Not Fiddling Around
Over the past half-decade or so, Kia Motors has gone from bargain basement brand to respected rival when compared to its competitors at Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Now, with the new 2017 Niro, Kia looks to continue its upward trajectory by jumping into a brand new segment: a “crossover” hybrid.
The 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid will be offered with one engine choice: a four-cylinder 1.6-liter GDI unit, which produces 104 horsepower, and is mated to a 43-hp electric motor for a combined output of 139 hp and 195 pounds-feet of torque.
Unlike most hybrid vehicles that come with a CVT transmission, the Niro puts its power down through a new, twin-clutch six-speed transmission. In Eco mode, the transmission shifts like a normal automatic, but the driver can activate Sport mode for faster, manual shifts.
The Numbers Look Good
For any hybrid, fuel economy is very important, and the Niro does not disappoint. The base model FE returns 52 city/49 highway/50 combined mpg. The LX and EX versions get 51/46/49, and the Touring and Touring Launch deliver 46/40/43.
The differences in fuel economy are caused by the added weight in higher trim levels. The addition of leather seats, a premium audio system, and other equipment, gives the Touring model an extra 170 pounds over the FE.
Inside the cabin, the driver is greeted by an eight-inch screen with the UVO3 infotainment system, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Safety Equipment & A Competitive Price
Like many other Kia models, the Niro comes equipped with a slew of safety features, including a blind-spot detection system, lane departure warning, smart cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and a park assist system in the Touring trim.
Kia recently announced that the base FE model will be sold with a starting MSRP of $22,890, while the top-of-the-line Touring model will start at $29,650.
Most people who buy hybrid (or any) crossovers only want two things from their vehicle—comfort and efficiency. They will probably never drive their car on anything but pavement, and for the most part they care nothing about speed or power numbers. In the Niro’s case that is a good thing since all-wheel drive is not an option.
Even though the 2017 Kia Niro is more of a wagon than a crossover, it brings a new option into a segment previously dominated by the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and recently joined by the Nissan Rogue Hybrid. A practical body, 50 mpg, and one of the best warranties on the market make a strong case for the new kid on the block.
Consumers should also note that fellow Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, will soon release its Ioniq hybrid, which will share the same platform. The Niro will be getting a big boost with ads on the 2017 Super Bowl featuring Melissa McCarthy.
Related Stories You Might Enjoy:
Road Test: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers