Auto123 puts the Kia Niro EV to the long-term test. Today, part 10.
It's always a good idea to take good care of your things. They will keep their good looks longer. They will run better. They will last longer.
This is as true for the cashmere sweater you want to keep from getting old and ratty to the cedar hedge so it will remain dense, green and tidy.
And of course, it applies to your car.
And if you lease your vehicle, that’s all the more reason to be nice to it. It will save you gritting your teeth and clutching your handbag tightly when you return it as the dealer assesses the damage and cost of the needed repairs and “restoration” work.
Even if you own the car, and you deliberately ignore the manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule, that manufacturer would be in a position to refuse to honour the warranty if something goes wrong.
Why do I bring this up? Because I just noticed that the odometer on "my" Niro EV will soon show 19,000 km. When Kia handed me the fob to the SUV, the odometer was close to 7,000 km. (Gets out calculator). So I've driven 12,000 km since then.
Might it be time for regular maintenance?
Served on a platter
Maybe I should have seen to that sooner. But I admit I fell into the trap of taking the easy way out. Normally, car reviewers are given testers in perfect working order. It's clean, it smells good, it's got a full tank of gas and it usually doesn't have many miles on it. And crucially, all the maintenance is up to date.
In any case, while each manufacturer has its own policy, as a general rule, so-called press cars rarely rack up more than 10,000 or 12,000 km before they’re pulled from duty. Once cars have been through their paces at the hands of as many reviewers as possible (each test drive lasting a week), manufacturers remove them from their press fleet and send them to dealers, likely via auction, where they will be sold as used vehicles.
As an aside, I've always wondered if, for the sake of transparency, vendors should put up a little sign that says “Tested by an automotive journalist”.
That might make for a good sales pitch. Like the Canadian Tire ads that show us that something has been subjected to all sorts of crazy tests before it gets a seal of quality and durability that is supposed to reassure the consumer.
Big box stores, however, don’t sell the actual items that have been put through the wringer. A car dealer could brag that the pre-owned vehicle they’re selling was first personally tested and vetted by pros. Dozens of them.
Some of those dozens may have been a little… abusive with their ride, I grant you. But not the majority. In fact, there are roughly two types of testers. The first type is the who will spend their week behind the wheel putting themselves into the shoes of consumers for whom the vehicle is intended.
If it's a minivan, for example, they’ll use the occasion to throw their luggage and family members into it for a little road trip. A pickup truck? Time to do those bigger jobs. A subcompact? Errands in town, and parking in tight spots. An SUV? Over to IKEA we go, so we can try to find all the different ways you can fit the boxes of a Billy bookshelf into it. Off-roader? Time to do some weekend warrior-ing! Last but not least, the sports car. Then it’s permitted – nay, encouraged – to indulge in repeat hardy 0-100 accelerations on a deserted stretch of highway. In some cases, and even better, there may be a visit to the nearest racetrack.
The vast majority of my colleagues work this way. But there’s another type. There are a handful who treat every tester like it’s a getaway car and every outing like they’ve got heat on their tail. Always at full throttle, tires squealing, hub caps flying off, hood plunging, etc.
I wouldn't necessarily want to buy that press car...
On the other hand, I'm sure auto manufacturers and their dealerships go through these press vehicles with a fine-tooth comb before they go on sale. When they come across one that shows signs of abuse, they have to work some overtime to make sure it’s healthy and looks great.
But I digress.
Following manufacturer’s recommendations
The maintenance booklet provided to the purchaser of a new gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle alongside the owner's manual generally suggests that visits to the dealership be made every 15,000 or 20,000 km, depending on the make and model of the car.
In the case of an electric vehicle, we’re talking about 30,000 km because the EV has fewer moving parts compared to its thermal counterpart. Like a low-maintenance friend versus a high-maintenance one!
So, if I go to a Kia dealership service centre with 19,000 km on the odometer, I shouldn't have any unpleasant surprises when they hoist the Niro EV up on the lift. Should I?
That's what we'll find out together next time...