One of the Niro’s main selling points is that it’s a hybrid but doesn’t look like one. In contrast to the Toyota Prius or Hyundai Ioniq, the crossover blends into the crowd while still providing 51.7 mpg in combined city and highway driving, according to our independent tests. It may not have the ungainly proportions and werewolf face of many electrified vehicles, but to what extent does it feel like a hybrid?
Its 9.6-second saunter to 60 mph indicates that, like many economical hybrids, the Niro is not a quick vehicle. The electric motor kicks in to provide instant torque to get you moving, although this kind gesture is hampered by a transmission that performs clumsily at crawling speeds. The brakes also feel quintessentially hybrid, although they bite more than many. In our track tests, the Niro took 123 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 mph, ahead of the 2017 Prius Three and Ioniq, which required 126 feet and 133 feet, respectively. And although you’d imagine hybrid cars operating quietly, the Niro can get noisy when the gas engine kicks in.
But what bothers me more is how easily noise from the road seeps into the cabin. On a few recent long trips with the Niro, I realized it’s hard to hear other passengers while driving along the highway at 65 mph. On top of this, the Niro undulates with road imperfections, which makes it even noisier. Wind noise is reasonable but not terrific.
Despite the drawbacks in ride quality, I’m enjoying fewer trips to the gas station. The EPA pegs the Niro’s combined city/highway range at 583 miles on a tank of gas. The car’s range readout is lower after refueling, but it consistently stays at an impressive level of over 500 miles. After driving other cars and stepping back into the Niro, I’m starting to appreciate how the Kia’s lightweight doors make it easy to enter and exit. Also, the rear hatch opens and closes effortlessly thanks to its lightweight construction and grabby handle. In the next update, we’ll lift up that hatch and take a look at the amount of usable space inside.
Read more about our 2017 Kia Niro:
|2017 Kia Niro EcoHybrid Touring|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$32,575|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||1.6L/104-hp/109-lb-ft plus 43-hp/125-lb-ft front electric motor; 139-hp/195-lb-ft combined|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,237 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||171.5 x 71.1 x 60.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||17.2 sec @ 79.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||123 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.86 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.3 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||59.6/44.5/51.7 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||46/40/43 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||78 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.45 lb/mile|