2017 KIA Niro

absolutely! AUTO REVIEW | By Steve Kursar –

The 2017 Kia Niro is advertised as one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers on the market because it gets a combined 50 miles per gallon and almost 600 miles to a tank of gas. That’s pretty impressive in any vehicle. But to experience the higher driving stance and the added utility that any crossover brings makes this all-new Kia vehicle just short of spectacular. It’s a gasoline powered, electric motor hybrid that doesn’t feel like one.  This is a gas-sipper that’s hard not to love.

The Korean carmaker Kia made their reputation building small, fuel efficient cars, but they couldn’t pass up getting into the highly profitable crossover/SUV market. Instead of going head-to-head in the large-size segment, Kia decided that smaller was the better way to compete.  When SUVs became a staple on U.S. highways, gasoline prices were way less than a dollar a gallon.  As gas prices rose, American drivers couldn’t – or wouldn’t – give up their dependence on their big, tall and roomy SUVs, even though they rarely got close to 20 miles per gallon. Texans were hooked, and there was no going back.

The new Niro is just Kia’s first step in bringing more eco-friendly, fuel-efficient vehicles to their showrooms by making use of a dedicated eco-cat platform. The exterior has an athletic stance similar to its larger Kia siblings.  The interior feels roomy for a compact crossover although it doesn’t have the best-in-class cargo space.  The base FE trim, with a MSRP of $22,890, comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment, the kind of technology that’s only offered in competitive vehicles as an option.

The Niro boasts an all-new powertrain that was engineered specifically for hybrid applications and is the only choice available.  Under the hood, there’s a state-of-the-art 104 hp, 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine, along with a 43-hp tractive motor fitted between the engine and the transmission.  Working together, the engine and the motor produce 139 horsepower giving the Niro surprising pep.  Like all hybrids, the electric motor provides enough low-end torque to allow this crossover to sprint from a stoplight.

The Niro’s hybrid technology was designed to insure switching from gas to electric power is seamless.  You’ll never realize you’re driving a hybrid until you look down at the gas gauge and know that you’re still a long way from having to find a gas station.

Follow Steve Kursar at KursarOnCars.blogspot.com.