2020 Kia Niro First Test: Great if the Toyota Prius Is Just Too Ugly


As hybrid powertrains make their approach into every thing from minivans to supercars, their core mission stays the identical: making stops on the gasoline station—and related openings of your pockets—fewer and farther between. The Kia Niro is a hybrid constructed to fulfill that finish.

After a year with a 2017 model in our long-term check fleet, we all know the Niro effectively. A 2020 refresh aimed to maintain it a viable different to hybrid heavy hitters just like the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, and its personal platform-mate, the Hyundai Ioniq. How do the Niro’s specs examine to these autos? And what else do you might want to find out about Kia’s devoted hybrid?

How Fast Is the Kia Niro?

Mixed output from the Niro’s electrical motor and 1.6-liter gasoline I-Four measures 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. That’s despatched to the entrance wheels by a six-speed dual-clutch computerized (extra on that later). On the MotorTrend check monitor, the Niro posted a 9.2-second 0–60 mph time. That’s faster than the 121-hp, 105-lb-ft Prius, which hit 60 mph in 9.Eight seconds. Though the Ioniq equals the Niro’s energy and torque, it did the dash in 8.Four seconds. All are slower than the Perception, which, packing 152 hp and 200 lb-ft, laid down a 7.3-second run.

Round city, the Niro’s electrical motor gives good responsiveness, but it surely’s not effectively built-in with the coarse, hesitant gasoline engine. Ultimately, the 2 energy sources mix to get you shifting ahead, however after they do, the Niro doesn’t really feel fast.

What Transmission Is within the Kia Niro?

If the Niro shares something with sports activities vehicles, it’s a dual-clutch computerized transmission. In the right vehicle, these quick-shifting transmissions work wonders. Is the Niro considered one of them? Not fairly. Like with our long-term Niro, the transmission nonetheless feels clunky at low speeds, minimizing any smoothness afforded by the electrical motor. The Prius and Perception transmissions don’t make use of conventional gears, so that you’re by no means conscious of any shifting. Feeling the Niro shift by its six gears highlights the disconnect between its gasoline and electrical energy sources. It ain’t a sports activities automobile—the Niro could be higher suited by the same CVT setup.

How Are the Niro’s Brakes?

In hybrids and EVs, brake mixing—that’s, how effectively the regenerative and friction braking methods work collectively—generally is a problem. When effectively executed, your stops can be easy and seamless. When poorly executed—effectively, simply take a look at the Niro. From pace, urgent its squishy pedal produces delicate deceleration on regen alone. Then, because the speedometer drops towards zero, its friction brakes clamp abruptly. Even after a couple of days of driving, the Niro’s poor brake mixing made it inconceivable to cease gently or precisely.

On the check monitor, the Niro’s greatest 60–Zero mph cease measured 132 toes, trailing the Perception by 10 toes. Not like within the Kia, we discovered the Honda’s brake pedal to feel linear and predictable. The Prius stops just one foot shorter than the Niro, and though its brakes have some grabbiness deeper within the pedal stroke, they don’t trigger such discomfort. In the meantime, the Ioniq halted in 129 toes. Now, in order for you one-pedal driving, you possibly can flip up the Niro’s regen energy to nearly enable it. Doing so places extra juice again into the battery, contributing to the unbelievable gasoline economic system—isn’t that why you’re taking a look at this automobile within the first place?

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Which Kia Will get the Finest Gasoline Mileage?

The Niro is essentially the most fuel-efficient fuel-burning Kia, scoring a 52/49/50 mpg metropolis/freeway/mixed score from the EPA in its primarily based FE trim.  The EX trim we examined charges 51/46/49 mpg. We managed higher with our long-term 2017 Niro, discovering 51.7 mixed in Actual MPG testing. That’s good, however not as good as its rivals. Equally geared up Prius fashions get a 52 mpg mixed score (with Eco fashions reaching 56 mpg). Entry-level Perception fashions additionally get 52 mpg, however in range-topping Touring trim, the Perception will get 48 mpg mixed. In the meantime the Ioniq ekes out a powerful 55 mixed miles from a gallon. Nonetheless, the dots in our 2020 check automobile’s gasoline gauge disappeared extremely slowly in blended city driving, and the vary of over 580 miles offers it severe cruiser potential. However is the Niro a automobile you’d really need to use for the lengthy haul?

Is the Kia Niro a Good Automobile?

Inside, construct high quality feels robust even when there’s an abundance of laborious plastic surfaces. The accessible 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen seems sharp and colourful working Kia’s user-friendly interface; Apple CarPlay integrates effectively and takes up the width of the show. There’s loads of headroom within the spacious first and second rows, though the hatchback cargo space is a bit small at 22.Four cubic toes; the Ioniq and Prius each supply about 26 cubes behind the again seat.

On the highway the suspension principally minimizes harshness, however uneven pavement could cause the Niro to faucet dance round. It’s snug sufficient, particularly when the accessible adaptive cruise management and lane-keep help methods are taking the trouble out of freeway driving.


























The Niro stays true to its hybrid mission of offering nice gasoline economic system and vary. It’s easy and easy, carrying inoffensive styling and by no means attempting to be one thing it’s not. If solely its clumsy transmission and grabby brakes didn’t so harsh the mellow. Whether or not measured on efficiency, gasoline effectivity, or character, extra of it will make the Niro worthy of a more in-depth look.

2020 Kia Niro Eco Hybrid (EX Premium) Specs
BASE PRICE $33,910
PRICE AS TESTED $34,585
VEHICLE LAYOUT Entrance-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 1.6L/104-hp/109-lb-ft Atkinson-cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4, plus 43-hp/125-lb-ft elec motor; 139 hp/195 lb-ft (comb)
TRANSMISSION 6-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,215 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 106.Three in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 171.5 x 71.1 x 60.Eight in
0-60 MPH 9.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.Zero sec @ 81.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH 132 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.Four sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 51/46/49 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 66/73 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.40 lb/mile

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