Looking for a great compact hybrid crossover SUV that functions more like a hatchback? The 2017 Kia Niro might be a good fit. Here's a quick rundown of what we like, what we don't and the bottom line from the Edmunds editors.
MARK TAKAHASHI: I'm Edmunds editor Mark Takahashi. Here's an Expert Rundown of the 2017 Kia Niro. The 2017 Niro is an all-new affordable hybrid model from Kia, delivering up to 50 miles per gallon combined. It's classified as a compact crossover, but really, it'll seem like a hatchback to most drivers. And that has some advantages, since it drives more like a car than an SUV. The Niro also feels less like a hybrid thanks to a traditional automatic transmission, even though power and acceleration is still very hybrid-like. We're sure that the Niro's cargo space will easily hold all of your stuff, but other hybrids do offer more space. There is a decent amount of rear seat space, but the hard plastic seat backs could spell trouble for your knees if there's a tall front passenger. Overall, the interior isn't all that impressive with a lot of hard plastic pieces surrounding you and a noticeable amount of road noise. On the plus side, there are more available tech and safety features than other cars in the class. The bottom line for the 2017 Kia Niro is pretty convincing. Its affordable price, versatility, and car-like road manners make it worth considering against other hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and RAV4, as well as the Ford C-Max.
The all-new 2017 Kia Niro is a unique animal: It's a small crossover SUV that doesn't offer the choice of all-wheel drive; it was designed from the ground up to be a gas-electric hybrid, rather than being adapted from an existing model; and the attractive styling doesn't shout "hybrid" from the rooftops. The Niro's strength is that it offers crossover utility and hybrid efficiency while meeting the requirements of the many shoppers who simply need an affordable, practical around-town vehicle.
For ease of entry, it sits lower than an SUV. For better visibility, it's higher than a sedan. The Niro is, essentially, a wagon with better ground clearance and the ability to haul slightly taller cargo. It shares a platform with the new Hyundai Ioniq lineup, which comprises hatchback hybrid, plug-in and electric models, but with the slightly muscular stance that marks it as a sleekly styled crossover.
The heart of the Niro's hybrid system is a 104-horsepower, 1.6-liter gasoline engine that pairs with a lightweight electric motor for a combined 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. And, unlike many hybrid powertrains that mate to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, Kia opted for a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which it says provides a more engaging driving experience. An 11.9-gallon fuel tank, combined with a lithium-ion battery that's recharged by the engine and by regenerative braking, provide a total claimed range of up to 595 miles.
The EPA rates fuel economy for the base Niro FE at 50 mpg combined (52 city/49 highway), although moving up to the better equipped, and heavier, trim levels can reduce the combined rating by as much as 7 mpg.
The Niro has been designed to deliver an understated, conventional ride, and it accomplishes that mission admirably. The hybrid system is generally unobtrusive and delivers decent acceleration, although selecting Eco mode causes a noticeable reduction in zip. Conversely, shifting to Sport mode can pep things up a bit, at the expense of a few mpg. And with its low center of gravity and well-balanced suspension system, the Niro handles well on the highway and in the city.
Although set up for five passengers, the Niro is best able to transport four in comfort. Though not exactly luxurious, the interior is well designed with good-quality materials and solid-feeling controls. And even tall drivers will find the multi-adjustable seats easy to live with. Cargo capacity with the rear seats in place is 19.4 cubic feet, and with the seats folded that expands to 54.5 cubic feet. What that means is that the Niro can haul more than the average sedan but less than many competing small SUVs.
The base Niro FE comes very well equipped with such niceties as automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The midlevel LX and EX trim levels add more power accessories and comfort and convenience features. The top-of-the-line Touring model brings on more appearance and comfort features. Whatever your preference, let Edmunds help you find the 2017 Kia Niro that best meets your needs.
Is the 2017 Kia Niro a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2017 Kia Niro and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2017 Niro featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2017 Kia Niro? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2017 Kia Niro and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2017 Niro 4.2 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2017 Niro.
