Europe and UK, the WLTP (combined) range could be pushing 300 miles with the incoming variant.
Expect a starting price of under USD 40,000 for the second-generation Niro stateside when it hits showrooms likely in the final months of next year. The 2022 Kia Niro EV will compete with its cousin, the Hyundai Kona EV, which features a new face and updated interior following the mid-cycle refresh in 2020. It will rival the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, the new electric SUV that reached dealers in May 2021.
The all-new Niro will be on display at the Seoul Mobility Show from November 25 to December 5. It will be available with HEV, PHEV and EV powertrains starting from next year.Kia announcing the global premiere of the new Niro on Nov 25, 2021
Sales of the 2022 Niro models in other markets also won’t begin before 2022. The electric variant will have a long list of competitors in Europe, where sub-compact electric SUVs include the Hyundai Kona EV, DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, Opel Mokka-e/Vauxhall Mokka-e, and Peugeot e-2008.
Kia SG2 is the 2023 Kia Niro for the U.S.
The first-gen Kia Niro EV will likely remain on sale in the U.S. until summer 2022. It received the MY2021 update on June 4, 2021, and then the MY2022 update just two months later on August 30, 2021. While design and technical specifications remain unchanged, the MY2021 update improved the first-gen model’s safety and convenience.
Kia introduced Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) as a new standard safety feature for the Niro EV with the MY2021 update. It added wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto to the convenience features and offers both across the range. Cabin preheating or cooling became possible, thanks to Remote Start functionality. Lastly, the DriveWise ADAS suite gained three new functions: Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA), Highway Driving Assist (HDA), and Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control – Curve (NSCC-C).
With the MY2022 update, Kia made the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with UVO link and Sirius XM satellite radio, and the premium Harmon/Kardon sound system standard equipment in the Niro EV. The company kept the prices unchanged, USD 39,990 in the EX trim and USD 44,650 in the EX Premium trim.
e-Niro proving to be Kia’s workhorse
The current-gen Kia Niro is not a sales champion in the United States, but it has contributed positively to the image of Kia electric vehicles in the country. In fact, the EV variant has won the heart of many Americans that it was ranked No.1 in the J.D. Power 2021 Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study. 10,000 EV owners were surveyed in the study on factors like range, ownership cost, and driving enjoyment to understand how likely the customers are to repurchase their EV and recommend it to others.
According to a report from InsideEVs, Kia has sold 5,827 units of the Niro EV in the U.S. in the first three quarters of 2021. The company registered 2,933 units or 50% in the third quarter alone. September 2021 was the month Kia EV sales in the U.S. crossed 1,000 units for the first time, and most of it came from the Niro EV (previous-gen Soul EV was still on sale). The company must have high expectations from the next-gen Niro EV when it goes on sale next year with a cool new look.
The same should be true in Europe, where Niro is Kia’s second best-selling model line overall. Kia sold 77,498 units of Niro in Europe last year, and 31,032 were of the Niro EV.
According to a report from The Korea Herald, Hyundai Motor Group has sold more than 200,000 EVs in Europe since 2014, with 131,719 units coming from Hyundai models and 96,200 units from Kias. Sales will grow significantly with the all-new Niro EV, as more consumers switch to EVs. There’s sales potential from not only private customers but commercial customers as well. In June 2021, Kia struck a deal with Uber to offer EVs at special discounts to popularize them in the shared mobility segment.
Soul EV discontinuation clears the way for the Niro EV
The Kia Soul EV is gone for good in the U.S. There’s no plan to launch the second-gen Soul EV, as per a report from Autoblog. The Kia Niro EV will be the only pure electric offering from the brand in that segment. The SUV body style and added space make the Niro EV suitable for American customers. Kia will go all-out in making the Niro EV a better fit for the U.S. market as its success in the B-segment hinges on it.
2022 Kia Niro EV FAQs
When will the new Kia Niro be launched?
The all-new Kia Niro will likely reach U.S. showrooms in the second half of 2022.
What will be the 2022 Kia Niro EV price?
The base variant of the 2022 Kia Niro EV is projected to start at well under $40,000.
Featured Image Source: Hyundai Motor Group