Green Vehicles

2024 Best Mainstream EV: Kia Niro EV

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining interest from Canadian car buyers looking for a more efficient way to get around. While it seems like the market is loaded with pricey battery-powered vehicles that aren’t eligible for incentives, drivers still have many excellent standout options in the more mainstream and budget-friendly arena. With its practical and user-friendly approach to emissions-free driving, the 2024 Kia Niro EV has been voted by our jury of more than 20 automotive experts as the Best Mainstream EV in this year’s AutoTrader Awards.

Packing a 64.8-kWh battery that enables 407 km of range on a full charge, the front-wheel drive Niro EV has enough range to satisfy most drivers’ commutes. To make it more convenient, it can accept charge rates up to 85 kW, which enables a 10 to 80 per cent recharge in just 45 minutes with the right charger.

That hearty range is coupled with a stout electric motor that outputs 201 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque for a powertrain that is as impressive as it is efficient.

As AutoTrader Road Test Editor Dan Ilika explains in his review, “The 150-kW electric motor nestled between the front fenders makes significantly less torque this time, but the 188 lb-ft it generates makes the Niro EV better to drive than before.”

After a recent redesign, the affordable EV is now more stylish than before, it’s very user-friendly, and it also balances comfort and performance well with its smooth and responsive road manners.

The EV also impresses with a long list of comfort and convenience features. Inside, you’ll find a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, automatic climate control, and heated front seats. Furthermore, higher trim models offer a head-up display, wireless phone charging, a power tailgate, roof rails, ventilated front seats, and even vehicle-to-load (V2L) feature that allows drivers to power or charge items like laptops and electric scooters.

One highlight of the Niro EV is the addition of a proper one-pedal driving mode. “The regenerative braking can still be adjusted using the paddles on the steering wheel, but rather than pulling on the left one to bring the Niro EV to a stop, the system can do the job on its own when the so-called i-pedal mode is active,” Ilika explains in his review.

The safety equipment is also impressive, as the Niro includes seven airbags, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, a junction turn assist system that can warn of oncoming traffic when making a left turn, and adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assistance. That’s not even a fully loaded model, which adds parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, rear automatic braking, and an advanced highway driving assistant that can provide lane change assistance.

As well-rounded as it is, it was not an easy feat for the Kia Niro EV to be voted as the Best Mainstream EV by our jury, as it was up against every other vehicle in this segment, including the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen ID.4, Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Kona EV, and more. The Niro EV stands above the rest with its winning combination of value, technology, user-friendliness, and practicality. That’s an impressive list of strengths given the hatchback’s relative affordability. The Niro EV starts at $48,483 before destination or any incentives and represents the best mainstream EV our jury can confidently recommend to Canadian drivers.

Ilika sums it up best, saying the “Kia Niro EV builds on the same good stuff as before, with better looks, a bit more space, and more useful features.”