Category Archives: Niro Articles

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Kia Niro the most reliable car in 2017

Source: Consumers Reports
Date: October 19, 2017
Author: Consumer Reports

 

Purchasing a car is a long-term investment, with the expectation that the car will provide dependable transportation for the long haul. But as our surveys show, not all cars can fulfill that promise.

Based on our 2017 Annual Auto Survey, these models are the 10 most reliable cars today. We predict that these cars will give owners fewer problems than their competitors, based on data collected on 640,000 vehicles.

Our survey takes a deep dive into the numerous things that can go wrong with a vehicle.

We study 17 trouble areas, from nuisances—such as squeaky brakes and broken interior trim—to major bummers, like out-of-warranty transmission repairs or trouble with four-wheel-drive systems. We weight the severity of each type of problem to create a Predicted Reliability Score for each vehicle. (That score is then combined with data collected from our track testing, as well as our owner-satisfaction survey results and safety data, to calculate each test vehicle’s Overall Score.)

Based on that analysis, these models are the most reliable.

They are presented in rank order, starting with the most reliable. For more details on the models’ reliability predictions and history, click through to their respective model pages.

Kia Niro

Kia’s five-passenger Niro marries good fuel economy with cargo versatility. This front-wheel-drive hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which, in conjunction with the electric drive unit, puts out a combined 139 hp. This combo is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Because the lithium-ion battery is located under the rear seat, that creates a flat cargo floor when the rear seats are folded. We got 43 mpg overall, which is good but not as good as the Hyundai Ioniq or Toyota Prius. The handling lacks agility, and the ride is a bit choppy. The optional power driver seat provides better support than the standard seats do. A suite of advanced safety features is available, including automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, but that tends to push the price to above $30,000.

See the complete Kia Niro road test.

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Price as tested: $26,805

 

Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86

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Price as tested: $27,117/$25,025

Developed with Toyota, Subaru’s first rear-wheel-drive sports car features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a choice of a six-speed manual or an automatic. Handling is super-responsive, with cornering precision that makes the BRZ fun to drive. The car turns in promptly, with almost no body lean. The steering is quick and well-weighted. At its limits, the BRZ is slightly more forgiving than its mechanical sibling, the Toyota 86 (the old Scion FR-S). That difference makes the BRZ less prone to sliding its tail during spirited driving. The ride is also a bit more jittery than in the FR-S. The cabin is relatively plain, with well-bolstered sport seats, but the ride and elevated noise can be taxing.

See the complete Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 road tests.

Lexus ES

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Price as tested: $43,702-$44,017

The Lexus ES has sound handling but falls short of being engaging or fun. Uncharacteristic for Lexus, the ride is on the stiff side, and the optional 18-inch wheels make it worse. The powerful 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic got a good 25 mpg overall. But we find the hybrid more appealing, thanks to its combination of size and fuel economy, returning a class-leading 36 mpg overall and 44 on the highway in our tests. Inside, the quiet cabin looks good at first, but some cheap touches are apparent. The mouselike infotainment interface is distracting and convoluted. Automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning are standard.

See the complete Lexus ES road test.

Lexus GS

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Price as tested: $58,858

The GS competes well, delivering a balanced combination of ride, handling, quietness, and roominess. Engaging to drive, the car’s good handling and taut yet supple ride compete well against German rivals. Its strong 3.5-liter V6 returned 21 mpg overall in our tests. Rear-drive versions get an eight-speed automatic, and AWD versions get a six-speed automatic. A hybrid with a continuously variable transmission is also available. Interior space is on par for the class, and the cabin is nicely furnished. A distracting mouselike controller works the infotainment systems. A high-performance GS F with a 467-hp V8 is available. 2016 brings a rear-drive 200t with a turbo four-cylinder. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is standard.

See the complete Lexus GS road test.

 

Audi Q3

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Price as tested: $40,125

A tidy, compact crossover, the Q3 competes with the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Overall, it manages to deliver a premium driving experience similar to the Q5 but in a 10-inch-shorter package. The energetic 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic and returned 22 mpg overall in our tests. This is a quiet SUV with a firm, comfortable ride and responsive handling. The cabin is a bit simplistic-looking, but it gives a sense of quality. Demerits include the tight quarters and cramped driving position. The controls are complicated at first, but they prove to be logical with some familiarity. Front- and all-wheel drive are available.

See the complete Audi Q3 road test.

 

Toyota RAV4

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Price as tested: $29,014-$29,753

For years, the RAV4 has consistently been among the top-ranked small SUVs. The current RAV4’s cabin is quieter, the ride is smoother, it has a suite of advanced safety features, and it offers a frugal hybrid version. The energetic 2.5-liter four-cylinder and smooth six-speed automatic returned 24 mpg overall in our tests of an AWD version. The hybrid version gets a terrific 31 mpg overall. Handling is responsive and very secure. Inside, the controls are clear and intuitive. Though the XLE comes with automatic climate control and a sunroof, you must step up to the Limited trim to get adjustable lumbar support and the more comfortable faux-leather seats. Access is very easy, and the rear seat is roomy. Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard.

