2022 Kia Niro

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2022 Kia Niro Review: A Contemporary Hybrid Crossover

by Aiden Eksteen

The Kia Niro is a compact crossover SUV offering car-like drivability and SUV-like practicality synonymous with the class, but with the added advantage of hybrid fuel efficiency. Under the hood of the Niro is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder hybridized engine that's coupled to an electric motor for combined outputs of 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. This is routed to the Niro's front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With this powertrain, the Niro is one of the most fuel-efficient hybrids out there. With EPA gas mileage estimates of 50 mpg returned in mixed driving conditions, only a few cars like the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius can surpass the Niro's efficiency. The Niro isn't just an easy-to-drive, practical, and highly fuel-efficient crossover hybrid SUV, but it's also a relatively stylish one that's packed with contemporary features and safety technology, which altogether make it an ideal family commuter.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 5 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
8.0
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2022 Kia Niro Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs the 2021 Kia Niro?

With a brand-new Kia Niro not too far off, Kia has not made any changes to the 2022 Niro, a generation that has been around since 2017. For the new year, the eagle-eyed will notice that Kia has replaced the old oval Kia logo with the new Kia logo on the nose tail, wheels, and steering wheel. An additional LXS Special Edition trim is added between the LXS and Touring. It is based on the LXS, but with some extra features fitted, such as a sunroof, and effectively takes the place in the lineup vacated by last year's Touring trim, which falls away; the Touring Special Edition remains. The new Steel Gray exterior paint replaces last year's Silky Silver and changes have been made to which hues are available for which trims.

Pros and Cons

  • Commodious and quiet cabin
  • Exceptionally fuel-efficient
  • Relatively practical cargo bay
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Attractive crossover styling
  • Powertrain feels unrefined
  • Ride quality is mediocre at best
  • Mundane handling dynamics
  • Base trims are rather bare-bones
  • No all-wheel-drive available

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2022 Kia Niro Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,690
LXS
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,090
LXS SE
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$27,590
Touring SE
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,890
EX Premium
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$31,990
See All 2022 Kia Niro Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

It takes a little time for the Niro to gather itself up initially, and the slow pick-up can be annoying, but it can be mostly mitigated through use of the Sport mode. Because of the Kia Niro's compact crossover configuration, it rides more like a typical car than an SUV. It's easy to maneuver around tight city streets and it exhibits very little body roll in the corners, thanks to its low center of gravity. The Niro isn't the most comfortable vehicle on the road, but its ride quality is suitable nonetheless. The suspension competently soaks up most larger bumps, while more common road imperfections and undulations are effectively kept from reverberating through to the cabin. The cabin remains appreciably quiet too, even at higher speeds.

As for the steering, responses are accurate and the weighting neither too hefty nor too light. Engaging the Sport mode, however, weights up the feel significantly. There is some vagueness on the center feel of the steering, but it otherwise always tracks straight with no hint of dead spots. While the brakes work fine in everyday driving scenarios, they can occasionally feel rather spongy, especially with heavy braking due to the changeover to regenerative braking.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2022 Kia Niro a Good SUV?

As a hybrid compact crossover, the Kia Niro is a pretty straightforward package and its advantages lie clearly in what it offers as a hybridized crossover SUV - exceptional gas mileage estimates as a hybrid FWD vehicle, along with the easy drivability and decent level of practicality synonymous with that of its crossover SUV body. It also boasts a brilliant infotainment system, which is one of the more user-friendly, comprehensive, and high-quality units out there. The bigger 10.25-inch LCD touchscreen is one of the largest screens within the compact class, to boot. Unfortunately, there are also many downsides to the Kia Niro. Firstly, it's not available in all-wheel drive, it offers no towing capability, and its straight-line performance and handling dynamics are average at best. Overall, the Kia Niro offers a fair balance, but many of its competitors beat it in key areas and are certainly worth consideration.

Check out other Kia Niro Styles

2022 Kia Niro Comparisons

Hyundai Kona Hyundai
Kia Sportage Kia

2022 Kia Niro vs Hyundai Kona

Though the Hyundai Kona is not a hybridized vehicle (although there is an EV variant in the range), it is quite a bit more affordable than the Kia Niro. What has the Kona stand out, however, is its more powerful base engine, which has it drive more enjoyably than the Niro already, considering the even more powerful turbocharged option which accelerates the Kona from 0 - 60 mph in a fraction over six seconds, according to an independent test drive. The Kona handles better too and is available with AWD. Neither of the Kona's engines are as fuel efficient as the Niro's hybrid engine is, obviously, but it's still near the 30 mpg mark in combined driving scenarios. The Kona also arguably looks way better, boasting a bit more of a rugged aesthetic that better suits the crossover SUV ethos. The Niro earns points for having its better infotainment system and a better selection of features at standard, but the Kona, considering how much it costs, delivers more value overall.

See Hyundai Kona Review

2022 Kia Niro vs Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is offered at around the same price as the Kia Niro. It's no hybrid vehicle, however, and the Sportage is also a larger vehicle overall. The Sportage is more spacious with better on-road feel. It comes equipped with a more powerful base engine and has a turbocharged engine available too. With this engine, the Sportage is easily the faster vehicle. Of course, the Niro is far more economical on fuel than what the Sportage is, with the latter's EPA estimates being 23/30/26 mpg, but that's about all it has over the Sportage. Unlike the Niro, the Sportage is available in AWD guise and also offers a 2,000-pound maximum towing capacity while the Niro isn't rated for towing at all. The Sportage's cabin is far more premium and is, along with the exterior, a little more contemporary as the Sportage is the newer vehicle. Ultimately, if fuel-efficient and eco-friendly living is your priority, then the Niro is your pick, but the Sportage otherwise offers more value on almost every other front.

See Kia Sportage Review
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