A plug-in hybrid version of the Niro is also in the pipeline, as Kia ramps up its efforts to appeal to green car shoppers.
"Our new model is designed to offer buyers everything they could want from a compact SUV in terms of practicality and styling, while providing the typically low running costs associated with a dedicated hybrid powertrain," said Kia CEO Hyoung-Keun Lee in a statement. "By encouraging our engineers to take a 'blank canvas' approach, we have tried to develop a car that will appeal to a broader range of customers."
Two teaser sketches of the Niro reveal a sporty-looking compact SUV with an aerodynamic body and sleek lines.
Niro pricing and specific U.S. launch timing were not announced.
The Niro is equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, 32-kilowatt electric motor, lithium-polymer battery and six-speed double-clutch transmission.
It will offer "class-leading fuel economy," Kia said. The EPA has not rated the Niro.
The 2015 Prius returns 51 mpg in city driving and 48 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
The Niro is part of a major push to develop eco-friendly Kia vehicles, including electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
"By 2020, Kia will also replace seven out of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation gasoline and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines," Kia said.
Edmunds says: Environmentally conscious buyers making long-range plans will want to check out the Kia Niro as an alternative to the Prius and Chevrolet Volt.