The Kia Niro achieves an EPA-estimated 50 mpg combined and a near-600-mile range
Car and Driver reviewers say: “The Niro is an approachable and practical crossover-like hatchback – one that just happens to have a hybrid powertrain and EPA city ratings of up to 52 mpg. Refreshingly straightforward, it has no unfortunate packaging concessions, no bizarre styling, and no weird controls that are different just for the sake of being different.”
Kia calls the Niro “A new approach to what a hybrid crossover can be. It features a high-efficiency 1.6L GDI engine and a smooth-transitioning dual-clutch automatic transmission that deliver pure fun behind the wheel.” Niro’s designers aerodynamically sculpted the hybrid to improve fuel efficiency. The car’s drag coefficient of .29 Cd cuts down drag to maximize performance. The car has achieved a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for Lowest Fuel Consumption. Driven 3,715 miles by professional test drivers – from LA to NY – the hybrid used only 4.1 tanks of gas. That’s a record-setting mark of an incredible 76.6 mpg.
Niro has a four-cylinder engine and a single AC electric motor/generator integrated within a six-speed automatic transaxle. The engine is an Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter four-cylinder with exhaust-heat recovery and dual cooling circuits for quickly warming up the cylinder head. It generates 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. Kia claims it operates with 40 percent thermal efficiency, a high mark on that scale. The 6-speed is a dual-clutch unit, with two hydraulically actuated multiplate dry clutches. The combined system output to the front wheels is 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.
Kia Niro Hybrid comes in 5 trims: FE, LX, EX, Touring Launch Edition and Touring. All models get a rearview camera and a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Compared with the more affordable LX, the EX model adds significant interior comforts including standard heated front seats, rear A/C vents, upgraded trim, and an available sunroof. Touring models upgrade their audio significantly with an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon system and also get power front seats and leather upholstery. Adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking are among the features available on top EX and Touring models. The car comes with a power driver’s seat with lumbar support that adjusts up to 10 ways.
Niro is engineered with safety in mind. Its Iso-Structure™ construction is composed of over 50% advanced high-strength steel for excellent rigidity. Advanced airbags system, including a driver’s knee airbag plus high-tech sensors to help manage airbag inflation are standard. Specially engineered front and rear crumple zones help preserve structural integrity for improved protection. All the doors are reinforced with steel beams to help absorb impact energy and deflect side-impact force.
With the rear seats up, cargo space is 19.4ft3. Cargo space expands to 54.5ft3 with the seats down. Niro boasts more interior volume than the Toyota Prius and more headroom than the Honda HR-V.
Kia considers the Niro a serious player in its Next Gen line-up of cars. A plug-in-hybrid Niro is due in the USA next September. And a pure-electric version – likely in early 2018 – is expected to complete Niro’s family. Says Car and Driver: “Those who choose a Niro because it is the size and shape they want probably will find a lot of value in this model’s generally pleasant driving experience and roomy interior – not to mention a lot more monetary value should gas prices rise.” The car is described as a key part of Kia’s Green Car Roadmap, which aims to nearly triple its global green car lineup by 2020. Niro is part of the EcoDynamics sub-brand that previously introduced the Kia Optima Hybrid and Soul EV. There’s a difference though: Niro is the first Kia on a new eco-car platform specifically engineered to accommodate a plug-in hybrid powertrain to be added later in the lifecycle.
MSRP for the Niro FE starts at $22,890. The 2017 Kia Niro was named a 10 Best Hybrid Car Under $40,000 by Kelly Blue Book’s KBB.com.