The Kia Niro was launched as a brand new vehicle for 2017, a compact fuel-electric hybrid wagon. For 2018, a plug-in hybrid model has been added. All include entrance-wheel drive. All-wheel drive isn’t out there. Its closest rival is perhaps the Toyota Prius v, though the v has a bigger cargo capability.
The 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid is EPA-rated at forty six miles per gallon Mixed, or a hundred and five MPGe when operating electrically. It has a range of 26 miles on electric energy alone, in heat climate; we acquired sufficient seat time to verify this.
The traditional hybrid model, the type that you don’t (and can’t) plug in, is rated 50 mpg Mixed for a stripped FE mannequin (with much less energy-utilizing gear) or forty three mpg for a properly-outfitted Niro Touring mannequin. These figures are in Eco mode, which brings acceleration efficiency down quite a bit.
Each the plug-in hybrid and non-plug-in hybrid variations use a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with direct injection, tuned for the extremely environment friendly Atkinson cycle. It makes 104 horsepower, with an electric motor squeezed between the engine and the 6-velocity direct-shift automated transmission, bringing the mixed horsepower to a useful 139, with a robust 195 pound-ft of torque. The plug-in mannequin has the extra highly effective electric motor, at forty five kilowatts (60 hp), versus the 32-kw (forty three-hp) motor within the regular hybrid.
Kia’s system solely makes use of one electric motor, in contrast to the smoother twin-motor methods utilized by Toyota, Honda, GM and Ford.
The small platform of the Niro is shared with the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback. The low and extensive stance, 5-door physique, and vertical liftgate make it really feel like a wagon. It drives properly and handles nicely, because of mild weight and a low middle of gravity. It feels sportier than the Toyota Prius.
It’s sensible in addition to economical. The styling, cabin and features are engaging. It’s quiet within the cabin, and there’s good room for passengers and cargo.
Security gear consists of seven airbags and a rearview digital camera with guiding strains. A lot of the newest safety features can be found, together with blind-spot screens with rear cross-visitors alert, lane-change help, adaptive cruise management, lane-departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking.
The 2018 Niro Hybrid is available in FE, LX, EX and Touring fashions. The Kia Niro FE ($23,340) comes standard with twin-zone local weather management, LED headlamps, sixteen-inch alloy wheels, six-approach guide entrance seats, 60/forty-cut up folding rear seats, rearview digital camera, steering-wheel audio controls, two 12-Volt energy retailers and USB and auxiliary enter jacks on the middle console, a four.2-inch digital show between the devices, and a 7.zero-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Niro LX ($23,650) provides roof rails, keyless ignition, rear middle armrest, and LED taillamps. (Costs are MSRP and don’t embrace vacation spot cost.)
Niro EX ($26,one hundred fifty) will get material-and-leather-based upholstery, fog lights and LED operating lights, energy folding heated door mirrors with built-in flip alerts, blind-spot screens, heated entrance seats, leather-based-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a USB charger within the middle console, and shiny black interior trim.
Niro Touring ($32,000) received a price improve of $2000 greater than the opposite fashions, for 2018. It provides leather-based seats, ventilated in entrance, 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight.zero-inch touchscreen, eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system with HD radio, entrance and rear parking help, 10-method energy adjustable driver’s seat, and a heated steering wheel.
The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, additionally known as the Niro PHEV, is available in LX ($27,900), EX ($31,500), and EX Premium ($34,500) trim ranges. The plug-in has a locking cost port, so the car can’t be unplugged whereas at a public charging station; a cost-timing perform to benefit from decrease in a single day electric charges; and a transportable charging cord. It qualifies for a (-$4543) federal revenue tax credit score the yr it’s bought, assuming the customer’s tax state of affairs permits the full credit score for use. It additionally earns state buy rebates in New York (-$2000), California (-$1500), and different states, plus regional and company incentives.
Kia calls the Niro a crossover as a result of it appears like a crossover. It feels extra substantial than a compact hatch. It has huge wheel arches with black flares, a thick cowl, rocker-panel cladding, roof rails, and a rear skid plate that makes it resemble a Jeep Cherokee from the rear. There’s no apparent styling effort to mark it as a hybrid, no seen try and look aerodynamic or eco. However the truth is the Niro could be very aerodynamic, with the drag coefficient being a low zero.29.
The low nostril and vast sweeping hood conceal an extended entrance overhang. It’s decrease than the Kia Sportage crossover, whereas its strains are smoother and rounder than these on the Kia Soul.
A small flash of blue trim across the entrance parking lights distinguishes the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electrical Car) variations.
The standard of the cabin supplies is sweet, and the surfaces are mushy. The instrumentation is straightforward and basic, with huge white-on-black gauges, and shiny black trim on larger fashions. The sprint panel doesn’t attempt to impress you. There are not any gauges that give any clue to its being a hybrid, apart from an enormous inexperienced leaf on the panel.