See the complete Toyota RAV4 road test.

 

Lexus IS

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Price as tested $48,149

In our tests, the IS came up short as a sports sedan. Handling is secure but not engaging enough to run with the best in the class. Ride comfort is neither tied down nor plush. Even the punchy IS 350 is underwhelming to drive. A 260-hp V6 powers the IS 300, which gives it more zip, but its fuel economy of 20 mpg overall is uncompetitive in the class. Still, the interior is extremely cramped, and getting in and out is an ungraceful chore. All-wheel-drive versions have a pronounced hump by the driver’s right leg. Fit and finish is okay but not a standout, and the mouselike infotainment controller is distracting to use. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is available, but only in rear-wheel drive.

See the complete Lexus IS road test.

 

Toyota Prius V

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Price as tested: $28,217

This wagon version of the previous-generation Prius offers a very roomy rear seat and a generous cargo area. It’s about the size of the Ford C-Max, its main competitor. Despite its extra weight and a less aerodynamic shape, the V still got an excellent 41 mpg overall in our tests. The electric motor and engine have to work fairly hard, especially when the car is loaded with cargo. The ride is comfortable, but uneven pavement can cause an annoying side-to-side rocking. Handling is sound and secure but hardly inspiring. Rear visibility is better than in the standard Prius. A larger 4.1-inch dash-top screen for trip computer functions is also new. Forward-collision warning with automatic braking is available but not standard. 2018 is the final year for the Prius V.

See the complete Toyota Prius V road test.

 

Toyota Prius C

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Price as tested: $20,850

This smaller, less expensive alternative to the regular Prius feels like a spartan subcompact, but with a hybrid powertrain. In the end, you pretty much get what you pay for, and it is no substitute for the real Prius. The C has a harsh ride, a noisy engine, and slow acceleration. The interior looks and feels cheap, the driving position and rear seats are cramped, and there’s little cargo space. However, its 37 mpg makes the Prius C one of the most frugal vehicles we’ve tested, and its 43 mpg overall is just 1 mpg less than the previous-generation Prius hatchback. Its tiny dimensions make it a natural for urban driving. Automatic emergency braking is standard. 2018 is the final year for the Prius C.

See the complete Toyota Prius C road test.

Infiniti Q70

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Price as tested: $53,825-$58,655

Although long in the tooth, the Q70 is still competitive, with a lively 330-hp V6 and a smooth seven-speed automatic that returned 21 mpg overall in our tests. A V8 and a V6 hybrid are also available. Handling is quite agile, with communicative steering. The ride is firm and absorbs bumps well but trails the competition in terms of plushness. The Q70 is also behind the competition in terms of cabin quietness, partly because of the noticeable engine noise under high revs. Very good interior quality, a roomy rear seat, and easy-to-use controls are positives, although cabin ambience is austere. Blind-spot intervention is optional. An extended-length L version with a roomier rear seat is also available. The Q70 might lack some pizzazz, but it generally commands significantly lower prices than its competitors.

See the complete Infiniti Q70 road test.

 

The 2018 Kia Stinger Defies Germany’s Famed Nürburgring Nordschleife Race Track

By: Michael Harley June 26, 2017
Source: Forbes

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Copyright Kia Motors

The 2018 Kia Stinger at speed on the Nurburgring.

I can’t believe that I am doing 153 mph down the long straight at Nürburgring’s Nordschleife in a Kia. Years of experience reviewing cars had cemented my opinion of the Korean automaker ― typically front-wheel drive, economy minded, and value oriented — but all of that is in the process of being shattered by its all-new Stinger. I’m lapping the planet’s most challenging race track, a meandering 12.3-mile “Green Hell,” in a twin-turbocharged Stinger GT that has completely changed the way I look at the brand.

To refresh your memory, the Kia Stinger is a turbocharged rear- or all-wheel drive five-door engineered to compete directly against the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe. Based on the Kia GT concept that was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 — a prototype so well received that management gave a green light for production — the production version is designed to be as sporty as it is stylish and luxurious.

“The new Kia Stinger is a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving,” explains Gregory Guillaume, Kia Motors Europe’s Chief Designer who sculpted the vehicle at the company’s design center in Frankfurt, Germany. “It’s not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace. The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion.”

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A handful of Stingers, fueled and ready to lap the famous German track.

Few questioned Kia’s ability to execute on its lofty promise, especially after it hired Albert Biermann away from BMW in late 2014. The highly respected Vice President of Engineering at BMW M Automobiles — the M3 and M5 are on his resume — is now tasked with running vehicle test and high-performance development at Hyundai Motor Group. When Biermann was first shown the near-finished clay models of the future Kia Stinger, he turned to Guillaume and remarked with a smile, “Now, I need to make it drive as good as it looks.”

