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Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid Review, Range Interior & Exterior

6 min read
Kia Niro PHEV Review

Kia Niro PHEV Review


Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

I had the chance to test drive this 2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid crossover SUV in August 2019. Driving mostly exclusively electric in the past 3 years, I thought it would be fun to go down a tier below electric and try this Plug-in hybrid. Will the Niro phev be a worthy alternative?

In its concept debut in 2013 the concept car was fitted with butterfly doors. KIA has dropped this gadgetty feature and completely remodeled the car to a normal looking car. Nothing fancy like most other EV’s or phevs. But once I took the driver seat I was sold.

The KIA Niro Plug-in Hybrid A pleasant surprise

The drive ended to be a pleasant one. When driving under 30 Miles Per Hour the Niro Plug-in Hybrid fully behaved like an all electric powered care. Lane assist gently notifies me when I touched the lane lines. The dashboard is clear and the touchscreen is surprisingly responsive. There are still al lot of ‘old fashioned’ normal buttons. But it bridges the old with the new. The Niro is a gateway from the past to the future. Not an 100% EV but owners will be able to enjoy benefits of the EV and will not have to cope with the range-anxiety that electric cars bring. The Niro does not have continuously variable automatic transmission, as a result gear shifting sometimes feel clunky. When in EV mode acceleration seems instant, yet slower than full electric vehicles.

(Almost) Full Option

I was told the car was in the basic More trim. But it had a lot of features. Seat-heating, adaptive Cruise control, Sport Mode and an awesome sound-system. Wireless charging was an option I only experiences in a recent BMW 5 series was a real nice to have. Apple carplay and Anroid support are default. KIA is using TomTom connected services for its navigation system. And for the passengers in the back seats there is a full blown normal electric outlet. All wheel drive options are missing.

What Other Users Say

Most user on KBB seem to rate the car highly. Great milage is appreciated. Some users mention acceleration problems though. This seems to be the case for older Niro releases. There are instances where buyers complain about paying over 15% on the ticket price. This might have been an isolated incident. “Love This Car”, “Best Vehicle Ever”. Some also feel the car seems to lurch a little, when you want to stop it it does not really stop. Cupholders and interior space tend to be on the smaller side. When it does break some users had to wait a while for replacement parts, the fact that because KIA only sells 2000 units sold a month causes replacement parts to be thinly spread across the US.

Unbelievable Range & Fuel Economy

Fully charges and with a full gas tank the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid will drive you 540 Miles. This is by far a compromise and a great number, even for a hybrid EV. You do loose a lot of trunk-space from the batteries, even a bit more than the Toyota Prius. The powertrain also comes with a 7 year warranty. Real world electric range is a little above 30 miles. The car seems to do more than 50 mpg.

Loads of driving assistance and safety features.

KIA has not been shy with driving assistance features. The Advanced Driver Assistance Pack does not only increase the driving pleasure but also the safety of pedestrian and other traffic. KIA has not been compromising on safety. Listed here are the most important features:

  • Auto defogging: guarantees your vision in bad conditions
  • Hill Start Control Assist: helping drivers when starting the car on hills
  • Driver Attention Warning: the car analyzes your driving behavior and warns you when it is time to take a break
  • Advanced High Strength steel and Aluminium body elements
  • Forward & Reverse Parking Distance Warning (PDW): Helps to avoid obstacles when navigating though tight spaces.
  • Rear Cross Traffic Collision (RCCW): detecting cross traffic when moving out of a parking spot or changing lanes.
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA): A basic type of Autopilot where the car assists in breaking and steering when following traffic.
  • Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA): assists, warns and even applies the brakes when an object is nearing the car at great peed. Can not be combined when the PDW is active.
  • Eco Driver Assistance System (DAS): System primarily used to help you drive wasting less energy but also takes account of road conditions.
  • Intelligent Speed Limit Warning (ISLW): An AI object recognition feature that detects speed limits and warns the driver.
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid Trim Levels

More and Sense are the two available trims for the hybrid. Engines are the same but they differ in offered technological options. Trims appear to be limited but both offer a lot of features you would have to pay for with other car brands. The Nero brings a lot of value for your money. Both trims come fully loaded with for the 2020 Kia Nero More LX the only read additional option is a sunroof. The EX trim has some customized options for its leather seats. LX and EX trims have been branded ‘More’ and ‘Sense’ in Europe. There is also a full electric Kia Nero EV.

Both trim option have

  • Traffic Jam Assistance
  • Climate Control
  • Adaptive Stop and Go Cruise Control
  • Front Wheel Drive
  • 1.6 GDI PHEV 6DCT 141 hp engine
  • Of the 141 hp 43hp is powered by the electric motor
  • Lane Changing Assistance
  • JBL 8 speaker audio system with subwoofers and amplifier
  • Front and back parking sensors
  • 10.25 inch navigation with touch screen
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Dual clutch automatic transmission
  • Automatic Emergency Breaking
  • Apple carplay and android

The 2020 Kia Nero Sense EX – standard features

This option gives the car a few more eyes on the road.

  • Blind spot warning
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alerts
  • Heated front and back seating
  • Speed limit warnings with speed limit sign recognition
  • Leather interior
  • Ventilated seats
  • Rear seat heating

KIA Niro Sales Figures

The KIA Niro only sells about 2000 units a month in US. After driving the car this seems an undeserved low sales number. The bang for your buck is absolutely amazing. It might be too compact to really qualify as a crossover SUV and scare off most Americans.

KIA Niro Gallery

2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid Conclusion

The Nero drive is very smooth, the transition between the PHEV, EV and normal driving modes are seamless. The Sport option adds a little more torque when needed on highways and merging with traffic. We love the fact that KIA made what’s optional Standard and the whopping 7 year warranty. Not having to go though hundreds of options make this car an easy and safe choice. It is good for your wallet too. No bragging rights with this badge, but you’ll drive around with the knowledge that your car has been fitted with more technology than the average BMW driving next to you. The EV/PHEV availabilities also lower your gas cost. What we did not like is the loss of trunk-space and the lack of internal storage space. But hey, that is a trade-off you have to be willing to make when going hybrid. Main competitors are the Toyota Prius and the Hyundai Ioniq. The MRSP of $28500 is absolutely great. What do you think about the Kia Niro? Share your opinion below!

Kia’s own sales page can be found here: Kia Niro sale page . The Kia Soul is also expected to go Hybrid/Electric, read our 2021 Kia Soul Preview.

Our score: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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