Updated for 2021, the Kia Niro HEV Crossover offers a sleek new hybrid look, inside and out, and now comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Says caranddriver.com reviewers Eric Stafford and Drew Dorian: “All models equipped with passive hands-free entry add remote start. Kia also introduces new navigation features that include 10 years of complimentary map updates and map-based adaptive cruise control. The latter system can recognize safe zones (such as a construction zone) and also slightly reduce the vehicle's speed when approaching a curved road.”
The Niro Hybrid’s cutting-edge gas/electric powertrain technology offers an exceptional 560 mile range, 105 MPGe, a 46 MPG Rating for combined city/highway, and 26 pure electric miles. The icing on the cake is the $4,500 in fuel costs you’ll save over 5 years. Caranddriver.com reviewers summarize the HEV: “Stellar fuel economy, easy to get in and out of, prettier and more practical than any Prius.”
Produced at Kia’s Hwaseong plant in South Korea, the Niro Hybrid compact crossover SUV comes in 5 trims: LX (MSRP: $24,690), LXS (MSRP: $26,090), Touring (MSRP: $28,390), Touring Special Edition (MSRP: $30,950), and EX Premium (MSRP: $32,950).
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."
When the Kia Niro Hybrid first debuted, a test car achieved a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORD 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.
Car and Driver reviewers say: "The Niro is an approachable and practical crossover-like hatchback. 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." Niro's designers aerodynamically sculpted the hybrid to improve fuel efficiency. The car's drag coefficient of .29 Cd cuts down air flow to maximize performance.
The Niro HEV has a 1.6 L 4-cylinder gas engine which works with a Full Parallel Hybrid System that includes a single AC electric motor/generator integrated within a six-speed automatic transmission. “Smart tech, fun drive,” says Kia about Niro’s Dual-Clutch Transmission. “A highly responsive, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) with Sport Mode shifts gears smoothly and quickly for seamless acceleration. Sport Mode provides improved steering feel, increased throttle response, and raised shift points.”
The Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine has an exhaust-heat recovery system 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.
All trims come with the following standard features: Rear Privacy Glass, Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control w/ Driver Only Mode, an 8-inch Color Touch-Screen Display w/ AM/FM/USB Audio, a Rear-View Camera w/ Dynamic Parking Guidelines, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth Wireless Technology, Keyless Entry, Dual Front Advanced Airbags,, Driver's Side Knee Airbag, Full-Length Side Curtain Airbags, Dual Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), High Line Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH).
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.
Safety features include:
• Dual Front Advanced Airbags
• Dual Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
• Full-Length Side Curtain Airbags
• Driver's Side Knee Airbag
• 3-Point Seat Belts for All Seating Positions
• Front Seat-Belt Pretensioners
• 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/ Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
• Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
• Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
• Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD)
• Brake Force Assist System (BAS)
• Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
• High Line Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
• Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
• Rear Child-Safety Door Locks
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. 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 Niro HEV comes with Kia's excellent 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
If you’re a 5-member family looking for a stylish, decently priced hybrid that gets incredible fuel economy, the 2021 Niro Hybrid is a car you should closely examine.
WRITTEN JUNE 2021
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