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Top Features of Base Model
- Affordable, practical, and economical
- Comfortable interior
- Decent amount of cargo space
- Hybrid, plugin, and all-electric versions available
Kia Niro: Everything You Need to Know
About the Niro:
The 2019 Kia Niro is a compact five-door car that calls itself a crossover utility vehicle. Its design and lack of all-wheel drive makes that a questionable claim. Still, the Niro is an attractive vehicle, shaped like a sleek wagon, and that makes it the only hybrid wagon sold. The combination is both practical and handsome.
Two hybrid versions are available. Most Niros are conventional hybrids, but dealers in some states also offer a Plug-In Hybrid model with 26 miles of electric travel. During 2019, a third version will join the lineup. That’s the Niro EV, an all-electric model with 239 miles of range. Like the plug-in, its distribution may be limited to California and a handful of other states.
The Niro is comfortable and attractive inside, though its power delivery on the road isn’t as smooth as that of a Toyota Prius. Drivers may find that real-world fuel economy of better than 40 miles per gallon, along with the Niro’s load capacity and stylish looks, make up for that.
What’s new in the 2019 Kia Niro?
During 2019, a battery-electric Kia Niro EV will become available. Like the Niro Plug-In Hybrid, it will likely be distributed only in a few states. The hybrid and plug-in versions continue for 2019 with few changes, though optional LED headlights were added.
Below are the specs for the three different models.
- Niro Hybrid: The most common Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a single 32-kilowatt electric motor. Together they produce 139 horsepower. The pair sends power to the front wheels through a six-speed automated manual gearbox. The EPA rates the base Niro FE at 49 mpg combined. The most common trims are rated at 46 mpg combined, and higher-spec models get lower ratings.
- Niro Plug-In Hybrid: A larger 8.9 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a slightly more powerful 45-kilowatt (60-horsepower) electric motor distinguish the plug-in version. It’s EPA-rated at 26 miles of electric range, and 46 mpg combined when running as a hybrid.
- Niro EV: The all-electric Niro EV has 239 miles of range, according to EPA ratings. Its 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery powers a 150-kilowatt (201-horsepower) electric motor driving the front wheels.
What does the 2019 Kia Niro compete with?
The 2019 Kia Niro will appeal to buyers who want a compact hatchback that pretends it’s a crossover SUV. But the Niro range competes with a variety of small, efficient vehicles depending on which powertrain it comes with.
The Kia Niro Hybrid competes with:
The Niro Plug-In Hybrid competes with:
And the Niro EV competes with:
Exterior design of the 2019 Kia Niro
The Kia Niro is an upright, compact five-door car with the shape of a wagon but the taller stance and large tires of a utility vehicle. We don’t consider it an SUV, both because of its design and because all-wheel drive isn’t available.
The Niro has a wagon’s shape and practicality, but it rides a bit higher, with rubber wheel-arch extensions and large wheels to underscore its utility pretensions. It’s a smooth, clean design that buyers have chosen more often than the Hyundai Ioniq, which shares the Niro’s underpinnings but has a lower, more traditional hatchback shape.
Interior style in the 2019 Kia Niro
The 2019 Niro’s interior is straightforward, with materials appropriate to a small car that starts in the low 20s and can reach $40,000. Most surfaces are soft-touch, though hard plastics are used in places occupants rarely touch.
The front seats are comfortable and the rears are acceptable. Rear doors are wide, which makes getting in and out easier than in other compact cars. Cloth seating is standard, with nicer materials in higher-end models.
The Niro is listed as a five-seater, but in reality, just four adults can ride comfortably, if not spaciously. Cargo volume in either hybrid version is 19.4 cubic feet, rising to 54.5 cubic feet when the rear seat back is folded down.
The dash, like that of most Kias, is straightforward and pleasantly functional. It has knobs and dials where you expect them, with extra controls on the console for the plug-in hybrid and electric versions. Lots of little storage areas for front-seat occupants make it a convenient vehicle to use in real life.
What technology comes in the 2019 Kia Niro?
The main technology in the Kia Niro range is its hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain, with a battery-electric model coming this year. Beyond that, it has a fairly standard array of tech features found in a compact model at its price.
As always, Kia gets high marks for a clear, intuitive, and easy-to-use infotainment system. Even on base models, the Niro has a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus automatic climate control. A Premium package bundles quite a lot more tech, including an 8.0-inch touchscreen, navigation, wireless phone charging, parking sensors, and an upgraded audio system.
What kind of safety features are in the 2019 Kia Niro?
The 2019 Kia Niro is a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which says its optional automatic emergency braking is “Superior.” Its only flaw is an “Acceptable” rating for its LATCH child-seat anchors. It hasn’t been crash-tested yet by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Standard safety equipment differs by trim and powertrain. For the Niro Hybrid model, automatic emergency braking isn’t offered on the base trim. On LX and EX trims, it’s part of a $1,950 safety package, along with active lane control and adaptive cruise control. Automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning is standard on the top Hybrid Touring model, and on all versions of the Plug-In Hybrid. Blind-spot monitors are standard on the Hybrid EX and above.
What is the 2019 Kia Niro like to drive?
The driver sits about two inches higher in the Niro than in other compact passenger cars, which makes it easier to see out. Forward vision is good, but the thick roof pillars compromise rear three-quarter views. The tailgate window is shallow, giving the rearview mirror only a slit for vision. The front seats come from a midsize Optima sedan, so they’re particularly comfortable.
In its standard Eco mode, the Niro isn’t a fast car. The Sport mode makes it quicker, using higher revs and giving much punchier acceleration. But this really ate into the gas mileage, which is one of the car’s main attractions. The Niro’s direct-shift gearbox eliminates the “motorboating” effect found in other hybrids, in which engine speed soars while the car’s road speed doesn’t.
Under most circumstances, drivers won’t notice that the Niro is a hybrid car at all. It feels just like a normal car, and Kia has done a good job blending regenerative and friction brakes. Our only grumbles: we found the transmission occasionally hesitated to shift under partial power; and like most hybrids, full acceleration spins the engine up to the top of its range, so it gets noisy.
Should I buy a 2019 Kia Niro?
The 2019 Kia Niro offers an appealing option for drivers who want high fuel economy but don’t appreciate low, odd-looking hatchbacks like the Toyota Prius. It’s effectively a compact wagon with an efficient hybrid powertrain dressed up as a utility vehicle. Few other makers offers this combination of looks, efficiency, and practicality. Plus, there’s a (low-volume) plug-in hybrid with some all-electric range and even greater fuel efficiency. Count us as fans.
Should I buy a used Kia Niro? Are there any I should avoid?
The Kia Niro is only entering its third model year, so the supply of used ones may be thin. The Hybrid is by far the most common. For those seeking thrifty travel, the base model is pleasant enough to avoid the “econobox” vibe, though it has fewer active-safety features. The most costly plug-in hybrid version was only distributed in certain states.
How much does the new 2019 Kia Niro cost?
The base 2019 Kia Niro Hybrid FE starts at $24,430 including a mandatory destination fee. Above it are LX, EX, S Touring, and Touring trim levels, which top out above $35,000 with all the options.
The Niro Plug-In Hybrid comes in LX, EX, and EX Premium versions, starting at $29,440 with destination. Top-end plug-in models run a little above $35,000. All plug-in hybrid Niros are eligible for a $4,500 federal income-tax credit and a $1,500 California purchase rebate, among other incentives. The all-electric Niro EV hasn’t yet been priced, though it will likely come in around $37,500—and qualify for various tax credits.
The Niro isn’t the single cheapest hybrid on the market, but its looks, practical wagon shape, and wide array of trim levels and options make it appealing. The plug-in hybrid powertrain adds additional sizzle, and the fully electric version only amps that up.
Pros and Cons of the 2019 Kia Niro
- Handsome, practical, wagon-like shape
- Sensible, intuitive dash controls and infotainment system
- Real-world fuel economy well above 40 mpg
- Available plug-in version offers some all-electric range
- Powertrain not the smoothest
- Generally slow
- All-wheel drive not offered
- Niro Plug-In Hybrid only distributed in a few states
The history of the Kia Niro: Three years of Niro
The most popular Kia model in the U.S. is still its boxy compact Soul, so practical and upright vehicles are a Kia strength. The hybrid version of the Niro launched first, for 2017, and the plug-in hybrid followed several months later, though only in certain states. An all-electric Niro EV with 239 miles of range will arrive during 2019.
Specs & Key Features of the 2019 Kia Niro
- Body Style
- Sport Utility
- 1.6L Atkinson Cycle DOHC 16-Valve 4-Cyl
- 139 hp
- 6-Speed Dual-Clutch
- Passenger Doors
- Passenger Seating
- Front Wheel Drive
- City MPG
- Hwy MPG
- Air Conditioning
- Android Auto
- Apple CarPlay
- Back Up Camera
- Cruise Control
- LCD Monitor
- Remote Keyless Entry
- Tinted Glass
- Engine: 1.6L Atkinson Cycle DOHC 16-Valve 4-Cyl -inc: Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), 32kW electric motor and 1.56 kWh lithium-ion-polymer hybrid battery
- Transmission: 6-Speed Dual-Clutch -inc: sport mode
- 3.227 Axle Ratio
- GVWR: 4,079 lbs
- Engine Auto Stop-Start Feature
- Front-Wheel Drive
- Battery w/Run Down Protection
- Hybrid Electric Motor
- Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
- Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
- Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
- 11.9 Gal. Fuel Tank
- Single Stainless Steel Exhaust
- Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Multi-Link Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Regenerative 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control
- Wheels: 16" Alloy w/Full Covers
- Tires: P205/60R16 Michelin
- Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Clearcoat Paint
- Body-Colored Front Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent and Metal-Look Bumper Insert
- Body-Colored Rear Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent and Metal-Look Bumper Insert
- Black Bodyside Moldings and Black Wheel Well Trim
- Chrome Side Windows Trim
- Body-Colored Door Handles
- Body-Colored Power Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
- Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
- Deep Tinted Glass
- Variable Intermittent Wipers
- Fully Galvanized Steel Panels
- Lip Spoiler
- Black Grille w/Chrome Accents
- Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
- Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
- Fully Automatic Projector Beam Halogen Daytime Running Headlamps w/Delay-Off
- Perimeter/Approach Lights
- Radio: AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM Satellite -inc: 6 speakers, Bluetooth wireless technology w/steering-wheel-mounted controls, 7" touchscreen w/UVO eServices and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, USB and auxiliary input jacks
- Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Steering Wheel Controls and 8 Gb Internal Memory
- Integrated Roof Antenna
- 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
- Front Bucket Seats -inc: 6-way adjustable driver and front passenger seats
- 6-Way Driver Seat -inc: Manual Recline, Height Adjustment and Fore/Aft Movement
- 6-Way Passenger Seat -inc: Manual Recline, Height Adjustment and Fore/Aft Movement
- 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
- Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
- Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Engine Coolant Temp, Tachometer, Traction Battery Level, Power/Regen, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
- Power Rear Windows and Fixed 3rd Row Windows
- Front Cupholder
- Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
- Remote Releases -Inc: Power Fuel
- Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
- Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
- HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
- Illuminated Glove Box
- Driver Foot Rest
- Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look/Piano Black Instrument Panel Insert, Metal-Look Door Panel Insert, Metal-Look Console Insert and Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents
- Full Cloth Headliner
- Urethane Gear Shift Knob
- Cloth-Trimmed Seats
- Day-Night Rearview Mirror
- Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination
- Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 2 12V DC Power Outlets
- Front Map Lights
- Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
- Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
- Carpet Floor Trim
- Cargo Features -inc: Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Cargo Space Lights
- FOB Controls -inc: Trunk/Hatch/Tailgate
- Driver And Passenger Door Bins
- Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver 1-Touch Up/Down
- Delayed Accessory Power
- Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
- Redundant Digital Speedometer
- Trip Computer
- Outside Temp Gauge
- Digital/Analog Display
- Manual w/Tilt Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
- Front Center Armrest
- 1 Seatback Storage Pocket
- Perimeter Alarm
- Engine Immobilizer
- 2 12V DC Power Outlets
- Air Filtration
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- ABS And Driveline Traction Control
- Side Impact Beams
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
- Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
- Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
- Airbag Occupancy Sensor
- Driver Knee Airbag
- Rear Child Safety Locks
- Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
- Back-Up Camera