2019 Kia Niro EV essentials: One-pedal driving, zippy acceleration

Our Opinion: I just drove the Hyundai Kona EV which is smaller, with a shorter wheelbase, but beats the Niro in range (258 miles to 239). I said then that we’re past the point of compromise and that, if you have two cars in your household, there’s no reason one can’t be a hybrid or a full EV — except the price, even with the tax credit; they aren’t super cheap just yet.Though the Niro actually shares the hatchback Ioniq’s platform, with its compact crossover bodystyle and similar powertrain it will also be cross-shopped with the Kona. The Ioniq’s range is only 124 miles. I like this Kia EV just a bit better than the Kona, mostly because of the few interior differences. First, the gearshift in this Niro is a rotary dial a-la Jaguar. It’s not as nice or hefty, but it’s way better than plastic push buttons in other EVs. Also here in the Niro the touchscreen is integrated into the dash, as opposed to stuck on the top, sticking up over the dash. As far as interior materials go, they’re fine for this class of car. Oh, and there’s instant electric heat. So good.Trunk space in the Kia Niro is bigger than expected and fit my double stroller while the child seats just barely infringed on my front seat room. Hooking them up was easy with readily accessible latches.Acceleration is zippy at any speed and I would love to try some good tires on one of these non-luxury electric cars to see how capable one would be in an autocross situation (see Mark Vaughn’s experience autocrossing a Tesla Model 3 for inspiration). If you floor the throttle in the Niro, be ready because it gets going faster than you’d expect. I planted the right pedal to get around someone, and could barely get the car turned before I was on their bumper.Acceleration at higher expressway speeds isn’t quite as impressive, but it’s far from annoyingly slow. It also makes a weird, whirring Jetson’s sound, if you’re into that. It is a little hard to be smooth with the quick acceleration, something I was cognizant of with the kids in the car, watching their heads bob back and forth.