Look out! There’s one more hybrid compact sports utility to choose from on a dealership lot near you.
Introduced last year as a hybrid, my tester was the top-of-the-line 2018 Kia Niro PHEV EX Premium. So it’s not only a hybrid, it’s a plug-in electric as well.
The hybrid – along with the additional 26 miles gained in all-electric mode – provides owners with an EPA-estimated range of 560 miles, 43 miles per gallon, AND the ability to experience pure EV daily driving and/or the hybrid functionality to take long road trips.
Niro seats five adults with a generous cargo area accessed via a hatchback door. Its exterior, covered with a silky silver coat of paint, features a design that it sculpted and modern, with 18-inch alloy wheels.
Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, 60-horsepower electric motor and a 8.9kWh lithium polymer battery mated to a six-speed, dual-clutch, automatic transmission. All work in tandem to produce a respectable 139 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.
“We’re excited about the Niro,” said Orth Hedrick, vice-president of product planning at Kia Motors America, said. “It’s fantastic – exceptional fuel economy, great looks, the usefulness and security of a compact utility and it’s fun to drive. The Niro really does set a new standard in the market,” Hedrick continued.
The Kia Niro is loaded with technology, safety, comfort and convenience features that make it competitive in a highly competitive category.
On the technology/safety front, highlights include autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning system, lane-departure warning system, smart cruise control, hill-start assist, electronic stability control, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert and LED headlights.
The South Koreans certainly did not skimp on creature comforts. Highlights include a Harman Kardon premium audio system, navigation system with eight-inch touchscreen and rear-view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, UVO infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB port and satellite radio.
Frankly, one of the attributes that struck my fancy was the Niro’s well-conceived interior.
The instrument panel is uncluttered and clean, with colorful and informative gauges at the ready.
Another notable energy-conserving feature is the driver-only air conditioning option, which directs the ventilation toward the driver and decreases the power consumption of the air conditioning system. Smart, huh? How many times are you driving just by yourself?
Interior roominess comes by way of the Niro’s generous 106.3-inch wheelbase, body height and wide stance that afford ample leg-, head- and shoulder-room. And the vehicle’s high-voltage battery is located underneath the rear seats to increase cabin and cargo space and allow for a flat load floor.
Kia’s Niro checks a lot of boxes and deserves your consideration before joining the every-growing legion of small SUV owners. The Niro PHEV will be offered in three trim levels – LX, EX and EX Premium.
Base Price: $29,650
Price As Driven: $32,840
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.