At the heart of the Niro is a compact 1.6L 4-cylinder gasoline engine producing 104 horsepower. This engine alone would make the Niro a pretty poor performer, luckily there is an electric motor as well helping to motivate the vehicle. Combined with the electric motor, the Niro produces 139 hp and a very robust 195 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Unlike most other hybrids, which use a continuously variable transmission, the Kia's dual clutch unit helps provide strong acceleration at the cost of slight penalty to fuel economy. The tradeoff is worth it-- the Niro doesn't feel anchored to the ground like some other hybrids while still returning up to 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving in its most basic form.
The Kia Niro comes in four basic trims, FE, LX, EX and Touring. The Base FE trim has fewer amenities than its siblings but still comes with all the notable features one would expect in a compact car or SUV these days. Standard features include a 7-inch color touch screen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, steering wheel mounted controls for the sound system and cruise control, a USB input jack, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic temperature control, power external mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The LX trim primarily adds roof rails, LED rear lights, fog lamps, an immobilizer and a push button start system. The EX trim meanwhile, builds on the LX by offering partial-leather seating surfaces, heated exterior mirrors and heated front seats.
The top of the line Touring trim gets a power sunroof, full leather seating a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats.
Standard safety items on the Niro include anti-lock brakes, stability control a brake assist system, a bevy of airbags and a hill start control system. A rearview camera is also standard across the entire Niro range.
In 2018 the Kia Niro gets updates to its packages and in doing so, upgrades last year's lane departure warning to a full-fledged lane keep assist. While standard on the Touring trim the new lane keeping assist is now part of the Advanced Technology package on the LX and EX models.
The Niro competes with other small SUVs and crossover vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4 and and Honda CR-V. With a base price of under $23,000, the Niro won't break the bank, while still offering far better mileage than any of its competitors. Like all Kias, the Niro comes standard with all the basics one would expect for a compact car and then some. At the other end of the spectrum, the top of the line Niro comes positively loaded with the kind of items that were only sold in luxury cars a few years ago. Yet, the top trim Niro still starts at under $30,000, making the Niro a solid buy no matter the trim level.