The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV does little to repair the electric car’s reputation. In 2020 the Niro lost its Consumer Reports recommendation. 2021’s model fared no better. What held the Niro back from a higher rating?
The 2021 Kia Niro PHEV lost its endorsement over reliability issues
In November 2020, Consumer Reports explained its decision to no longer endorse several electric vehicles. After conducting a regular reliability survey, Consumer Reports found many drivers experienced consistent issues with the Kia Niro and competing models.
However, these issues aren’t indicative of general electric vehicle reliability. EVs are still a reliable option that buyers shouldn’t shy away from. Electric vehicle technology is still budding, and there are growing pains that come with innovation. New gas-powered vehicles to go through the same refinement cycles. In short, buyers can protect themselves by holding off on brand new releases until after the initial bumps have been smoothed out.
A bloated price tag for a cheap feel
Both reviews and consumer complaints about the Kia Niro’s interior make it clear that the EV disappoints. For the starting price of $39,090, many expected the cabin to have a more modern and quality feel. Consumer Reports felt the interior fell short of the mark and mentioned it in the car’s review.
With so many comparable EVs on the market currently, skimping on interior comforts and design could spell a loss in sales. Value and style help buyers choose between mechanically similar vehicles. Similar EVs, some with lower price points, offer interior features the Niro can’t claim.
The 2021 Kia Niro has some awkward pain points
Reviewers found the rear seat of the 2021 Niro too low. Some passengers in the rear could be uncomfortable. It could also make car seat installation difficult for parents of younger children.
Taller drivers had a difficult time getting comfortable in the EV. The lower dashboard brushed tall reviewers’ knees. These reviewers commented that the seat’s height was uncomfortable as well.
Reviews found some of the controls awkwardly placed and confusing. For example, a button for a rarely-used towing function sits in a conspicuous location leading many drivers to believe it is related to the parking brake.
There are some alternatives to the Kia Niro on the EV market
Electric vehicle shoppers have several options in the same size and price range as the Kia Niro. Consumer Reports recommends many of these alternatives. Moreover, some of them have higher overall owner satisfaction ratings.
Firstly, the Hyundai Kona EV offers drivers a competitive model with a slightly smaller starting price tag. Consumer Reports gave the Niro an overall rating of 74. The Kona outperformed the Niro in owner satisfaction, fuel economy, and performance. Therefore, anyone on the fence about investing in a Niro should research this alternative.
Secondly, Kia’s Soul EV is comparable as well. Drivers concerned with passenger comfort and cabin complaints can opt for the designer edition trim package. Kia has not released the exact details of this trim package. It will likely include some cabin upgrades for the increase in the sticker price.