In its first drive of the eagerly awaited Kia Niro EV, Consumer Reports was not impressed.
On paper the Niro EV looks like the Goldilocks of electric cars, not too big, not too small, not too expensive, and with a long range rated at 239 miles by the EPA.
While Consumer Reports agrees that the Niro is a "pleasant and practical" way to go electric, it found the model falls down in the execution.
Similar to its take on the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Niro, CR said the ride can get choppy, and when accelerating onto a highway, the car torque-steers, the tendency common to front-wheel-drive cars to pull to one side when accelerating. Even when not accelerating, they said the steering feels vague.
They also found that while the Niro EV offers the instant, silent acceleration of other EVs, it doesn't offer much of it once it gets rolling.
The organization has not yet conducted its complete track tests of the Niro EV, which will result in fuel-efficiency numbers, active safety performance, and answer other questions such as long-term seat comfort. This was only their first drive.
So far, though, CR says buyers might be better off buying the Niro's sibling, the Hyundai Kona Electric, which was a contender for Green Car Reports Best Car to Buy last year.
The Kona Electric has livelier, more responsive handling, and a significantly longer range rating than the Niro EV of 258 miles for a lower price. Green Car Reports found similar discrepancies in handling between the Kona Electric and the Niro EV in our own first drive.
We hope to follow up on some of those real-world points on this site, however our editorial team hasn't yet driven the Niro EV any distance.
The point may be moot for many buyers. Inventory is thin for both cars, and both are limited to sales in only a handful of Northeastern states plus Oregon and California. (The Niro EV is available in fewer Northeastern states, but is also sold in Texas, Washington State, and Hawaii.)
Korean battery supplier LG Chem has also sued the battery supplier for the Niro EV, SK Innovation, in an intellectual property dispute, seeking to halt sales of the batteries and vehicles that use them. So far, no more has come of it, but it could put a crimp on Niro EV sales if a judge rules against SKI.