2017 Kia Niro

2017 Kia Niro

Episode 3638 , Episode 3652
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Say hybrid, and the first name that comes to most minds is “Prius”. In truth, Toyota’s original 5-door Prius hatchback has not had a competitor, likewise built on a chassis built specifically to be a hybrid, until now. Enter, the Kia Niro. A small, dedicated hybrid that also plays to the current popularity of crossover utilities. So, let’s see if Niro hits the high notes on both.

This is the 2017 Kia Niro. And, According to Kia, it’s the first of its kind; an Urban Crossover Hybrid Vehicle. 

They obviously hope that adding the word crossover will spur some additional sales. But to us, the Niro is more of a squarer rival to the Pruis hatchback, as well as the Prius V, while also being reminiscent of the short-lived Kia Rondo wagon. It had such “cabinosity”, and was quite possibly a vehicle ahead of its time. 

Whatever you call it, the Niro is actually a great looking vehicle that has plenty of substance as well. An important note since many subcompact crossovers are more about show than practicality.

The hybrid powertrain is a 32kW electric motor sandwiched between a 1.6-liter I4 gasoline engine and a real 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. Energy is stored in a small 1.6kWh battery beneath the rear seat. Total output is 139-horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque. 

A plug-in version should arrive this fall. 

While a dedicated hybrid, the Niro does share its platform with the Hyundai Ioniq, and the fact that it is front-wheel-drive cast more doubt on the crossover title. But then, so does the very successful Kia Soul.

So hatchback, wagon or whatever, Niro delivers good pickup with no harsh regen braking feel. The DCT operates smoothly, but engine noise can be pronounced at times. 

Powertrain transitions are also fairly smooth. The only fault we found was in highway driving with cruise control engaged. Here, the Niro seems to stumble a bit as it manages both power sources as well as selects proper gearing. So, the overall experience is not quite as refined as a Prius. 

The interior however, looks fantastic. Not in a flashy way, but with an understated, almost classy quality. Materials look upscale, and feel good to the touch. The seats are also more comfortable than Prius.

A power gauge replaces the tach, and our staff loved the clear TFT info display. 

As for luggage space, the Niro has 19.4 cu-ft. Quite easily the rear seats fold almost flat for 54.5 cu-ft.; just short of the Sportage’s 60.1 cu-ft. 

Outside, the Niro looks most like a cute yet sporty station wagon; with virtually no indications of it being a hybrid. Compared to the Soul, it is classier, and less aimed at the youngest buyers.

It also has more style than the Prius V and gets better Government Fuel Economy Ratings as well. Our Niro Touring rates 46-City, 40-Highway, and 43-Combined; we found those numbers a tad pessimistic as we averaged 47.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular without trying too hard. Kia also offers a stripped down Niro FE rated at 50-Combined, just shy of the least expensive Prius hatch. 

Our Touring’s Energy Impact Score is a very good one, burning just 7.7-barrels of oil yearly with 3.4-tons of CO2 emissions. 

We became very aware that fuel economy is the priority at our test track. It took us 10.1-seconds to lumber to 60, with plenty lag time before you feel any rush of power. 

It was nice however, to experience real shifts, even if they were a tad slow; we much prefer that over constant CVT droning. We finished the ¼ mile in 17.7-seconds at 80 miles-per-hour.  

Niro handled itself quite well through our cone course too. There was just the slightest bit of understeer when things got spirited; but for the most part, it goes where you aim it quickly. 

Steering response is brisk, with a light but not over-boosted feel. 

Braking from 60 averaged just 112-feet, which is quite good; as was overall stability while stopping. Pedal feel was a bit disconcerting though, as it goes right towards the floor with little resistance. 

Four trim levels are available, starting at $23,785 for an FE. Top level Touring stickers for $30,545.  

The 2017 Kia Niro is truly a product of its time. Part utility, part hatchback, part marketing strategy; all with a strong emphasis on high fuel economy. It’s another all-around excellent product from Kia, and if we were paying over $4.00 a gallon for gas like we were a few years ago, it would be an instant hit.  As it is now, it will probably still get there; it just might take a while longer.     

 

Specifications

  • Engine: 1.6 liter I4
  • Horsepower: 139
  • Torque: 195 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 10.1 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 17.7 seconds @ 80 mph
  • EPA: 46 mpg city /40 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 7.7 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 3.4 tons/yr
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front

2024 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra Gets Subaru Into The EV Game

Episode 4339
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You could say that Subaru is one of the more conservative brands out there. So, it’s no surprise it took them a little longer than most to venture into pure EV territory. But now that they’ve staked a claim with this Solterra, it’s time for us to see if Subaru buyers should plug in.

