At the heart of the Niro is a compact 1.6L 4-cylinder gasoline engine producing 104 horsepower. This engine alone would make the Niro a pretty poor performer, luckily there is an electric motor as well helping to motivate the vehicle. Combined with the electric motor, the Niro produces 139 hp and a very robust 195 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Unlike most other hybrids, which use a continuously variable transmission, the Kia's dual clutch unit helps provide strong acceleration at the cost of slight penalty to fuel economy. The tradeoff is worth it-- the Niro doesn't feel anchored to the ground like some other hybrids while still returning up to 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving in its most basic form.
The Kia Niro comes in four basic trims, as well as a 2017 only Launch Edition trim; FE, LX, EX, Touring Launch Edition and Touring.
The Base FE trim has fewer amenities than its siblings but still comes with all the notable features one would expect in a compact car or SUV these days. Standard features include a 7-inch color touch screen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, steering wheel mounted controls for the sound system and cruise control, a USB input jack, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic temperature control, power external mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The LX trim primarily adds roof rails, LED rear lights, fog lamps, an immobilizer and a push button start system. The EX trim meanwhile, builds on the LX by offering partial-leather seating surfaces, heated exterior mirrors and heated front seats.
The Touring Launch Edition adds a little bit of style, with 18-inch gray wheels and sporty black accents. It also comes with a voice activated navigation system, a bigger 8-inch touch screen for the interior and a premium Harman/Kardon sound system with an integrated subwoofer and 8 speakers.
The top of the line Touring trim gets a power sunroof, full leather seating a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats.
Standard safety items on the Niro include ABS, stability control a brake assist system, a bevy of airbags and a hill start control system. A rearview camera is also standard across the entire Niro range.
The Kia Niro is an all-new compact SUV. Kia has combined the driving position, space and aesthetics of a crossover vehicle, with the kind of fuel economy that can only be produced by a hybrid drivetrain. It's a relatively new concept as automakers have previously focused their hybrid SUV efforts on full size vehicles, increasing awful mileage numbers into the realm of being merely poor. The Niro offers genuine 50+ mpg performance in a package that's easy to drive in the city, but that still offers the kind of space and utility one would expect from a crossover vehicle.