Comparing the Kia Niro vs. Tesla Model 3 for a 2800 Mile Cross Country Road Trip

I was curious how long it would take and how much it would cost to charge/fuel the Kia Niro vs. the Tesla Model 3 on a road trip.  I plugged the cars into A Better Route Planner and GasBuddy’s trip tools, and came up with the following chart:

Drive Time Charge/Fuel  Time Number of Charge/Fuel  Stops Cost (June 2020) to Charge/Fuel
Kia Niro Hybrid 40h 0m 1h 30m 6 $119.94
Kia Niro EV (64 kWh) 50h 33m 14h 9m 27 $554.00
Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (54 kWh) 45h 16m 9h 5m 27 $148.00
Tesla Model 3 Long Range (75 kWh)  43h 33m 7h 33m 18 $139.00

$554 to charge the Kia Niro EV?  Yes:  Electrify America’s charging network, though widespread, costs around 4x as much to charge as the Tesla supercharger!  Surprised?  The reason is because Electrify America is trying to make a profit, whereas Tesla mainly uses its Supercharger network as a selling point for its cars.

tesla-model-3
Tesla Model 3 (image: Motor Trend)

The Kia Niro hybrid looks like the winner in both cost and fuel time.  But the number of stops for the hybrid is misleading.  Yes, you could get by with only 6 fuel stops, but realistically, you’re probably going to be stopping at least 10-15 times for food, restroom  breaks, hotels, scenic viewpoints, etc.

kia-niro-ev-815
2020 Kia Niro EV (image: drive.com.au)

Overall, I’d take the Tesla for the ease of charging and more refined experience overall.  But I might miss the ventilated seats and CarPlay on the Niro. (Another point in the Niro’s favor: it’s relatively anonymous, vs. the Tesla which has proven attractive to thieves wanting to break windows and steal stuff. It can take 4-6 weeks to order new windows from Tesla. Versus the Niro, I’d pay an extra $400/year in insurance costs on the Tesla too.)

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