The Niro crossover is available as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid. It’s Kia’s third plug-in model. It has up to 26 miles of all-electric range and with the gas engine, total driving range is about 560 miles. So you can drive on EV power for daily trips and have enough total range for a long road trip.
The five-passenger Niro PHEV is available in FE, LX, EX and Premium trims. Starting prices range from $23,340 to $32,000. It’s eligible for a $4,543 federal tax credit. While it looks like a crossover on the outside, all-wheel-drive is not available, only front-wheel-drive. And with limited ground clearance, this is not the vehicle to take off the beaten path.
The Niro PHEV is powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection four-cylinder engine with an 8.9 kWh (59 kW) lithium-polymer battery pack and a 60-horsepower electric motor. The PHEV has the same six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as the Niro hybrid. Total horsepower is 139 with 195 pound-feet of torque.
It’s a comfortable ride with enough pep for everyday driving situations, but nothing terribly exciting. The regenerative braking feels pretty normal compared to other hybrids and plug-ins. In fact, it drives much like a sedan or hatchback.
You can choose from several driving modes. Hybrid is the default mode. There are also EV, Eco and Sport modes. You can also conserve energy by setting the climate control to Driver-Only, which directs ventilation only to the front driver’s seat.
A full charge can be achieved in about 2.5 hours using a 240V (Level 2) charger, and under 8 to 12 hours with a regular 120V (Level 1) charger.
EPA ratings for the Niro PHEV are an MPGe rating of 105. The gas engine is rated at 48 mpg city, 44 mpg highway and 46 mpg combined. I averaged 110 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is attractive. Seats are comfortable and adult passengers have good leg- and headroom in both rows.
Kia’s UVO infotainment system is easy to reach and use. There are also redundant buttons and knobs for all basic functions, including climate and audio controls, so you don’t have to always use the touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
Kia’s UVO eco smartphone app lets you remotely monitor and change charging schedules, and turn on climate control before getting in the vehicle.
Several driver assistance technologies are standard including Smart Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist System. Optional technologies include Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, and front and rear parking sensors.
The Niro PHEV’s compact, high voltage battery is tucked under the cargo floor and under the rear seat so the PHEV has the same cargo capacity as the Niro hybrid. There are 19.4 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 54.5 with the 60/40 second row folded.
EV range of 26 and total range of 560 miles
Excellent fuel efficiency
Handles like a hatchback
Lots of standard and available driver assistance technologies
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard
Lackluster driving dynamics
AWD not available
Not as much cargo space as many rivals
My tester starts at $34,500. Carpeted floor mats are $135. Delivery fee is $940 bringing the grand total to $35,575.
The 2018 Niro PHEV is a comfortable and practical daily driver that’s really more of a hatchback than a crossover. An EV range of 26 miles is enough range for many drivers on a daily basis and with a total range of 560 miles, the Niro is easy to take on that road trip.