2019 Kia Niro EV First Drive: The Better Chevy Bolt

FEB 1 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 33

Apparently, Niro is Korean for “Better Bolt.”

While we know this isn’t true, we trust Alex on Autos more than most automotive reviewers. He’s intelligent, he knows his stuff, and he makes everything crystal clear. Needless to say, we were beyond excited when we learned that he released his 2019 Kia Niro EV first drive review.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is a compact car by definition. The Kia Niro EV is a subcompact SUV. Surely people will argue about both of those classifications, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. They’re both small crossovers and very similar in many ways.

The Bolt is available nationwide, while the Niro EV will only be available in 12 states. GM’s tax credit is beginning to sunset, whereas Kia will enjoy the benefit of the rebate for a long time to come. Alex says overall the Niro is nicer looking and has more usable cargo space. Its seat are also significantly more comfortable than the seats in the Bolt. He concludes that if you have some $45,000 to spend, go with a Tesla Model 3. If not, the Niro EV is a compelling option.

Join in on our Niro EV discussion at our InsideEVs sub-forum here

Check out the video for all the details. Then, post your thoughts in the comment section.

Video Description via Alex on Autos on YouTube:

2019 Kia Niro EV First Drive – The Better Bolt

Kia is starting an EV onslaught for 2019 with not one but two new EVs with over 230 miles of EV range. The first is the new Niro EV, Kia’s all-eco small “crossover” to be followed closely by the new 2020 Soul EV. The 201 horsepower electric motor should deliver significantly improved performance vs the “compliance car” segment and the 64kWh battery pack yields an EPA range of 239 miles and real world range of 250+ when driven gently. Topping it all off, Kia’s federal tax credit of $7,500 is still available but GM’s has started to sunset…

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33 Comments on "2019 Kia Niro EV First Drive: The Better Chevy Bolt"

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I wish it was available LAST year damn it!

KIA Niro is foreign made while the Chevy Bolt is mostly USA made. That can affect some people and companies who like to buy USA made. Also the very limited availability will hold it back. We will see.
QUOTE=the Niro EV will only be available in 12 states

Bolt EV – 20% domestic content

Chevrolet Bolt is 26% US/Canada content and 54% Korean content. Kia Niro is likely 90+% Korean content. However, this isn’t a good way to choose a product.

True, it’s not a good way to choose a car, but it is an important metric to consider if you give damn about your country and it’s overall wellbeing.

Choosing the right car for the wellbeing of your country seems to be less important than choosing the right president… at the Moment… just saying… never mind.

True, I want to employ more Americans.
But, did you look at the Bolt?
I don’t mind the exterior,
but the interior: Plastic with poor seats and poor suspension.
I’d be rewarding GM spitting in the face of anyone who wanted a Green Car.

When GM builds a good car, I’ll be interested.

The perceived Americaness, if such a word existed, is important to many fleet buyers as government rules and benefits are provided to those who purchase American made products. GM being an US company would enable those fleet operators to gain those benefits irrespective of actual US content.

Wrong. Bolt is s Korean car too

Too bad there are zero Kia dealers near me that sell EV models where all of the GM dealers sell Bolts. 🙁

So what do they say when you walk in and ask to specify and order one?

At best, “We don’t offer that vehicle in Pennsylvania”.

At worst, “Never heard of it.”

Jersey, Maryland, New York is nearby

THAT is better looking than a Bolt? I realize that I’m in the minority in thinking that the Bolt is a sharp looking car, but THIS? Really?

That said, I would happily own this car. It looks very practical and most cars look the same after driving in the snow for ten minutes (bland and filthy).

I agree that the Bolt is a sharp looking car, and would be even more so if it were just a tad wider and longer (would go better with its height, IMO). Anyone who has seen the Niro would notice it was designed to be practical and non-polarizing, pretty much like the new Leaf – not intention to grab attention.

The Bolt looks like a bug eyed clown car. The Niro looks old fashioned and slightly dowdy w a funky ‘grill’.
Pick your poison.

