Kia markets the Niro as a crossover, but that's up for debate: we say it's more like a station wagon owing to distinctly car-like styling and a lack of an AWD option.
What we won't argue with is the fact that this is Kia's first-ever model conceived from the get-go to use electrified powertrains. And for 2018, this South Korean manufacturer takes that electrification a step further with the addition of a plug-in hybrid model (PHEV), which joins the regular hybrid setup that powers the base model that was introduced last year.
With a larger battery that will charge in as little as 2.5 hours on a 240-volt charger, Kia says the Niro PHEV will travel more than 900 km on a battery full of juice and the contents of its 45-litre fuel tank.
Both Niro models use a 1.6L gas engine paired with an electric motor to provide 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, which is fed through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With those figures at work under the hood, expect modest performance about in line with that of the Toyota Prius V, one of the originators of a hybrid wagon class also populated by the smaller Ford C-Max.
Thanks to a smooth underbody, strategically placed air vents and active grille shutters, Kia claims fuel consumption figures as low as 4.5/4.8 L/100 km (city/highway); as of this writing, the manufacturer hadn't published numbers for the PHEV model.
Sixteen-inch wheels are standard, with larger 18-inch units featured on upscale trims.
Available luxuries include heated and ventilated front seats, a power 10-way driver’s seat with memory, heated steering wheel and proximity key access with push-button start.
With its upright body, the Niro offers plenty of interior room for passengers in front and back. The battery pack is mounted under the floor, allowing flat-folding 60/40 split folding seats.
Standard tech includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and wireless device charging. The premium infotainment system comes with built-in navigation and an 8.0-inch touchscreen, though. A 7.0-inch touchscreen display, reverse camera, Bluetooth phone and audio are standard, while the audio system can be upgraded to a premium Harman/Kardon sound system.
Available active safety features include radar cruise control with emergency autonomous braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed