Hyundai Kona EV vs Kia Niro EV: Which Electric Car Is the Best?
Rich Taber has nearly three decades of professional writing experience including eight years as an automotive columnist for The Standard-Times newspaper, seven years on staff at WheelsTV as a scriptwriter, production manager, and editorial vice-president, and five years as CEO of RPM News Weekly. He has written extensively for numerous regional and local publications and developed public relations products for many non-profit organizations. Having studied both engineering and liberal arts at the University of Notre Dame and worked in audio/visual services, electronic sales, graphic design, and event and entertainment production, he brings a well-balanced skill set to his automotive writing.
You might be tempted to think that the 2022 Hyundai Kona EV and the 2022 Kia Niro EV are basically the same car. After all, both are small utility vehicles from South Korean automakers known to share parts and engineering, and they employ the same powertrain and battery configuration.
Dig in a little deeper, though and you begin to discover that such thinking misses the mark with these two electric vehicles. When I tested both vehicles, there were clearly things that set each vehicle apart. Sure, there are similarities, but there are enough important differences to warrant a closer look.
Table of Contents
- Hyundai Kona EV vs Kia Niro EV Comparison
- Tale of the Tape
- Cabin Quality and Design
- Performance & Powertrains
- Safety Equipment and Scores
- So, Which Is Better – the Hyundai Kona EV or the Kia Niro EV?
- Car Research & Comparisons
- Frequently Asked Questions
Hyundai Kona EV vs Kia Niro EV Comparison
|Specifications||Hyundai Kona EV||Kia Niro EV|
|Length / Width / Height|
|Max. Cargo Volume|
City / Highway
|Time To Charge|
47 mins (10 to 80%) Level III
1 hr (to 80%) Level III
Tale of the Tape
Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed is that the Niro EV is a bit larger than the Kona EV, particularly in its length. So, for these two 5-passenger crossovers, this ultimately translates out to giving the Kia a few inches more leg room for rear seat passengers and more total available cargo area with the rear seats folded down. Interestingly though, the Kona EV provides a tad more space for groceries when the rear seats are upright.
With its larger dimensions, the Niro EV weighs a bit more than the Kona EV. You need to consider the consequences of this in terms of driving range since transitioning to an all-electric future comes with tradeoffs at this stage of electric vehicle development. Notably, charging stations are not as ubiquitous as gas stations, and recharging batteries is not yet as quick as refilling a gasoline tank.
Fortunately, the driving ranges of these two vehicles exceed the 200-mile anxiety threshold, though the Kona EV with an EPA estimated 258 miles of range will get you nearly 20 miles further on a full charge. Importantly for travelers on longer journeys, charging at Level III stations with either model will add about 100 miles of range in the time it takes to grab a bite to eat and use rest stop facilities.
The Takeaway: If anything, you could describe these vehicles as similarly purposed, differently implemented. When considering whether size matters, it’s a two-way street. The Kona EV has better range, while the Niro EV is roomier. Incidentally, the peculiar location of the charge port on the front fascia of each of these electric vehicles hints at the underlying similarities of their architecture.
Cabin Quality and Design
At first glance, the interior of Kona EV evokes a sophisticated appeal with its contemporary layout and instrumentation. This is confirmed by its wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto implementation as standard. Though this is not the case with the Niro EV which requires a wired USB connection for its mobile phone app integrations, it does rise above this deficit by providing a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display in both its EX and EX Premium trims as well as a premium Harman Kardon audio system and wireless phone charging. The base Niro EV S gets an 8-inch touchscreen as does the base Kona EV SEL, while the upmarket Kona EV Limited features the 10.25-inch touchscreen like the one in the Kia.
The entry-level S trim is new for the Niro EV and does not get the premium audio, yet it’s priced surprisingly close to its EX stablemate. The low-price leader in this comparison is the Kona EV SEL which shows an MSRP that is thousands below the Niro EV S.
Nevertheless, if you want creature comforts such as heated front seats with 10-way driver’s side adjustment, the Niro EV offers this in both EX and EX Premium trims plus front seat ventilation in the EX Premium whereas the Kona EV reserves upmarket features such as leather seats with heated and ventilated front seats and 8-way driver’s side control to the Limited trim. Kona also offers a Digital Key system that allows smartphones to control select vehicle systems such as locks and engine start.
