2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV: Which one to get?

The wealth of choices for battery-electric vehicles continue to grow at a fast rate. If you’re looking for one with over 200 miles of range, the options abound. The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is one of the latest additions while the 2021 Kia Niro EV was an early entrant into the 200+ mile club that didn’t have a Tesla badged on it. Although a second-generation Niro is on the way, the current car remains viable. So, which one should you get? The new kid on the block or one of the originals?

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV exterior

Both the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 and 2021 Kia Niro EV are crossovers; however, the latter is a size down, making it a subcompact. As a result, it looks like a hatchback even with the plastic cladding and the upright greenhouse. Your only hints that the Niro EV is fully electric are the enclosed grille with the charging port integrated into it, blue exterior accents, an eco-electric badge on the liftgate, and the lack of an exhaust tip. Otherwise, it looks similar to the standard Niro or your average subcompact crossover.

The Volkswagen ID.4 debuts the brand’s new look for its EVs. As usual, you get a grille-free front fascia but the rounded theme gives it a character all its own, especially with the cool LED headlight clusters. Like the Niro EV, the ID.4 has an upright profile, giving it an expansive greenhouse despite the low roofline. You get full-width LED taillights in the rear, adding to the futuristic vibe of the exterior design. Adding the Gradient package gets you the floating effect thanks to the contrasting black roof and silver D-pillar trim.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV interior

Minimalism is the theme inside the Volkswagen ID.4’s cabin since there aren’t many buttons to be found. As a result, you get a nice clean look complementing the roomy interior, which seats four comfortably and five in a pinch. The center console is cleverly arranged featuring dividers in the storage cubbies and removable cup holders. Being larger than the Niro EV, the ID.4 has plenty of cargo space even with the rear seats up. Folding them down gives you an expansive cargo area that can easily accommodate bulky objects.

The Kia Niro EV may be smaller but it’s surprisingly roomy for its size. Four passengers fit comfortably while five will be fine for shorter trips. Cargo capacity is respectable with all seats up and grows significantly with the rear seats folded. You also get a flat floor and squared-off space just like in the ID.4. Clever storage solutions like retractable cupholders and a center console disconnected from the dash add more space for small items and handbags. However, the Niro’s size still puts it at a disadvantage versus the ID.4 when it comes to usability.

These two EVs also feature solid build quality with lots of high-quality materials used throughout the cabin. The ID.4, however, has more soft-touch and padded bits, giving it a more upscale atmosphere versus the Niro. Sound insulation is another aspect where the Volkswagen ID.4 takes the lead. On the highway, you get less wind buffeting compared to the Niro, which has slightly more of that and a smidge of road and tire noise.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV tech features

Simplicity remains Kia’s forte when it comes to infotainment systems. Even if you get the upgraded version featuring the 10.25-inch touch screen, it remains easy to use and responsive. The use of physical buttons and knobs keeps things familiar, cutting the learning curve. EX Premium models also get a nice-sounding eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

Volkswagen, on the other hand, made its new user interface less intuitive via haptic feedback controls. Although the 10- or 12.0-inch touch screen is responsive, the layers of submenus make it finicky to use because a simple task like changing the fan speed requires going into one. Certain functions are also split from their related capabilities or placed in a zone where it’s usually not found. At least there’s a home button to get you back to square one in case you’ve dug yourself too deeply. The seven-speaker standard audio system is clear but doesn’t do as nice of a job covering the cabin in your tunes.

Kia and Volkswagen both offer lots of standard driver assistance and semi-autonomous tech in the Niro EV and ID.4. Despite using the older versions, the Kia Niro EV still operates surprisingly well, gently re-centering you with subtle steering inputs when you start to drift. Adaptive cruise control also does a good job keeping you at your set distance, adjusting as needed with smooth braking and acceleration. The ID.4’s newer suite also works quite well and its Travel Assist feature takes things up a notch by monitoring cars around you when it’s active. It’s also quicker to react to cars cutting you off, allowing it to back off quickly if another vehicle suddenly jumps in front of you.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV driving experience

If maximum comfort is what you’re after, the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 should be on your list. This crossover rides quite well and does a great job keeping harsh impacts out of the passenger compartment. You don’t sacrifice much in the handling department either because the ID.4 stays planted and stable through turns giving you confident handling. Accurate steering makes it easy to place the car on the road and maneuver in tight spaces.

The Kia Niro EV drives more like a compact hatchback. It’s easy to dart around narrow roads and is more agile despite its narrower tires. You also get quicker steering in the Niro, giving it a sportier feel. The trade-off? Ride quality. The Niro EV’s suspension is slightly stiffer than the ID.4’s, meaning impacts are more pronounced. Eco-focused tires and a shorter wheelbase also add to the Niro’s firmness on the road.

Kia ekes off an edge over Volkswagen thanks to it being lighter. At 3,854 pounds, the Niro EV is 811 pounds lighter than the ID.4, allowing it to make use of the power better. Although both have 201 hp from their electric motors, the Kia has 291 lb-ft of torque versus the ID.4’s 229 lb-ft. As a result, the Niro EV accelerates more assertively. The ID.4 is smoother and moves in a calmer, more relaxed manner. Neither one will struggle when passing, merging, or going up a hill but you’ll feel the acceleration more prominently in the Niro despite it being FWD.

The Kia has multistage regenerative braking, allowing for one-pedal driving at its highest level. This means easing off the pedal will slow the car down to a complete stop in certain situations and you only have to put your foot on the brake pedal once you’re not moving anymore. B mode in the Volkswagen ID.4 provides extra regenerative braking but not enough to enable one pedal driving; you can still slow the car down as it recuperates energy but not to a complete stop meaning you need to treat it like a normal vehicle. Handoffs between regenerative and friction braking in both vehicles are smooth and seamless, giving them a natural feel when you step on the pedal.

Using a level 3 DC charger, the Volkswagen ID.4’s higher peak charging speeds allow it to charge to 80 percent in under 40 minutes despite using a larger 82-kWh battery. The Niro EV peaks at 100 kW, allowing it to replenish its 64-kWh battery to 80 percent in roughly an hour. Volkswagen equipped the ID.4 with an 11-kW AC charger, enabling it to get a full charge in 7.5 hours using a level 2 or 240-volt charger. Kia uses a slower 7.2-kW unit, meaning it’ll need around 9 hours to get a full charge from a level 2 or 240-volt charger.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV pricing

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 starts at $41,190 for the base rear-drive Pro trim or $44,875 for the dual-motor version. Loading up a Pro S with the Gradient package will run you around $45,000 in the single-motor guise or just under $50,000 if you opt for the dual-motor version.

The 2021 Kia Niro EV starts similarly at $40,265 for the base EX grade. Moving up to the EX-Premium will run you just a smidge below $46,000. Both the Niro EV and ID.4 are eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit along with state incentives.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 vs. 2021 Kia Niro EV summary

If comfort and roominess are your primary requirements, the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 should be on your list. Although its user interface has a steep learning curve, the practicalities you get make it a viable choice for family use or if you’re simply looking for additional cargo space.

The 2021 Kia Niro EV may not be the newest entry but it makes up for it with space, user-friendly tech features, and a good driving experience. Although its ride can veer on the stiff side, the Niro’s size makes it a great urban dweller’s EV, especially those looking for something roomy but require a small footprint.

Get the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 for:

  • Massive space in a compact package
  • Comfortable ride
  • Faster charging speeds

Get the 2021 Kia Niro EV for:

  • Intuitive tech features
  • Quick acceleration
  • City-friendly size
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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