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Auto Show Faceoff: 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Vs. 2023 Kia Niro EV

kia niro ev wave 2023 hyundai kona electric 2024 comparison scaled jpg 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric (top) and 2023 Kia Niro EV | Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry

The redesigned 2024 Hyundai Kona is one of the headline debuts at the 2023 New York International Auto Show, and the Kona’s corporate-cousin rival, the redesigned-for-2023 Kia Niro, just happens to be sitting a stone’s throw away from the new Konas on the show floor. This gave us the opportunity to do a quickie electric-vehicle comparison, since both lineups offer a pure-electric version. The redesigned Kona’s platform was developed with the electrified version in mind first, and the Niro EV was carried over for its redesign. The Niro lineup comes as solely a hybrid (both conventional and plug-in) or an EV. The Kona doesn’t come in a hybrid version (at least not yet); it offers a choice of a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 190-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four.

So, the EV versions of these vehicles are the most natural choices for comparo, and as you’ll see, the two are very similar. Let’s see how they stack up.

Related: More 2023 New York Auto Show Coverage

Interior Quality: Tie

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This one is a wash. Though the Kona and Niro both suffer from some hard plastic on their door panels, they otherwise boast excellent cabins for mainstream-brand compacts in terms of both design and materials. Both vehicles have fun trim touches that add visual appeal.

Control Layout: Kona Electric

A close race, but I’ll give the nod to the Kona Electric. The Niro EV has a capacitive-touch control panel that must be toggled between climate and infotainment controls; the Kona Electric thankfully sticks with traditional physical buttons and knobs that we typically find easier to use. The Kona also uses a steering-column-mounted gear selector, which frees up a bit more storage space in the center console. I also like the Kona’s storage shelf on the passenger side of the dashboard.

Backseat Comfort: Tie

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The head- and legroom measurements for these models are nearly identical, and my personal space and comfort level was essentially the same when I sat in both backseats back to back. The Kona has a slight comfort advantage: The outer edges of its front seatbacks are padded, while the Niro’s front seatbacks are all hard plastic.

Cargo Capacity: Kona Electric

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By both visual inspection and official manufacturer specs, the Kona comes out on top here, but only when measuring behind the backseats. The cargo capacity with the rear seatbacks folded is identical on paper: 63.7 cubic feet. Hyundai says the Kona has 25.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats, edging out the Niro EV; Kia lists it at 22.8 cubic feet. The Niro’s liftgate opening looks a little smaller than the Kona’s, and its cargo floor is higher, as well.

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Driving Range/Charging: Tie

The Niro EV and the extended-range version of the Kona Electric use the same basic 64.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack (the Kona Electric also offers a smaller 48.6-kWh battery). The Niro EV’s driving range is EPA-rated at 253 miles. Hyundai’s internal driving-range estimate for the Kona Electric is 260 miles — a negligible difference, if that number is in fact confirmed by official EPA testing. Charging speed is essentially a wash, as well; both vehicles can be charged from 10% to 80% in about 45 minutes when using a DC fast charger.

Auto Show Winner: Kona Electric

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From the auto-show floor, the tale of the tape says the Kona Electric comes out on top here, but really, this faceoff might boil down to personal taste. Which dashboard design is your favorite? Which flavor of zany styling do you like best? Whichever you choose, there doesn’t seem to be a real loser here. But we’ll know more once we drive the Kona Electric and learn more about its pricing and availability.

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Senior Research Editor Damon Bell has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry, beginning as an Engineering Graphics researcher/proofreader at model-car manufacturer Revell-Monogram. From there, he moved on to various roles at Collectible Automobile magazine and Consumer Guide Automotive before joining Cars.com in August 2022. He served as president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association in 2019 and 2020. Email Damon Bell

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