With seat frames that got here out of the close to-luxurious Optima sedan, the entrance seating place is excessive, decreasing headroom; nevertheless it’s nonetheless not as excessive as within the Soul or Sportage, which have taller rooflines.
The cabin is extensive and feels it. There’s snug room for 4 individuals, and sufficient elbow room for 5 no drawback. However perhaps not headroom. The rear seatbacks are already canted, not upright, so the passengers’ heads don’t scrape the ceiling.
The cargo flooring is low and flat, as a result of the battery is underneath the rear seat, and since there’s no 4-wheel-drive elements to make room for.
There’s much less cargo area than within the Soul or Sportage: 19.four cubic ft with the rear seat up, and fifty four.5 cubic ft with it down, not fairly flat. However we discovered that it squashed down flat once we put weight on it. The cargo capability is so much lower than the Prius v, with its sixty seven.three cubic ft.
Kia put lots of effort into insulating the physique construction and isolating engine noise, and it exhibits. If you flooring it and the engine howls, the noise stays out of the cabin.
The Plug-in Hybrid, in all-electric mode, can gently speed up to freeway speeds, however the engine joins the powertrain going uphill or accelerating onerous. The fuel pedal has a spot the place there’s resistance, with a view to keep in all-electric mode, however you typically need to push previous it and use the engine to maintain from getting run over by quick visitors.
As soon as, we discovered ourselves with an empty battery on the prime of a hill. Zero electric range. By the point we obtained to the underside of the hill, after coasting and profiting from regenerative braking, we had added three miles of range.
Friction braking with the brake pedal additionally costs the battery. The pedal was a bit spongy, and the journey was lengthy, however the mixing of regenerative braking with friction braking was seamless. Nevertheless, each Niro powertrains typically hesitated or lurched throughout transitions between braking, regeneration, and transmission shifting. It’s one disadvantage to the Kia (and Hyundai) single-motor hybrid system, versus the 2 motors utilized by Ford, GM, Honda, and Toyota.
The Niro sheds kilos with an aluminum hood, liftgate, and suspension bits. Its mild weight and low middle of gravity largely make the car deal with and maintain the street properly.
It’s much more enjoyable to drive in Sport mode, however that’s the place the fuel mileage will sink. Eco mode is extra frugal, nevertheless it’s sluggish. The Eco mode is uncomfortable as a result of it prevents the transmission from kicking down for acceleration. The engine will keep in larger gears so long as attainable, which not solely retains the rpm and sound down, however brings within the electric motor so as to add torque for acceleration.
The Niro snaps into Sport mode as the driving force pulls the shift lever to the left, virtually like a downshift. The car comes alive, and simply retains up with quick visitors on the freeway. The Sport mode allows sharper throttle response and transmission shifts; and supposedly sharper steering too, though we couldn’t really feel a lot distinction in flip-in quickness or weight within the steering wheel.
The transmission is fast, decisive and interesting in Sport mode. Kia selected a twin-clutch transmission, relatively than a constantly variable transmission, partly as a result of it needed the Rio to not really feel like a hybrid (however simply be one). Principally, it didn’t need the Rio to really feel like a Prius. Analysis has proven that hybrid house owners don’t very similar to the traits of the CVT that often comes with hybrids. The twin-clutch transmission makes use of gears like a guide transmission, however looks like an automated, and might be manually shifted extra sharply than a CVT.
Niro doesn’t have paddle shifters, so you need to use the lever to shift the transmission in Sport mode. However, unusually, downshifting in Sport mode doesn’t produce engine braking, particularly the regenerative selection.
One novel feature, referred to as the coasting information, tells the driving force probably the most power-environment friendly time to coast and brake. Predictive Power Management seems to be on the route set by the navigation system, and comes up with a plan to spare the throttle and lift the fuel mileage on the journey, then instructs you step-by-step on a display how one can obtain that aim. In fact it doesn’t have eyes, it’s based mostly on velocity limits and elevation; so what it tells you to do with the fuel pedal and brake in actual time, assumes you’re the one car on the street. However it provides you the appropriate concept.
As a subcompact wagon hybrid and plug-in hybrid, the Niro works. It’s low, extensive, sensible, economical, quiet, pretty trendy and roomy, with good dealing with and respectable acceleration when it’s in Sport mode. When it’s in excessive-mileage Eco mode, it’s a slug. We think it wins most comparisons to the Toyota Prius v, from powertrain to dealing with to mileage.
Sam Moses contributed to this report, with reporting from New Automotive Check Drive editor Mitch McCullough, and employees Pictures You possibly can select 2018 Kia Niro as your splendid vehicle. There are a number of choices of sort, collection, particular specifications and colours of 2018 Kia Niro. Examine and Discover the proper 2018 Kia Niro for You!
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