The Subaru Solterra is indeed the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle; and while it took partnering with Toyota to make it happen, as we’ve seen with the BRZ and GR86 sport coupes, that partnership can lead to some great things.

So, we’ll start there; the Solterra’s counterpart is the Toyota bZ4X, and they do share most powertrain elements, specs, and features; but Subaru has done a few things to establish some unique vibes for their brand. That starts with the drivetrain, as all-wheel drive is standard here as in most Subarus, and in similar tradition, power won’t overwhelm you, it’s more safe and familiar feeling than overpowering as some EVs can be. Called StarDrive, this Subaru’s dual-motor setup rates 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. Subaru loves to tout that their drivers are second only to Jeep owners when it comes to venturing off pavement, so capability is a must.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front
2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem
2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel
2024 Subaru Solterra Profile
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail
2024 Subaru Solterra Badge
2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel2024 Subaru Solterra Profile2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail2024 Subaru Solterra Badge2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port

We did find Solterra as competent as every other Subaru. Their X-Mode has been programmed to work seamlessly with the electric motors, and its 8.3 inches of ground clearance is higher than the bZ4X; plus, you can use Grip Control to moderate speeds and maximize traction.

While most new EVs seem to be hovering around 300 miles of range, max here in the Solterra from its 72.8-kWh battery pack is 227 miles, 222 here in Touring trim. Our results were much less than that, on pace for just 172 miles in our driving loop. But that may be a fluke since we managed 210+ in our bZ4X test.

Only 100-kW max for DC fast charging. But even though it has only been on the market for a year, they’ve already cut down charging times for ‘24 models. An upgraded battery conditioning system, needs 35 minutes for an 80% charge. Subaru always seems to come out on the right side of being cool while remaining authentic, and the Solterra’s styling works, as does its beefier roof rack for ’24 which now holds up to 700 lbs. for tents and the like. Touring trim comes with some great looking 20-inch alloy wheels and there’s lots of body protection, but they did go a little overboard with all of the EV badges everywhere.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected.

In addition to being a good-looking small SUV, it’s a highly functional one too with plenty of room for 5, durable materials, and a bridge-type center console with lots of storage space underneath, though there is no traditional glove box. Subaru also claims it was designed to be dog-friendly, so that’s a plus too. It does have the roomy feel of an Outback, and rear cargo capacity is pretty close, too, at 29.0 cubic-feet.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected. It really shined in the handling course at our Mason-Dixon test track; the EV low center of gravity giving it a very planted feel through the cones. There was minimal body roll and great all-wheel-drive grip; though when it came to us getting a grip on the steering wheel. Well, it’s an oddly shaped steering wheel that took some getting used to. It’s another thing that separates it from the bZ4X, though it seems a little bit like just being different for the sake of being different.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard
2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster
2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display
2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk
2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk

On the other hand, while not insanely fast like some EVs, there was good punch off the line; enough to get us to 60 in 6.2 seconds. And rather than rolling back the power, the Solterra kept it consistent the whole way down the track. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93 mph. There wasn’t much feel coming through the brake pedal, but panic braking stops were fade-free with an average amount of nose dive; our stops from 60 averaged 120 feet.

Using 33-kWh of electricity per 100-miles, the Solterra earns a good efficiency rating. Pricing starts at $46,340 for the base Premium, and tops out with Touring at $53,340, with Limited in between.

Being the rugged and lovable outdoor types, Subaru owners have proven to be willing to sacrifice certain things for the good of the environment they spend so much time enjoying. Whether that will translate to them going all-in on the 2024 Solterra remains to be seen. It’s no surprise Subaru has finally gone all-electric, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’ve entered the EV game conservatively. Something tells us Subaru owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: Dual Motor
  • Battery Size: 72.8-kWh
  • Horsepower: 215
  • Torque: 249 lb-ft
  • EPA Range: 222 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 120 feet (avg)
  • MW Test Loop: 172 miles
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front

2024 Toyota 4Runner

Aimed to Please for Another 15 Years

Episode 4338
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You know, a lot has changed over the four decades that the Toyota 4Runner has been backwoods exploring and pavement prowling. Most notably, the rise of car-based crossover utilities and the word “softroader” somehow becoming a thing. Well, the 4Runner is still all truck and definitely not soft, but you don’t have to be an off-road pro to enjoy it!

You may find it odd that we’re talking about the fifth-gen 2024 Toyota 4Runner, as we’ve already given you an early look at the upcoming sixth-gen model. And yes, we too have been eagerly awaiting a new 4Runner for some time, considering this outgoing model has stuck around for the last 15 years. But there’s still a lot to love here, so consider this test as one last ride in a fan-favorite utility that’s sure to do well in the second-hand market for years to come.

