2017 Kia Niro
The 2017 Kia Niro crossover hybrid is cruising into a niche between the familiar Prius-style hybrid-electric hatchback, and traditional small crossover segments. The front-drive only Niro is larger than the also urbanized Soul, yet slightly smaller than the far more all-weather capable Sportage.
The 1.6 liter I4 and electric motor combo deliver a total of 139-horsepower, through a nifty 6-speed dual clutch automatic with a familiar console mounted shifter. Kia claims the Niro will get up to 50 mpgs Combined, roughly 50% better than a front drive Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
All that efficiency comes in what Kia calls an “un-hybrid” design. Yet, it is clearly more car- than utility-like, forgoing the Soul’s tall box shape, and the ultra-aggressive grille so popular in crossovers. Swept-back headlights bookend Niro’s version of Kia’s wide tiger nose grille. And, down the sides and around the back it really does speak 5-door hatchback.
The interior is very straight forward too, with little to say “hypermiler”. The dash is wide and uncluttered, with a 7-inch center touch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. One very ute-item are high front seating positions for a clear view of the road ahead.
GARICK ZIKAN: “This is the first Kia to use a new dedicated eco-car platform. Engineers developed it specifically for a gas and electric hybrid power train. They used things like high strength steel to make the vehicle durable and aluminum to bring down the weight. The result is a solid and nimble driving experience”
Advanced options include Autonomous Emergency Braking… Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Detection. A plug-in hybrid version arrives later. The 2017 Kia Niro is on sale now starting near $23,000.
Engine: 1.6 liter
Price: Starting near $23,000