Kia Niro PHEV review
It's not the most inspiring car to drive, but the excellent fuel economy and a decent electric range make the Kia Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid family SUV worth a look
- 30-mile electric range
- Good equipment
- Long warranty
- Firm ride
- Smallish boot
- Quite expensive
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||30 miles||202mpg||31g/km|
This is the Kia Niro PHEV: the plug-in hybrid variant of Kia's mid-size SUV that's also available in all-electric and regular hybrid form. Compared to the regular hybrid, the Niro PHEV is able to offer better fuel economy and a longer electric driving range thanks to a larger battery and a more powerful electric motor.
Asides from the other Niro variants, the Niro PHEV's most obvious rival is the MINI Countryman S E ALL4, which is also a plug-in hybrid SUV. But, there are other plug-in hybrid options, like the Toyota Prius Plug-In and Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In.
Kia claims that the Niro PHEV can go up to 30 miles on a single charge – more than enough for most people’s daily commute, even though our experience suggests you'll see around five miles less than that in real-world driving. CO2 emissions of 31g/km are considerably lower than the hybrid’s, making this a more affordable company-car option.
The Niro PHEV is available in two trim levels: the 2 includes an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus DAB digital radio, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, power-folding heated mirrors, dual-zone air-conditioning and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Meanwhile, the 3 gives you automatic lights and wipers and LED foglights, as well as luxuries such as leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. There's enhanced connectivity, too, in the form of a 10.25-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging and Kia's 'UVO Connect' app for remote operation of certain functions. All plug-in hybrid versions of the Niro come with smart cruise control with stop-go functionality, in addition to lane-keeping assistance, lane-following assistance and forward collision avoidance systems.
What the plug-in version of the Niro does have in common with the regular hybrid is its 1.6-litre engine. As you might only expect, the two cars drive in a very similar way. If you spend most of your motoring life in the urban jungle, you’ll appreciate how easily the Niro PHEV gets around, switching between the two parts of its hybrid powertrain.
For the record, the PHEV is a little quicker than the hybrid on paper, but it’s also quite heavy; its 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds is hardly what you’d call quick. Admittedly, the Niro PHEV will be fast enough for most people’s needs. But if you’re the kind of driver who wants a bit more get-up-and-go, the MINI Countryman could fit the bill perfectly.
Overall, in fact, the MINI is a much more engaging and exciting thing to drive, but it also highlights how good the Niro is for electric range and efficiency. The Niro feels most at home if you settle back and adopt a more relaxed driving style.
However, if you leave the Niro in normal hybrid mode, you’ll soon expose one of the Niro’s weaknesses: the petrol engine is too eager to kick in when you want to pick up the pace. That’s not ideal when you want the car to use electric power as much as possible to keep your running costs down. Also not ideal is the ride, which is a little on the firm side.
Where the Niro is more impressive is that it’s well built and pretty classy inside. There’s plenty of standard equipment, too, and the car is well suited to family duties. In addition to the generous room in the front, there’s enough room in the rear seats for a couple of adults.
The PHEV’s bigger batteries mean it has a smaller boot than the standard hybrid, and certainly the more expensive Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a better bet if you need a lot of space in your plug-in hybrid SUV.
Overall, though, there’s still plenty to like about the Niro PHEV, not least the excellent electric range it’s capable of. Yes, you need to keep its batteries charged up to get the best out of it, but that’s something it shares with all plug-in hybrids. And, given how well equipped it is and how spacious the interior is, it’s one of the best plug-in hybrids out there. For a more detailed look at the Niro PHEV, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingIt's not the most inspiring car to drive, but the excellent fuel economy and a decent electric range make the Kia Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid family SUV worth a look
- 2Range, MPG, CO2 & chargingThe Kia Niro PHEV gives you useful extra electric-only range over the hybrid version – but at a price
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Niro PHEV is one of the more expensive models in the Kia range, but will have very low running costs for some people
- 4Performance, engine & driveThe Kia Niro PHEV is not the most engaging or fastest car of its type, but it's relaxing and relatively comfortable to drive in most situations
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Kia Niro PHEV's interior is well built and there's plenty of standard equipment on both of the available trim levels
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThere’s plenty of space for a family and all their luggage in the versatile Kia Niro PHEV
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe Kia Niro PHEV has a confidence-inspiring seven-year warranty and lots of safety technology as standard