by Karl Furlong
The Niro has always been one of Kia's most affordable electrified models, and now the Korean automaker has just revealed the next generation of the Niro crossover. The Niro has been easy to overlook for some time as the brand simply offered more exciting alternatives elsewhere, but that's no longer the case with the boldly styled new one. As before, we expect it to offer remarkable efficiency for a hybrid as the outgoing model could return 50 mpg combined. As before, the new Niro will be offered as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a full battery-electric. However, our focus here is on the hybrid model as we review the other models separately.
The new Niro doesn't look like its predecessor at all. While the previous model wasn't ugly, it tended to get lost in the crowd. There's much less chance of that happening now. Boasting a new Tiger face and influenced by the 2019 Habaniro concept, the new Niro's face has 'heartbeat' LED daytime running lights. From some angles, the headlight design is decidedly odd, but at least it can't be called boring.
At the back, there's a new pillar that is notably wide, while the taillights have a distinct boomerang shape. Other than those elongated taillights, the rear design is actually quite plain. We think the Niro looks best in darker colors.
While the exterior hasn't totally won us over, the new Niro has a beautifully designed cabin. The clean, unfussy lines give off the impression that this will be a relaxing car to travel in. We also like the off-center lines of the dashboard and the vivid displays ahead of the driver.
Kia has focused on using sustainable materials wherever possible. That's why the headlining is made from recycled wallpaper and the seats are fashioned from Bio PU with Tencel from eucalyptus leaves. Classy ambient mood lighting and an electronic dial-type shifter are equipped. The previous Niro was a little cramped at the back so we hope the new one is an improvement in this regard.
Kia hasn't revealed any powertrain specifics about the new Niro at this point, although we do know that hybrid, PHEV, and EV variants will be offered as before. In the current Niro Hybrid, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with an electric motor to produce a combined 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. As the focus of the Niro has always been on efficiency, we don't expect a major increase in power for the new model. We also know that the Niro PHEVwill come with a Greenzone Drive Mode which automatically switches the car to EV mode in green zones like residential areas. This technology is based on driving history data and navigation.
In terms of efficiency, the previous Niro Hybrid returned 50 mpg combined, so the new one should be at least as efficient.
Pricing for the new-generation Niro had not been revealed at the time of writing. The 2022 Niro Hybrid begins at $24,690, so the new one should start at around $25,000 when it goes on sale next year.
There aren't many other hybrid vehicles at the Niro's price point that can match its efficiency; at least, this was true for the 2022 model. It should once again make the Niro Hybrid a unique proposition for customers looking for an efficient crossover at a good price. Although it has a different body style, the Toyota Prius is one of the few hybrids to have matched the current Niro's efficiency. The same goes for the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid. For a couple of thousand more, the larger Hyundai Tucson Hybrid is another tempting option.
However, the Niro should once again offer excellent running costs for an SUV, and now it's also nicer to sit inside and more interesting to look at.
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