Vehicle Touring 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6AM)
Review UPDATE: We're now at nearly 8K miles. The Niro has been flawless - - zero recalls, zero software updates, and no initial quality problems. Many times it seems like a new car is infatuating, but over time it begins to show its weaknesses. My complaints with the Niro are remarkably minor; our Grand Touring model has shiny black surfaces around the gear shift, and when the sun hits it, there can be glare in my eyes. Solution: keep a baseball cap over the shifter in sunny weather (this may not affect others who are a different height.) And some of the nanny-state sensors are a bit sensitive; for instance, if the nose of the car is pointing down (say, after crossing a curb) the front parking sensors might start beeping. No biggie; you can temporarily turn them off with the conveniently located switch right in the center shifter area. On the plus side, these sensors will tell you if you're going to scrape the bottom of the car or if you're going to run over a concrete barrier at the front of a parking space. After several extended road trips, we can pretty much assume that our mileage for both city and highway is consistent at around 43 to 45 mpg, even when driving at 70mph or above for long intervals. The comfort factor has really held up, and back seat passengers have made no complaining noises. Cargo capacity is not immense, but the nicely rectangular trunk has few intrusions (holds lots of wine boxes!) Of course the seats go down easily when you need to maximize hauling. We only use Sport mode for entering highways or other "quick" maneuvers, but the extreme boost in torque and power is very handy and we have never felt the car is underpowered. Here's a couple of additional pluses: great turning circle; easy to park because of size and auto-dipping side mirrors as well as a backup camera that both shows the steering angle and the actual rear bumper of the car; excellent integration with Car Play from Apple (and Apple Maps have improved radically to the point where they have about as few errors as Google Maps.) Air conditioning is fast and efficient, even on 100 degree days (we seem to be having more and more of these.) Previous review follows. The Kia Niro may not be the car for everyone, but it is certainly the right car at the right time for us. We were driving a 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited with every package known to mankind added. It was certainly not lacking for both features and comfort, but the six-cylinder engine was sucking gas at an alarming rate. The Niro consistently delivers at least 40 mpg and up to 50 mpg, even in Touring trim for us, buzzing up and down Portland hills and the coastal mountains (more like really big hills.) So it consistently meets its EPA projections, unless you're heavy-footed, in which case you'll still reach the high 30's. The nice transition from the luxurious Cherokee was made simpler by the inclusion of many great comfort features, including a heated steering wheel; heated AND ventilated front seats; adjustable power back bolster in the driver's seat; auto folding and dipping rear view mirrors; HID projector headlights; and a host of safety features. The Touring version includes both front and rear parking sensors, which we love and which are a rare find even at twice the price. There's adaptive cruise control, cross traffic detection, automatic emergency braking and more. All this might seem over the top, but once you're used to these features (the Cherokee had them) they are hard to give up. The seats are firm but surprisingly comfortable, and the ride is pretty quiet (Touring has more sound proofing packed into it.) The wheelbase is stretched out with the wheels at the corners, for a more supple ride than you'd expect. Handling is quite predictable. Controls are super-logical, with everything right where you expect to find it. I am surprised at how good Car Play (Apple) functions; I was expecting to turn it off and use Google Maps and Android Auto, but the Apple system works transparently and (most of the time) gets you to your intended destination with a minimum of errors and a terrific interface. This is not a powerful automobile, but with the Sport mode you can harness the combined power of both electric and gas motors for a pretty substantial boost when needed, and this is easily activated with a flick of the gear lever to the side - - great for entering freeways, or for a burst of passing power. In sum, if you're sick of burning through tons of gas, and having to visit the station more often than you'd like, the Niro is the ideal solution, and provides enough comfort and utility to cover most of the bases for singles, couples and small families. It is not really an SUV so much as a "tall wagon" but does carry quite a substantial load with the seat down. It's slightly smaller size compared to many SUVs makes it far easier to maneuver and park in urban situations. The turning circle is quite amazing and small.
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What options are available on the 2017 Kia Niro?
Available Kia Niro 2017 Submodel Types: SUV
Available Trims: LX, EX, Touring, FE
Exterior Colors: Aurora Black Pearl, Snow White Pearl, Silky Silver, Deep Cerulean, Crimson Red, Metal Stream, Rich Espresso
Interior Colors: Black leather/cloth, Black cloth, Gray cloth, Light Gray/Black leather, Black leather, Gray leather/cloth
Popular Features: Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Back-up camera, Bluetooth, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Alarm, Keyless Entry/Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Heated seats, Navigation, Power Driver Seat, Cooled Seats, Leather Seats, Parking sensors, Sunroof/Moonroof, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Upgraded Stereo
Engine/Mechanics: 4 cylinders
Fuel Types: regular unleaded
Drivetrains: front wheel drive
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