2020 Kia Niro EV vs. 2020 BMW i3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/13

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Niro EV are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW i3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Niro EV has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The i3 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Autonomous Emergency Braking optional in the Niro EV as “Superior.” The i3 scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The Niro EV’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The i3 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the Niro EV’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The i3 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Niro EV’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The i3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Niro EV and the i3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available rear parking sensors.

The Kia Niro EV weighs 545 to 882 pounds more than the BMW i3. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the general design of front seat head restraints for their ability to protect front seat occupants from whiplash injuries. The IIHS also performs a dynamic test on those seats with “good” or “acceptable” geometry. In these ratings, the Niro EV is safer than the i3:

Niro EV

i3

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Restraint Design

GOOD

GOOD

Distance Below Top of Head

-20 mm

-4 mm

Dynamic Test Rating

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Seat Design

Pass

Fail

Torso Acceleration

10.7 g’s

13.3 g’s

Neck Force Rating

Low

Low

Max Neck Tension

555

561

(Lower numerical results are better in all tests.)

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, with its optional vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Niro EV the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The i3 is not a “Top Pick.”

Warranty

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The Niro EV comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The i3’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro EV 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than BMW covers the i3. Any repair needed on the motor, batteries, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the i3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 2 times as many Kia dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Niro EV’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 32 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 8 places higher in reliability than BMW.

Engine

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The Niro EV’s electric motor produces 31 more horsepower (201 vs. 170) and 107 lbs.-ft. more torque (291 vs. 184) than the i3’s standard electric motor. The Niro EV’s electric motor produces 17 more horsepower (201 vs. 184) and 92 lbs.-ft. more torque (291 vs. 199) than the i3s’ standard electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/13

On the EPA test cycle the Niro EV gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running on electricity (123 city/102 hwy vs. 107 city/93 hwy MPGe).

On the EPA test cycle the Niro EV gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running its gasoline engine (123 city/102 hwy MPGe vs. 30 city/31 hwy).

The Niro EV’s maximum EPA estimated driving range is 239 miles on a full charge, 56% further than the i3’s 153-mile range. The i3 REx can only travel about 126 miles before it has to start its internal combustion engine.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro EV higher (10 out of 10) than the BMW i3 (7 to 10). This means the Niro EV produces up to 11.8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the i3 every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Niro EV’s brake rotors are larger than those on the i3:

Niro EV

i3

Front Rotors

12 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Niro EV has larger tires than the i3 (215/55R17 vs. 155/60R20). The Niro EV’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the i3 (215/55R17 vs. 175/55R20).

The Niro EV’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the i3’s standard 70 series front and 60 series rear tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Niro EV has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The i3’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Niro EV has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Niro EV flat and controlled during cornering. The i3’s suspension doesn’t offer stabilizer bars.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro EV’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the i3 (106.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

Passenger Space

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The Niro EV has standard seating for 5 passengers; the i3 can only carry 4.

The Niro EV has 13 cubic feet more passenger volume than the i3 (96.6 vs. 83.6).

The Niro EV has .5 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, 2.4 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, 4.1 inches more rear legroom and 5.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the i3.

Cargo Capacity

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The Niro EV has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the i3 with its rear seat up (18.5 vs. 15.1 cubic feet). The Niro EV has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the i3 with its rear seat folded (53 vs. 36.9 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

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The Niro EV’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them, but the driver can still raise and lower all of them with the lock engaged. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the i3’s standard power windows.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Niro EV has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the i3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Niro EV’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the i3’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Niro EV has standard extendable sun visors. The i3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro EV EX Premium keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The i3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Niro EV’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The i3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Niro EV has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable and it can provide a boundary between children. The i3 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Niro EV’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The i3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Niro EV EX Premium has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The i3 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/13

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Niro EV and the BMW i3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Kia Niro outsold the BMW i3 by over five to one during 2019.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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