That wouldn’t be easy, as Kia’s ordinary front-wheel drive architecture is wonderful for interior packaging, low manufacturing cost, and fuel efficiency, but that goodness comes at the expense of driving dynamics. Following the lead of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, two automakers that choose a more balanced rear-wheel drive configuration, Kia borrowed a platform from its premium Genesis sibling (like those automakers, Kia will also offer an all-wheel drive powertrain). The new architecture, which is engineered for a sporty and premium ride, boasts a suspension that uses MacPherson struts in the nose and a five-link design in the tail — it is complemented by Kia’s Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC), for a driver adjustable ride.

Power is also a necessity, so Kia drops one of two engines under the Stinger’s hood. Standard models (offered as the ‘Stinger’) are fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, rated at 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded model (badged ‘Stinger GT’) arrives with a twin-turbocharged, 3.3-liter, six-cylinder engine rated at 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, is standard equipment.

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A luxurious cockpit designed with the driver in mind.

Full disclosure: I’ve already driven the Kia Stinger GT twice. I had a Kia Stinger First Drive in Korea last December, and a Kia Stinger Second Drive in the Arctic Circle in February — both opportunities revealed countless details about the vehicle (read both stories for in-depth technical details), but none could come close to the hands-on experience of driving the Stinger GT on the challenging north loop of Nürburgring.

Kia brought a half-dozen Stinger GT models to Germany, each painted in blazing metallic red (technically, one was a vinyl wrap) — three rear-wheel drive and the balance all-wheel drive. Other than two minor tweaks (the vehicles are wearing Euro-spec brake pads and suspension components because Americans prefer things quieter and softer — they are identical to the vehicles arriving in local showrooms later this year. With keys in hand, I was instructed to climb behind the wheel and chase a professional driver (also in a Stinger GT) around the long circuit. Sounds easy, except the Nürburgring is everything but.

2017 Kia Niro

By John Davis May 4, 2017

Source: MotorWeek

Say “Hybrid”, and the first name that comes to most minds is Prius. In truth Toyota’s original 5-door Prius Hatchback has not had a competitor, likewise built on a chassis built specifically to be a hybrid, until now. That changes with the 2017 Kia Niro.

Niro is a small, dedicated hybrid that also plays to the current popularity of crossover utilities. Indeed, acording to Kia, it’s the first of its kind; an Urban Crossover Hybrid Vehicle.

They obviously hope that adding the term crossover will spur some additional sales. But to us, the Niro is more of a squarer rival to the Prius hatchback, as well as the Prius V, while also being reminiscent of the short-lived Kia Rondo wagon.

Whatever you call it, the Niro is actually a great looking vehicle that has plenty of substance as well. The hybrid powertrain is a 32kW electric motor sandwiched between a 1.6-liter I4 gasoline engine and a real 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. Total output is 139-horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque.

While a dedicated hybrid, the Niro does share its platform with the Hyundai Ioniq, and the fact that it is front-wheel-drive cast more doubt on the crossover title. But then, so does the very successful Kia Soul.

Out on the road, the Niro delivers good pickup with no harsh regen braking feel. The DCT operates smoothly, but engine noise can be pronounced at times.

Outside, the Niro looks most like a cute yet sporty station wagon; with virtually no indications of it being a hybrid. Compared to the Soul, it’s classier, and less aimed at the youngest buyers.

We think the interior also looks fantastic. Not in a flashy way, but with an understated, almost classy quality. Materials look upscale, and feel good to the touch. The seats are also more comfortable than Prius.

As to overall practicality, Niro’s seat up luggage space rates a very good 19.4 cubic feet, with 54.5 cubic when the seats are folded. Not bad for any vehicle this size.

Now lets turn to the all-important fuel economy numbers. Kia’s top drawer Niro Touring rates 46 MPG City, 40 MPG Highway, and 43 MPG Combined. Kia also offers a stripped down Niro FE rated at 50-Combined, just shy of the least expensive Prius hatch.

Braking from 60 averaged just 112-feet, which is quite good; as was overall stability while stopping. Pedal feel was a bit disconcerting though, as it goes right towards the floor with little resistance.

For our complete test of the 2017 Kia Niro, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3638 that begins airing on May 26, 2017. For a listing of the public television stations that boradcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.

The 2017 Kia Niro is truly a product of its time. it is part sport utility, part hatchback, part marketing strategy; all with a strong emphasis on high fuel economy. Even with today’s cheap gas, it should do well, and is another all-around fine product from Kia.

2017 Kia Niro: Video Review and Road Test

By Zach Vlasuk on April 27, 2017 4:30 PM
Source: Kelley Blue book

As the latest entry into the hybrid vehicle market, the 2017 Kia Niro seeks to distinguish itself from rivals like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Bolt by offering a higher riding, wagon-like package that is more akin to a crossover than a traditional hatchback. But unlike true crossovers which offer an option of all-wheel drive, the Niro’s gas-electric drivetrain powers only the front axle. Zach Vlasuk takes a close look at Kia’s fuel-saving hybrid in this Video Review and Road Test.

2017 Kia Niro First Review: Flexible Fuel-Sipper Impresses

By Jason Allan on December 27, 2016 12:00 PM
Source: Kelley Blue book

Starting Price: Around $23,000

Fuel Economy: 49 mpg combined

Similar: Toyota Prius, Prius V, Ford C-Max

On sale: Beginning January 2017

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Synopsis: An uncommon mix of practicality and efficiency, surprisingly well-sorted The 2017 Kia Niro is the automaker’s first offering built from the get-go as a hybrid/electric vehicle, á la the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt. The end result is a well-packaged blend of exceptional fuel economy, ample passenger room and versatile cargo flexibility, our conclusion after spending a full day on the streets, highways and winding, undulating back roads in and around San Antonio, Texas.

City Driving

Kia’s first gas-electric entry, the original Optima Hybrid, left a lot to be desired when it came to the complex interplay of the gas, electric and braking systems. While its successor, the current-generation Optima Hybrid is much better, the new Niro is far and away Kia’s best hybrid yet. With acceleration and braking profiles similar to those of any traditionally powered car of its size, it would be very easy for its gas-electric nature to go undetected.

While most hybrids utilize a “gearless” continuously automatic transmission, the Niro utilizes a newly developed 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that shifts gears more like a traditional automatic. Combined with refined mechanics and programming behind the scenes, the Niro drives more like a regular car than many other hybrids.

A tight turning radius, backup camera, good outward visibility and available rear cross-traffic alert combine to make the Niro a cinch in tight parking lots, too.

Behind the Wheel

The Niro’s hybrid-ness was perhaps most obvious while merging full-throttle onto the highway. Fifty mpg does not come without compromises, and 139 horsepower is not a lot for a vehicle that weighs more than 3,000 pounds. In contrast, the hybrid system’s 195 lb-ft of torque is one of the reasons for the car’s impressive in-town performance.

Once up to speed the Niro proved quiet and comfortable for a car of its stature, and tracked well down the highway without requiring excessive steering inputs. Adding to the car’s highway prowess is a long list of available safety and convenience technologies including blind-spot detection, lane change assist, lane departure warning and smart cruise control.

Two new navigation-linked features aim to further enhance fuel economy. By analyzing the route input by the driver, Coasting Guide coaches the driver on when to coast and brake for maximum efficiency. Predictive Energy Control takes a more proactive approach and manages energy flow by anticipating the effects of any hills ahead.

While the typically modest power and added battery weight of the most efficiency-focused hybrids don’t do much for their fun factor, the Niro’s quick shifting dual-clutch transmisison, independent rear suspension and decent driving feel help mitigate some of its inherent shortcomings.

Interior Appeal

Kia is making some of our favorite interiors right now, and the Niro’s is no exception. The clean design impresses first, followed by the intuitive, intelligent functionality. We like the well-placed audio and climate controls and the handy open bin with USB and power ports ahead of the transmission selector. And every bit that moves — buttons, knobs, transmission selector — does so with a refined feel that inspires confidence in the whole vehicle.

Rear passengers are treated to ample headroom and legroom, plenty for six-footers and beyond.

Infotainment

Kia’s attractive, intuitive and functional UVO infotainment system remains among our favorites. The Niro’s UVO3 system and 7-inch touchscreen are standard equipment, and include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto compatibility and subscription-free telematics features like vehicle diagnostic and roadside assistance services.

Cargo Utility

With the rear seatback in position, cargo volume in the Niro is good, not great. Kia’s own Forte5 compact hatchback offers about 20 percent more room behind the rear seats, for instance. But like most any hatchback, wagon or SUV-like vehicle, the Niro is cavernous with the rear seats folded down. The resulting load floor is flat, thanks to the battery being positioned beneath the rear seat.

Fuel Economy

The Kia Niro’s EPA fuel economy ratings are downright impressive. Most Niro buyers will find themselves in an LX or EX model, both of which return 49 mpg combined (51 city, 46 highway). That doesn’t quite match the 52 mpg number of the latest Prius, but it’s much higher than the larger Prius V’s 41 mpg figure.

Niro buyers enticed by all the attractive options should be aware that the top-shelf Niro Touring model is rated to return 43 mpg combined (46 city, 40 highway), the result of added weight and aerodynamic compromises. But even at 12,000 miles per year and $3/gallon, the difference works out to less than 10 dollars per month compared to the LX and EX models.

Sitting opposite the Niro Touring on the pricing spectrum is the Niro FE. Tuned to deliver just one more combined mpg than the LX and EX models, the FE allows Kia marketers to advertise that the Niro delivers 50 mpg combined (52 city, 49 highway).

Value

Kia hasn’t yet announced final pricing, but says the 2017 Kia Niro will start around $23,000 and top out around $32,000. We don’t yet have 5-Year Cost to Own or even predicted resale value figures for the Niro, but we like the overall value proposition considering our first impressions of the vehicle and the estimated pricing.

And if all of that isn’t enough, you might be interested to know that Kia has announced the Niro lineup will eventually grow to include a plug-in hybrid version.

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Review: 2017 Kia Niro is the anti-hybrid hybrid ready to take on Prius

Take heed, Toyota Prius. Kia’s new built-from-the-ground up 2017 Niro hybrid crossover is ready to duke it out for your sales title.

Well, yes and no. Kia officials won’t specifically say so, lest it not work out the way they hope.

And while John Adzija, Kia Canada’s national manager of corporate communications, believes the Niro will indeed lure customers away from the Prius, he says the South Korean auto maker isn’t specifically targeting the hybrid universe’s long-time reigning champ.

“No, not per se,” he said, following a product briefing deep in the heart of Texas. “You alienate a lot of people when you focus on the ‘cult’ of Prius customers.”

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Photos by Darren McGee

In other words, Kia believes the Niro will provide sales competition for the Prius and other eco-warriors – free of the geek factor stigma. Electric and hybrid vehicles can be polarizing. Think Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, the Prius, and so on. Many have that funky, green feel with their, uh, often unique, stylings. Kia, however, has gone to great lengths to make the Niro blend in with the conventional SUV pack. It’s a hybrid that conceals the fact that it’s a hybrid.

That’s not to say the Niro is just another run-of-the-mill ride in an over-populated segment. Au contraire. Technically, it’s a wagon, not a compact crossover, but crossover sounds cooler, and those sell like hotcakes. And it does incorporate several CUV/SUV design cues: it’s aggressive and athletic looking, featuring Kia’s signature tiger nose grille; and the ride is taller than expected, with wonderful sight lines.

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Inside, the Niro features a simple, elegant, upscale look with a clean, uncluttered, and functional console. Everything is where it should be, including an 7-inch infotainment screen which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Now, here’s where the Niro plans to give the Prius a run for its money: gas mileage. Its fuel economy numbers compare favourably with the Prius, although the Prius wins by a slim margin (4.4 litres/100 km city, and 4.6 highway, versus 4.5 city and 4.8 highway for the Niro). The Niro achieves its stellar fuel efficiency thanks to an extensive use of aluminum; additionally, it’s equipped with air curtains, a rear spoiler and active grille shutters to help give it a 0.29 co-efficient of drag, versus 0.24 for the Prius. Still, that’s impressive, especially when the Niro’s high ride is factored in.

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Its powertrain makes a combined 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and, in sport mode along desolate, twisty country roads outside San Antonio, provided an engaging, entertaining ride. Unfortunately, sport mode will kill some of the fuel efficiency, while the sluggish default eco mode will kill much of the driving enthusiasm.

But here’s where the gloves come off. The Niro’s starting price is $2,195 less than the $27,190 base pricetag for the Prius. Prices for the Niro’s other trim levels (there are four in total) have yet to be announced. And there’s a plug-in Niro hybrid in the works.

So, is it a feasible alternative to the popular Prius? The Niro makes a compelling case for itself and it’s definitely a contender – especially for those who aren’t comfortable displaying their inner geek so publicly.

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TECH SPECS

Base price: $24,995

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder with a 1.56-kWH lithium-ion battery

Transmission/Drive: Six-speed automatic/Front-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 4.5 city, 4.8 highway

Alternatives: Toyota Prius V, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota RAV4 hybrid

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RATINGS

Looks: Kia’s aim was to make its new hybrid look mainstream. It succeeded.

Interior: There’s room for five comfortably. A heated steering wheel is standard, as are heated front seats.

Performance: It’s not overwhelming, but the Niro has plenty of giddyup off the line, and for passing prowess.

Technology: Kia’s new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) features Coasting Guide, which advises the driver on when to coast and brake. Predictive Energy Control, meanwhile, uses the nav system and cruise control to anticipate topographical changes on the road ahead to manage energy flow, determining when it’s best to recharge the battery and when its best to expend stored energy to optimize efficiency. Eco-DAS, however, is only available on the Niro’s highest trim level, the SX Touring.

Cargo: There’s a reasonable amount of space, enough for a full load of groceries or two large golf bags.

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THE VERDICT

8.5

Traditionalists will love this anti-hybrid hybrid.

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The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

 

By DARREN MCGEE

Published

Original Article Here

Kia’s new Niro is perky hybrid crossover with excellent fuel economy and surprising performance

Source: Driving.ca By Graeme Fletcher – February 2, 2017

 

Fuel economy standards are getting tougher every year, so all manufacturers are being forced to look for ways to reduce the reliance on gasoline. In 2025, the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards in the United States will hit 54.5 miles per gallon, or 4.3 L/100 km. The only real solution is the electrification of the drivetrain – and Kia’s latest hybrid, the new Niro, is aimed at meeting that goal without killing the fun of the drive.

