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To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago

For the 2024 edition, we include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and new vehicles coming to market in the next few years.

2023 Kia Niro EV Wave

Vehicle Type: Small suv Electric
 overall score
Category Ranking: 3

Vehicle Price

Base Price: $44,450
Price as Tested: $47,790

Fuel Information

Fuel Type: Electricity
120V Charge Time: 4.4 miles per hour
240V Charge Time: 33.7 miles per hour
DC Fast Charger: 10% to 80% in under 45 minutes
EPA City MPGe126
EPA Highway MPGe101
EPA Combined MPGe113
EPA-Est. Electric Range (mi): 253

Advanced Safety Features

  • Adaptive Cruise Control [S]
  • Advanced Headlights [S]
  • Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
  • Blind-Spot Warning [S]
  • Driver Monitoring [S]
  • Forward-Collision Warning [S]
  • Lane-Departure Warning [S]
  • Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
  • Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
  • [S] Standard, [O] Optional

Overall Observations

For 2023, Kia fully redesigned its trio of eco-friendly Niro small crossovers—a hybrid, plug-in hybrid (see pages 118 and 115, respectively), and the EV reviewed here. The new design gives the formerly bland Niro some personality—bolder and more aggressive, ready for anything. But looks can be deceiving—the Niro EV performs well in some areas and comes up short in others. It has decent power overall, but it doesn’t jump off the line like many EVs. There's plenty of headroom and legroom in both the front and back seats, lots of interior storage and cargo space, and the front seats are heated and ventilated. But the interior fit and finish is just so-so, and the materials feel cheap, with a lot of piano black plastic in the center console. Fuel-efficiency ratings are excellent—113 MPGe in combined driving. And the Niro's 11-kW Level 2 onboard charger can recharge its battery in less than 7 hours. Arguably one of the ARC staff's biggest complaints was that the Niro's ride is jarring, its handling is unsettled, and it leans too much going around corners. Also, operating the infotainment and climate systems is distracting, requiring toggling between them using the same set of controls. Finally, lots of road and tire noise gets into the cabin, and the wide rear roof supports create a blind spot in the rear and to the sides.

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Pros and Cons


  • Plenty of headroom and legroom for all passengers
  • Good suite of ADAS and other standard features
  • Decent interior storage and cargo space
  • Excellent MPGe ratings
  • Fast 11-kW Level 2 charging


  • Uncomfortable ride quality, body roll in corners, unresponsive handling
  • Infotainment and climate-control systems are distracting to use
  • Subpar interior fit and finish; low-rent cabin materials
  • Slow Level 3 charging (85 kW max rate)

Vehicle Specifications

Model year tested: 2023
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/3
Curb weight (lbs): 3721.0
Exterior L / W / H (in): 174.0 / 71.8 / 61.8
Wheelbase (in): 107.0
Number of air bags: 8
Warranty (months/miles): 60/60,000
Tire manufacturer and model: Kumho Solus TA31
Front and rear tire size: 215/55 R17
Max towing capacity (lbs): 1,653
Headlight type: LED
Transmission type: Auto 1-speed
Drivetrain type: Front wheel
Engine/motor: Single electric motor
Electric motor horsepower: 201

Test Data

Test Vehicle Scores

Advanced Safety Features:


Fuel Efficiency:


EPA Emissions Score:





Handling: 6.23
Quality and Drivability: 6.12

Ride Quality:


Interior Size:


Easy of Entry and Exit:




Interior Noise:


Cargo Capacity:

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