The 2017 Kia Niro has more to offer in technology, comfort, luxury, and driving enjoyment than any other vehicle under $30,000 that I have driven this year.
The Niro vehicle line-up features the base FE, LX, EX, Touring Launch Edition, and Touring trims. The pricing starts at $22,890 for the FE and goes up to $29,650 for the Touring.
The 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine is crafted with aluminum block and head, and features dual continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) for better efficiency. The end result is a maximum of 104 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 109 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.
The gas engine is assisted by an electric motor getting power from a 240 V, 1.56 kWh lithium ion polymer battery. This motor produces an additional 43 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine and motor combined generate 139 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission aids in delivering 46 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, for a combined 43 mpg average for the two Touring trims.
The Kia’s Niro is spacious and comfortable inside. The 60/40 split-fold seats are designed to expand the cargo area while the hidden compartment beneath the cargo floor comes with sectional storage to separate items according to priority.
The dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, Harman Kardon premium audio, plus an 8-inch touchscreen housing a rear-view camera and navigation system available for the EX and the two Touring trims are features usually found in a more expensive class.
The power sunroof of the top-of-the-line Touring trim lets in fresh air and sunlight at the push of a button, and the retractable sunshade helps everyone stay cool on hot summer days.
Owners of that top Touring trim also enjoy leather-trimmed seats, heated, and ventilated front seats, and a driver’s seat that is 10-way power adjustable with 2-way lumbar support and memory function. The seats are wide and comfortable. The rear offers wide seating and more than adequate leg and shoulder/head space.
Earlier I mentioned technology. Well, this Niro has a UVO eService infotainment system, which supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone platforms and also has SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth hands-free wireless connectivity. Imagine all of this for not really much money.
Advanced safety features like blind-spot detection system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning system, and front and rear parking assist sensors are all standard equipment for the top-of-line Touring model.
Inside, Kia places the driver front and center. The controls are logically configured and positioned for maximum simplicity.
The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission provides for quick and crisp shifting. You sit lower and hence have a low center of gravity. The nimble handling gets you more involved in the driving experience.
The ride is smooth and agile. The four-wheel independent suspension has MacPherson struts in the front and independent multi-link stablizer bars in the rear that work together to provide a comfortable ride and allow precise handling.
Something I found interesting about the Niro’s aerodynamics is that there is an active air-flap behind the front grille that closes at higher speeds to reduce drag. At the same time, air vents just ahead of the front wheel provide an air curtain to help manage airflow around the front wheels.
Kia has developed a body that combines various high tensile strength steel alloys. This protects you during a crash and improves dynamics while adding to the overall quality and quietness of the ride.
5-year/60,000-mile Limited Basic Warranty
10-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Limited Anti-Perforation Warranty
5-year/60,000 24-hour Roadside Assistance
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or at [email protected]