Prius-Fighting Kia Niro Bound for 2016 Chicago Auto Show | Edmunds

Prius-Fighting Kia Niro Bound for 2016 Chicago Auto Show


DETROIT — The Kia Niro, an all-new compact hybrid SUV that competes against the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt, will debut in February at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, Kia Motors America said earlier this week.

Two new teaser images of the Niro, the first model to be based on Kia's new dedicated eco-car platform, show a sporty-looking SUV with an aerodynamic body, sleek lines and high-mounted LED taillights.

Kia spokesman Scott McKee told Edmunds Kia has not determined whether the Niro will go on sale here late this year or early next year. The model-year designation has not been determined either, he said.

Pricing will be released closer to the Niro's launch date.

"Niro will be very competitive with Prius in terms of size, capability and functionality," Kia Motors America Chief Operating Officer Michael Sprague told Edmunds at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

Kia earlier said 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.

Niro is not likely to be sold by all Kia dealers due to the extra cost for service and sales training, plus the cost for additional service equipment and tools.

The new Korean compact hybrid is not expected to be a high-volume vehicle. It will be similar to the Kia Optima Hybrid, which is sold by 259 of Kia's 770 dealers here.

A plug-in hybrid version of the Niro is also in the pipeline, as Kia beefs up offerings for green-car shoppers.

The Niro will also compete against the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq, Hyundai's first hybrid-exclusive car, which makes its U.S. debut at the 2016 New York Auto Show in April.

Sprague said Kia will use the Chicago auto show to detail its "$10 billion investment over the next five years in the green space."

Edmunds says: Car shoppers making long-range plans may want to consider the upcoming Kia Niro. But keep in mind that there are plenty of good options out there in the meantime.

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