The 2017 Kia Niro is Kia’s latest addition to their line-up of successful vehicles. Special about it is that it’s the first real subcompact cross-over they offer. Of course, they have the Sportage and Sorento, but these are both full-sized SUVs and are exactly what makes the subcompact cross-over so popular. It’s a car that looks like an SUV, but doesn’t come with the same size, weight and frankly, price.
The quirky and electric 2016 Kia Soul is actually the closest thing Kia offers for a cross-over. However, that one speaks to only a small part of the public, due to its funky appearance.
All in all, it’s more than time for Kia to really join the subcompact crossover market and their Niro model will be a fine candidate for a spot. Also, the 2017 Kia Niro is a hybrid model, really adding some interesting value to this new crossover.
The car was officially unveiled at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show and according to Kia’s vice president product planning with a design “that doesn’t shout hybrid”. We think the VP is talking about the likes of the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime’s lack of aesthetics and the Prius-inspired, yet less large and bulky 2017 Hyundai Ioniq. However, we wonder if the VP received the memo about not all hybrids looking like that anymore.
Anyway, the 2017 Kia Niro does look good, although not very exciting or groundbreaking. The front of the car features that recognizable tiger-nose grille, which is quite big compared to other Kia vehicles sporting it. Then there are the headlights, a pair of sharp pointed, slightly vertical units. The foglights are positioned on the lower part of the vehicle on a dark air vent with two silver edges embellishing them. Finally, there are two vertical air vents at either side of the car front, right in front of the wheels.
The side distinguishes itself by showing a standard SUV profile. Over the side windows a chrome line is added and the lower door panels have a deep crease over it. The wheel arches are perfectly spherical and are a dark plastic material. That’s a shame, we think the 2017 Kia Niro would have looked much better if there were body coloured wheel arches.
In the rear we see some design cues previously spotted on the Kia Sportage. The small rear window and license plate space and high positioned taillights are quite recognizable as such. New elements consist of taillight pattern, tailgate spoiler and body-coloured bumper part with aluminum inserts.
Finally, there is a choice of seven exterior colours!
The interior looks clean and clutterfree, not an easy thing to get right. However, like the exterior, the interior isn’t very exciting, which is not a particularly bad thing given that it does actually suffice. Most notable in the cabin are the modern appearance with glossy black and white inserts and a minimized dashboard. Then, there’s the instrument cluster, which brings a bit more spice to the interior.
Finally, the infotainment screen is nice and large, just like the door panels and center console. The screen adds up to 7 inch and is a charm to operate. Furthermore, the cabin has been thoroughly insulated to prevent any nuisance of engine, road or tire noise.
Given that the 2017 Kia Niro is an HUV, or Hybrid Utility Vehicle, there will be a combination of a traditional engine and an electric motor and battery under the hood. The battery is actually located underneath the rear seat floor. The gasoline engine present in the car is a 1.6 liter Kappa four cylinder engine, good for 103 horsepower. The electric motor is a 43 horsepower unit and is powered by a 1.56 kWh lithium-polymer battery.
Total output of both the motor and engine comes to 143 horsepower and is coupled to a high efficiency six speed double clutch transmission and all wheel drive system. The choice for these high tech elements comes from the wish expressed by Kia to create and “un-hybrid” driving experience. Although it saddens us a bit to hear a car manufacturer talk smack about eco-friendly vehicles, we have to admit this is an idea that might live among a larger part of the public as well.
Oh well, as long as this approach gets some of the unwilling public on the eco bandwagon, we’re all for it!
The software for operating the infotainment system is the latest version of the award-winning UVO tech, earlier found in the tech specs of the unique and upscale 2017 Kia Sportage. The system offers connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Besides that, there are the UVO eServices, consisting of fourteen telematics services, Wi-Fi, apps like Soundhound and Pandora and 8 GB of music storage.
Then, Kia hasn’t forgotten the advanced driver assistance and convenience technologies. The standard range of Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist and Advanced Cruise Control. Finally, there are the likes of Lane Departure Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking. All the aforementioned features make this car a semi-autonomous vehicle and the best part is: Kia hasn’t stopped there!
Another software package standard on the 2017 Kia Niro is called Eco-DAS, which stands for Driver Assistance System. Kia offers their first take on Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control. Coasting Guide will make sure maximum fuel economy is achieved by literally telling the driver when to coast and brake. This is a feature that might scare off some drivers, but may come in handy when you’re running out of gas and battery life.
Then there’s Predictive Energy Control, which uses the navigation System and cruise control to estimate changes in road quality, ascension and decension to actively manage energy. This way it can autonomously decide when is the best time to recharge the battery and when to release stored energy to optimize the car’s total efficiency.
Price, release and sale date
Starting price for the 2017 Kia Niro FE is $22,890 in the United States. One trim above is the LX and starts at $23,200, with the EX following up and starting at $25,700. Finally, there’s the Touring Launch Edition and Touring, starting at $28,000 and $29,650 respectively. The Niro will go on sale in the first quarter of 2017.
In Europe, the Niro has already gone on sale in November of 2016. The vehicle is desired by the public, with higher sale numbers than expected. A number of 23,000 Niros were ordered in November, with Kia only being capable of supplying 6,000 back then. Starting price of the 2017 Kia Niro lies at €24,990 (Germany).