01.27.17 - Kia Niro

As a company that’s looking to gain a piece of what the Prius has enjoyed for years, Kia was smart in their design of the new Niro. This vehicle is advertised as a small SUV, but it’s hardly larger than the new Ioniq, making it questionable as to whether or not it’s an SUV or just a lifted hatchback. Regardless of what it is, the new Niro is built to offer you a great choice when you’re searching for the hybrid vehicle that you want which doesn’t carry the looks of a hybrid that we’ve known for so long; the Prius.

The Niro is built to look like a shrunken down SUV and it offer you short overhangs, an extended roofline, a wide stance and strikingly good looks to make it a vehicle everyone can love. This should give the new Niro a leg up over other models that have chosen to head for more polarizing style with creases and folds everywhere you look. On the inside the Niro is just an inch larger than the Ioniq and it stands only 3.3 inches taller, making it a questionable SUV, but selling as a small crossover has a certain appeal in today’s market.

As a hybrid, the most targeted numbers were those of the fuel mileage. The base FE model is able to offer 52 city/49 hwy mpg and the LX and EX versions bring us 51 city/46 hwy mpg. The Touring and Touring Launch lower that number a bit with 46 city/40 hwy mpg, giving you the choice of which trim you want and the mileage returns you’re looking for. The difference in these numbers is a result of the weight difference for items such as 18-inch alloy wheels, a premium audio system or the leather seats.

While the Touring is nearly 170 pounds heavier than the FE, every model of the new Niro receives the same powertrain. This starts with a 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine that produces 104 horsepower. Add in the 43-horsepower electric motor and you have 139 combined while also enjoying 195 lb.-ft. of torque. This is attached to a smooth shifting dual clutch six-speed automatic transmission to give you a great ride. The hybrid battery pack is located under the rear seat of the vehicle but the seats are still able to fold flat to give you added cargo benefits and a lower center of gravity for better control on the road.

On the inside Kia has loaded the Niro up with some of the most impressive features for your enjoyment and driving information. You’ll have an 8.0-inch screen with UVO3 to give you the benefits of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The features list for the Niro can give you a vehicle that’s near luxury with items such as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats and a Harman/Kardon sound system, or you can have a trimmed down model that’s still comfortable and easy for you to enjoy the ride.

What is the Kia Niro? It’s a vehicle which is removed from what a typical hybrid looks like while bringing you the benefit of the hybrid powertrain for the fuel mileage numbers you need. Whether you need a great small SUV for your regular long commute, want something efficient for weekend excursions or are just tired of paying at the pump on a weekly basis, this is an SUV that can answer the call. Not only does it give you the performance you want but it provides you with a great looking vehicle which is a hybrid but doesn’t look like one at all; which could be its biggest selling point.

Written by Blaine Traber

I enjoy Design and Architecture. This includes cars, I have always loved the design of a vehicle and it is what led me to work in the Automotive Industry at Honda. I'm also a freelance automotive journalist.

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