2021 Kia Niro

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2021 Kia Niro Review: Great But In Need Of A Kick In The Pants

by Aiden Eksteen

With its compact proportions, low center of gravity, and crossover SUV make-up, the 2021 Kia Niro offers a good spread of advantages including car-like, urban-centric driving dynamics and SUV-like versatility and practicality. Unfortunately, with just the one powertrain arrangement on offer - a 139-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder hybridized unit paired with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drivetrain - the Niro crossover isn't the most enjoyable or interesting vehicle to drive. It is, however, one of the most frugal hybrid crossover SUVs money can buy in the USA, with only smaller cars like the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius surpassing the Niro's 50 mpg combined gas mileage rating. The Niro is an ideal commuter and family runabout, but it's a run-of-the-mill option and when you consider the sparse selection of features the entry-spec Niro trims come with as standard, it's difficult to ignore giving the amplitude of other compact crossovers a review.

Read in this review:

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2021 Kia Niro Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Kia Niro?

After a raft of updates last year, Kia has continued improving the Niro hybrid for 2021. Rear occupant alert is a standard feature, while models with the eight-inch infotainment display now come with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, replacing the previous wired integrations. If fitted with the Smart Key, the Niro mild hybrid also gets a remote start system. With navigation, a MapCare program with a decade of map updates is now included. Finally, models with navigation and smart cruise control now also get navigation-based smart cruise control as well as a Curve function.

Pros and Cons

  • Tranquil and commodious cabin
  • Exceptional fuel economy returns
  • Fairly expansive cargo bay
  • Contemporary infotainment suite
  • Modern and suave crossover design
  • Uncouth powertrain responses
  • Run-of-the-mill handling
  • Ride quality is just bearable
  • No all-wheel drive offered
  • Lower-tier trims are bare-bones

Best Deals on 2021 Kia Niro

2021 Kia Niro Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Touring SE
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
EX Premium
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Kia Niro Trims and Specs

2021 Niro Exterior

2021 Kia Niro Front View Kia
2021 Kia Niro Rear View Kia
2021 Kia Niro Front-End View Kia
See All 2021 Kia Niro Exterior Photos


  • Length 171.5 in
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in
  • Height 60.4 in
  • Max Width 71.1 in
  • Front Width 61.6 in
  • Rear Width 62.2 in
  • Curb Weight 3,100.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Runway Red +$295
  • Aurora Black Pearl +$395
  • Snow White Pearl +$395
  • Silky Silver
  • Deep Cerulean
  • Horizon Blue
  • Solar Orange

2021 Niro Performance

2021 Kia Niro Front Angle View Kia
2021 Kia Niro Rear Angle View Kia
2021 Kia Niro Dashboard Kia

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain

2021 Niro Interior

2021 Kia Niro First Row Kia
2021 Kia Niro Overhead Screen Kia
2021 Kia Niro Gear Shifter Kia
See All 2021 Kia Niro Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 40.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.1 in

2021 Niro Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 Kia Niro Driver Seat Kia
2021 Kia Niro Seats-Down Trunk Space Kia
2021 Kia Niro Trunk Floor Storage Kia

2021 Niro Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Hybrid/Electric Components:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Kia Niro a good Hybrid SUV?

There are many qualities that make the Kia Niro an appealing option within the market, from its straightforward drivability and highly efficient performance to its decent technology consignment and everyday practicality. It really is everything a small family could need in a 5-door crossover runabout, plus, it boasts one of the most modern, user-friendly, and all-inclusive infotainment systems in the class. The NHTSA and IIHS's review of the 2021 Kia Niro resulted in a good safety rating that's been matched by high reliability expectations. That is where the buck stops, however, as with just the one powertrain, no option to AWD, and no towing capacity, it's stuck with mundane driving dynamics and is lacking in key areas where its competitors excel. If you're set on the Niro SUV, we'd suggest waiting to see what the new generation will have to offer as the 2021 model still forms part of the very first Niro generation that debuted back in 2017.

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