From the headlights to the rear roof-mounted spoiler, the Niro is a cute-ute that’s reminiscent of the Rondo, but with an edgier visage. It’s also destined to do battle with the likes of the Toyota Prius V and Ford C-Max hybrids. Tough competition, but as the drive proved, the Niro has the wherewithal to be a player.

Riding on a 2,700-millimetre wheelbase, there’s plenty of legroom in all spots and the tall roofline means enough headroom for a 6-foot-2 rider. Likewise, the cargo space is plentiful – 635 litres with the seats upright and 1,789 with them dropped. And, as the 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery sits beneath the rear seat, it does not eat into the space or utility.

 

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The cabin is also marked by the quality of its materials — they look like they belong in a richer ride. The dash is simple in its elegance, with the left side of the instrumentation giving the charge state of the battery, fuel level and the combined distance to empty. This information is ringed with a charge/eco/power meter that shows what the system is doing.

The SX tested brought comfortable leather-wrapped front seats and a lengthy list of standard fare, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which are accessed through an eight-inch touchscreen, as well as GPS navigation and eight gigabytes of built-in music storage. Safety-wise, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane departure warning system with lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are all part of the SX trim as well.

The Niro is powered by a 1.6-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder that puts out 104 horsepower and 108.5 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s married to a six-speed twin-clutch transmission and a 43-horsepower electric motor; the plus is it twists out 125 lb.-ft. of torque. The net result is a combined system output of 139 hp and, more importantly, 195 lb.-ft. torque from 1,000 rpm. This explains the Niro’s perky performance.

 

2018 Kia Niro

 

A big part of the driving feel is due to the efficiency and shift speed of the twin-clutch transmission. Goose the gas and the Niro canters off the line with spirit and it holds this ethic through the midrange and on to speed. On the drive route it stayed with some pretty quick traffic without missing a beat. The selectable Drive modes help; in this case, everything is accessed through the shifter. Drive equals Eco mode, while moving the shifter into the manual gate engages Sport, and bumping it back/forth brings manual. Eco is peppy and willing to do what the driver demands, and so it proved to be the mode of choice. However, move to Sport and efficiency takes a back seat because it locks out sixth gear unless shifted manually. Regardless, in Sport mode, the Niro scampers to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds – two seconds faster than the Prius V.

New to Kia is the Eco Driver Assistance System, featuring Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control. The former maximizes fuel economy by coaching the driver on the best times to coast and brake. The latter taps into the navigation system to look for topographical changes on the road ahead. It then actively manages energy use, to determine the right place to recharge the battery and when to use the stored energy to improve efficiency; it is an interesting take on battery management.

All of this technology brings a claimed fuel economy of 5.1 L/100 km in the city and 5.8 on the highway for the SX. The base Niro, for that matter, is 270 kilograms lighter; it’s rated at 4.5 city and 4.8 highway. On our drive route, the SX yielded a stellar average of 5.4 L/100 km, which is better than the claimed number. On a straight town drive, it returned – if you can believe it – 3.7 L/100 km.

 

The efficiency thrust might make the Niro a bit of a dullard to drive. However, the strong platform gives the suspension a good base of operations and surprisingly tight handling. Throw in a nicely weighted steering setup and the grip provided by the SX’s P225/45R18 tires, and the Niro proved to be an entertaining drive. Remember, this is a hybrid crossover! The Niro also gets a thumbs-up for the brake pedal feel; so many hybrids feel mushy under foot, which makes a smooth stop a tougher task than it should be. The Niro’s pedal is firm and, consequently, easily modulated.

Kia’s new Niro is a perky drive that delivers excellent fuel economy and better performance than is expected of a traditional hybrid. Of more interest is the fact it will be joined by a plug-in version down the road, which promises even better economy.

The lone disappointment is pricing. The Niro L starts at $24,995 and goes up from there. The pricing was not given for the top-of-the-line SX tested, but with all of its added amenities/safety technology, it could sneak up on being rich.

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

First Drive: 2017 Kia Niro

Source: Automobile Mag by Ed Tahaney – December 21, 2016

While the all-new 2017 Kia Niro isn’t exactly the sexiest car in the world, it’s a refreshing break from designs of the past. The latest offering from Kia is about the size of a Fiat 500X but bears a subtler design than the Italian as well as other hybrids in its class, which should increase its appeal among individuals with more conservative tastes.

The company’s tiger-nose grille works well ,and the front gets a playful pair of narrow cat eyes for headlights. The side profile is simple, streamlined, and features an extended roofline. Its rear is wide, resembling a sporty hatchback with unobtrusive LED taillights.

“The Niro is a different kind of hybrid,” James Bell, head of Kia PR tells us at the vehicle’s launch, adding, “This is not a Prius.”

No, it is definitely not a bestseller like the Toyota — yet — but it offers the same technology in a more comfortable package with a true car feel and better rear visibility compared to Toyota’s looks challenged marvel.

