~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer

Even though battery electric vehicles generally are more expensive than their gasoline engine counterparts, South Korea’s 2023 Kia Niro EV Wave demonstrates that it’s possible to deliver an appealing, well appointed and high performing electric without taking out a second mortgage.

The Niro Wave tested for this review came with a base price of $44,455 and a bottom-line sticker, including options, of $47,790. While that’s impossible for some buyers, it is less than the current average price of a new car in the U.S., which most sources peg at about $48,000.

For 2023, the Kia Niro has been redesigned with more passenger and cargo space than the previous model. The company says the all-new family of crossover SUVs are the only vehicles on the market that are available with all three of the electrified power trains: hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric (EV).

The tested Niro Wave, which is 14 feet 6 inches long and 5 feet 2 inches tall, has 100 cubic feet of space for passengers and 23 cubic feet for cargo behind the rear seat. If it were a sedan, it would be classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a large car, defined as one with more that 120 cubic feet of combined passenger and cargo space. The EPA calls it a small station wagon.

It also is flexible. Flop the rear seatbacks—they end up almost flat and lined up with the cargo floor—and the Niro EV becomes a two-seater with 64 cubic feet of room for cargo. There’s also a small amount of hideaway space under the cargo floor, where there’s a so-called “tire mobility kit” but no spare wheel and tire.

The Wave EV is powered by a single electric motor that makes 201 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force. The combination drives the front wheels through a direct drive automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is not available.

A 64.8 kWh battery pack provides enough juice for an advertised range of 253 miles with an EPA city/highway/combined miles per gallon equivalent rating by the EPA of 126/101/113 MPGe. On a home garage 240-volt level 2 charger, it takes 7.5 hours to fully charge the depleted battery. Also, it can be charged from 10% to 80% in 45 minutes on a commercial DC fast charger.

The Niro EV makes use of regenerative braking to help top up the battery during driving. It is controlled by paddles on the steering wheel: the left paddle increases the automatic braking in three pulls of the paddle; a fourth tap activates so-called one-pedal driving, which can bring the vehicle to a stop without touching the brake pedal. The right paddle reverses the process, easing off on the braking in three steps and de-activating the one-pedal setting.

There also are three drive modes, operated by a button on the steering wheel. Eco is the economy setting, which activates some regenerative braking. Sport enables that instant surge of power off the line that makes electrics famous, and Normal is somewhere in between. Kia has certified the Niro EV’s zero to 60 miles an hour acceleration at 7.1 seconds. Independent tests shaved that by fractions.

Like its Niro siblings, the new Wave presents a handsome face and stylish body. The tester had two-tone paint, white with artsy fender-to- roof gray panels on both sides of the power tailgate.

Inside, seats were upholstered in perforated cloth and recycled synthetic trim. Front and outboard heated seats had prominent  bolstering for support and comfort. Even the center rear seat, usually ignored on most vehicles, offered some comfort because of a flat floor and a front console that did not intrude on knee room.

Instruments and infotainment functions, including navigation and SXM satellite radio, are displayed on dual 10.5 inch panoramic screens. There’s also a digital key system that uses a smart phone to operate the Niro and can be transferred to another phone.

Full safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning and avoidance, safe exist assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keeping and lane following assist, and driver attention warning.  

Oh, and this new Kia comes with 500 kWh of free charging, good for up to 2,000 miles of travel.


  • Model: 2023 Kia Niro EV Wave four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Motor: Electric; 201 hp, 188 lb-ft torque; 64.8 kWh battery pack.
  • Transmission: Direct drive automatic with front-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 6 inches.
  • Height: 5 feet 2 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 100/23 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,720 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 1,653 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined miles per gallon equivalent: 126/101/113 MPGe.
  • Range: 253 miles.
  • Charging time: 7.5 hours @ 240 volts. 10%-80% in 45 minutes on DC fast charger.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $45,745.
  • Price as tested: $49,085.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos ©Kia