The Takeaway: Though all things are not equal between the Kona EV and Niro EV interiors, the range of available features and comforts are nearly comparable. However, the Kona EV Limited has the overall technology edge. In terms of quality rankings, the Kia brand placed highest among mass market brands in the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Hyundai followed closely in the rankings.
Performance & Powertrains
For both vehicles, their powertrains employ a 201 horsepower (150 kW) permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor that develops 291 lb.-ft. of torque. Front-wheel drive is the sole configuration. A high-voltage 64 kWh lithium-ion battery is standard. In terms of performance, that’s where I saw the similarities end.
It is estimated that the Kona EV consumes 28 kWh of electricity every 100 miles while the Niro EV uses up 30 kWh over the same distance. Based on EPA ratings, if you pay 25 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity (incl. generation, distribution, transmission, etc.), it’ll cost $7 to travel 100 miles in the Kona EV and $7.50 in the Niro EV. (Incidentally, in parts of the country where electricity costs a little as 10 cents per kWh, it’ll cost $2.80 in the Hyundai or $3 in the Kia to go 100 miles.)
While size and aerodynamics may account for the small differences in energy consumption between these vehicles, battery recharging reveals a less obvious difference. While the battery configurations are the same on these vehicles, the actual batteries are made by different manufacturers. This and differences in charging algorithms likely account for the variations in charging times shown in the above table. Here the advantage goes to the Kona EV.
An available battery warmer system for either model minimizes battery-power losses due to low winter temperatures and helps reduce long battery-charging times in cold temperatures.
The Takeaway: How much range does it have? How long does it take to charge? These are performance questions that buyers are quick to ask when considering the purchase of an electric vehicle. The Kona EV and the Niro EV fare very well and quite closely in both regards. However, from an energy efficiency and less-time-waiting to charge up perspective, the Kona EV comes out on top.
Safety Equipment and Scores
The Kona EV employs a safety system that Hyundai calls SmartSense while the Niro EV uses Kia’s DriveWise. Both provide a significant level of desirable accident-avoidance technology including forward collision avoidance, blind spot detection and lane keeping assist. As part of Kona’s 2022 model year redesign, Hyunda has upgraded its Rear Cross Traffic safety to intervene with braking the vehicle rather than just giving a warning. The Niro EV is scheduled for a 2023 model year redesign that includes rear-cross traffic avoidance assist.
The warranties from each manufacturer are generous and quite similar offering 10-year / 100,000-mile powertrain and EV battery coverage. However, the Kona EV gets a 7-year anti-perforation warranty while the Niro EV provides just 5 years of rust out coverage.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given both models mostly Good overall ratings, however both showed difficulties using child seat anchors because of their deep placement in the rear seat.
The Takeaway: Although there are a host of advanced safety technologies in both vehicles, it pays to read the fine print. Not that one is head and shoulders above the other in any particularly notable way when it comes to safety.
Current Hyundai Kona EV Deals & Incentives
|Year||Make||Model||Cash Incentives (up to)||Best Avail. APR||Lease Offers||Expiration|
|2023||Hyundai||Kona Electric||$7,500||1.99%||$269/month for 36 months, $3,999 due at signing||10/2/23|
Current Kia Niro EV Deals & Incentives
|Year||Make||Model||Cash Incentives (up to)||Best Avail. APR||Lease Offers||Expiration|
|2023||Kia||Niro EV||$3,750||0.90%||$269/month for 36 months, $4,499 due at signing||10/31/23|
So, Which Is Better – the Hyundai Kona EV or the Kia Niro EV?
There is no clear winner here, but in terms of efficiency and convenience, I found that the Hyundai Kona EV has a marginal edge. The cost of ownership is lower, charging times are faster, and driving range is greater – though not by much.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which has more features, the Hyundai Kona EV or the Kia Niro EV?
Overall, these vehicles are pretty evenly matched when comparing amenities and technology features that consumers seek in vehicles at this price range. If anything, the Kona EV has a slight upper hand in performance because of its better battery management, while the Niro EV will prove more useful to those who expect to haul cargo around frequently.
Are EVs more powerful than the traditionally powered vehicles?
In general, yes – and quicker, too. However, what ultimately will be their greatest advantage is their zero-emission powertrains.