“You don’t feel like you are in a science experiment,” Bell continues.

The feisty compact crossover is powered by a 1.6-liter I-4 that produces 104 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor adds an additional 43 horses for a combined output of 139 hp and 195 lb-ft. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a second-generation six-speed dual-clutch transmission, which feels smoother than hybrids with continuously variable transmissions.

There’s a noticeable change in the electric power steering and handling of the Niro while it’s driven in Sport Mode, versus the more sedate and better fuel economy provided while driving in Eco Mode. Sport mode tightens up the mildly vague steering and stiffens the suspension, allowing the driver to push the low-riding crossover harder through twisty roads. It’s definitely more fun to drive, but burns fuel much more quickly than Eco mode.

The Niro’s platform was specially built for the gas-electric hybrid powertrain. Fifty-three percent is comprised of advanced high-strength steel, while aluminum was used for the hood, tailgate, brake calipers, and other bits to help lower the vehicle’s total weight.

Buyers have five trim flavors to choose from: FE, LX, EX, Touring, and a special Launch Edition. Base FE models feature 16-inch wheels, cloth seats, and don’t include roof racks or push-button start.

Because owing a hybrid is all about the mileage, here’s what we know about the Niro’s: The FE model is EPA rated at 52/49/50 mpg city/highway/combined, while the LX is rated at 51/46/49 mpg. The range-topping Touring model comes with 18-inch wheels, leather seats, a small sunroof, and a roof rack. It is rated at 46/40/43 mpg city/highway/combined; we saw between 37 and 46.2 mpg during a recent city/highway fandango through Texas hill country. Our lower fuel economy score was due to riding with a heavy foot, mostly in Sport mode, through the picturesque, Mesquite tree-lined roads.

Extra options naturally add more weight to the vehicle and depending how you drive, that will also affect your overall mileage average. Still, should gas prices creep back up again, this model is sure to become one of the most popular hybrids on the block.

Recently, a Niro EX set a Guinness World Record by traveling 3715.4 from Los Angeles to New York on only 4.1 tanks—48.5 gallons—of gas. The miserly crossover averaged a whopping 76.6 mpg on that trip. Good luck trying to beat that record.

Inside, the Niro has plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room for American-sized occupants and their gear thanks to its 106.3-inch wheelbase and 97.1 cu-ft of total interior volume. Luggage capacity is 19.4 cu-ft with the rear seats up and 54.5 cu-ft with the seats down.

The instrument cluster is simple, direct, and easy to use. There’s an 8-inch touch screen for all the technical data, graphics, and navigation system with knobs for the stereo and controls on the steering wheel as well. A wireless cell-phone charger is located beneath the USB port and is definitely a necessary modern touch.

Engineers ditched the traditional 12-volt battery to reduce weight, instead using the high-voltage 1.56-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery located beneath the rear seats. It’s smaller and lighter than other hybrid batteries and also provides a flat load floor when the seats are folded down for more cargo space. The spare tire was also jettisoned to save weight and a “tire mobility kit” (air pump) is included in its absence, though a temporary spare can be fitted as an option.

Kia worked hard to eliminate wind noise from the cabin, using expanding foam inside the A- and B-pillars and acoustic windshield glass to combat the issue. We detected slight wind noises coming from the front undercarriage, but nothing the eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system couldn’t remedy.

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Specifications

On Sale: January 2017
Price: $23,000-$32,000 (est.)
Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16-valve I-4/104-hp, 109 lb-ft; 240V electric motor/43-hp; 139 hp, 195 lb-ft combined
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD SUV
EPA Mileage: 46-52/40-49 mpg city/highway
L x W x H: 171.5 x 71.1 x 60.8 in
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Weight: 3,106-3,274 lb
0-60 MPH: N/A
Top Speed: N/A

The Best Cars, Trucks, SUVs, and More for 2016: Editors’ Choice Awards 2016 Kia Sedona

Source : Car and Driver 2016 Editor’s Choice – February 22, 2016

2016 Kia Sedona

Snazzy, sporty, and striking aren’t words you associate with minivans—but the ambitious folks at Kia have managed to bake a little of each into the Sedona. With room for eight, storage for family necessities, and a long list of standard and optional safety features, the Sedona is a compelling choice for value-minded shoppers. Powered by a 276-hp V-6 with a six-speed transmission and boasting a smooth ride, the Sedona also injects a little fun into daily kid-ferrying duties.

2016 Kia Sedona

Instrumented Test

2016 Kia Sedona

We have a go in the segment’s interloper.

As the minivan segment has matured, all-new entries have become increasingly rare as the Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler troika continue to dominate. Case in point: Kia is offering the only completely new minivan for 2015, and it’s the Korean brand’s first new vehicle of the type since 2006.

