CHICAGO — The 2017 Kia Niro is an all-new hybrid SUV that aims to deliver up to 50 mpg in combined driving. It made its world debut today at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show and is expected to go on sale in early 2017.
Built on an all-new chassis specifically designed for hybrids, the Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder gas engine combined with a single electric motor. Together they generate a total of 146 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque that is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The electric motor is powered by a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that sits below the rear seat.
In terms of size, the Kia Niro is similar to the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SUVs. At 171.5 inches long overall, the Niro is considerably shorter than the CR-V (179.4), but with a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, the Kia actually has more room between its front and rear wheels than the CR-V (103.1), RAV4 (104.7) and Escape (105.9).
The Niro will offer advanced safety features like blind spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, in addition to adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
Kia also said that the Niro will feature two hybrid-specific systems: a coasting guide and Predictive Energy Control. The former will tell drivers when to coast and when to brake in an effort to maximize mileage, while the latter will use information from the GPS system to determine the optimum time to recharge the battery.
A plug-in version of the Niro will be added to the lineup at a later date.
Edmunds says: Clean styling, a practical size and exceptional mileage should make the Niro a viable alternative to the Toyota Prius.