2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review
Which Niro Plug-In Hybrid does Edmunds recommend?
Although it's tempting to get the fully loaded EX Premium trim, we think the value lies in the standard EX. It has many features that will improve the ownership experience such as driver assist functions, excellent smartphone integration and heated seats.
Edmunds' Expert Review
- High fuel economy and respectable all-electric range
- One of the more affordable hybrids in the segment
- Offers plenty of standard and optional features
- Interior cargo volume is smaller than that of a typical SUV
- Sluggish acceleration, which often requires use of the engine
- All-wheel drive isn't available despite crossover styling
- The Kia Niro PHEV carries over into 2019 unchanged
- Part of the first Niro Plug-In Hybrid generation introduced for 2018
|Overall||6.9 / 10|
The Niro has accurate steering and confident handling, but its powertrain lacks power and smoothness. The engine comes on frequently in EV mode, indicating the system isn't sophisticated or powerful enough to run without it. We wish regenerative braking was more aggressive, too.
The Niro's soft seats and smooth ride provide a good amount of comfort for daily commuting. The climate controls are effective but frequently require the engine to start. When the engine does fire up, it revs like there's a teenager at the wheel.
The tall roof and SUV-like shape bring a range of benefits to the cabin including added headroom, visibility and ease of access. A simple and clearly labeled dash and entertainment system make for easy operation. Alas, like many compact cars, you wouldn't want to sit three adults in the rear.
The Niro doesn't have the same amount of space or storage solutions as the compact SUVs it's trying to emulate. The same is true when you compare it to hatchbacks. Still, it fares well versus traditional sedans and has enough space for the needs of most small families.
The Niro is strong on the technology front, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included as standard equipment and a host of available advanced safety systems that aren't even offered on some cars above its class. The Uvo navigation system could use a design update but functions well.
Most helpful consumer reviews
EX 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM)
Very pleased with the NIRO PHEV. Have been driving it for six months, with one long trip. The long trip was just over 2000 miles which was broken up to four 500 mile legs. Mileage for this legs where 49, 52, 50 and 53 in the hybrid mode. Granted I drove somewhat conservative staying at the posted speed limit, which was 70 most of the way on interstate five. The remaining miles, which is also about 2000 miles, was mostly in EV mode. Depending the amount of braking and traffic situations I generally was going between 26 and 32 miles in EV mode. Also found many public charging stations that do not charge a fee, both in my home town and at my trip destination. Even though the NIRO looks small it has amble head and leg rooms for even talls drivers or passengers. I choose the EX as suggested by Edmunds which is well appointed with safety features and other nice features.
EX 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM)
We are a two car family. We own a 100% EV (Nissan Leaf) and were looking to replace our 2008 CRV. It's important to us to reduce our carbon footprint, so we agreed that we would move to a "greener" car. However, we weren't ready to purchase another 100% EV due to range and charging infrastructure concerns. The Niro PHEV is a good, but not a perfect compromise. The size of the car is great for the city and it's hard to believe that the interior is so spacious, given it's outside dimensions. Back seat is particularly comfortable with nice support and generous legroom. Headroom is excellent, even for those with long torsos. Safety features are really good. We chose the EX trim and it really has everything you need. The EX trim (not the premium) has HID headlamps, which have longer range than the LED's on the premium trim (check out the insurance institute's safety ratings). Love the adjustable cruise control, though I understand that some other makes (Tesla??) will take you down to a full stop without disconnecting. Performance is OK. We thought that it would supply more of the EV Torque, which we so love about our Leaf. If you floor the pedal it shifts into ICE mode, makes a lot of noise, but really doesn't get up and go. In regular Hybrid mode there is little regeneration to the battery. I understand that shifting into sport mode will regenerate the battery, however the MPG goes down, so isn't this defeating the purpose? Don't have anything to say about reliability (only had the car for a couple of weeks) but Consumer reports and other publications give it high ratings. In another couple of years maybe the battery technology will be better and charging infrastructure improved so that we could go 100% EV on both vehicles. Until then we will live with the compromises. NOTE: we will be watching the competitors (Tesla Model Y and others) and continue to evaluate the options.
