Hybrid technology has been moving beyond the realm of sedans in recent years. This is good, as buyers benefit from having the option of a more fuel-efficient vehicle that suits their lifestyle, and a solid case-in-point is the 2018 Kia Niro.
The Kia Niro is a front-wheel drive crossover hybrid. It has the look and feel of a more rugged vehicle with a higher seating position than a sedan. It improves on the interior cargo space that most sedans lack. For example, most hybrid sedans don’t have a pass-through from the cargo space into the back seat or folding seats. The Niro’s pass-through allows for cargo spillover if needed when the seats are up (I’m looking at you, hockey sticks and ski poles) and even more room for cargo when the rear seats are folded.
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The power in the 2018 Kia Niro Touring model I tested was enough, but there is not a whole lot to spare. If I’m loaded with four people and a weekend’s worth of gear going up to the mountains, it will get the job done, but the Niro’s four-cylinder engine is working pretty hard the whole time. The engine is paired with an electric motor, and the combo can produce a combined 139 horsepower. That engine makes quite a bit of noise, and there is a fair amount of road noise as well.
My real-world fuel economy came in at 45.475 miles per gallon (I drove 400 miles on 8.796 gallons of gas). My mileage was true to Kia’s City/Highway/Combined estimates of 46/40/43 miles per gallon. I was so pleased with the mileage, given that it was comfortable for four people (five if you’re not going too far). It looks bigger than it is, and it’s quite small and nimble.
I did appreciate all the tech that Kia put in the Niro. I had Kia’s navigation system, satellite stereo, hybrid monitoring system, and remote-engine start on the key fob. As for safety, I was dazzled at the array of airbags on board and the inclusion of traction control and stability control. Mostly, I loved using Apple CarPlay in the Niro. It made all my tech interactions so easy. CarPlay is standard, as is Android Auto.
I enjoyed my week in the Niro. It’s a great option for hybrid shoppers. I would consider perhaps a less expensive trim level as a good teen vehicle due to the manageable size of the vehicle, the engine that had good power but not too much, the slew of safety features, and the low cost of gas.—SL