By on April 13, 2022

After its debut at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show, Kia has prepped the second-generation Niro crossover for the New York International Auto Show and indicated that the model will retain its extra-bold styling for the U.S. market.

Directly inspired by the 2019 HabaNiro concept, Kia’s compact crossover features a fat C-pillar in a contrasting color. The low-hanging headlamps have also been pushed out to the side, giving off some faint Telluride vibes. Aspects of the Soul are also present, though that’s likely down to the model sharing some of its aesthetics with the HabaNiro. Kia seems the most pleased with its upgraded powertrain roster, however. 

Scheduled to arrive on dealer lots this summer, every version of the 2023 Kia Niro comes with some form of electrification. Base models are equipped with a 1.6-liter Smartsream GDi engine mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic and 32kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor. Kia says the package is good for 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque yielding 53 mpg (city/highway combined) and an estimated 588-mile range.

Above that is the plug-in hybrid, which adds a more-powerful 44-kW electric motor and an 11.1-kWh battery back. As with the base model, it’s front-wheel drive only. However, customers do get the option to run it on all-electric propulsion for 33 miles between charges. Since the pack is quite small, the manufacturer said it takes under three hours to recharge the unit using a Level 2 charger (the same one you use for your dryer).

Then there’s the 150-kW (201 horsepower) all-electric model. With a range of 253 miles, the model takes a competitive position for the segment. But it’s not a dazzling figure when compared to more expensive EVs that are already on the market. Kia believes it’s sufficient for most people, however, adding that the can go from 10 to 80 percent of its full charge in less than 45 minutes — provided it’s hooked up to a Level 3 fast charger. Home charging on a 240-volt outlet is decidedly longer, taking a smidgen under seven hours.

The wheelbase has been stretched a bit over the previous generation, now measuring measuring 107 inches with a total vehicle length of 174 inches. Kia said this has created more cargo room behind the rear seats (22.8 cubic feet total) while adding roughly eight cubic feet of space for passengers.

Speaking of the interior, it’s been completely modernized and gives off a minimalist impression that’s not unfamiliar to what we’ve seen from from other manufacturers. It doesn’t look bad, there’s just not as much to be done when you swap to a touchscreen-focused cabin. To offset this, the manufacturer makes mention of how it uses sustainable, animal-free materials — including recycled wallpaper, bio polyurethane, and pulp from eucalyptus leaves. Some of the paint was also said to be BTX-free. But this again can be a double-edged sword, as eco-friendly materials sometimes feel extremely cheap.

All of the above will need to be experienced in person before any valid assessments can be made. However, there is an aspect of the 2023 Kia Niro that pretty much ensures I’ll never recommended one — regardless of how well testing goes — and that’s the company’s decision to outfit the vehicle with a new “Green Zone” driving mode.

The system automatically switches the hybrids into all-electric propulsion whenever they’re in residential areas, near a hospital, rolling through a school zone, and any other geo-locked areas based on its GPS positioning and the car’s previously recorded driving history. While the feature currently has to be selected as an alternative to Eco or Sport modes, it’s something manufacturers have been toying with for years to prepare for governments that want to ban gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles in certain areas. It’s another example of modern automobiles taking control away from the driver and frankly something I hope never catches on.

Everything else is pretty standard for a modern compact crossover, including driving aids like pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring (all with more warning alarms than before). There’s also more to be had for those interested in laying down a bigger portion of their paycheck. Unsatisfied shoppers can upgrade to dual 10.25-inch screens for the instrument cluster/infotainment system or scoop up the optional eight-speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system. Kia is also selling heated/ventilated front seats with memory settings, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control with some semi-autonomous driving features.

Pricing is TBD. But Kia likely won’t keep us waiting for long since deliveries are just a few months away.

