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Kia Niro 2017 Hybrid Crossover – Ready to Take on the Prius

We take a look at Kia’s attempt to take the hybrid mainstream.

The Kia Niro is having a great week — its commercial starring Melissa McCarthy was one of the best of Super Bowl LI. But the commercial isn’t just hilarious. It speaks volumes as to what the Niro is about — that it’s a truly eco-friendly CUV. Size differences aside, the Toyota Prius (especially with the Prius Prime) reigns supreme when it comes to hybrids. Fortunately, the Niro is definitely poised to compete with the likes of the Toyota Prius Prime, which is great news for any hybrid fan who needs the extra space.

The Niro offers CUV styling with hybrid attributes. Personally, we find it to be humbly attractive and refined without being quite as loud and futuristic looking as the Toyota Prius Prime. We’re especially smitten with the Deep Cerulean (cyan-like) color option on the LX and EX models.

But more so than the exterior, the interior really impressed us. When we first sat down inside the Niro, we were amazed by how spacious it is. The Niro is technically a compact vehicle but it doesn’t feel like one at all when you’re riding in it. Instead, the cabin is modern and spacious with a generous amount of leg and head room, as well as having a large cargo area. The cabin spaciousness is due to the fact that the Niro packs in a nearly mid sized interior in a compact footprint. The car has also been developed to be easy to get in and out of, and its frame is actually based on the seat frame from the Kia Optima. This is unlike most hybrids where you kinda drop into a hole when you sit down.

The interior in the Niro is also super attractive, with a clean uncluttered instrument panel and a large center touchscreen. These clean minimalist lines create a luxurious look that is a bit retro in styling. We especially appreciate the eco meter and charge meter, which mesh well with the car’s design. They are also super easy to read while driving.

Under the hood, the Niro is powered by a state of the art powertrain, combined 139 horsepower, an Atkinson Cycle 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine with 40% thermal efficiency, all lending to an eco-efficient vehicle with great fuel economy — specifically, 49 MPG on highway, 52 MPG in the city, and 50 MPG combined. And like in the commercial, the Niro is a lot of fun to drive. It handles really well on tight turns, and its suspension deals well with bumps. When we tried switching to Sport mode, we immediately felt the difference — you can really feel the power surge from the engine and it’s certainly an impressive driving experience coming from a hybrid. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Niro has has zero towing power, so it might not be suitable for camping trips or any trip where you need to tow something behind you.

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53% of the Niro’s body is constructed with advanced high strength steel, and the Niro makes extensive use of industrial joint adhesive. This all contributes to a rigid structure that keeps the interior pretty quiet on the road. When it comes to in-car tech, like all of Kia’s vehicles, the Niro is no slouch. Its map system now packs in elevation data. Kia’s system also helps coach the driver and knows when to use battery power optimally.

On the infotainment side, the car is running the UVO 3 system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system (including one subwoofer) boasts 315 watts of power. Of course, the car features plenty of safety tech essentials like lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alerts, and forward collision warnings. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel come standard, which are both amenities you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

All in all, the Kia Niro is an efficient crossover vehicle that offers great value for the money. Packed with tech, comfort and style, it’s also fun to drive. The Niro is ideal for small families and will also appeal to eco-conscious millennials. No matter what, the Niro is sure to give the Prius some real competition.

Pricing for the Kia Niro starts at $22,890 for the FE model and goes up to $29,500 for the Touring model.

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