2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Achieves an Estimated 50 MPG Combined

New small crossover rides on a dedicated hybrid platform.

Kia is introducing its first dedicated hybrid model at the 2016 Chicago auto show, the 2017 Kia Niro, which will compete with the Toyota Prius with an estimated 50 mpg combined fuel economy rating. Sharing much of its hybrid drivetrain and platform with the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid hatchback, the Niro appeals to SUV shoppers with its crossover-like body.

In fact, the Niro looks a lot like the recently introduced 2017 Kia Sportage, with its "tiger nose" front grille, triangular headlights, and overall shape closely mimicking Kia's popular small SUV. It rides on a dedicated front-wheel-drive platform that's optimized to accommodate the gas-electric drivetrain and a range of battery packs—a plug-in hybrid version of the Niro will join the lineup in the future.

For now, the standard 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine paired with a 43-hp electric motor mounted in the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 1.56-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack sits under the rear seat, meaning that the cargo area is unobstructed. Total system power is 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, which makes the Niro competitive with other small crossovers. Despite its slightly rugged appearance, the Niro comes only with front-wheel drive, so shoppers looking for AWD capability will have to step up to the conventional Sportage SUV.

We had a chance to drive a prototype of the 2017 Kia Niro a few months ago, and found that its hybrid drivetrain offers smooth transitions between electric and gas power. "The way it drives feels as conventional as the Niro looks," reported Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa. "Thanks to the engine kicking in at low speeds instead of at launch, this hybrid makes the transitions more smoothly than most luxury cars with a stop/start feature. "

The 2017 Kia Niro's five-passenger interior offers a higher seating position like the Kia Soul, and features a few special gauges to highlight the hybrid drivetrain's operation. An Eco Driver Assistance System, also being introduced on the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid, coaches the driver on when to coast and brake to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. A Uvo infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is also included, and active-safety features like blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning will be available.

There's no word yet on pricing for the 2017 Kia Niro, so stay tuned to hear more info about this new hybrid before it goes on sale in the U.S. later this year.

 

Automobile Mag Logoemail newsletter

Stay Updated

Car news, reviews, and more!