New Kia Niro doesn’t drive like a hybrid

SHARE New Kia Niro doesn’t drive like a hybrid

The all-new Kia Niro is an urban hybrid that serves up a bold, athletic crossover design combined with functionality, versatility and outstanding fuel economy.

The new 2017 Niro is available in FE, LX, EX and Touring trim levels. The entry-level FE starts at $22,890, while the top-of-the-line Touring with its impressive inventory of luxury, infotainment and convenience features begins at $29,650. Add $895 for destination charges to all models.

The motive force for all Kia Niro models is provided by a 1.6-liter, 16-valve four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline direct-injection engine that delivers 104 horsepower at 5,700 rpm along with 109 pound-feet of torque.

The gas engine joins forces with a 240-volt AC synchronous permanent-magnet motor producing 43 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque which stores its energy in a compact and lightweight 1.56-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery located beneath the rear seat. Because the high-voltage battery is both power- and energy-dense, it is smaller and lighter than other hybrid batteries, allowing the engineers to downsize the gasoline engine to further maximize fuel economy and reduce emissions.

The combined hybrid system produces a total of 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Energy is geared to the front driving wheels by a six-speed dual-clutch transmission with standard Sport mode to provide a dynamic and engaging — and fuel-efficient — driving experience.

Visually, the Kia Niro is unmistakably recognizable as a member of the Kia family. In many ways, it loosely resembles a reduced version of the Sedona’s overall form, but with its own contemporary personality.

The instrument panel is uncluttered and clean, with colorful and informative gauges at the forefront and perfectly positioned primary and secondary controls falling readily to hand. The utilization of traditionally simple, “old-school” round knobs is a delight. It’s well-equipped and features standard UVO3 connectivity with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 7-inch capacitive touch screen.

Niro combines a 106.3-inch wheelbase with a wide stance and tallish body height to offer a roomy cabin with ample leg, head, and shoulder room. Noise and vibration countermeasures were employed to minimize sound invasion.

The Kia Niro serves up a very un-hybrid-like driving experience. The system is not obvious or intrusive. Acceleration comes quickly off the line and continues with a smooth delivery of power. Handling is sporty with spot-on steering feedback and instantaneous response.

Kia engineers designed the Niro’s regenerative system to seamlessly blend in hydraulic friction braking. Consequently, deceleration feels more consistent and linear than in most hybrids.

The Niro is offered with a suite of advanced driver assistance and convenience technologies. EPA mileage estimates for the Kia Niro Touring are 46 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 43 mpg combined. A plug-in hybrid powertrain will be added to the Niro’s lineup later this year.

The 2017 Kia Niro is not only affordable, versatile, and practical; it is also one of the most efficient hybrids available in today’s marketplace.

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