In-depth reviews

Kia Niro Hybrid review

The Kia Niro is an SUV-style hybrid car that's more practical than a Toyota Prius, if less efficient

Kia Niro
Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Roomier than a Toyota Prius
  • Conventional-looking design
  • Relatively good value

Cons

  • Not as efficient as a Prius
  • Refinement could be better
  • Unengaging driving experience
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid53-59mpg110-120g/km11.5s

The Kia Niro Hybrid is small SUV that battles for sales in the hotly contested hybrid cars market. Its list of rivals is long and doesn't just include SUVs; there are the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid hatchbacks for a start, as well as the sportily styled but less practical Toyota C-HR SUV, plus the Hyundai Kona Hybrid, which is a more stylish, but equally efficient and well equipped sister model to the Kia.

There are a few plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options worth considering, too, including the PHEV variant of the Niro itself and the MINI Countryman. All of this means the potential Niro buyer has a number of rivals with a broad range of desirable qualities, but there’s not much direct competition if you want the combination of a 'self-charging' (aka full hybrid) powertrain with a relatively conservative exterior – and of course the practicality of the SUV-like crossover body.

Unlike the Niro PHEV, you don't have to plug the hybrid version of the Niro in to get the best out of it, but of course neither do you get the benefit of being able to travel very far on electric power alone. Under the bonnet, Kia has fitted a 1.6-litre petrol engine, paired with an electric motor to make 139bhp, sent through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The problem is that the Niro hybrid's economy and efficiency aren't quite up to scratch with rivals, although our colleagues at Auto Express managed nearly 60mpg from the pre-facelift model (which had the same powertrain in a slightly less efficient tune) in everyday use, so you can expect to match the official figures quite easily. That might be cold comfort for company-car buyers who will still have to pay more BiK tax than they would on a plug-in hybrid cars, though.

The entry-level trim is the Niro 2, which looks pretty good value, with an eight-inch touchscreen navigation screen, reversing camera, auto lights and wipers, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, LED tail-lights and daytime running lights.

The mid-range Niro 3 gets bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, upgraded audio and a leather interior with heated seats, while the range-topping Niro 4 adds smart cruise control and advanced safety goodies like blind-spot monitoring, plus a seven-inch colour readout for the driver.

On the road, the Niro is unremarkable but neat and tidy, and absolutely fit for purpose – as well as generally comfortable. Mind you, we would like the petrol engine to be less intrusive when it kicks in after the short electric running you get around town, and the CVT gearbox in a Toyota Prius is smoother, too. Still, the Niro is easy and relaxing to drive, and with a well built and well equipped interior, most occupants should have few complaints. The five-door estate body is roomy and practical, adding to the Niro’s family-friendly appeal.

The advanced driver aids that are standard across the range are second to none at this price. They include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, traffic-sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking, which combine to offer a semi-autonomous driving mode. Of course, Kia's seven-year warranty package is also unbeatable, and especially desirable for buyers considering keeping their car for a while.

If you’re not too worried about a sporty drive and just want to get safely from A to B in relative comfort with the family onboard, and with impressive real-world fuel efficiency, then there’s a lot to recommend here. For a more detailed look at the Kia Niro Hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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