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2019 Kia Niro EV. Photo: Kia

This week I'm driving the 2019 Kia Niro EV, a battery-powered compact with a 239-mile driving range.

The bottom line: As with most Kia brand vehicles, the Niro packs in a lot of features ordinarily found in more expensive cars. The sticker price on my tester, outfitted with the top-of-the-line EX Premium trim plus a $1,080 cold-weather package and $1,000 worth of other extra goodies, is $47,155 before a $7,500 federal tax incentive for EVs.

The Niro is marketed as an SUV, but since it doesn't have all-wheel drive or have a higher ground clearance like an SUV, it's really more of a hatchback — but a good looking one at least.

If you haven't driven an electric car, you really should. They are fun to drive, with spirited handling and quick acceleration — the Kia Niro EV included.

  • There are now quite a few to choose from, and a bunch more arriving in dealerships soon.
  • EVs have advanced to the point where you can consider one for your daily driver without any range anxiety.
  • I tooled around my neighborhood and made 2 trips across town, drawing the battery range down to around 100 miles, and I only plugged it in once overnight to the ordinary 240-volt plug in my garage.
  • Typical charging time: 9.5 hours.

Safety features: No matter what trim level, every Niro EV includes a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, lane centering, forward collision alert, automatic front braking, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.

Go deeper: See what else Joann has been driving

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

5 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.