The 2015 Sedona is likely to find its way into the lives of more families this year—and not just those sidling up to the rental counter, where the old version often ended up, orphaned and unloved. That’s because the latest model is a massive departure from its predecessor in terms of design. Nine years ago, Kia’s aesthetics reminded us of creatures emerging from the primordial goo. Today, the entire brand looks very different, and from the Forte to the Optima, the Cadenza to the Sportage, Kia’s showrooms are full of handsome vehicles. The Sedona fits in and is arguably the best-looking minivan for sale today—although that’s not a hard contest to win. That said, there’s little frumpiness to the styling, with large wheels sitting nearly flush with the body, panel gaps that are tight, and a third-row window that tapers with a sense of drama foreign to the segment.

Overall, the interior design didn’t have us fawning, but the look mimics the clean lines of the exterior. And, aside from a few hard plastic pieces at the top of the instrument panel, the interior comes across as expensive—at least in the Limited model we tested. Two-tone leather seats, gloss-black trim, and thoughtfully designed gauges are all typically the purview of premium brands, yet here they are in a Kia minivan. The radio and HVAC controls are simple and intuitive, and the touch-screen navigation system works quickly and logically. We were slightly annoyed by the fixed console between the front seats, though, as it’s removable in most vans to allow for easier cleaning, additional storage opportunities, and passing through to the rear cabin.

2016 Kia Sedona

Cubism, Minivan-Style

Minivans aren’t purchased for their looks, though. What a minivan needs to do really well is haul humans and cargo. The Sedona’s cargo capacity maxes out at 142 cubic feet, which falls a little shy of the Toyota Sienna’s 150 cubic feet and the Honda Odyssey’s 149 cubic feet. Total space for passengers comes in at 158 cubic feet for the Sedona, versus 156 for the Sienna and 170 for the Odyssey.

Measurements don’t tell the whole story. In the Sedona, second-row seating is particularly lavish. Our $43,295 Sedona Limited came with sliding second-row seats that Kia calls First Class Lounge Seating. They’re aptly named, as they offer first-class legroom and comfort. However, if you’re moving Junior into the dorm, you should know that the second-row seats aren’t removable. Lesser models have Slide-N-Stow second-row seats that slide and tilt forward to take up less space, but those seats aren’t removable, either. The third row is comfortable provided the second-row seats aren’t set too far back. Like those of the competition, the third-row seats disappear into the floor, but the high effort and clunky mechanism fall short of what you’ll find in Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler minivans.

Sedona, Sedriven

Little effort is required to drive the Sedona. The steering is light and the van is remarkably maneuverable thanks to the 36.8-foot turning circle. Outside of the parking lot, the suspension is supple despite our Limited’s 19-inch wheels, and the 276-hp 3.3-liter V-6 delivers its power with creamy indifference. We had experienced downshifts that lacked smoothness in one Sedona, but a second example we piloted performed the same action with the silkiness of a Lexus ES350. The 3.3-liter V-6 is standard on all Sedonas, but the fuel economy varies depending on trim level. The Sedona L, LX, and EX return EPA figures of 18 city and 24 highway, while opting for the SX trim level boosts the highway number to 25 mpg. Go for the heaviest, biggest-wheeled Limited, however, and EPA fuel economy falls to 17 city and 22 highway. In our hands, the Limited went 20 miles on every gallon of gasoline.

Acceleration is strong for a minivan. Our Sedona Limited hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and crossed the quarter-mile mark in 15.8 seconds at 91 mph. Once rolling, moving from 30 mph to 50 takes 4.0 seconds and the run from 50 mph to 70 takes 5.0 seconds. Minivans might not be purchased for their drag-racing chops, but the Sedona’s power and passing times make merging onto a freeway with the soccer team aboard a bit less stressful.

2016 Kia Sedona

Safety Dance

While we rank engine power as an important safety feature, minivan shoppers likely will be more interested in the Sedona’s collision-warning system, blind-spot monitoring, and 360-degree camera views. The blind-spot alarms plus a rear cross-traffic alert system are standard on the Limited and SX and optional on EX (the L and LX can’t be fitted with these features). Front-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning are available only on the top Limited trim level. Unlike the collision-warning system in the latest Sienna, the Sedona’s will not automatically apply the brakes. We’re okay with that, though, considering the 4772-pound Sedona stopped from 70 mph in a sports-sedan-like 167 feet.

Sedona pricing begins at $26,995, at which point the sliding doors don’t move on their own, the seats are cloth, and there’s no rearview camera. Moving up through the Sedona hierarchy adds leather seats, power doors, additional paint colors, the backup camera, power folding mirrors, larger wheels, navigation, and more. Check all the boxes and you’ll end up with a Sedona Limited like our test car and a price tag creeping into the mid $40Ks, but a well-equipped, leather-lined EX can be yours for $33,195.

Kia’s new minivan might not be the obvious choice in the segment, where Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler are the blue-chip players. But the Sedona’s styling—and its value-oriented pricing—just might be enough to bring families into a Kia dealership. After all, it’s a formula that has worked for most of the brand’s other cars.