The 2017 Kia Niro is the Korean company’s volley right at the Toyota Prius. However, it goes about its high-efficiency goal in a much different way.
First off, the Niro looks like any other small crossover. Sure, it’s only front-wheel drive, but the upright, tall-wagon styling puts it right in the same camp as the Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V and other small crossovers.
This normal styling is in sharp contrast to the Prius’ out-there, look-at-me styling. In the Prius, you wear your “green” cred on your sleeve. In the Niro, it’s just another car. This might be actually a detriment for some, as many people buy the Prius as a status symbol. They like the world to know they’re environmentally conscious. In the Niro, that won’t happen.
At least inside, Niro buyers will get an upscale, Germanic interior that punches above the car’s price range. Instead of the futuristic, odd interior styling of a Prius, the Niro’s is high-class but generally normal. It could be in any Kia product.
“Normal” is the overriding theme with the styling, but the powertrain is what sets the Niro apart from other crossovers. The gas/electric hybrid system pairs a 1.6-liter, 104 hp four-cylinder with an electric motor to produce a combined 139 hp – more than the Prius’ 121 – and 200 lb-ft of torque that’s available almost instantly thanks to the electric motor.
And, unlike a Prius that has a CVT, the Niro has a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that promises to be a lot more engaging.
The Niro is rated at 52 mpg in the city and 43 mpg combined. Pricing starts at about $23,000, but the as-tested Touring model was $32,000. It still undercuts the Prius and offers a lot of technology for the money. It should be available at Kia dealerships soon.
Check out the full TFLcar video above to see Roman Mica in San Antonio, TX driving the all-new 2017 Kia Niro.