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.
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.