Kia introduced the all-electric Niro EV as a 2019 model. Since then, it’s made small incremental changes and improvements to it. Last year, Kia gave both Niro EV trim levels larger infotainment screens and tweaked the designs of the front and rear lighting. The 2021 model gains several upgrades to its convenience, infotainment and safety tech.
When compared to other cars like the Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E or VW ID.4, the Niro EV sits somewhere toward the more modest end of that spectrum. It lacks the rabid devotion of the Tesla and performance of the Mach-E, but has the sensible, everyday appeal of its German rival.
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2021 Kia Niro EV cost and release date
The Kia Niro EV saw some slight increases in the 2021 model’s price, depending on which trim level you select. The entry-level EX grade still has an MSRP of $39,090, but the EX Premium is slightly more expensive than before at $44,650 – an increase of $60. The destination charge for both variants has gone up by $55 to $1,175.
As of this writing, the 2021 Niro EV is not on the Kia consumer site. However, a Kia rep told Tom’s Guide it’s already showing up in dealerships.
2021 Kia Niro EV design and interior
The Niro EV shares its basic shape and dimensions with the gas-powered model, but features exterior accents that hint at its EV power plant. The tiger nose grille is filled in with a solid, dimpled panel and an integrated charging port door. Bright blue surrounds the lower front grille and highlights the front fog lights and cutouts in the rear bumper. Black lower body and wheel arch trim above the 17-inch wheels does its best to make the front-wheel-drive Niro EV look a little more rugged than it is.
2021 Kia Niro EV driver aids and safety features
Last year’s version of the Niro EV came standard with a long list of Kia’s Drive Wise safety and driver assistance features, including a Pedestrian Warning System, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning. Kia has built upon that impressive array of technologies by equipping the 2021 EX model with Driver Attention Warning with Lead Vehicle Departure Alert and the Rear Occupant Alert system. And the EX Premium model has Smart Cruise Control that can handle curves and the Highway Driving Assist function, which keeps the Niro EV centered in its lane and maintains the speed and following distance the driver sets, even during stop-and-go traffic.
2021 Kia Niro EV battery, range and performance
Just like its predecessor, the 2021 Niro EV draws its emissions-free power from a 356-volt electric motor that produces 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. It's all powered by a 170-kW lithium-ion polymer battery. That combination enables the Niro EV to zap its way to 62 mph in 7.8 seconds. Flat out, it can hit an oddly specific top speed of 103.8 mph. Let’s just say it won’t be taking on Teslas in impromptu drag races — at least with any chance of winning — any time soon. And don’t expect to pull anything behind the Niro EV because it officially has “No Towing Capacity,” according to Kia.
One thing the Niro EV does have is a usable driving range of 239 miles. Out on the highway, it’s rated to return 102 MPGe. In the city, that figure increases to 123 MPGe and contributes to the Niro EV’s combined figure of 112 MPGe.
On a Level 1 charger, the Niro EV needs 2.5 days to fill its battery with a 120-volt plug. That time dips substantially to nine hours and 35 minutes when you hook the Niro EV up to a Level 2 charger. You only need to budget around an hour to get the battery up to 80 percent charge if you happen to find a DC fast charging station. Drawing 50 kW of juice, the battery pack hits that magic number in one hour and 15 minutes; when it gets 100 kW, the battery reaches the same point in an hour flat.
2021 Kia Niro EV outlook
Given how steadily Kia has made small adjustments to the Niro EV’s features over the past few years, it wouldn’t surprise us if the 2022 model comes with even more standard equipment. The arrival of the 2022 EV6 and its futuristic design, 800-volt fast charging capability and ability to operate as a generator has us excited about how it will influence the next-generation Niro EV.