Modern car shoppers love crossovers, and they also value fuel efficiency. The 2017 Kia Niro neatly caters to both these preferences, providing class-leading fuel economy in a stylish crossover package.
Introduced for the 2017 model year, the Niro is the newest nameplate in Kia’s lineup. This compact crossover features an efficient hybrid powertrain and provides seating for five passengers. The 2017 Kia Niro is sold in FE, LX, EX, Touring Launch Edition and Touring trims.
Many green cars pride themselves on their eccentric sheet metal, but the 2017 Kia Niro takes a more conventional approach to design. It simply looks like a handsome crossover, and there’s nothing polarizing about it. This is good news if you want hybrid frugality that’s free of typical hybrid design cues.
The Niro’s lines are smooth and sporty. A black grille holds court in front, and it’s edged with smart chrome trim. Projector-beam headlights illuminate the path ahead. Standard power-adjustable body-colored exterior mirrors and body-colored door handles are visible in profile, and a rear spoiler spices things up in the back. Base models cruise along on 16-inch alloy wheels, and 18-inch alloys are available.
The list of standard features includes black fender and rocker rail cladding, LED positioning lights, privacy glass and a rear wiper. Fog lights, rear LED combination lamps, roof rails, heated side mirrors, a power sunroof, HID headlights and daytime running lights are all on the lineup of available amenities.
Passengers traveling in the Niro enjoy a comfortable and roomy cabin, and both rows of seating provide reasonably spacious accommodations for adults. Base models come with manually adjustable seating, but our Niro Touring test vehicle had standard 10-way power-adjustable seats that we could easily fine-tune for an ideal position. The tilt-and-telescoping steering column that’s standard on all Niro crossovers was also helpful in optimizing our perch behind the wheel.
The Niro’s second row has a flat floor, and this makes it easier to fit three across. Overall design and the quality of materials within the cabin are satisfactory, but the cabin doesn’t look as upscale as the interiors found in some similarly priced small crossovers.
The 2017 Kia Niro offers less cargo capacity than its key competition. With the rear seat in place, you’ll have 19.4 cubic feet available for your belongings. The standard 60/40-split rear seat folds to open up a total of 54.5 cubic feet. A 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid provides 35.6 cubic feet of capacity behind the second row and 70.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Standard features include cloth seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and power windows and door locks. The list of upgrades includes full leather upholstery, cloth/leather seat trim, heated and ventilated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a heated steering wheel and rear heating and cooling vents.
The 2017 Kia Niro pairs a 1.6-liter gas engine with an electric motor for total output of 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Unlike most hybrids, the Niro features a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, and it provides prompt, smooth gear shifts. All models come with front-wheel drive.
The Niro’s brakes deserve special mention. Since hybrids employ regenerative braking, their brake pedals often feel spongey when depressed. This isn’t a problem with the Niro, and its brake feel is indistinguishable from that of a gas-only model.
The big news with the Kia Niro is its fuel economy, and it gets up to 52/49 mpg city/highway. The Niro easily prevails over rival small crossovers like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (34/30 mpg). Still, if fuel economy is your sole concern, it’s worth remembering that you’ll get better mileage with the Toyota Prius hatchback (up to 58/53 mpg).
Our Kia Niro test vehicle provided pleasant ride quality. Though the Niro is a small crossover, it has the poise and road manners of a sedan. Our test vehicle’s reflexes were sharper than those of other hybrids we’ve driven, and this made for an agreeable time behind the wheel.
Feature content is one of the Niro’s strong suits. All models come with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. A 7-inch touch screen is also standard, along with satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker stereo with an MP3 player.
Our Kia Niro Touring test vehicle came with a voice-command navigation system and an 8-inch touch screen. As is the case with other products we’ve tested in the Kia model line, our review vehicle’s touch-screen interface impressed us with its attractive graphics. The infotainment system addressed inputs in a timely way.
A premium surround-sound Harman Kardon stereo is optional on the Niro, and our test vehicle was equipped with this sound system. Sound quality from the stereo’s eight speakers and integrated subwoofer was immediate and bright.
Every Kia Niro comes standard with a rearview camera.
A full complement of active safety technology is available, and you can equip your Niro with front and rear parking assist, blind-spot detection with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Base models aren’t available with these driver assistance features, but they’re offered on other trims.
Pricing for the 2017 Kia Niro FE kicks off at $22,890, excluding a destination charge of $895. LX models add features such as roof rails and rear LED combination lamps, and pricing starts at $23,200. EX models start at $25,700 and add amenities such as fog lights and heated front seats. The Touring Launch Edition includes navigation and a Harman Kardon stereo, and it’s priced at $28,000. Range-topping Touring models feature leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats, and pricing starts at $29,650.
The 2017 Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue Hybrid have starting prices of $29,030 and $26,240, respectively. This makes the Niro the best bet if you’re looking for a frugal hybrid crossover that’s affordably priced.
The Niro’s FE trim offers the best fuel economy in the model lineup, so it’s the one to choose if you’re looking for optimum mileage. However, this trim isn’t available with key active safety features. The Niro LX provides access to forward collision warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. To benefit from blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, you’ll need to step up to the Niro EX, which offers these amenities as standard equipment.
The Toyota RAV4 comes standard with active safety features such as adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation. Even so, a comparably equipped Niro LX (outfitted with the $1,450 LX Advanced Technology package) still manages to undercut the RAV4’s base price by a couple thousand dollars. As such, the Niro offers strong value.
We expect that the 2017 Kia Niro will hit the sweet spot for many shoppers. This hardworking little hybrid offers stellar fuel economy, and it satisfies the public’s growing thirst for small crossovers. When you add its accessible pricing to the mix, the Niro becomes hard to resist.