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.
With electric vehicles getting a lot of press, you might be wondering which models are scratching consumers in all the right places.
According to J.D. Power’s U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study, the Kia Niro EV is the best thing the mainstream BEV market currently has to offer. The Korean model garnered a satisfaction rating of 744 points out of a possible 1,000. However, it wasn’t the top dog overall. That honor fell to the Tesla Model 3, which achieved a score of 777 points — besting the industry average for premium electrics by a whole seven points.
While the Kia Niro has its faults, most are forgivable. The vehicle’s imperfect highway manners and lackadaisical acceleration are easily offset by its competence in an urban or backroad environment. We’ve collectively praised just about every version of the Niro offered within North America over the last two years simply because it does the livability thing so damn well. But there’s a chink in its armor — its styling is about as memorable as the last place you left your house keys after a night of heavy drinking.
Again, our panties remained untwisted. Not every car needs to be visually bombastic to be good (cough, Volkswagen Golf) and sometimes it’s nice just to blend in with traffic. But the Niro was also one of the few entry-level models offering hybrid powertrains that didn’t get goofy styling touches to help distinguish themselves from an internal-combustion counterpart.
We say was because, for the 2019 model year, both the Kia Niro Hybrid and PHEV adopt the more radical styling of the Niro EV.
Life gets in the way. No matter how much you plan, there will always be circumstances that, at the very least, interfere with that plan — if not throw it completely out the window.
For instance, when I test a car that specifically touts efficiency, I always plan a relatively rigorous regimen of fuel economy measurements, including filling and refilling the tank at the same pump, and maintaining a consistent driving style. But then a school bus is late and I have to rush to the office, keeping me from the fuel pump before the car goes away — and keeping my foot to the floor a bit more than ideal. Or a charging plug falls out of the wall socket you’ve been meaning to replace for a decade.
But this time, as I tested the 2018 Kia Niro PHEV, everything went right. I was able to drive and charge this plug-in hybrid like a normal person who has to keep it for more than a week. Full charges greeted me each morning. And, at the end of my test, some seriously impressive fuel economy blew my mind.
The electric vehicle onslaught from Kia continues with the introduction of its 2019 Kia Niro EV. A far larger battery than the Niro PHEV and fast-charge capability conspire to give owners more time behind the wheel and less time juicing up.
We suppose one of the goals of Kia’s Niro EV is to offer an all-electric alternative to those not enamored by the Soul EV’s inspired-by-a-toaster styling cues. After, all both share a lot when it comes to their powertrains.
The South Korean automaker has no qualms about upending the status quo – witness the Stinger GT. Kia’s Niro hybrid might not look radical, but it’s a fuel-efficient dart hurled directly at the almighty Toyota Prius. Not everyone wants to loudly advertise their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, after all.
Fe might stand for iron on the periodic table, but can this FE iron out some traditional hybrid wrinkles? Let’s find out.
Kia will be recalling 27,000 Niro hybrids sold within the United States due a potential defect in its wiring relay that could potentially send the rear seats up in smoke. According to filings with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Kia reported a few warranty claims involving burn or heat damage to the rear seats. There was also at least one customer complaint alleging that the rear seat actually caught fire.
Affected units are said to come from the 2017 and 2018 model years. The main relay located beneath the rear seats is believed to have poor connections between its contacts on some vehicles. This results in increased electrical resistance and heat. In a worst-case scenario, a fire is totally possible.
Hyundai and Kia need to start making outlandish promises if the automakers hope to generate the kind of press once (and maybe still) enjoyed by a certain American electric carmaker. Instead, Hyundai Motor Group quietly putters along the road to electrification, issuing well-established timelines for its vehicle introductions, then following through.
There’s so little drama, it’s painful.
Ahead of a global debut at September’s Paris Motor Show, Kia launched its newest green vehicle at the 5th International Electric Vehicle Expo in Jeju, Korea — a practical EV made for practical, not all that wealthy people.
Positioned as a mainstream offering for green yet thrifty families, both Niro and Niro Plug-in offer more than 100 cubic feet of passenger volume in an incognito body while delivering fuel economy approaching that of the Toyota Prius. In plug-in form, the Niro travels 26 miles before requiring the assistance of gasoline.
While the Niro Plug-in’s price tops that of a base Prius Prime, we’ve learned Kia has a strategy for scoring value-minded buyers.
It’s strange that the Kia Stinger — an aggressively styled, rear-drive, twin-turbocharged sport sedan — would get so much limelight when there’s a new Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid to drool over. All right, that’s the one and only joke we’ll have at the well-regarded Niro’s expense. Obviously, there’ll be little cross-shopping between these two models, as both vehicles fulfill very different missions.
The Stinger’s all about letting your hair down and performing a smoke show in your old high school parking lot. The Niro Plug-in is for the rest of the week, when you’re shuttling your kids around and displaying your green bona fides to your upstanding suburban neighbors. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Recently unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show, the plug-in Niro takes a competent package (one we hesitate to call a “crossover”) and endows it with a healthy dose of all-electric driving range.
Outside of perhaps its front styling – especially the slightly bug-eyed headlamps and the pinched grille – the Kia Niro doesn’t really stand out in a crowd.
It’s quiet, thanks to a hybrid powertrain. It’s compact in length and height. It has a driving experience that isn’t memorable in ways good or bad.
And none of that preceding paragraph is meant as an insult.
Since arriving early this year, Hyundai Motor America has managed only a meager 4,881 sales of its Prius-fighting Ioniq. Hyundai is certain there are far more Ioniq sales that could occur, however, if only Hyundai had the Ioniqs to sell.
Supply isn’t just tight — the Ioniq Electric is essentially nonexistent at Hyundai’s showrooms in California, the only state where it’s (supposed to be) available.
Yet while Hyundai awaits greater Ioniq inventory, the lack of which is clearly to blame for the low volume to date, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Kia came out on top in this deal.
It’s a hybrid. It’s attractive. It’s affordable. It’s the Kia Niro. Launched at the beginning of 2017, the Kia Niro is already proving to be a surprisingly successful hit for Kia Motors America.
As competitors quickly fade into the background, Niro volume is rising steadily each month, with the Kia attracting buyers for a wide variety of reasons, not just fuel efficiency.
In fact, the Kia Niro isn’t that fuel efficient compared with other dedicated hybrids on the market today.
But the Kia Niro is a crossover. (Allegedly.) And Niro’s amalgam of characteristics — hybrid, design, affordability, crossover image — has returned a degree of sales success simply not enjoyed by most dedicated greenmobiles.
Is it or isn’t it? A crossover, I mean. That’s been the discussion over the 2017 Kia Niro ever since it bowed. No one seems to care whether the all-new hybrid functions as it should. Instead, the argument revolves around dimensions, and everyone knows that no one wins when someone whips out a ruler.
A couple of weeks ago, Corey took one glance at a photo I shared with the TTAC staff comparing the Niro to my mother’s 2014 Corolla. The photo showed the rather insignificant difference in overall height between the two compact vehicles, and fueled the argument that the Kia Niro is not a crossover.
I’m struggling to disagree.
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