Quick – wanna see a compact SUV that gets up to 50mpg? Here you go.
And really that was the “gotcha” statement that had me both excited and intrigued with the 2017 Kia Niro.
I was first introduced to the concept at the 2016 New York Auto Show and immediately thought, Yes! We NEED more hybrid SUVs! And then I kind of forgot about it.
Oddly enough, I went on my own purchasing journey last year for a compact SUV. I made a spreadsheet (oh yes I did) of every vehicle I would consider ranging from the ultra high-end to the economically priced. But it’s what the decision factors were that were important.
When looking for my own compact SUV, I considered a few key factors:
- Price (which ruled out many of my favorites)
- Gas mileage (I was trading in a hybrid)
- Amenities (better known as features in this space)
- Cargo space (I like to put the “utility” in sport utility)
Where one lacked, another excelled and vice versa. And I never found the one vehicle that was perfect across the board. But the 2017 Kia Niro would definitely have been a strong contender had it been available when I was car shopping.
Kia Niro Pricing
The Kia Niro starts at $22,890. Wow. Let that sink in. That’s a great price.
Is it stripped down at that price? Well, to put it bluntly, yes. You’ll still get power windows, steering, and brakes. You’ll get a 7 in. LCD touchscreen color display with integrated rear camera. But that’s about it.
You want more options? You got it. There are five trims available including the exclusive and limited Launch model. You can price it up with packages and amenities that other manufacturers think hybrid drivers don’t care about (we do). But the options are up to you.
|Niro FE||1.6L GDI – 6 DCT||$22,890.00|
|Niro LX||1.6L GDI – 6 DCT||$23,200.00|
|Niro EX||1.6L GDI – 6 DCT||$25,700.00|
|Niro Touring Launch||1.6L GDI – 6 DCT||$28,000.00|
|Niro Touring||1.6L GDI – 6 DCT||$29,650.00|
While the body style looks virtually identical (except for the wheels) on all trims, the Touring Launch edition will have a specialized grill, rims, and sporty accents. (This was actually my favorite!)
If you read nothing else, read this section. This is probably the most important part.
If you’ve looked around, you know that the hybrid compact SUV market is pretty limited. You’re either caught between a very high price or mediocre gas mileage (for a hybrid) or both.
Take a look at the estimates for the Kia Niro.
|Trim||Kia Niro FE||Kia Niro Touring|
|Driving Range (miles)||595 miles||511 miles|
|City/highway/combined (mpg) (est)||52/49/50||46/40/43|
Now, you probably have two questions.
1. Why is there such a big difference between the Kia Niro FE and the Kia Niro Touring?
Good question. Great question. YUGE question. And there’s a simple answer. The wheel size.
All of the Kia Niro trims have 16″ wheels except for the fancier Touring model which has 18″ wheels. Wheel size has an effect on fuel economy and if you didn’t believe it before, you will now. This will probably be the hardest decision you’ll have to make with the Niro because let’s just admit that bigger is better.
2. Is this gas mileage legit?
Yes. Yes, it is. My driving partner and I spent hours on the roads of Texas driving the Kia Niro Touring. We went fast. We went slow. We drove the Niro in the standard Eco mode. We pushed it up to the Sport mode. And we averaged about 43mpg. So I’d say the numbers are pretty legit.
Kia Niro Amenities
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like to say no to any of the options when I purchase a vehicle. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is driving a car with a “blank” button. You know that little area that could be a button for something. You just don’t know what and you drive around wondering what it is that you’re missing.
In driving the Touring trip of the Kia Niro, I was missing nothing. I enjoyed all of the upgrades like technology package adding integrated safety features (I actually needed this on the highway). I love the power upgrades like power seating, better climate controls (heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel). And I depended on the larger 8 in. LCD display while listing to premium Harman Kardon sound.
The only thing I didn’t like was the small pocket near the gear shifter that was just too small for my phone.
That is, until I discovered the Qi wireless charging area perfectly situated in the dash. I realized that if I were in my car, I’d probably always want to be charging anyway.
But even if you chose a base model, you’ll still enjoy convenient features like actual power outlets and the now must-have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Kia Niro Cargo Space
Let’s talk utility. If you own a compact SUV, you may not need a lot of utility space but you want to make sure it’s there when you want it.
Things you can’t do: Towing.
If you’re looking for something to tow your boat, ATV, snowmobile, or whatever it is you do in your spare time, this isn’t the car for you.
Things you can do: Haul it on top or in the back.
Roof rails and crossbars are an optional accessory but one that was a must-have for me when I decided to give kayaking a go. Or a luggage rack. Or anything that doesn’t change your weight class when going over a bridge.
As for the interior cargo space, I find it to be a little on the smaller side with the rear seats up (19.4 in.) but on the larger side when the seats are down (54.4 in.). The Kia folks were quick to call the Niro a small compact SUV (which is a little redundant) but they’re not overselling it as a do-everything vehicle.
Did the Kia Niro Make Me Remember the Alamo?
Admittedly, part of the charm of being introduced to a new vehicle is being able to experience a new city, a gorgeous hotel, and a fun drive route. That was all part of my Kia Niro introduction but ultimately, it was the car that made this trip memorable.
If you’re looking for a capable vehicle with flexible space and amazing gas mileage starting at a fantastic price, you’ve just found your starting point.