- - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Can you say compact hybrid crossover SUV with some snazzy offerings?If that’s your thing, then the 2017 Kia Niro is going to be right up your alley.It’s all new for Kia fans with competition like the Toyota Prius Hatchback, Ford C-Max Hybrid Wagon and the Toyota Rav 4 SUV. Even as a hybrid however, the 2017 Niro looks like the traditional vehicle on the inside and it has a lot of pep in its step too.

With the question of back seat roominess on the hybrid, which is always a consideration due to the battery, on the Niro the battery is out of the way.  The design is such that the battery is hidden under the rear seat for maximum passenger space capacity.It’s also good to point out that this hybrid is one of the affordable options in the hybrid crossover market.

The trim levels include five options from the basic FE trim then moving up to the LX, EX, Touring and the limited-edition Touring Launch. The trims feature the same engine and hybrid combination, but the trim features are the major differences.  For example, the base FE is the lightest of the five options while the Touring is a bit more luxurious with many comfortable features included.

Under the hood of the 2017 Kia Niro you get a 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybrid-electric powertrain with 139 horsepower and 195-pound-feet of torque.  All are standard with front wheel drive, six-speed and a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Niro does not offer an all-wheel drive option.

On the Touring trim I drove there were a variety of features like leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rear camera, eight-inch navigation touchscreen, a push button start with a smart key and heated and air conditioned seats with three levels of heat. The steering wheel is also heated with controls.  Technology includes Bluetooth features, the Uvo eservices infotainment system and a premium audio system.

Safety features include driver and front seat, frontal, side impact, side curtain and knee protection airbags, traction control, height adjustable safety belts, rear child safety door locks, lane departure warning, a blind spot sensor and even a low pressure tire warning. There is no spare tire in the 2017 Kia Niro, but instead to save on the vehicle weight it is a tire-inflator kit.

On the Technology package you get adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking.

Inside the Niro you will find the cabin to be straight forward with only basic bells and whistles.  The buttons and knobs are easy to use and there is plenty of passenger cabin space. Getting in and out of the 2017 Kia Niro is easy enough too since the doors open at about 90 degrees. There is also plenty of head and leg room in the front and back seats.

Hard plastic has been used throughout the interior.  The storage areas for smaller items are well placed and there is even a place to charge a phone wirelessly if you opt for that feature or trim package. 

With a 60/40 rear seat split there you get lots of space and also an underfloor storage.  The cargo space comes in at 19.4 cubic feet with all the seats in use and 54.5 cubic feet when the seats are completely folded down.

For the overall driving experience you will feel there is enough acceleration for any situation even if the Niro is a hybrid. When in the electric motor mode it is still plenty of get up and go for highway driving and certainly around town. 

While behind the wheel you will also find that the 2017 Kia Niro handles well and is reactive to the driver as needed. That quick reaction is, in part, because even as a crossover the Niro feels more like a car with a hatchback feature. It’s a good vibe on the 2017 Kia Niro and in this segment it’s a worthy option for consideration.

Should You Need to Know:  One standout on the 2017 Kia Niro is the warranty package offering a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 10-year/100,000 mile limited battery warranty and five-year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty and roadside assistance.   

Miles:  On the 2017 Kia Niro I drove fuel efficiency came in at 46 in the city and 40 on the highway making this 43 combined. 

Cost: The 2017 Kia Niro Touring trim I drove had a price tag of $32,840, including the Advanced Technology Package.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita@RitaCook13.

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