[Images: Kia]

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32 Comments on “NYIAS: 2023 Kia Niro Previewed for U.S. Market...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Green Mode doesn’t appeal to me much either. Has Kia confirmed whether it can be switched off?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The article says this: “the feature currently has to be selected as an alternative to Eco or Sport modes”

      So I guess you can turn it off.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        Yes you can turn it off in the Kia. However governments that have been encouraging automakers to run with their green zone scheme have said they’d eventually like all cars to do this automatically based on boundaries set by the state. Fairly dystopian stuff I don’t think we should allow to catch on.

        • 0 avatar
          probert

          dystopia is Ukraine – not a switchable feature on an expensive car. If tracking is the issue – might want to note that TTAC gets a D regarding website security.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “…governments that have been encouraging…”

          There’s a great deal of distance between “encouraging” and dystopia, particularly when there’s an off switch for the supposedly dystopian feature.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            Seeds have to be planted before they can grow.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Kia gave the choice on whether this seed grows or not to the driver.

            The choice of whether these “green zones” even exist or not lies with voters. Again, I think you are barking up the wrong tree – the problem is with the politicians, not Kia. I do appreciate you bringing this to our attention, though. If I see something like this proposed near me, I’ll notify my elected representatives about my displeasure with it.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            And yet you endorsed the automotive industry laying the necessary groundwork, giving tacit approval for the plan. Brilliant strategy.

            I am all for people doing as they please, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to carry water for bad ideas just because they aren’t yet impacting me directly yet.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            No, I don’t think this is a good idea. I even said I’d let my elected representatives have a piece of my mind if they try it here. Even said I appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

            But now, I’m “tacitly approving” of this? What, I’m the Soviet Ambassador and you’re Adlai Stevenson? Do I get to wait for the translation?

            Point your finger elsewhere, please.

            Far as Kia’s concerned, this feature is optional. It can be turned off. Sensible reaction, if you ask me.

            And if you’re looking for dystopianism, I’d look beyond Kia. Try Florida or Texas. There’s plenty of it going on there, and none of it is potential, or theoretical. Try tilting those windmills instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Examples chump?

  • avatar
    BEPLA

    What’s the gripe about “green mode”?
    You need the “freedom” to burn gasoline so you can drive at 40 or 50 through a school zone or in a residential neighborhood?
    FFS – Get a grip.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Yeah, I’m not sure why anyone would care about this. I guess if one can’t “BRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPH!!!” past the hospital at 3 in the morning, one must feel restrained somehow. “Freedom” and whatnot.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        Hi. To save you time in the future, there’s a good chance my response will always be yes if your question is “Do people need the freedom to _____?”

        I am a consumer advocate and support people’s ability to genuinely own the products they’ve purchased and use them as they see fit. I am against automakers tracking people’s driving data, the premise of mandatory green zones, remote kill switches, and any other form of connectivity (available or in development) that advantages the government or giant corporations at the expense of individual drivers. None of the above results in a better automobile, it simply sets the stage for more electronic nannies and disempowered motorists.

        I also believe that the people who mock freedom stand in the way of it. FFS indeed.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          Do people need the freedom to buy cars with intelligent telematic systems that allow them to automatically switch to full-electric mode when in residential or other areas to help improve air quality where people live and spend their time?

        • 0 avatar
          statikboy

          I think you are confused about the definition of “Freedom”.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            What happened to you poor creatures?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Poor creatures”?

            Good to know you’re still looking down your nose at your readers – i.e., the people who pay your salary – for disagreeing with you.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            This feature is fine if you have control over it. But it does set the stage for more invasive technologies and I’m totally against having my location monitored like this. Also are the emissions created driving through the stated areas such an issue? If one was talking about extended idling and really extreme congestion reducing the overall emissions might be beneficial but maybe working to reduce the congestion might be a better approach. That would save fuel, emissions, and time. Probably reduce road rage too. So a pass on this.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Do explain exactly how you pay his salary @freedmike. It is a free site so unless you are buying a Tundra because of the advertising on this site get over yourself…you arent paying for squat.