2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Front
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front
2024 Toyota 4Runner Grill
2024 Toyota 4Runner Hood
2024 Toyota 4Runner Profile
2024 Toyota 4Runner Wheels
2024 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Badge
2024 Toyota 4Runner Roof Rack
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Rear
2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Rear
2024 Toyota 4Runner 1
2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Rolled Down
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Front2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Front2024 Toyota 4Runner Grill2024 Toyota 4Runner Hood2024 Toyota 4Runner Profile2024 Toyota 4Runner Wheels2024 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Badge2024 Toyota 4Runner Roof Rack2024 Toyota 4Runner Dead Rear2024 Toyota 4Runner 3/4 Rear2024 Toyota 4Runner 12024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Rolled Down

Our 2024 4Runner is equipped with the TRD Pro treatment, a premiere trim for off-roaders or those who want to look the part. No judgement here, as the TRD Pro grade does look tough with its more rugged attire. That’s especially noticeable upfront with the exposed skid plating and trim-specific grille donning the bold “TOYOTA” lettering. The side profile starts up top with a sizeable roof basket, working down low to the matte black 17-inch alloys wrapped by Nitto Terra Grappler tires. Ironically, “Terra” is also the name of this new paint color, a hit or miss with our crew, but certainly a standout from the typical white or black. By the way, the all-new 2025 4Runner doesn’t stray too far away, with fan-favorite features, like the power sliding rear glass, sticking around.

We found our current 4Runner TRD Pro didn’t shy away from trail work. Behind the wheels are TRD-tuned Fox shocks and springs, keeping that Nitto rubber planted to the earth. Deeper under its skin is the TRD Pro’s standard four-wheel drive system: Tried, true and very capable.

Deeper under its skin is the TRD Pro’s standard four-wheel drive system: Tried, true and very capable.

This 4Runner’s 15-year winning streak does become more apparent inside, though it’s tough and utilitarian design isn’t completely spartan. For example, the 8-inch touchscreen, while not the largest, does get the job done and features smartphone integration. The SoftTex-trimmed seats are comfortable and easy to clean should the outside come inside.

This is the swan song for 4Runner’s famed 4.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V6. The new 4Runner is all turbo 4’s with a performance hybrid. Our test V6 puts down an able 270 HP and 278 lb-ft to the standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive layout. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic.

2024 Toyota 4Runner Engine
2024 Toyota 4Runner Dashboard
2024 Toyota 4Runner Instrument Cluster
2024 Toyota 4Runner Central Display
2024 Toyota 4Runner Shifter
2024 Toyota 4Runner 4WD
2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Switch
2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat
2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat Detail
2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Seat
2024 Toyota 4Runner Trunk
2024 Toyota 4Runner Engine2024 Toyota 4Runner Dashboard2024 Toyota 4Runner Instrument Cluster2024 Toyota 4Runner Central Display2024 Toyota 4Runner Shifter2024 Toyota 4Runner 4WD2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Glass Switch2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat2024 Toyota 4Runner Front Seat Detail2024 Toyota 4Runner Rear Seat2024 Toyota 4Runner Trunk

This legendary V6 combination took its own sweet time at our Mason Dixon testing site, clocking a still acceptable 0-60 time of 7.7 seconds. These all-terrain tires meant less grip off the line, with a decent amount of squeal; but that grip is found in droves in the wilderness. Keeping the throttle pinned meant quarter-mile passes ended in 15.9 seconds at 88 mph.

Things were also mixed in our braking runs too, stopping from 60 in a fine 113 feet. But, the pedal felt soft until about a third of the way towards the firewall, then firmed up nicely. So, we expected and found lots of body roll through our cone course. The light steering isn’t quite in its element here, but does make for an easy drive under normal conditions.

Pricing for the outgoing, and still widely available 2024 Toyota 4Runner starts at $42,100. That’s for an entry-level SR5. A TRD Pro starts at $56,565.

We can’t wait to get some serious on and off-road time in the new sixth-gen 4Runner. But with so many fifth-gens out on the road and in the wild, we know we’ll be seeing plenty of them for quite a while longer. The 2024 Toyota 4Runner remains a formidable force in the SUV market, and should bring buyers plenty of joy for many miles to come.

Specifications

  • Engine: 4.0-liter NA V6
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 270
  • Torque: 278 lb-ft
  • EPA: 16 City | 19 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.9 seconds at 88 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 113 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 16.2 MPG (Regular)