The all-new 2017 Kia Niro is classified as a compact hybrid crossover SUV, though it really functions more like a hatchback. Your view of the road is marginally higher because of the Niro's elevated stance, but Kia doesn't offer the Niro with all-wheel drive, so don't expect to be a snow-busting trailblazer in bad weather. The Niro's core appeal comes from its traditional exterior design (no "hybrid!" shouting here) as well as a new powertrain that is capable of returning up to an EPA-estimated 50 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
A 1.6-liter four-cylinder and electric motor produce a combined output of 139 horsepower. That's a bit more than average, and it helps the Niro be pretty peppy off the line and keep pace with the rest of its hybrid-electric competition. The Niro further differentiates itself by using a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission in lieu of the more conventional continuously variable transmission (CVT). The shifts come quick and smooth, and we think it provides a more pleasant driving experience compared to a CVT automatic, especially under maximum acceleration.
The Toyota Prius still reigns supreme in terms of fuel economy, and a RAV4 Hybrid bests the Niro for cargo space, but overall the new Kia Niro should hit the spot for a lot of hybrid shoppers.
trim levels & features
The Kia Niro is available in five trims beginning with the base FE, gradually adding features at each level with the LX, EX, Touring and limited-edition Touring Launch. All trims come powered by the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid-electric powertrain (139 hp, 195 lb-ft total output) that sends power to the front wheels through a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The FE is the most basic, but also the lightest and most fuel-efficient model, while the well-equipped Touring provides a host of modern comfort features.
The base FE comes with features including 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, six-way manually adjustable front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, selectable drive modes, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a rearview camera, Uvo eServices app suite, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system with a USB port.
The LX is the next trim up and adds rear LED taillights, roof rails, keyless ignition and entry, an underfloor storage tray for the rear cargo area and a rear center armrest with cupholders. Stand-alone options on the LX include front foglights, LED daytime running lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The EX trim includes everything above, including the LX options, plus power-folding and heated side mirrors, a high-gloss black upper console, combination cloth and leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear air-conditioning vents, an additional USB charger and a blind-spot monitoring system. You can also equip the EX with a sunroof, LED interior lights, a power driver seat and additional active safety systems such as lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
In addition to the EX model equipment, the top Touring trim comes with 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a glossy black front grille trim, the sunroof, driver-seat memory settings, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, HD and satellite radio, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, LED interior lights and door scuff plates. Options that are only available on the Touring trim include xenon headlights, a 110-volt outlet and a wireless phone charger. The active safety systems available to the EX model are also available on Touring models.
The limited Touring Launch model sits in between the EX and top Touring trims in terms of equipment, but it comes in two unique paint colors with a different metallic grille insert. The only items it shares with the Touring trim include the 18-inch wheels, the power driver seat, and the 8-inch infotainment system with premium Harman Kardon audio. Otherwise it's closer to the EX trim and isn't offered with any options, including the active safety systems.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.