2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review

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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 rating

6.9 / 10

An electric vehicle can work out great if you know where and how far you'll be driving every day. But sometimes you might also want the flexibility to take long trips. If that's the case, the 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid could be the answer. It combines the benefits of an electric-powered commute with the extended range of a hybrid.

The Plug-In Hybrid is nearly identical to the regular hybrid Niro. The main difference is its larger battery pack. It allows for up to 26 miles on electric-only power and can be recharged using an external power source. After those 26 miles, the Plug-In drives just like the standard Niro and averages 46 mpg combined.

Some of the Niro's advantages include its SUV-like styling and interior appointments. It's comfortable and easy to get in and out of, and the interior functions are easy to use. In fact, the Niro Plug-In comes fairly well-equipped right off the lot, with excellent smartphone integration technology, standard driver assist features and, of course, Kia's excellent standard warranty.

But the Niro PHEV also shares some of the regular Niro's weaknesses. While it has a roomy enough rear seat, the cargo area is small. And just what is the Niro? With only 1 more inch of ground clearance than an Optima sedan and no option for all-wheel drive, the Niro is really just a tall hatchback instead of a crossover SUV that Kia markets it as.

There are a few other plug-in hybrids to consider. The Chevrolet Volt and the Honda Clarity Plug-In provide about double the all-electric range than the Niro, for instance. There's also the Mini Countryman S E Hybrid, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, all of which more fully deliver on the promise of a plug-in crossover SUV. Overall, however, we think you'll find the Niro's mix of attributes appealing.

Notably, we picked the 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid as one of Edmunds' Cheapest Electric Cars and Best Gas Mileage Cars for 2020.

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid models

The 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid is available in three trims. It starts off with the LX, which comes with a nice set of features, including a 7-inch touchscreen display and many advanced driver safety aids. The EX provides more convenience-oriented and safety features, while the top EX Premium adds luxury items such as leather upholstery and premium audio. All three trims are powered by the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid electric powertrain (139 horsepower, 195 pound-feet combined output) that sends power to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Note that the regular Niro Hybrid is reviewed separately.

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The base LX comes standard with 16-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, 60/40-split folding rear seats, keyless entry and push-button start, and a power-adjustable driver's seat. Also standard are a 7-inch infotainment display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, two USB ports, and a four-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Also standard are a rearview camera, front collision warning and mitigation with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

Next up is the EX trim level that adds xenon headlights, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear air vents, leather and cloth upholstery, additional adjustments for the driver's seat, and heated front seats. The EX Premium also has LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a bigger driver information display, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 110-volt power outlet, a Harman Kardon eight-speaker sound system, a wireless phone charger, and ventilated front seats.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid LX (1.6L inline-4 plug-in hybrid | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

EdmundsScorecard

Overall6.9 / 10
Driving6.0
Comfort7.0
Interior8.0
Utility6.5
Technology7.5

Driving

6.0
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.

Acceleration

5.5
There's enough oomph for little more than congested city traffic. The Niro is tepid on faster roads, giving you few options for merging and making short freeway on-ramps stressful. Sport mode helps by working the engine harder but runs contrary to the economically minded nature of the vehicle.

Braking

6.0
The brake pedal is pleasingly linear most of the time, and the Niro switches from regenerative to mechanical braking almost imperceptibly. It's far less precise under heavy braking, however. It can be abrupt when you're coming to a complete stop, making low-speed driving more annoying than it should be.

Steering

7.0
A pleasingly accurate and nicely weighted steering wheel gives the Niro a sensation of directness and responsiveness. On-center stability on the freeway is good, too. The Niro isn't enthusiastic by any stretch, but it means you can navigate through tight areas or curvy roads with confidence.

Handling

7.5
The SUV-like proportions make you expect an SUV-like experience, but the Niro handles like the car it actually is. It's planted and confident through turns, though not particularly fun. You won't notice many shortcomings while navigating freeway ramps or winding roads.

Drivability

5.5
The Niro lacks the smoothness we expect. Its six-speed automatic shifts lazily and makes us yearn for the smoothness of a continuously variable automatic transmission. The electric motor isn't powerful enough for moderate acceleration, so you'll have to get used to running the engine even in EV mode.

Off-road

4.0
Kia may call it an SUV, but the Niro doesn't have the appropriate ground clearance of a real SUV and is not available with all-wheel drive. Its off-road capabilities are no stronger than those of other fuel-efficient hatchbacks.

Comfort

7.0
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.

Seat comfort

7.0
The LX's seats have nice padding and comfortably soft headrests. Lumbar support is available on higher trim levels (along with leather, heating and ventilation), but the standard seats have enough support for most people.

Ride comfort

7.0
The Niro elicits no complaints. With small-diameter wheels and a car-like ride height, the Niro absorbs most rough parts of the road. You won't mistake the ride for anything luxurious, but you wouldn't call it rough or brittle either.

