- New Kia Niro debuts new looks, fresh interior space.
- Designed for sustainability-conscious consumers.
- Expect it to show up stateside late next year.
If the Kia Niro isn't on your radar, you're not alone. Though it occupies the small hatchback/SUV space that everyone seems to be eyeing these days, it's actually Kia's lowest-selling model of 2021 — not counting the discontinued Cadenza and K900. The problem isn't choice — the Niro is available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric variants. Rather, we think the Niro's bland exterior and ho-hum interior design play a big part in the buying public's general apathy. Consider the fact that the Niro is outsold by the similarly sized but more visually distinctive Seltos by a factor of 2-1, and the Soul by 3-1. It seems Kia was acutely aware of the Niro's image problem when it set about designing the new one because the redesigned 2023 Niro is as eye-catching as the current car is vanilla.
It's worth noting from the off that Kia hasn't said that this new car will end up on sale in the States. But with Kia's current EV push, we'd be surprised if the new Niro didn't arrive on our shores as a 2023 model year vehicle. The new Niro is a from-the-ground-up redo with fresh looks and a modern interior to boot. The hatchback/SUV has a more squat stance than before, with a rear that features black paneling for a two-tone look and a front with an all-new grille and daytime running lights that look like an electrocardiogram — Kia calls them "heartbeats."
Like its predecessor, the 2023 Niro will be available in hybrid, plug-in and full EV forms. No mpg or range estimates were announced with the new Niro, but we assume there will be improvements in all areas. For reference, the current Niro hybrid will get up to 50 mpg combined (53 city/48 highway), and the EV has a maximum range of 239 miles on a single charge.
Inside, the Niro pilfers some goodies from its larger sibling, the EV6. The center console with the knob-like gear selector, dual-screen layout for the upper dashboard, and touch-sensitive HVAC panel look a lot like what we've seen in the EV6. That's no bad thing, though. The current Niro is a size down from the EV6, and we expect the new Niro to follow closely in the footsteps in its forebear. With that in mind, there should be plenty of room for both eco-conscious vehicles in Kia's lineup.
Kia says the new Niro is made with sustainability in mind. "The headlining is made from recycled wallpaper, the seats are made from Bio PU with Tencel from eucalyptus leaves, and BTX [benzene, toluene and xylene] free paint is used on the door panels to minimize the impact on the environment and reduce waste," Kia said in its announcement.
Pricing is, of course, still a mystery. The current Niro hybrid starts at $25,865, while the PHEV begins at $30,765 and the EV costs from $41,165 (all prices include destination and handling charges but not plug-in hybrid/EV incentives). We would be surprised to see those prices change too much when, or if, the new car goes on sale here in the U.S.
An well-sized EV SUV with good looks and an eco-friendly interior to boot? We say bring it on, Kia.