2023 Kia Niro
Only Gets Better
There are not too many cars on the road today that are truly unique, but you could make an argument that the Kia Niro is one of them. Part wagon, part SUV; with powertrain choices that range from hybrid, to PHEV, and even full electric. Let’s see what else we can learn about this all-new 2nd generation Kia Niro!
The all-new 2023 Kia Niro continues the Niro philosophy of delivering subcompact SUV-style utility in a front-wheel-drive 5-door package with graduated levels of battery assistance available, from standard hybrid to plug-in hybrid, and even full electric.
This standard hybrid showcases the same 1.6-liter I4 engine as before, with a 32kW electric motor sandwiched between it and the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Output still 139-horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque.
The PHEV adds a more powerful 62kW electric motor and larger battery for up to 33-miles of EV only driving. We’ll have a complete test of the full EV in the coming weeks, with its 253–mile range, up 14 from last gen’s 239.
Our Niro Hybrid, with minimal battery assistance, and low horsepower; is not about getting to point B as quick as possible. Indeed it took us a lengthy 9.2-seconds to reach 60. Still, that’s a bit quicker than last gen, despite the same powertrain. The PHEV, with a lot more electric boost, should be at least a second quicker.
The small gas engine really sounds like it’s working overtime, so we do appreciate that Kia still prefers a true 6-speed automatic over a CVT; not that it’s any faster, it just makes for much calmer acceleration, taking us 17.1-seconds at 82 miles-per-hour in the ¼-mile.
Kia has certainly upped their handling game in recent years, and even this Niro, which makes no claims of being a performance car, behaved smooth and easy in our handling course. There was minimal body roll, along with good balance and grip; all providing a surprisingly fun trip through the cones.
The Niro is plenty nimble and maneuverable in daily use too; it has adequate power for highway merging; though it does even better in city traffic where the subtle electric assistance has you off from a light quicker than expected. There’s also a new Green Zone Drive Mode that uses navigation data to prepare for when it’s appropriate to switch to battery power for known low speed situations.
With every interior dimension seeing an increase, the Niro certainly doesn’t feel so subcompact anymore. Plus, there’s a nice sized sunroof to add to the generous cabinocity. The parametric interior theme is similar to the EV6’s, and includes many of the same controls. Good comfort in the front seats, with some funky shaped headrests that would give Volvo a run for their money.
Rear seat legroom was generous before; it’s even more so now, and that’s with additional cargo space too, 22.8 cubic-ft. up from 22.4, and a max of 63.7 cubic-ft. with the rear seats folded.
Our SX Touring tester is top of the line and comes with dual 10-inch displays; one for infotainment and one for instruments; plus, Harmon Kardon premium audio, aluminum pedals, and interior lighting that goes beyond ambient into more disco territory.
Outside, there are 18-inch wheels, LED Projector headlamps, and a power lift-gate. Wheelbase rises from to 106.3 to 107.1-inches; overall length from 171.5-inches to 174.0. So, that’s a lot longer than Ford’s Ecosport, but still shorter than a Honda HR-V.
Kia has gone out of their way to give Niro a more purposeful vibe, with faux skid plates, lower body cladding, and exaggerated fenders. But we’re not exactly sure what kind of vibe the large pieces of black plastic on the D-pillar are supposed to portray, though these Aero Blades can be painted in body color if you prefer.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 53-City, 45-Highway, and 49-Combined. Our hybrid’s test loop came in at 46.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
There is a great Energy Impact Score; 6.1-barrels of oil yearly with 3.0-tons of CO2 emissions. Pricing starts at $27,915 for a base LX and tops out at SX Touring which starts at $36,215.
The new Niro may not offer all-wheel-drive, or boast off-road chops, but our 2023 Kia Niro Hybrid delivered plenty of citified utility in a small package, that doesn’t feel so small any more. Plus, it looks and drives great. And with PHEV and full EV versions also available, the Niro only looks better from here.
- Engine: 1.6L I4
- Horsepower: 139
- 0-60 mph: 9.2 seconds
- EPA: 53 City / 45 Highway / 49 Combined
- Electric Motor: 32 kWh
- Torque: 195 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 17.1 seconds at 82 mph
- MW Test Loop: 46.7 mpg (Regular)