As always, Alex has is right on the Kia Niro EV. Just getting your hands on one, EVen in the 12 US states, may be a bit of a challenge for most in 2019.

As someone considering getting one of these (if I can get my hands on these), this is by far the most informative review I’ve seen, and certainly more helpful than anything I’d learn at the dealer (other than whether or not my butt fits in the seat. They should require that the salespeople at the dealers watch this video before being allowed to show the car!

Uh oh, don’t tell bro1999… (yet another better EV he missed out on..)

I’m sure he’s ok.

OMFG howz can I travelz back in time and returnz my Bolt for da Niro EEEEEVVVV?!?
I’ve wasted my time driving my Bolt over 35k emission free miles the last 2 years!! Oh no! Huge regrets! /sarcasm

Yes, people are going to argue about those classifications, becuase they are wrong. They are both classified as small station wagons.
https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=38187&id=41060

If it were categorized under car, it would have enough passenger volume to be in the midsize category.

With Kia Niro being slightly bigger: Bolt / Niro
Passenger Volume 94 ft3 (4 door) / 97 ft3 (4 door)
Luggage Volume 23 ft3 (4 door) / 22 ft3 (4 door)

People don’t get excited about cargo or big size on EV. They get excited about acceleration. I suspect acceleration is even slower than Kona which is a second slower to 60 than Bolt. Interestingly, SparkEV from almost 5 years ago is still quicker accelerating outside of Tesla, i3, Bolt.

As for cargo and big, a minivan is whole lot better.

I’m pretty sure range is what excites most right now. But, really, just having an EV is pretty exciting, period. Beyond that, needs and wants are pretty varied. People with families are going to want that space, and they just haven’t had a mid-priced option before now (and no minivans quite yet). Some of us who are a little more worn around the edges prioritize comfort, and the Bolt is a pretty serious fail, there.

Unless you’re drag-racing, acceleration in any recent EV is more than adequate. My first-generation Kia Soul has less than half the horsepower of a Bolt, and I haven’t yet run into any city or highway or hill driving that it can’t handle fine. And for shaming an ICE muscle car at a stoplight, 0-40 is more important than 0-60.

“0-40 is more important than 0-60”. Not on my commute. I drive through wealthy towns with lots of type A personalities in fast imports who think they are entitled to cut every line of cars. The Bolts phenomenal mid-range acceleration (check motortrend for confirmation) makes me enjoy these daily encounters.

You are correct. I decided to pull the trigger on the Bolt when I test drove it back to back with a VW GTI – the Bolt is equally quick at all measures, more fun, and equal in 5-year total cost of ownership.

I consider the Bolt to be the ultimate sleeper car. So much fun to accelerate away from tailgating F150s and shock BMW drivers who try to cut me off.

I don’t doubt that the niro and kona will sell better than the Bolt, but I have zero interest in either of those dogs.

Do you know what would really make it better?

50 State availability.

” The Chevrolet Bolt EV is a compact car by definition. The Kia Niro EV is a subcompact SUV. Surely people will argue about both of those classifications … ”

People will surely argue, because many of us – including car manufacturers – are using the words “subcompact”, “compact” and “SUV” way too arbitrarily.

The roof height of the the Niro “SUV” is 61.8″, and the BOLT “car” roof height is 62.8″. Let’s me see if I I understand correctly : SUVs are supposed to be lower than cars by some new definition?

Really great review. I like the Niro and Kona, they seem like a nice, affordable cars that don’t attract so much attention as for example Tesla. I think many people will consider buying them just because they look like typical, regular cars. Let’s hope Kia and Hyundai will ramp up the production of their EVs in the coming years.

I would like to see Congress do some thing. But in reference to EV‘s I’d like to see them take away all tax credits unless the vehicle is available in all 50 states and sells a minimum of 25,000 per year.

Its cars like this that are quite comparable to the BOLT ev which will kill it due to its eventual $7500 price advantage.

So a car 3 years newer is better – hmmmm…. Who would have thought that could happen?