EX Premium 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM)
I love this car so much. I am not an impulse buyer; I started researching cars last summer, got serious in the wall, and starting doing occasional test drives in the winter. My old car is a 3-row SUV with great cargo space, roomy seats, and wretched gas mileage. I really wanted a car of the same size--we haul a lot of bulky stuff for my kids' activities. But I'm also a parent with 2 kids with deep concerns about how we as a society are destroying the planet and harming our kids' futures. What I found out in my winter and spring car shipping is that the state of large hybrid vehicles is PATHETIC. Large EVs are insanely expensive, smaller EVs have shitty ranges, and regular hybrids with more cargo space that a Prius are largely imaginary. (Note the hybrid Toyota RAV4 & Hybrid Hylander, which are charging you $10k more for MPGs that are barely better than their gas-guzzling equivalents. The hybrid Hylander practically rivals my 11-year-old gas vehcile for crappy MPGs.) By May I'd narrowed my choices down to a larger, more expensive plug-in with mediocre quality scores from trusted sources and problematic test drives; and the Kia Niro PHEV, which is somewhat smaller than the car I'm replacing--but still larger than most other hybrid vehicles. I went with the Kira Niro PHEV. My old vehicle had 140k miles on it, so I also purchased the extended warranty (10 years/150k miles) and crossbars for the roof. I wanted to get a rubber mat for the cargo space, but was told I can't, because the batteries vent back there. I have not yet bought a level 2 charger, but expect to spend a few hundred dollars on one pretty soon (I have only a carport at home, so will need to get an outdoor-rated one wired in). Friends, I LOVE this car. Yes, the cargo space could be bigger. But it's not bad. For everyday use, it's just fine. I have the Premium model because it has the most safety features, and I have two tweens who'll be learning to drive pretty soon. Features like adaptive cruise control, the backup camera, and lane monitoring work well. The screen is large and easier to use than many other systems. The seats are comfortable, and the backseat is decently roomy for a car of this size (better than most of the hybrids and small SUVs we looked at). Yes, it could have more power; when I stomp on the gas to merge on the highway, it doesn't has the kick of my old 6-cylinder SUV. But it moves smoothly between EV and hybrid/gas mode, and turns on the engine to give me more power when I need it. I LOVE driving it in EV mode. It's smooth and quiet and it drives well. It slips into gas mode without drama when I'm out of EV charge or need more power. The gas engine is, admittedly, kinda wussy sounding. But I don't have to hear it much. Charging it daily, I went 1200 miles on the first tank of gas with regular about-town driving plus longer forays once or twice a week. I've now gone 5000 miles, and generally get MPGe above 120. About about 2 months, we went on a weekend road trip during which I had no access to charging and got about 60 MPGe over ~700 miles. Aside from that trip, I've only had to visit the gas station 3 times in almost 4 months. My only actual complaint about the car is that while it's really great at estimating its electric range, the hybrid/gas range estimate is somewhat unreliable. When driving in hybrid mode, it uses gas faster than it predicts it will, so when it tells me it has a 200-mile gas range, it doesn't seem to actually go nearly that far. Maybe the actual range is 130-150. Its ability to predict gas driving range would probably be better if I did more city driving, where it can recharge its batteries when I stop, but my hybrid driving is almost entirely highway driving. I'm still giving this car 5 stars because I use EV mode most so often, the gas-only range isn't very important most of the time. -- Coming up on my 2-year anniversary of ownership, I don't have any significant updates to this review. I enjoy this car. The only thing it lacks is the ability to open the trunk from inside, which turns out to be a feature that would've been handy for a lot of pandemic curbside pickup experiences. I am now certain my next car will be 100% plug-in, gas-free electric (although as of yet there is still now fast-charging access in my town, though I think it will happen soon). I continue to regularly achieve ~100MPGe in this car--better in summer, worse in winter. In the winter it uses the gas engine more often to heat the passenger compartment which is logical, but does dent the gas mileage. My largest annoyance continues to be its unreliable measure of gas mileage when running on actual gas.
EX Premium 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM)
This car is not perfect in every way, no car is. But in 1999 (the last time I bought a new car), most of the features on this car were not available at any price. I live in South Central Texas where slippery roads and traction is never a challenge, so four wheel drive is not really an issue. Edmunds and other reviewers like to characterize a zero to sixty time of 9 to ten seconds as mediocre --- how stupid is that? I remind them that in 1953 & 1954 the zero to sixty time of a Corvette was ten and a half seconds, and the VW beetle that I drove for eight great years could do zero to sixty in about thirty seconds. Did anyone complain about that, or did they drive them by the millions? I have one complaint---- Kia puts a power tailgate hatch on nearly every model EXCEPT the KIA Niro. Surely their top of the line model EX Premium should have a power rear door? I think both the car and the warranty are better than most without costing more than most!
Features & Specs
Our experts like the Niro Plug-In Hybrid models:
- Blind-Spot Detection
- Detects and alerts you with visual and audio warnings when a vehicle in the adjacent lane is in your blind spot.
- Smart Cruise Control
- Maintains a set speed and distance behind the car ahead and will bring the car to a stop briefly before relinquishing control.
- Lane Departure Warning
- Identifies lane markings and alerts you if you begin to drift out of your lane.