2019 Kia Niro – Review & Road Test

2019 Kia Niro – Review & Road Test

If you’re looking to buy a hybrid car it
can be hard to find one that doesn’t look weird. Oh boy, you okay Timmy. Thank
heaven for the Kia Niro. Fall now. With its raised stance, accessible price, and
electrified powertrain the Niro occupies the intersection of frugality and
practicality. All the better that those traits are wrapped in an attractive
shape free from bizarre flourishes. That normalcy carries through to the interior
via a simply arranged instrument panel filled with easy-to-reach controls.
Despite the Niro’s tidy dimensions rear seat passengers enjoy ample knee and
head clearance, and there’s even space for my toes under the front seat. Hooray!
On higher trims USB ports and rear air vents grace the rear quarters. The seat
backs don’t recline, but they’re comfortably angled up front.
The seats are welcoming, though I could use a little more support in the upper
back region. Material quality is quite good for a vehicle of this price and the
USB and power ports are up here in this bin, which I like because when my phone
is plugged in here I won’t forget it, as opposed to one that’s plugged in over
here, and I will forget it. No, no my cords ok. It’s cool. Two big reasons people choose SUVs are
the ease with which you can climb aboard and the elevated driving position
afforded to the driver. The Kia Niro offers both. To be clear all-wheel drive
is not offered and taking your Niro off-road would be a terrible idea,
but provided you don’t need those abilities the Niro provides other
SUV-like qualities. For example it’s 19.4-cubic foot cargo
area is competitively sized versus subcompact SUVs, like the Chevy Trax and
Jeep Renegade. Lower the 60/40 split seats and there’s a healthy 50.4-cubic feet to fill. Note cargo capacity drops ever so slightly in the
Niro EV. That’s right there’s an all-electric
version of the Niro – from its lithium-ion polymer battery pack the
Niro EV turns electrons into 201 horsepower and 291 pound feet of torque.
Use those electrons judiciously then you’ll cover 239 miles according to the
EPA. With a starting price slightly higher than $28,000 including
destination charges the Niro EV makes practical electric car ownership just a
bit more accessible. At least in the limited number of states where it’ll be
sold. If pure electric driving isn’t your style there’s always the Niro hybrid or
the Nero plug-in hybrid or PHEV as we say in the industry. A basic Kia Niro
features a 1.6-liter engine supplemented by a 43 horsepower electric motor. Their
combined efforts produce adequate horsepower, but check out that torque
number. The Niro plug-in hybrid sports a larger 8.9-kilowatt hour battery pack
enabling a pure electric driving range up to 26 miles, and great fuel economy after that. Though where gasoline efficiency is concerned the standard
hybrid wins. Just keep in mind if you upgrade from the cheapest FE trim fuel
economy drops precipitously. If you choose the fanciest Touring trim 9
mpg off the highway number. Oh boy. On the head aside if, your Niro has a gasoline
engine it’ll make use of a six-speed
dual-clutch transmission. Operation of the dual clutch is
imperfect. Most notably when leaving from a stop it can feel clunky. On the other
hand the Niro only takes about 8.5-second to accelerate from
0-60, which is pretty good. If you’re drag-racing Priuses and I
hope you are. For maximum zippiness flip the gear selector left into sport
mode. To sharpen throttle response and firm the steering. Fun fact the Niro EV
accelerates even faster than the hybrid, hitting 60 miles per hour in less than
eight seconds that won’t intimidate any Tesla drivers, but I fully support
electric car owners finding their inner speed demon.
On that note there’s more fun to be had blasting through corners thing you might
expect. Just kind of keeps on going doesn’t it?
Kkip the thrill-seeking and the Kia Niro functions well as
simple transportation. The Niro has a firm, pleasant ride. It feels stable on
the freeway. The interior is fairly quiet and the brakes, which are regenerative,
feel a lot like brakes that are not regenerative, which is a good thing.
Base price for the Niro hybrid is roughly $24,500 including destination charges. That price includes lovely features like
dual zone automatic climate control, automatic headlight control, and a nicely
sorted 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. If it
were me I’d invest an extra $510 and ten bucks and upgrade to be
similarly efficient LX trim, which adds roof rails, passive entry with
push-button start, and a rear center armrest to the standard equipment roster.
You know I love an armrest. Spring for the less efficient Touring
model and in addition to an MSRP slightly higher than $33,000 you’ll be
treated to heated and ventilated front seats, leather, eight speaker Harman
Kardon audio, and active safety assist like adaptive cruise control automatic
emergency braking, and lane departure warning starting around $29,500. The Niro PHEV is thousands more than the regular Niro
hybrid, but it’s eligible for federal tax incentives helping offset its price
premium. So if you’re shopping for Kia Niro what else should you consider?The
similarly priced Toyota Prius and its Prius Prime plug-in sibling are prime
candidates ironically while the SUV inspired Niro does not offer all-wheel
drive the Toyota Prius hatchback does. Where resale values are concerned Toyota
is hard to beat, and again the Niro does offer a reassuring 10-year, 100,000 mile
powertrain warranty. With a practical interior, strong
efficiency, and a cheerful attitude the Kia Niro is a satisfying package, and
most importantly it doesn’t look weird.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I’m still not convinced on the reliability of Kia Hyundai. I’ve had one. The suspension was shit and a lot of things went wrong.