Noise & vibration

6.0
When the engine starts, it sounds like someone's revving to show off to friends. Wind and road noise is especially apparent in the EV mode. When the engine is running, the Niro is pleasingly quiet with wind and road noise noticeable but not prevalent. Interior rattles and squeaks are minimal, too.

Climate control

8.0
The standard dual-zone climate control is effective enough that you can set it and forget it. The Niro regularly starts its engine to power the system, which can be surprising when you're in EV mode. A driver-only switch lessens the workload of the system at the expense of some of its effectiveness.

Interior

8.0
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.

Ease of use

9.0
The interior layout is straightforward, and all major controls are clearly labeled and easy to find. The touchscreen interface has a short learning curve, and the digital display in the gauge cluster is easy to read. It's hard to think of ways to make it simpler without removing features.

Getting in/getting out

9.0
Interior access benefits from the Niro's SUV-like proportions. The tall doors open wide, but they aren't so big that you can't operate them in a tight parking lot. The opening is easy to step into for most adults, and you only have to sit down slightly to find the seat.

Driving position

7.5
A tall ceiling means plenty of room for tall drivers. The base seats lack height adjustment, but the dash sits low enough that it shouldn't be a problem for most owners. A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering column has a wide range of adjustment, and the gauges fall easily within view.

Roominess

7.5
The tall roof provides plenty of headroom for all passengers. Legroom is decent for both rows, but rear passengers might feel constricted if there are taller people up front. The flat floor makes the rear seat seem roomier, but it gets tight with three people back there.

Visibility

8.0
Even with the raked front roof pillars, forward visibility is pretty good. The thick rear pillars create a bit of a blind spot when you're looking over your shoulder. But the view directly rearward is decent and relatively unobstructed by the rear headrests.

Quality

6.0
Every part of the interior fits together well, but many of the plastics look and feel hard. The gray color scheme highlights these parts in an unflattering way, making them look cheap. Buttons and armrests — the parts you interact with regularly — have an appropriate quality for the price.

Utility

6.5
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.

Small-item storage

6.5
A pocket ahead of the shifter can hold a small phone, while two cupholders and a cubby behind can be used for other personal items. There is average storage space under the front armrest. The door pockets, which are on the narrow side, will hold a 16-ounce water bottle and a couple of other small items.

Cargo space

6.0
The 60/40-split rear seats fold almost flat, and doing so opens 54.5 cubic feet of storage space. There's 19.4 cubic feet available with the seats up, which is adequate but a little less than other hatchbacks and SUVs. Underfloor storage space is taken up by the charging cable.

Child safety seat accommodation

6.5
The lower LATCH anchors hide between the seat cushions but aren't too deep. Some connectors may be more difficult to secure than others with this setup. It's easy to find a pair of seatback anchors without having to contort your arm. Longer car seats can entail moving the front seat forward.

Technology

7.5
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.

Audio & navigation

6.0
The base Niro uses a 7-inch entertainment display. It looks small and lacks navigation, and the standard six-speaker stereo is adequate. The only way to obtain navigation and an upgraded stereo is to opt for the highest trim level.

Smartphone integration

8.0
Support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay comes on all trim levels, so you really don't need navigation. There is one USB port per row of seats and two 12-volt outlets up front. Wireless charging is only available on the highest trim level.

Driver aids

7.5
Adaptive cruise control does a good job of maintaining distance from the car ahead, but it relinquishes control when you're about to stop, so you have to be ready to take over. You occasionally notice the lane-keeping assist system nudging the steering wheel.

Voice control

9.0
Native voice controls are available for navigation, radio, phone and even Google search (if equipped). The prompts are straightforward, and voice recognition works pretty well. When using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, the voice control button activates the respective voice recognition system, which is how it should work.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars
The Right Vehicle for my needs.
Jerry,12/28/2018
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.
4 out of 5 stars
Compromise Can Be Good
Doug,05/06/2019
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.
5 out of 5 stars
In love
Erin T,09/13/2019
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.
5 out of 5 stars
Big Bucks for top of the line but I want it all!
Robert Brayley,11/23/2018
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!

Safety

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.
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Overview

The Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid is offered in the following submodels: Niro Plug-In Hybrid SUV. Available styles include LX 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM), EX 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM), and EX Premium 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM). Pre-owned Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid models are available with a 1.6 L-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 139 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual. The Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid comes with a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 10 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid?

Price comparisons for Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid trim styles:

  • The Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid EX Premium is priced between $28,596 and$28,596 with odometer readings between 7279 and7279 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrids are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2019 Niro Plug-In Hybrids listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $28,596 and mileage as low as 7279 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid.

Can't find a used 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrids you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid for sale - 4 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $12,993.

Find a used Kia for sale - 4 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $24,249.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid for sale - 7 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $12,320.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 5 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $23,703.

Should I lease or buy a 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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