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2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

$28,500 - $35,200
Price Range (MSRP)
Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review

by Roger Biermann

The Niro PHEV is part of the Niro family first introduced in 2018, which also includes the Niro and Niro EV. It is a front-wheel-drive compact crossover SUV powered by both a four-cylinder 1.6-liter engine, rated at 105 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque, and an electric motor connected to a lithium-ion polymer battery that makes 60 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The combined output for the engine and electric motor is 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Trims available are the entry-level LX, the EX, and the top of the range EX premium, all of which use a six-speed, dual clutch automatic transmission. Some of the competitors in its class are the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, Chevrolet Volt, and Honda Clarity plug-in.

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid?

The Kia Niro PHEV remains unchanged from when it was first introduced in 2018. There were some updates unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show such as a revised exterior styling to bring it in line with the Kia Niro EV including new bumpers and front and rear taillights, as well as some changes to the interior styling. Unfortunately, none of these have made it to the US market as yet.

Pros and Cons

  • High level of standard equipment
  • Competitive pricing
  • Good safety features
  • Comfortable interior
  • Long warranty
  • No all-wheel drive available
  • Average ride
  • Mediocre acceleration

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Exterior

The Niro Plug-in Hybrid's exterior remains unchanged from 2018 and features the prominent "tigers nose" grill flanked by upswept projection headlights. The front bumper has blue trim and integrated fog lights. The side profile has a generic SUV look, but the rear is neat, with a little spoiler and LED light cluster.

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Front View
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Right Side View
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Three Quarter Rear Left Side View
See All 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Exterior Photos

Dimensions

All trims of the Niro Plug-in Hybrid have a curb weight of 3,274 lbs and a ground clearance of 6.3 inches. The length is 171.5 inches on a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, while the width is 71.1 inches and the height is 60.8 inches.

Exterior Colors

There's a choice of six colors available for the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid range. Silky Silver and Platinum Graphite come at no extra cost, Snow White Pearl and Aurora black Pearl cost $395, while Runway Red and Gravity Blue both cost $295.

  • Runway Red
  • Gravity Blue
  • Aurora Black Pearl
  • Snow White Pearl
  • Silky Silver
  • Platinum Graphite

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Performance

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Three Quarter Front Left Side View In Motion
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Rear View In Motion
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Fuel Tank Cap Open

Engine and Transmission

All the trims in the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid range are front-wheel drive and use the same four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. It also has an electric motor connected to a lithium-ion battery to give a combined output of 139 hp.

Unfortunately, the 1.6-liter engine lets the Kia Niro PHEV down with its lackluster performance. Instant torque is a hallmark of an electric vehicle but in this case, the acceleration is notably slow and feels like a conventional gasoline car. On the freeway, overtaking and changing lanes must be planned out, and while Sport mode can mitigate this to an extent, the overall drive is still compromised. If the Niro PHEV was available in all-wheel drive and had a bit more clout, it would be a much better car.

  • Engine
    1.6-liter Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The acceleration is poor and the fact that the gasoline engine keeps kicking in when even a little more power is needed can be quite irritating. The interior, while not the best, is still functional and spacious and the comfortable seats and smooth ride make the Niro PHEV a decent everyday town car. The handling is reminiscent of some of the mid-sized hatchbacks out there with moderate body roll and a firm ride. The steering is responsive and light which is more than can be said about the transmission, which feels slow, and has rough shifts. Overall the Niro PHEV doesn't stand out and delivers an average driving experience.

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Gas Mileage

The whole point of getting a plug-in hybrid is because of fuel economy and in this department, the Niro PHEV doesn't disappoint returning gas mileage of 48/44/46 mpg. The size of the fuel tank is 11.3 gallons and based on the combined mileage, it has a range of 519 miles. In electric mode the battery has a range of 26 miles and the combined economy of the gasoline engine together with the battery should provide a combined MPGe of 105 miles.

In comparison, the Chevy Bolt has a combined MPGe of 119, and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has an MPGe of 74. Of course, the range is also dependent on how the car is driven, as well as the weather conditions. The figures quoted are a bit on the conservative side and the Kia Niro PHEV can probably go a bit further if push comes to shove.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    11.4 Gallons
* 2019 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid LX FWD

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Interior

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Infotainment System
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Infotainment System
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Gear Shifter
See All 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Kia Niro PHEV is a five-seater crossover but has proportions similar to a hatchback. Four people can sit comfortably on long trips, with the fifth having to squeeze in. The front seats have headroom of 40.1 inches and legroom of 41.7 inches, while the rear seats have headroom of 39.1 inches and legroom of 37.4 inches. The tall roof creates adequate headroom for both front and rear passengers and increases all-around visibility.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Trunk and Cargo Space

The cargo space in the Kia Niro PHEV is average for its class at only 19.4 cu-ft with the rear seats upright. Folding the rear seats opens it up to a decent 54.5 cu-ft, which should be enough for most families. Small item storage comprises an overhead console with storage, front seatback storage, front and rear door pockets, and front and rear cupholders. There is also a center console storage area.

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Full Luggage Space
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Three Quarter Rear Right Side View
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Model Badge Closeup

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Infotainment and Features

Features

In terms of features, the Kia Niro PHEV is loaded and can compete against some higher priced rivals. The entry-level LX comes standard with a seven-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, keyless ignition, climate control, emergency braking preparation, pre-collision safety system, post-collision safety system, and emergency brake assist. It also has lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and driver attention alert. The EX adds power-adjustable lumbar support to the driver's seat, eight-way power driver's seat, Xenon HID headlamps, and blind-spot detection, lane change assist, blind-spot detection, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel as well as the option of leather and cloth seats. The EX premium adds ventilated front seats and a leather interior. The EX Premium model also features lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, a wireless phone charger, lane departure warning, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, and a forward collision warning system.

