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Kia Niro EV is Popular Mechanics Car Of The Year - Why You Should Care

The Kia Niro is Car of the Year. Not "Green" Car of the Year. Just a regular car of the year. Here's why this award matters.

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The Kia Niro EV is this year's Popular Mechanics Car Of The Year (COTY). What makes this award a bit different from past awards given to electric vehicles, is this one isn't complete BS. In fact, having tested the Kia Niro EV ourselves, we agree with Popular Mechanics' Ezra Dyer, the writer who picked the car. We mention him because if you are a fan of automotive publications you already know him. If not, let us tell you just a bit about Ezra Dyer, the guy that just picked an EV from Kia as COTY.

Ezra Dyer learned to drive stick in the woods of Maine blasting around an off-road course he and his brother set up. They were ten and nine years old. Once he got his license, he bought the most bad-ass car anyone of his generation could possibly hope to attain - An IROC-Z. Ezra Dyer wrote a story about that car and sent it to Automobile Magazine. They hired him on the spot. You can read the full Ezra Dyer bio here.

If you like V8 pony cars and think tearing up the woods in a Subie when you're ten is fun, you may have similar taste to Dyer. His love of fast cars and absurd things with wheels never died. He's still that guy and he loved the Kia Niro EV.

We loved it too. And we drove it back to back with a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus in town, on country back roads, and on the highway. We preferred the Niro. It was more fun to drive, had more important features, and a better price. Oh, and about 300 ft-lbs of torque.

Related Story: Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus vs. 2019 Kia Niro BEV – Surprising Similarities & Stark Contrasts


The Niro is a sort of half-hatchback half crossover type of thing with excellent real-world usability. It melds the best elements of a sedan or wagon with some of the things we like about crossovers. Maybe we should call it a crossunder? Who knows but it has its charms.

We could blather on about the Niro and why it deserves to be the 2019 COTY, but Dyer is a better writer, so we will let him: "...I floor the accelerator and find that 291 lb-ft of torque will definitely torment the front tires. The Niro’s traction control has its work cut out for it off the line, but once you’re moving you get the full monty. It’s great fun, warping quietly away from stoplights. The Niro EV has two personalities, really: silent and aloof luxury cruiser at steady speeds, and hot hatch when you go full throttle."

Take a minute to read Popular Mechanics' COTY story. This is a publication that knows cars and is written by people who love them. When they pick an EV as the best car of the year we take note. And happen to agree with their pick.

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DeanMcManis (not verified)    May 7, 2019 - 10:04AM

Yeah, it looks like Hyundai/Kia came out with a winner with their new Niro EV. My friends bought one a few months ago and they love it. The added range of the new model makes it truly a useful car, and all of the amenities keep it competitive with other new cars in it's class. The only downside is that for now, the Niro EV is still in a rare group of affordable, long-range EVs which includes just the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3. There are still a few plug-in hybrids like the Prius Prime and Honda Clarity that offer EV motoring without range concerns, but despite all the buzz in the press talking about upcoming BEVs from VW and Ford there are no new models out now to compete against Kia's impressive Niro EV. It is nice that Hyundai/Kia has committed their considerable engineering resources to design and build an industry leading car like this, and it is also good that the press is recognizing a job well done, and acknowledging that BEVs can compete with gasoline cars in terms of practicality and usable performance, without any excuses or special consideration for the EV technology.

John Goreham    May 7, 2019 - 12:01PM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

Thanks for commenting, Dean. What the Niro proves to me is that mainstream automakers can produce great compact EVs at an affordable price with long(ish) range. I think the Kona BEV and Niro BEV are going to open up some eyes. GM and Nissan deserve a lot of credit for the work they did on their pioneering BEVs, but going forward I think the bar is now established by the Hyundai/Kia pair. Imagine if Hyundai/Kia used that same drivetrain in a great-looking coupe, just for grins and giggles. I think that formula is what Ford has planned.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    May 9, 2019 - 11:29AM

It definitely would put Hyundai ahead of their competition if they could stuff the BEV drivetrain from the new Niro into a sports coupe like their Stinger. Ford will soon announce their Mach E "Mustang-influenced" crossover BEV, and it is rumored that plug-in hybrid versions of the Mustang and Camaro are coming soon as well.