2023 Kia Niro EV first drive – where does this ‘intelligent EV’ fit in Kia’s lineup?

by Jameson Dow

Kia invited us to San Diego to drive the refreshed all-electric 2023 Kia Niro EV, a significant update from the original e-Niro.

The car uses Kia’s “K3” platform, which was designed to accommodate both fully-electric and other “electrified” powertrains, rather than the fully electric E-GMP platform which the EV6 is built on.

The Niro available with three powertrain options – the EV which we drove, and also a HEV and PHEV version. Kia wanted to provide an option for consumers no matter where they are in their “electrification journey.”

Kia says they expect about two-thirds of the model to sell with the hybrid powertrain, one-fourth with the electric, and the remainder as plug-in hybrids (lets get those EV numbers up, alright everyone?). All powertrains will be available in all 50 US states.

Kia did have HEV and PHEV models available at the event, but the PHEV was in limited supply and only had 33 miles of range, so we couldn’t take it on the full route, and we passed on driving the HEV, as Electrek doesn’t cover gasoline-powered vehicles.

The Kia Niro is roomy, with plenty of headroom and legroom. Kia says, compared to the RAV4, the Niro has “more” legroom (by half an inch) and “comparable” headroom.

I had no problem sitting in the back seat when the front seat was adjusted for a 6′ driver, with multiple inches of space between my knees and the back of the seat.

The ride was comfortable, but not plush. 100% vegan materials have been used throughout the interior on the upgraded “Wave” trim, with some recycled materials as well. The headliner, for example, is made from recycled wallpaper.