Infotainment

The Niro PHEV comes standard with a seven-inch infotainment unit with a rearview camera, Kia's UVO services, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, six speakers, SiriusXM radio with three months paid subscription, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM radio and a USB port for media and two more for charging. The EX has the same infotainment system as the LX, but the EX Premium adds an eight-inch touchscreen with onboard navigations, as well as a Harman Kardon premium audio system with eight-speakers including a subwoofer.

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Problems and Reliability

The 2019 Kia Niro PHEV has no complaints and no recalls, although the 2018 model had minor complaints about head unit failure and the engine light coming on. Kia has one of the best warranties out there with a basic warranty of five years/ 60,000 miles, a powertrain warranty of ten years/100,000 miles, and an anti-perforation warranty of five-years/100,000 miles. It also has ten year/100,000 mile warranty on the hybrid electrical components.

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Safety

None of the Kia Niro models have been tested by the NHTSA yet. In the IIHS testing, it got a best possible score of good in most of the tests, with only the LATCH anchors getting average and the headlights on the LX trim getting poor. The Niro PHEV was also voted as a 2019 Top Safety Pick.

Verdict: Is 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid a good SUV?

The Kia Niro PHEV has some shortcomings that undermine its desirability. The poor performance is lethargic at best and irritating at worst. The clunky gear changes and mediocre handling also does it no favors. Despite its styling, it's more of a high riding hatchback than an SUV, and the lack of cargo space and option of front-wheel drive only underline that fact.

On the plus side, the performance is okay for close range day-to-day driving and thanks to its phenomenal fuel economy is very cheap to run. The interior is functional with well laid out buttons and comfortable seating, as well as a decent amount of space for its occupants. Having a great infotainment system, as well as excellent safety features just add to the Niro PHEV's appeal.

At a starting price of only $28,500 and a class-leading warranty, the Niro PHEV is definitely worth having a look at when considering a plug-in hybrid car.

What's the Price of 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid?

All the models in the range use the same electric motor and 1.6-liter engine that delivers a combined output of 139 hp. The cheapest trim is the LX with an MSRP of $28,500, then there's the EX at $32,100. At the top is the EX Premium with a starting price of $35,200. The prices mentioned exclude any tax, licensing, and registration fees as well as the destination charge of $995. The Niro PHEV also qualifies for certain federal tax credits and other rebates depending on the state.

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Models

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Plug-In Hybrid LX
1.6-liter Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,500
Plug-In Hybrid EX
1.6-liter Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$32,100
Plug-In Hybrid EX Premium
1.6-liter Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$35,200
See All 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Trims and Specs

What Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Model Should I Buy?

The middle of the range EX is the best option in the Kia Niro Plug-in lineup. The LX is decent but lacks some of the features of the EX such as blind-spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, leather and cloth upholstery, as well as heated front seats. The EX Premium comes with many more features such as rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist, smart cruise control, a wireless charger, dual-zone climate control, ventilated seats, as well as the Harman Kardon premium audio system with 12 speakers. Although the EX premium comes with more features, it still drives the same but costs around three thousand dollars more than the EX. The EX provides the best balance of price and features, but for those that must have an amazing sound system as well as the latest safety features, the EX Premium is the better choice.

Check out other Kia Niro Styles?

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Comparisons

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid vs Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a bigger car and has better ground clearance of 7.3 inches compared to the Niro PHEV's 6.3 inches. The Outlander PHEV also has a better combined output of 197 hp compared to the Niro PHEV's 139 combined horsepower. Another advantage that the Outlander PHEV is the ability to send power to all four wheels to mimic a 4x4, unlike the Niro PHEV, which is front-wheel drive only. Both cars have the option of an excellent infotainment system with the Niro PHEV having the option of a Harman Kardon audio system compared to the Rockford Fosgate offered on the Mitsubishi. The Kia's strong points are that it is a bit more agile due to its smaller size, and has way more safety features such as autonomous braking, rear cross traffic alert, and forward collision warning.

The Kia has a starting price of $28,500 compared to the $35,795 for the Outlander PHEV. Of the two, the Kia is better for short trips around town and is a well priced and well-equipped car. For long distance traveling, off-road adventures and more cargo space, the Mitsubishi is better.

See Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid vs Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

The Subaru Crosstek Hybrid offers slightly more power, 152 hp compared to the Niro PHEV's 139 hp. In terms of safety, they are both evenly matched, but the Kia has a much longer warranty of five years/ 60,000 miles compared to the Crosstek Hybrid, which only has three years/36,000 miles warranty. The Crosstek Hybrid also offers more ground clearance at 8.7 inches compared to the 6.3 offered on the Niro. It also has the option of symmetrical all-wheel drive, while the Niro Hybrid is only available with front-wheel drive. Built-in Wi-Fi is another great feature that's offered on the Crosstek but not on the Niro PHEV.

The Niro PHEV starts at a price of $28,500 compared to the starting price of $34,995 for the Crosstek Hybrid. Although the extra $6,000 does get you a lot more features. The Niro PHEV is still great value for money and is the better car if it will be used for short distance driving and not for off-roading or towing. Buyers looking for a more off road cable PHEV should consider the Crosstrek.

See Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Review

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Popular Comparisons

2019 Kia Niro Video Reviews