  2. The Niro Hybrid is an excellent, underrated vehicle. You get crossover practicality combined with Prius-like efficiency! It’s a win win!

  3. There’s something about the Kia Niro missing that “wow” factor. I see it and I’m just not thrilled with it’s exterior, or interior. It’s not ugly, but it’s not gorgeous either.

  4. IF Kia / Hyundai IMT is decent i'd dump that DCT. UMMMM the front does look a little weird. AWD would boost sales even if the rear was electric like the RAV4. The 2020 non-US spec received a bunch of changes.

  5. Are you sure that's a 2020? I sell these guys and the 2020 is (supposedly) getting the same facelift as the 2019 Kia Niro EV.

  6. The styling is basic.
    Nothing outrageous, not hideous, just basic and that’s ok

    Why does the touring trim get so little compared to the base?

  7. Kia have sure come a long way ever since I've been aware of them…so I guess that would be around 19 years. I'm paying a lot more attention to them nowadays.

  8. Fully agree with this review. We bought our 2018 Kia Niro hybrid EX about a year ago, and it's been absolutely spectacular as "a car", meaning it does everything we want it to do for commuting, shopping, errands, and just driving wherever we need to go. You guys need to understand how great this car is, for how relatively little money it costs. The engine is a little noisy, but it is very quiet in the inside, the materials are upscale from cheaper Kia or Hyundai models, the seats are comfortable, and here is the trick you are all going to want to know:

    The reason the Touring model;s MPG drops so much is because it has larger, heavier, and wider 18" wheels wth less fuel efficient tires. More contact patch on the road means more rolling resistance, which translates directly to less MPG in addition to the extra weight. But there is a solution if you want better MPG but still want ALL the goodies the Touring model has:

    – Get the EX model and add the $5,000 EX Premium Package.

    This will get you very literally every single thing the Touring model has. Everything. Adaptive cruise, the HK audio system, heated and cooled seats, rear USB and vents, leather, heated steering wheel, everything. EVERYTHING – except the 18" wheels. On the EX you get the same smaller, narrower 16" steel wheels with plastic wheel covers on the FE and LX trims, meaning even with the premium package and all the goodies the touring model offers, you still get over 50 mpg on average.

    And that's not an exaggeration. You can easily average 50 mpg in the EX premium model, I do it all the time, as long as it's a mix of city and highway driving with some traffic (which lets it run in electric mode, upping your mpg average) it's 50 mpg easy. When I fill the tank with 87, it only takes 10 gallons, and then it estimates 530 miles of range. And it's accurate, you can easily get 500 miles out of it, assuming you drive it normally – not even trying to hypermile it, just drive it normally and you'll get 500+ miles on ~10 gallons of 87.

    And the best part – these are not exclusive cars, any dealer that is marking them up will cave under negotiation. So I got my EX model with premium package, meaning literally every single option Kia offers for this car – for $28k. Remember, that includes leather, the harman kardon audio (which is excellent btw), adaptive radar cruise control (which is the best thing ever to have been put in a car, IMO – it works amazingly well), USB everywhere, wireless charging, apple carplay/android auto, truly excellent interior ergonomics and one of the best infotainment systems in the industry – it's fast, responsive, easy to use and has just the right kind of physical buttons in addition to the touchscreen. It's comfortable, it's quiet, the driver's seat is powered and has 2-person memory, it has HID headlights, LED DRL light strips, fog lights, front and rear parking assist system, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel! automatic braking with pedestrian detection, full safety systems including lane keep assist, collision warning, and even a sunroof.

    The value for money this car represents is unbelievable. It's not just a cheap high MPG hybrid – it's a genuinely good car. And with a 10 year /100k mile full drivetrain warranty including the entire hybrid powertrain, you can't beat that with any other carmaker. And the transition between gas and electric is really smooth, it does it automatically, you just drive the car normally and let it decide when to use electric. better yet use the adaptive cruise, which will switch to electric whenever it can. And since it automatically brakes and accelerates based on the car in front of you or whatever you set the cruise to, you almost never need to touch the pedals, You just relax and keep your eyes on the road, and you're golden. It's hard to describe how that one thing completely changes the driving experience.

    It's been flawless. no issues, no rattles, nothing breaking. Just absolutely consistently excellent utility and driving nirvana. Not in terms of performance really, this isn't a performance car – but like Micah said, it handles better than you would expect, it's no Miata but it doesn't disappoint either. And the rear cargo room is cavernous when the rear seats are folded down. You can put a LOT of stuff in there. And then with the somewhat elevated driving position it's very easy to see out of and get in and out of, it has auto driver's seat reverse, so it moves back when you turn the car off to let you get in and out easier.

