2023 Kia Niro Ev Surfs Long Waves On Its Cool Urban Vibe

I like traveling to California. I enjoy the warm weather, cool architectural vibe, surfing the waves, and of course, imbibing all of the latest electric cars. I love eating on a fresh air patio and cruising the Pacific Coast Highway with windows and sunroof open. If I lived there, or even in Indiana, I’d drive the 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Kia actually makes three Niros: A 54-MPG hybrid, plug-in hybrid with 33 miles range, or full EV with 253 miles range I’m riding this week. They all look like the kind of car you’d attach a surfboard to its roof rails and drive to the beach, which means funky cool styling highlighted by vertical LED headlamps, zig-zag driving lamps, contrasting silver swath on the rear bodyside, and finlike taillamps that appear lifted from Cadillac.

The cabin looks like an art gallery with a flush 20” dual panoramic infotainment display, ambient lighting, and rotary gear selector, I could easily wipe down and vacuum the interior after a day of saltwater and sand. Seats look like a combination of cloth and leather, but are actually 100% vegan for easy cleaning. Deep cubbies in the doors and console held my water and phone gear securely. Power open the hatch to toss in wetsuits or camping gear.

And, it’s pretty luxurious for a compact crossover-ish EV. Dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel keep everybody temperate. Power open the sunroof and crank up deep Harman Kardon audio after connecting wirelessly charged devices via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Use your phone as a digital key and your key fob to remote park in tight garages.

Kia does not play with safety given automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, blind spot warning, lane tracing steering, and rear cross path detection with auto brake. Safe Exit Assist prevents passengers from stepping into traffic. Check the head-up display for speed, navigation, and active safety system alerts.

Moving onto the 405…or I70, there’s plenty of zip. It’s not the fastest EV I’ve driven, but it puts 201 horsepower and 188 lb.-ft. of torque to ground through the front wheels. All-wheel-drive is not available. Kia claims it runs 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, which seems right given the smooth acceleration I experienced jetting onto the freeway. Eco mode optimizes range.

In California, chargers are everywhere, but in the Midwest, not so much. Fortunately, the car fast charges 10-80% in 45 minutes. That’s barely competitive, but tolerable. I gained 60 miles in four hours on a 240v home charger. I wouldn’t drive Chicago to L.A., but a round-trip from L.A. to San Diego or Indy to Cincinnati are possible. In daily use, including an hour-long Interstate run to see my parents, range sufficed.

It’s reasonably affordable. Base hybrids start at $26,590, rising to $33,840 for a plug-in and $39,550 for the pure EV. Ours with every conceivable option comes to $47,765. At that price, it should be cross-shopped against the Chevy Bolt, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volvo XC40 Recharge, and Nissan Leaf.

Storm Forward!

Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.


· Ample range

· Modern interior

· Funky styling


· Charging time

· Small wheels

· Bougie price (loaded)

2023 Kia Niro Wave EV

Five-passenger, FWD Hatchback

Powertrain: Li-Ion batteries/motors

Output: 201hp/188 lb.-ft.

Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind

Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy

Brakes f/r: regen disc/disc

Driving range: 253 miles

0-60 mph: 7.1s

Recharge (DC Fast, 80%): 45m

Economy (comb): 113-mpg-e

Assembly: Hwaseong, Korea

Base/as-tested price: $26,590/47,765