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The $26,000 hybrid that could do it all? The Kia Niro

My first confront with a Kia Niro was a brief affair. What should have been a very brief drive stretched to half an hour after a wrong spin or two. But being late to return didn’t seem as critical as enjoying the Maryland panorama and the little hybrid’s relaxing and careful performance. After all, when was the last time we managed to get 40mpg pushing anywhere, in anything?

The Niro we got lost in at the Washington Automotive Press Association’s annual convene intrigued me, so we was blissful to report a week with one with the wish of anticipating out if that first sense was accurate. As it incited out, the answer was: mostly. Along the way, it done a very convincing case for itself.

It looks like a crossover—a critical charge if you wish to find a customer in 2018—but it’s not carried up into the air, so the doing is totally car-like. The interior isn’t utterly luxurious, but it is well-appointed and spacious. With prices starting at $23,340, it’s not utterly costly either, and it doesn’t use much gas—although in a diet of especially city driving, we was incompetent to compare that initial startling result.

Is it a crossover?

The taxonomy of an automobile can be a diligent affair. First there was the sports application vehicle. Arguably invented with the Range Rover, they tend to be big and boxy, with rural roots (and drivetrains and suspension). And for some of us, this term was good adequate of a hold-all to enclose all those vehicles that weren’t trucks but also weren’t sedans or coupes or hire wagons, either.


But then taxonomists started getting picky. Some SUVs underline body-on-frame construction. But others are subsequent from monocoque framework automobile architectures. Some don’t have permanent all-wheel drive; some are even (dare we contend it) front-wheel drive. And so we got the crossover (more rigourously the Crossover Utility Vehicle or CUV, but no one calls them that). With as irreverent a use of selection marks as I’ve ever seen, Wikipedia describes the crossover thus:

Crossover vehicles are described by “automaker selling departments”[1], but are “generally a tall, four-door hatchback, which may have all-wheel drive along with additional belligerent clearway imitative an SUV”[2].

The reason we got into this whole digression is that I’m still not wholly certain if that outline leaves room for the Niro. It’s just over two inches taller than a Volkswagen Golf but only rides about an in. higher. That and how the Niro is styled would disagree in preference of it being a crossover. But how do we criticism for the fact that we lay much closer to the belligerent in a Niro than we did in a new Kia Soul let car? (Car and Driver totalled both h-points; the Niro is at 23.1 inches, the Soul is 25.6 inches.) Perhaps this is all unimportant.

What does matter is that it’s ideally ample on the inside. There’s adequate room in the back to put full-size adults, and the load space is abundant with the back seats up (19.4 cubic feet/549L) or prosaic (54.5 cubic feet/1,543L). The cabin plastics won’t give Audi a shock any time soon, but the ergonomics are sound, and the controls on the multifunction steering circle have been intuitively placed.

It’s a hybrid, but the plug-in comes after this year

The heart of every Niro is a 1.6L, four-cylinder engine. It’s a rather crafty little unit, done from aluminum with double beyond camshafts (so 4 valves per cylinder), gasoline approach injection, and cooled empty gas recirculation. It has been designed with a prolonged stroke (how distant the piston travels within the cylinder) and a slight gimlet (the hole of the cylinder) and will run in the Atkinson cycle.

On its own, the inner explosion engine delivers 104hp (78kW) and 109ft-lbs (146Nm). But this is a hybrid, so between the engine and transmission, there’s a 43hp (32kW), 125ft-lbs (169Nm) electric motor/generator unit. Total outlay is never as elementary as just adding all those numbers together, but Kia quotes limit energy and torque at 139hp (104kW) and 195ft-lbs (264Nm), respectively.

Under the Niro's hood.

But take note: this is not a plug-in hybrid! (That comes after this year and will cost about $4,300 more.) So you don’t need anywhere to block the Niro in, as it will charge the 1.6kWh lithium-ion polymer battery as you drive around, regenerating electricity under deceleration. Truth be told, there are advantages to carrying only as much battery as one needs; the cells supplement just 85lbs (39kg) to the Niro.

On the road, the multiple of inner combustion, permanent magnets, and six-speed twin purchase gearbox work well. You have to rev the engine to get the many opening out of it—it’s naturally aspirated, so rise torque doesn’t arrive until 4,000rpm, with rise energy a serve 1,700rpm above that—and leaving it in Sport mode helps. But this isn’t a Stinger GT, and treating the Niro like a GTI seems beside the point.

However, we was never means to compare that initial fuel economy. The change of vicinity was many likely to blame; instead of cruising at 40 to 55mph for good stretches, the bulk of my pushing was at low speed and in stop-start traffic. After a week, we had forsaken the Niro’s normal down to 27.9mpg. For the record, the EPA rates it at 51mpg city, 46mpg highway for a total 49mpg. (But only on the smaller wheels. Go for the some-more costly Niro Touring and its 18-inch wheels, and that series drops to 46/40/43mpg.)

If you opt for a Touring like this one, you get 18-inch wheels that harm the fuel economy.

As you competence design for a Kia, it comes utterly good equipped. The infotainment’s 7-inch screen won’t be the speak of the neighborhood, but it has Android Auto and CarPlay as standard, and if you just wish to bond your phone (or whatever) by bluetooth, USB, or line-in, that works great, too.

Our test automobile (an EX, MSRP $26,150 for the MY2018) was propitious with the modernized record package. (A $1,950 option on the EX, or a $1,450 option on the LX that doesn’t embody a 10-way power-adjustable chair for the driver.) That container gets you involuntary emergency braking with walking detection, brazen collision warning, smart journey control, and lane-keeping assist. Luckily, we didn’t have means to try out the first two. The smart journey control worked ideally well, but since the tester was actually a MY2017 car, it didn’t have the lane-keep assist, so we can’t criticism on how that one performs.

What we can criticism on was life with the little Kia hybrid, which was painless. It was easy to get into, easy to see out of, and unsentimental adequate to be someone’s only car. Driven right, it should get some-more than 500 miles (800km) between visits to the gas station, and it proves you don’t have to spend $60,000 or some-more to find a good car.

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