Midway through their second decade, hybrids have come a captious juncture in the States. While their technology is going to become increasingly all-important as manufacturers move to meet restrictive targets, gas values (modified for inflation) are at their worst accordant component since 2003. The current Toyota Prius has included Space eccentricity styling, but that doesn’t be to be promoting sales of that hybrid symbol. The brand-new Kia Niro, on the other extremity, looks like the category of car that can motivate Americans to vend in their tight or mid-magnitude sedans.
The Niro is a comprehensible and pragmatic, crossover-like hatchback, one that just happens to have a hybrid powertrain and EPA municipality appraisals of up to 52 mpg. Refreshingly unequivocal, it has no abject encase contracts, no strange styling and no mysterious regulates that are non-identical just for the benefit of being non-identical. The Niro is made on an use tight hybrid-car platform overlapped with the Hyundai Ioniq. However, while the Ioniq implements with a Prius-like Kamm-back chart designed to compression the last tenth of a mile out of every gallon of fuel, the Niro sells off some aerodynamic ratio for large traveler and merchandise space.
For the U.S. marketplace especially, we think Kia made an astute preference. The Niro looks like a crossover SUV. Stride adjacent, and it’s clearly debased and more wagonlike. It’s a slightly high-riding alternative to the Toyota Corolla iM or the Ford Focus hatchback, yet it’s debased and more abbreviated than many small crossovers such as the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, or Fiat 500X.
Seat height is about an inch and a half high than that of an emblematic tight sedan, and slightly debased than the Soul’s magnificent for simple entry and opening. There’s enough room and legroom in back for tall people, and the rear seatbacks disrespectful forward, creating an even merchandise floor. The Niro, like Kia’s Optima hybrid, has a four-solid engine and a solo AC electric engine/generator compounded within a six-speed automatic transaxle. But much is non-identical about both the engine and the shell. The engine is a brand-new, Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter four-solid with exhaust-heat improvement and multiple cooling circuits for quickly warming up the solid head. It makes 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque, and Kia bays it operates with 40 proportion thermal ratio, a noble evaluation on that quality. The six-speed is a multiple-clutch unit, with two hydraulically initiated multiplate adust graspings finessing launches and translations.
The combined system product to the front machines is 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. In case you missed any preceding suggestions that this is not a knockabout SUV, note that all-wheel drive is missing from the roll, and there are no ideas to increase it. Kia suggests that the multiple-clutch shell at the set of the Niro’s powertrain design makes for a more acting driving experience.
But with every beginning and translation into drive, the Niro absences to its Eco method—a moving that prefers high wheels, delivers slow downshifts, and in which feelings of the drive transport a long pause before anything happens. Begin off gingerly enough to evade waking the fuel engine and you’ll probably be exasperating the traffic behind. The Niro is fairly battleful about shutting down the fuel engine when you’re crawling along in thick traffic or in municipality riding at less than 30 mph or so. Gliding the translation bar over to the left engages the Niro’s perkier Sport method, with somewhat tight driving, distinct drive consequence, and a dramatically non-identical translation plan.
You’ll pay a mileage penalty using that method, as it keeps the engine running the large number of the moment. And with a zero-to-60-mph moment evaluated to be on the far side of the 10-second evaluation—about the same or slightly sedate than the Prius—the Niro still isn’t fast. The one drivability feature we found a small off-putting was the finish need of engine stopping. In Sport, you can move the stagehand back to downshift a wheel or two—to supervise speed down a long rank, for example. You’ll perceive the engine increasing high, but there’s no momentous deceleration. Nor is there any clue of increased regenerative stopping on the in-dash readout. We also undergone a few powertrain judders and unrefined transmission sounds. Unlike Toyota, Hyundai/Kia doesn’t have 20 years of experience with hybrid-system program representing and it can show in that way.
The Korean institutions have made large developments in hybrid drivability in a relatively abbreviated period—including the Niro’s fantastic drive feel mixing regenerative and automatic stopping. The Niro also evidences good drive, controlling , and NVH ranks. Although it doesn’t feel overtly fair, on the anchorages where we driveed the Niro, we found good body regulate and a need of the queasy movement times that you find in some crossovers. The driving is nicely heavy and requires very few corrections to maintain a continuous way on the highway. A rubber-isolated front subframe helps keep motions and roughness from coming the compartment, and all Niro models have an acoustically insulated windshield. No hybrid would be finish without some eco-geek nutriments, although the Niro generally keeps such things rather impalpable.
Opening shutters automatically close at approximately 35 rate to diminish resistance, and the Niro has an adult of abdoman airflow-smoothing parts, including a breeze device for the muffler. The accessible driveing system rights GPS collections for street shape and can advise the motorist when to raise off the gas, such as when going down hills or moving highway ramps and can direct the powertrain to passage electrons to precharging the artillery pack in expectation of long ascending ranks. It all adds up to worthy fuel-economy appraisals, 52 mpg municipality and 49 mpg highway for the miserly FE version, 51/46 mpg for the LX and EX models at the intuition of the roll, and 46/40 mpg for the Touring models we drove.
That’s a momentous quality in mileage across models with seemingly insignificant qualities. Kia says that all of the set hybrid elements be the same but component to the Touring’s nearly 170 pounds of additional tool and beamy tires (225/45R-18 versus 205/60R-16). The Niro will begin coming U.S. dealers in January. All models get a rearview camera and a 7.0-inch information and entertainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Analyzed with the more cheap LX, the EX version makes a momentous stride up in statuses of indoor supports, increasing quality heated front rooms, rear A/C holes, improved trim and an accessible roof. Touring models enhance their audio significantly with an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon system and also get energy front rooms and leather covering. Adaptive cruise regulate and automated emergency braking are among the features accessible on top EX and Touring models. As with the Hyundai Ioniq, this hybrid version is only one process of Kia’s green machine. A plug-in-hybrid Niro is due to arrive next September, and an all-electric deviation is evaluated to finish the family, likely in early 2018.