    I rarely use sport mode since I want the car to get good mpg, but when I have used it, the acceleration changes dramatically. It uses full power in both gas and electric motors, and it will break the wheels loose from a stop (you can turn traction control off with a single physical button). Noticeably better acceleration in sport mode. Eco mode (the default mode) feels sluggish by comparison but that's by design, in order to try to get maximum mpg out of it.

    Bottom line – as a do-everything family car, if you have kids or dogs or just carpool a lot, for use in any manner of typical driving needs like commuting or shopping or taking a trip to Vegas or highway or city driving, it's basically unbeatable, especially for the price. It's so good inside and out, it gets such good MPG, it has so many insanely great high tech features (with the premium package or the touring model) with such a massively good warranty, and the interior ergonomics are so good, it feels so good to use and drive, it's so great for long trips with adaptive cruise and lane keep assist and that HK audio system and carplay and heated/cooled seats and excellent back seat room – I'm 6'3 and I fit "behind myself" (with the driver's seat in my position) with legroom TO SPARE and plenty of headroom. Which is almost completely unheard of in ANY car, for somebody my size, never mind in a smaller CUV-type small suv like the Niro. Easily handles 5 passengers and all their crap in the back, in comfort.

    I never would have said this about a Kia as recently as maybe 5 years ago. We're living in a new age of excellence from the Koreans now, and everybody needs to throw out their old biases and misconceptions. Kias are REALLY GOOD now. If you are even vaguely in the market for anything like this car you need to check out the Niro. The fact that it acts and drives and looks like a "normal car" is one of its biggest strengths. And then you can get it as a PHEV or full EV if you want, depending on your personal driving needs or wants – they're all excellent. I chose the standard hybrid because I had a long commute and I wanted the superior range and not have to plug it in. The standard hybrid was perfect for that, you choose whichever powertrain setup is perfect for you since Kia offers all three. You basically can't lose.

  9. I love this car…. Great commuter car…..and sport mode has a good kick…. Here in socal I get about 515 miles on a full tank (about $37)… Can't beat that!

  10. RANDOM Fact: I have a feeling this was shot in the Long Beach area. Those round buildings actually sell carpet.

  11. Hybrid 2 series, 16'C + = 65-70mpg, 0'C and wet = 52-56mpg, Great car to drive, easy to get in and out for all 4 seats

  12. I have one. Each fill up gets you over 530 miles for what we’ve paid no more than $25 for. It’s a simple hybrid, no charging, no worries. Very comfortable and quite roomy!!

  13. You didn't get the new interior? Shame, European Niro got refreshed inside as well and it looks … stunning? I can't believe I said this about Kia.

  14. 60 mpg is possible… my Niro, is my daily hero. Turn on the setting that keeps track of your economical, normal, and aggressive driving. Mine usually says 95%, 5%, 0%, respectively – and those numbers will get you to 60 mpg! Thanks, Kia!

  15. anybody have the experience necessary to compare this directly to the pontiac vibe? i love my vibe, but everything starts to show its age eventually and i really want to get another car that feels just like it.

  16. You sound a lot like Michael Fisher…. and that's a good thing! I'm looking to buy a hybrid car soon but this Kia Niro looks so boring…. I rather prefer the Hyundai Ioniq which uses the same engine and drivetrain as the Niro but is a lot more attractive to look at….

  17. Thanks for the breakdown! I drive Uber full-time and I'm leaning towards either the FE trim or an EX model or maybe the touring. You can't beat 52 city miles!

  18. I bought a KIA niro Phev and the seller told me the AC and Heater worked with electricity.

    Sadly everyone at this dealer didn't know that the Heater don't work during winter.

    It go full hybrid without asking and now U dont have an PHEV but an Hybrid car.

    I live in quebec (canada) and half the year its winter. Big fail from them and they didnt even care saying the car is made like that we can't do shit about that. People will say well just give it back. I bought it during summer and we did not have to test it.

    The only thing that saved us here in Quebec, the government gave a bonus for electric car.
    So they will sell a car that can do 40km( 50km if driving more slowly ) and the rest its hybrid.
    But in the end U only have that during half a year.

  19. Bought Kia Niro EV premium. Currently getting an average of 4.5 miles per kwh. 239 mile range advertised is clearly under rated. If you're looking for a reliable electric car with amazing features and range.. Get it!

  20. In Europe Toyota Prius prime is considered one of the greatest design car on the road,google “Design” Yankees

  21. the kia niro is my dream car for reals im driving a 2016 prius c 🙄 its like im driving a toy car. i have 0 cargo room and people are squished in the back seat.

  22. Just traded in my 4×4 Kia Borrego V8 EX for this hybrid in the Touring trim. It's more efficient than my AWD Sportage 2.4 LX. After an 800 km (500 mi) road trip, I found it comfortable and capable. Once in a town environment, I found that it was a bit slow to go when the lights turned green, so I flipped to sport mode which helped with acceleration off the line at intersections, and I had to be careful not to chirp the tires. Switching back to normal drive mode, I could remain in EV up to 60 km/h (under 38mph) on level ground. On the way home, we drove through a snow storm and had no issues because we have studded snow tires are on it. Can't wait until spring to drive with the OEM wheels & tires.

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