            For the record, I look down on some of you for free!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            We all pay his salary by frequenting the site. That’s how it works. Being a d*ck to your readers isn’t a good way to keep them coming back so they can see all the ads your publication gets paid for. At least that’s what I learned in journalism school, anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Yet here you are every time he posts an article so I’m going to say it’s working pretty well.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The irony of Green Mode is that you’d have to burn more gas when you leave the green zone to replenish the hybrid battery, because the battery would drain lower in the green zone.

    True Green Mode would be to simply buy the Niro EV.

    I’m an EV fan to be sure, but a 53 mpg hybrid is already a ULEV. Green Mode won’t help anything or anyone.

  • avatar
    orobertscab

    I’m not a fan of the contrasting C-pillar, would be nice to see it available in a solid color as an option, anyone at Kia listening? Anyone at Kia give a damn about the design analysis of a 60+ white male?

  • avatar
    BrandX

    You would rather be excluded from entering certain areas (by some level of government) than to have a car that would switch into electric propulsion only in those areas? I don’t understand how the exclusion is the lesser of the two evils.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We could have neither and the sun would indeed rise tomorrow.

      But if more cities choose to implement green zones, they should be enforced on the spot with drivers having to manually select EV mode upon entering. Allowing the manufacturer to select your drive mode for you is simply a bridge too far. Frankly, I’m just not that interested in the rest of the world pursuing China’s technocratic model of traffic enforcement.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “But if more cities choose to implement green zones…”

        Allow me finish that sentence for you: “But if more cities choose to implement green zones, ***it’ll be because voters allow it***.” That’ll be $4.21, please. (rimshot)

        Meanwhile, Kia has given drivers an “off” switch for this feature, so I’d say you should be congratulating them for doing their bit against this theoretical dystopia.

        I think you’re barking a bit loudly up a really small tree here, and I’d say it’s the wrong tree to boot.

  • avatar
    RHD

    If the ladies like it, it will sell.
    The contrasting paint on the C-pillar area will be either a deal-breaker, or no one will really care about it. It will be useful, however, as it will make the Niro distinguishable from the hundreds of nearly identical CUVs in the Walmart parking lot.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I take it this is going to be the less expensive EV in the Kia lineup? The first EV6 has already shown up at our monthly car club, and it’s a knockout.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    It’s like what would happen if you took the most boring fake-car shape that animators could come up with for a straight-to-streaming movie, grafted a couple of extraordinarily ugly details on it to make it stand out, and then took literally the two worst things about the otherwise-excellent EV6 – that damn combo HVAC/media control strip and the knob shifter (which ALMOST got me to back into a concrete bollard last weekend) – while ignoring all of that car’s fantastic design touches. What could go wrong?

    • 0 avatar
      haze3

      Maybe a little harsh on the not-all-that-important appearance elements of what is, really, a pretty standard and functional layout for a “commuter” use case. However, your comments on the control strip and knob are WAY pertinent.

      I’ve seen reviews listing those elements as specific reasons for preferring the Ioniq5 to the EV6. Assuming from comments that you are running an EV6, do these controls strike you as stuff that will get much better with familiarity (e.g. bypass media via wheel controls) or that are just going to always drive one nuts?

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        The control strip is an abomination. Making it particularly bad is the fact that, because all of the buttons (including the one that switches between HVAC and media controls) are both small and virtual, you need a pretty steady finger to push them, and in a moving EV6, the obvious way to steady your hand would be to rest your palm on the front of the center console – but if you put a palm or a finger there, five times out of ten you’ll inadvertently activate one of the touch-sensitive seat/steering wheel heat buttons at the end of the console.

        As for the Niro design, it’s the classic “Some of it’s new, some of it’s good.” It’s really a very anonymous looking car generally (inoffensive, but anonymous), _except_ for the cobra-that-couldn’t-quite-swallow-the-back-of-a-CRV accent swoosh and the overwrought headlights.

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