Update: ‘2023 Kia Niro EV prototype review’ section added.
The 2023 Kia Niro made its U.S. debut at the 2022 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS 2022) on April 13, 2022. The updates are comprehensive inside and out, and as now, the Niro offers a choice of multiple alternative powertrains and suits the needs of a wide range of customers. It will be available in North America in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric versions.
Here’s what we know about the improved electric SUV version:
2023 Kia Niro EV Exterior
The 2023 Kia Niro has an unmistakable road presence with a bold design inspired by the Kia HabaNiro concept presented during the 2019 New York International Auto Show. In addition to being significantly more premium, its exterior is quite funky, with a strong focus on tapping the interest of young customers. The silhouette is largely similar, but there is a greater degree of extremity at the rear, explained later in this section.
Video Source: YouTube/Kia America
The new Niro’s Tiger nose grille is slimmer, edgier, and noticeably wider, covering the width of the SUV. The headlamps and their striking ‘heartbeat’ LED DRL provide a confident look. The lower grille is sizeable, adding to its assertiveness. Kia says the Niro uses the group’s third generation K platform, and it’s a clean-sheet design compared to the current Niro EV. The all-new Niro embodies the brand’s ‘Opposites United’ design language.
On the sides, the 2023 Kia Niro has edgy mirrors, 17-inch wheels, a contrast C-pillar, and a distinct steel gray and black body cladding. This feature makes the 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, unavailable stateside, has the same style of lights. The charging port is positioned between the front grilles.
The rear windscreen is raked at a steeper angle than the first-gen Niro. Another noticeable change is relocating 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. The draft coefficient (Cd) is 0.29, which is noteworthy for a boxy SUV.
Kia Niro EV Interior & Features
Kia has been making great progress in the past decade in interior design, and the 2023 Niro is the latest example showcasing that achievement. The design takes inspiration from Hyundai Motor Group’s latest parametric design language, which is seen on the EV6 also.
The cabin of the Niro goes on a diet to free up space for occupants and is 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 2023 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).
Active Sound Design and 10.25-inch screens
10-inch head-up display, 10.25-inch fully digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Digital Key 2 and cabin air purifier are some of the other equipment highlights of the 2023 Kia Niro. The ambient lighting strip in the cabin is a fine touch, making the cabin feel like a lounge on wheels. Kia has played around with acoustics on the Niro electric. The vehicle features Active Sound Design which lets the driver alter the whine of the electric motors digitally.
The electric crossover comes with optional Harman Kardon audio and optional heating and ventilation for front seats. Moreover, Kia offers Natural Voice Recognition to control temperature and audio simply by saying a few commands for Niro EV customers. Buyers also get Kia Connect—the brand’s version of connected car features where owners can remotely access charge status, make route plans, and view vehicle health information, among other functions.
Vehicle-To-Load (V2L) support makes bi-directional charging possible in the 2023 Niro EV. Like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Genesis GV60, the Niro EV allows using its battery to charge other EVs and power electronic appliances, electronic equipment, and more. However, V2L can only be used until the battery range falls to 10%, beyond which the system auto-cuts the external power supply. Hence, it would be prudent to use bidirectional charging only when the battery has enough charge.
Kia Niro EV Specifications
The complete U.S.-spec dimensions were not released at the 2022 New York International Auto Show. But we expect the figures to be identical to the European model. The new Niro is 4,420 mm (174.0 in.) long, 1,825 mm (71.6 in.) wide, and 1,545 mm (60.8 in.) tall. Compared to the first-gen, it is 65 mm (2.6 in) longer, and 20 mm (0.8 in.) wider. Its wheelbase measures 2,720 mm (107.1 in.), marking an improvement of 20 mm (0.8 in.) from the first-gen model.
The cargo space behind the seats is 475 liters (16.7 cu. ft.), 24 liters (0.5 cu. ft.) more than before. Including the volume from the frunk (20 liters/0.7 cu. ft.) and the space freed after dropping the rear seats, the total cargo space of 1,392 liters (49.1 cu. ft.) is available in the all-new Niro.
With the model change, Kia says that the Niro EV has best-in-class passenger room. It claims to have 8 more cubic feet of passenger cabin room and 50 percent more cargo room than the Tesla Model 3. Complete specifications of the American model should be released in the coming months.
The U.S.-spec 2023 Kia Niro EV is propelled by an electric motor tuned to deliver 150 kW (201 hp). While torque figure for the U.S. model has not been revealed, it’s likely to be identical to the Euro-spec Niro whose electric motor produces 255 Nm (188 lb.-ft.).
Accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in the new Niro EV takes 7.8 seconds, and the top speed of the Euro-spec electric SUV is 167 km/h (104 mph). Back to the U.S.-spec, powering the single motor is a 64.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that provides a manufacturer claimed target range of 253 miles. The car will be sold with an optional heat pump and battery warmer to preserve range in cold weather.
The 2023 Kia Niro EV also supports maximum DC fast charging speeds of 85 kW that can replenish the battery from 10% to 80% in less than 45 minutes. The ground clearance is set at 6.3 inches. Refer to the chart below to see the differences between the 2022 and 2023 Kia Niro EV models.
i-PEDAL & Smart Regenerative Braking System 2.0
One-pedal driving is possible in the 2023 Niro EV in the ‘i-PEDAL (Intelligent Pedal)’ mode. Here, the driver can perform acceleration, deceleration, and braking by modulating the accelerator pedal. The 2023 Niro EV’s Smart Regenerative Braking System 2.0 automatically adjusts the amount of regenerative braking depending on the traffic data from the navigation system and the driver’s deceleration pattern. The driver can change the intensity of regenerative braking to the desired level using the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel.
|Aspect||Outgoing Kia Niro EV||New Kia Niro EV|
|Length||4,355 mm (171.4 in.)||4,420 mm (174.0 in.)|
|Width||1,805 mm (71 in.)||1,825 mm (71.6 in.)|
|Height||1,545 mm (60.8 in.)||1,545 mm (60.8 in.)|
|Wheelbase||2,700 mm (106.2 in.)||2,720 mm (107.1 in.)|
|Power||150 kW (201 hp)||150 kW (201 hp)|
|Torque||291 lb.-ft.||255 Nm (188 lb.-ft.)|
|Range||239 miles (EPA-est.)||253 miles (Kia target)|
|Battery Size||64 kWh||64.8 kWh|
|DC fast-charging||0% – 80% SoC in 54 minutes||10% – 80% SoC in under 45 minutes (85 kW)|
|Towing capacity||No Towing Capability||750 kg|
|Boot space||451 liters (15.9 cu. ft.)||475 liters (16.7 cu. ft.) + 20 liters (0.7 cu. ft.) frunk|
|Luggage Capacity||1,405 liters (49.6 cu. ft.)||1,392 liters (49.1 cu. ft.)|
The U.S.-spec 2023 Kia Niro comes equipped with a raft of standard advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including forward and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane keep and follow assist, driver attention warning, blind spot monitoring plus assist, and more. What’s more, the Niro electric comes with safe exit warning, which provides a warning if a vehicle approaches when a passenger is exiting the EV.
Driver Attention Warning
Some ADAS features offered as standard are the Driver Attention Warning and Rear Occupant Alert. The former detects driver drowsiness and recommends a break if necessary. It can also alert the driver if a vehicle upfront departs from a standstill to join the lane. The latter encourages the driver to check the rear seats before driving. What’s more, Niro electric comes with Digital Key 2.0 which enables a host of remote functions using Apple or Samsung devices.
Adaptive cruise control, navigation-based curve, and Highway Driving Assist 2, which allows partial autonomous driving is likely to be offered on higher variants, and optionally on lower variants. The new 10-inch heads-up display also helps drivers avoid distractions by showcasing essential driving information. The HUD not only displays navigation directions, but also projects safety warnings, speed, and infotainment data directly in the driver’s line of sight.
Structural improvements in the next-gen Kia Niro EV
Kia says the torsional rigidity of the Niro EV (international-spec) has improved. There’s an impressive 22% increase in advanced high strength steel use while the body in white weight (weight before the motor, chassis components, and interior trims) has been reduced by 20.3 kg (6%). The improvements in rigidity should enhance the ride and handling characteristics of the Niro. Rigid unibody structures offer tight body control and are less prone to getting unsettled because of road imperfections. Kia has reinforced hot-stamping structural members in the main part of the bodywork to make the Niro EV safer.
Battery pack safety measures
Kia has made the Niro EV’s battery pack safer by using aluminum reinforcement on its underside. Complementing this structural upgrade is a battery conditioning function, which keeps the temperature of the battery pack at an optimal level. It preheats the battery pack when the external temperature is low to deliver maximum output. Moreover, it pre-optimizes the battery pack temperature when the driver sets a fast-charging station as the destination in the navigation system.
2023 Kia Niro EV prototype review
The new Kia Niro EV pre-production prototype has been reviewed on the UK’s roads. Auto Express says in its review that the Niro EV packs enough grunt to get up to speeds quickly. However, it doesn’t deliver the delightful sensations of more powerful EVs. Although, there’s ample torque in reserve to get the front wheels spinning if the throttle is floored on surfaces with less grip. Autocar says that Kia engineers have smoothened out torque delivery so that the vehicle can put power on the ground more effectively. The EV feels brisk rather than quick.
Like the previous e-Niro, the Niro EV also comes with paddles behind the steering to adjust the levels of brake energy recuperation. The driver can exercise one-pedal driving and maximize energy regeneration in its most extreme setting. The system will bring the EV to a complete halt after the throttle pedal is released, as per Auto Express. To effectively use this technique, one has to practice anticipatory driving and look far ahead to predict the required throttle input. Once the customers understand the system’s working principle, they will get used to it.
Ride quality and handling
NVH levels have improved on the Niro EV compared to the e-Niro. Wind buffeting is contained, and the cabin remains tranquil for the most part. In terms of ride quality, it’s primarily stiff, but not to a degree where it gets unnerving. The Niro EV could feel unsettled on bumpy roads at slower speeds. But once the vehicle gets going, it irons out road undulations well, says Auto Express. It’s a relatively high-riding EV, but thanks to the chassis calibration, the body control remains decent in the corners, sans excessive body roll. Autocar reports that the EV is agile despite its 1700+ kg curb weight.
Price & Release Date
The 2023 Kia Niro EV, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid variants will arrive at U.S. dealers in fall 2022. The vehicle can be purchased in all 50 states. The 2023 Kia Niro EV prices should start between USD 35,000-38,000.
The Niro EV competes with its cousin, the Hyundai Kona EV, which features a new face and updated interior following the mid-cycle refresh in 2021. It rivals the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, too, the troubled model that is again in production and seeking a fresh start.
Niro EV is 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. The EV variant has won the heart of many Americans that it has ranked No.1 in the J.D. Power 2022 Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study. This is the second consecutive year that the Niro EV has topped the J.D Power customer satisfaction index.
The study for 2022 was fielded in October 2021, and 8,122 BEV and PHEV owners were surveyed in total. Repeating its performance from the previous year, the Kia Niro EV ranked the highest in the mass market BEV category, with a score of 744 on a 1,000-point scale. Owners were surveyed in the study on the 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 sold 8,717 units of the Niro EV in the U.S. in 2021. Compared to 2020, annual sales of the electric SUV were up 206% in the country, which is a remarkable growth. Kia said that EV sales in the U.S. grew 97% year-over-year in 2021. The EV6 and new-generation Niro EV could help make new records in 2022 and 2023 if supply is not challenged.
Soul EV discontinuation clears the way for the Niro EV
The Kia Soul EV is gone for good in the U.S. market. As per a report from Autoblog, there’s no plan to launch the second-gen Soul EV. 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’s success in the B-segment hinges on the new 2023 Niro EV.
Next-gen 2023 Kia Niro EV FAQs
When will the new Kia Niro EV be launched?
Kia has confirmed that the all-new Niro will arrive in U.S. dealer showrooms in fall 2022.
What will be the 2023 Kia Niro EV price?
The base variant (U.S.-spec) of the 2023 Kia Niro EV is projected to cost between USD 35,000 and 38,000.
Featured Image Source: Hyundai