Even within the crowded compact crossover class, the Kia Niro stands alone. Why? It is the one one which comes commonplace with electrification. And along with the hybrid mannequin examined right here, Kia affords its Niro with plug-in energy, or as a completely electrical automobile with an estimated 239 miles of vary.

The Niro shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai Ioniq, which is a extra conventional Prius fighter. However because of its crossover form and additional cargo area, the Niro presents itself to be a way more compelling hybrid bundle.

Gradual and regular

The Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that works in live performance with a 1.56-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery to supply 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. In a subcompact crossover that weighs about Three,300 kilos, that is merely not sufficient. Driving up steep sections of the Grapevine on Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles, I needed to dig deep into the throttle with the intention to maintain tempo in site visitors.

The silver lining to that sluggishness, nonetheless, is gas economic system. Essentially the most environment friendly Niro FE is EPA-rated for 52 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 49 mpg freeway. My top-of-the-range Niro Touring tester’s 2-inch-larger wheels and almost 200-pound-heavier curb weight scale back gas economic system fairly a bit, although, to 46/40 metropolis/freeway mpg. After 12 days and 1,209 miles, most of which had been spent on the freeway, I averaged 41 mpg.

The Niro’s hybrid powertrain is anemic on the freeway.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

The shortage of energy is not fairly as noticeable off the freeway, the electrical help providing brief bursts of torque for off-the-line acceleration. The six-speed, dual-clutch computerized transmission is sweet at fading into the background, however takeoffs can generally be jerky, and the shifts lack the attribute quickness you may discover in dual-clutch models from different automakers.

The remainder of the Niro’s driving qualities are well-sorted, simply as they’re within the Ioniq I just lately examined. On twisty again roads, the direct steering helps the hybrid really feel nimble. The suspension expertly retains physique roll in test, whereas absorbing bumps with aplomb, and the brakes convey the whole lot easily again to relaxation, free from the maligned regenerative lurch generally present in different hybrids.

Curiously, the Niro is a front-wheel-drive-only affair, so in case you’re on the lookout for one thing slightly extra all-weather-capable, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Respectable-quality supplies and supportive seats make for a well-sorted cabin.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Good digs

Though the Kia Niro shares a platform with the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, the Niro has a extra interesting-looking inside with higher-quality supplies. On a six-hour drive from LA to San Francisco, the Niro’s seats provide loads of consolation. With a beneficiant (for a subcompact crossover) 106.Three-inch wheelbase, there’s loads of room to stretch out, whether or not you are seated up entrance or in again. There’s additionally loads of respiration room for cargo with 19.four cubic ft of area behind the rear seats, and 54.5 cubic ft with the again seats folded.

The spacious, snug and quiet cabin is complemented by loads of commonplace tech. The Niro is supplied proper out of the gates with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a 7-inch touchscreen. Satellite tv for pc radio and a six-speaker stereo additionally come commonplace. In absolutely stocked Touring trim, you get an Eight-inch touchscreen with embedded navigation that is easy to make use of although Kia’s voice-command system. The Touring additionally bundles an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, HD radio and wi-fi cellphone charging.

Relating to security tech, no superior driver-assistance programs come commonplace, however with a beginning value of $23,490 (plus $995 for vacation spot), I am not mad about that. My absolutely loaded ($33,245 together with vacation spot) Touring, nonetheless, comes with adaptive cruise management that works above 5 mph, computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep help, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, plus parking sensors entrance and rear.

Similar to its Hyundai Ioniq sibling, absolutely loaded is the best way to go along with the Niro.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

How I would spec it

My Niro tester’s Deep Cerulean paint received a number of compliments, however I would go for the Runway Purple as an alternative, which prices an additional $295. That is the one change I would make. In any other case, the Niro Touring has all of the tools I like in a automotive, reminiscent of HID headlights, keyless entry, a sunroof, auto-dimming mirror, leather-based upholstery, heated and ventilated entrance seats, driver’s seat reminiscence and a heated steering wheel. All in, we’re taking a look at $33,540 out the door.

After a few years in the marketplace, the Kia Niro nonetheless affords a compelling bundle. However with all-wheel-drive rivals just like the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid and the Toyota Prius AWD-e getting into the market, the Niro may need to step up its recreation just a bit to maintain patrons .

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