The 2017 Kia Niro: What the critics say
“Toyota should be afraid, very afraid.” Though Kia’s first built-from-scratch hybrid falls just short of Toyota’s class-leading Prius in actual fuel economy, it packs 50-mpg efficiency into a practical, less “looks- challenged” hatchback package. The Niro “isn’t exactly the sexiest car in the world,” but it neither looks nor drives like a science experiment— even though it just set a world record when it exceeded 76 mpg on a cross-country trek from Los Angeles to New York City
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The driving experience in a Niro is so reassuringly familiar that “it would be very easy for its gas-electric nature to go undetected.” There’s nothing alien about the braking, and the dual-clutch automatic transmission delivers smoothly confident gear shifts. Though highway merges test the power train’s combined 139 hp, the car becomes “quiet and comfortable” once up to speed.
Average fuel efficiency does touch 50_mpg. “That’s only for the base FE model, though”— as a loaded Niro averages 43. Still, Prius’ hatchback manages only 41, and the Niro throws in “fairly handsome” crossover styling. Kia’s new subcompact “isn’t going to blow you away,” but a practical, eco friendly, generally well-built car doesn’t have to. “For many people, the Niro will be just about perfect.”