Kia (and its parent company, Hyundai) is in the midst of a big push into electrified vehicle territory, having rolled out hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicle (EV) models ranging from the Optima family sedan, the Soul hatchback and, most recently, this handsome wagon/crossover, the Niro.
Introduced in 2017 as a hybrid, the Niro gained a PHEV model midway through 2018 as a 2019 model. The only other change for this year is a smaller selection of paint colours for the hybrid variant.
You may now be able to charge the Niro’s battery by plugging it into the wall, but that electricity is fed to the same powertrain. A 1.6L four-cylinder engine is matched up with an electric motor for 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, power that goes through a six-speed automatic transmission to get to the front wheels.
Kia’s key competitor for the Niro is the Toyota Prius V, a formidable force in the hybrid marketplace. That wagon variant of the Prius is a larger car and offers more interior space. It’s also more efficient in real-world driving, but the Niro is the more engaging driver, if that’s something that concerns you.
Kia offers the Niro in L, EX, EX Premium and SX Touring trims. Even if you choose the base model for its sub-$26,000 price tag, you’re not getting a “stripper” version thanks to a standard features list that includes automatic headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, heated front seats and steering wheel, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, dual-zone automatic climate control, 7.0-inch display audio system with satellite radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and selectable drive modes.
EX trim adds LED taillights, power-folding side mirrors, cloth/leather seats, wireless phone charging, passive keyless entry and rear parking sensors. Upgrade to EX Premium for a sunroof, power driver’s seat with lumbar and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.
Finally, SX Touring brings xenon headlights, 18-inch wheels, leather seating, heated rear seats and ventilated front seats, 8.0-inch infotainment screen with navigation, eight-speaker stereo and a 110-volt power outlet. This top-end model also gets a full suite of safety items that includes lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, driver attention alert and front parking sensors.
Kia’s fuel consumption estimates for the Niro hybrid at 4.5/4.8 L/100 km (city/highway) in L trim, 4.6/5.1 in EX form and 5.1/5.8 when dressed up as the SX Touring. The Niro PHEV’s ratings are 4.9/5.3 when running on a combination of gas and electricity, and 2.2 Le/100 km when using electricity alone.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed