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Review: Kia Niro lights a fire with looks, performance

Source: USA Today by Chris Woodyard – January 27, 2017

The 2017 Kia Niro hybrid crossover will soon come to showrooms
It’s rare that we come across a new car that hits all the right notes.

So it’s hard to restrain our enthusiasm for the new Kia Niro, a small hybrid crossover.

If you live in a city, it’s just the right size to squeeze into those annoyingly tight “compact” parking spaces. Yet inside, there is enough room to handle cargo and people, including a 6-foot-2 bloke like myself who admired the headroom both front and back.

The car is a joy to drive, especially when it comes to its tight turning radius.

The Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 139 horsepower in tandem with its batteries and electric motor. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was plenty for urban scooting. The powertrain, including the six-speed transmission, was well behaved and quiet.

That performance alone would be fine, but consider the gas mileage: At 52 miles per gallon in the city, 49 mpg in the city and 50 mpg overall, the new Niro’s numbers come close to the hybrid leader, Toyota’s indefatigable Prius sedan, and exceed the Prius V crossover.

Then, there’s the styling, which is impressive from outside since small boxy cars generally lack the stature to look bold, modern and inviting. We were even more captivated by the inside, with a dashboard so clean and thoroughly European that, had we not known better, we would have thought we were in a Volkswagen or Volvo.

The new Niro is priced to start at $22,890, plus $895 in destination charges. The price sandwiches it between the slightly smaller, non-hybrid Honda HR-V at $19,465 and the slightly larger, non-crossover Prius sedan at $24,465.

For all the things it does well, Niro arrives in an era of cheap gas when motorists may not pay heed to hybrids. We wonder if Kia will create a non-hybrid version with an even cheaper pricetag. But there’s no reason not consider this one if you’re in the market for small SUV.

What stands out

Looks: Sharp inside and out

Size: Just right for the city

Price: Affordable for a hybrid crossover

2017 Kia Niro

What? A small five-passenger hybrid SUV

When? In showrooms “in next few weeks”

Where? Made in South Korea

How big? 14.3 feet long

What makes it go? A 1.6-liter four cylinder gas engine and electric motor

How thirsty? 52 miles per gallon in the city, 49 mpg on the highway, 50 mpg overall

How much? Starts at $22,890, plus $895 in destination charges

Overall? Good in so many ways

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