All-New 2023 Kia Niro Touches Down In New York

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A new generation of efficient hybrids and EVs has landed at the New York Auto Show.

Following its global debut late last year, the all-new Kia Niro has made its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show. The 2023 Niro launches in the US with three distinct electrified powertrains; hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric, as part of the brand's Plan S electrification strategy.

Drawing design inspiration from the HabaNiro concept, the latest generation is more stylish than the model it replaces, with a bold exterior. The front fascia receives a striking aesthetic, with shapely daytime running lights placed on either side of the signature tiger-nose grille. A faux skid plate beefs up the front end and pairs nicely with the rugged-looking cladding and wheel arches.

On Niro Hybrid and PHEV models, the aforementioned styling touches are finished in black, while the all-electric derivative receives Steel Grey or black trim, depending on the paint finish. Around back, boomerang-shaped LED taillights soften the angular lines. There's a function behind the form; the Niro has an impressive drag coefficient of 0.29.

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But it's the crossover's side profile that has the most eye-catching design aspect. Referred to as the Aero Blade, the quirky design feature isn't just a gimmick - Kia says it aids airflow underneath the vehicle. Buyers can opt to have it painted in the body color, although contrasting finishes are available. Additionally, Hybrid and PHEV models are privy to optional HabaNiro-inspired 18-inch wheels.

The new model has grown, now measuring 174 inches from stem to stern. The wheelbase has also increased, to 107.1 inches, up from the previous model's 106.3 inches. These changes have paid dividends, improving cargo capacity to 22.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats, up from the 19.4 cubes afforded by its predecessor.

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No matter your requirements, Kia is adamant it has a Niro to fit your eco-minded lifestyle. The first model in the Niro lineup is the Hybrid which utilizes a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a 32kW electric motor. The total power output is rated at a fairly middling 139-horsepower, although the 195 lb-ft of torque will come in handy. Impressively, the HEV can return a targeted 53 mpg on the combined cycle with an estimated travel range of 588 miles.

The same 1.6-liter engine does duty in the PHEV, although it's aided by a more muscular 62kW electric motor. Torque remains unchanged, but the plug-in derivative receives slightly more power, at 180 hp. Plugged into a Level 2 charger, the Niro PHEV can top up its 11.1 kWh battery in less than three hours. Kia estimates an electric range of 33 miles when fitted with 16-inch wheels, representing a 25% improvement over the previous generation. Both the HEV and PHEV receive a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

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The Niro EV is the most powerful of the bunch with 201 hp on tap. When plugged into a Level 3 fast charger, the 64.8 kWh battery can charge from 10% to 80% in less than 45 minutes. A nifty 11kW onboard charger allows the Niro to replenish its energy reserves in under seven hours when connected to a Level 2 charger. The targeted range for the Niro EV is 253 miles. Customers in colder climates can select a battery warmer and heat pump to conserve range.

The new model debuts Green Zone Drive Mode. Cleverly, the HEV and PHEV automatically switch over to EV mode in residential areas, nearby schools, and residential areas. Another nifty trick up the Niro's sleeve is the road gradient and radar-guided regenerative braking. Through constant monitoring, all Niro models can calculate the required regeneration in order to recoup the maximum amount of energy while bringing the vehicle to a safe stop.

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Step inside the 2023 Niro lineup and you'll notice the Korean brand has taken an upmarket approach. The classy two-spoke wheel, first seen on the EV6, is now present in the Niro's tastefully appointed cabin. The more premium ambiance hasn't been achieved at the expense of sustainability. The cabin is free of animal textiles and has plenty of recycled materials. The headliner, for example, is composed of reused wallpaper.

The design itself is particularly striking, especially the way the dashboard swoops down dramatically into the door cards. A pair of available 10.25-inch screens for the digital instrumentation and infotainment system offers high levels of connectivity. Standard on the EX and above, Kia Connect will allow owners to access features through the new Digital Key, allowing users to unlock or start the Niro with a smartphone. Over-the-air updates constantly update the maps and infotainment functionality, while a stolen vehicle recovery system will let Niro drivers rest easy should the worst happen.

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Plenty of tech is on offer, such as Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go. For the First time, the Niro EV can be optioned with Kia's Highway Driving Assist II, which bundles Lane Change Assist, FCA (Forward Collision Avoidance) with Lane Change, and Smart Cruise Control with Machine Learning. Other available luxuries include memory seating, mood lighting, and a head-up display. Naturally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard although wireless charging remains an option.

Safety hasn't been forgotten; Kia has stuffed the Niro full of clever accident prevention technology. Some standard ADAS features on the 2023 model include Blind Spot Collision Avoidance, Lane Following Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist, among other items. Available to purchase from summer 2022, the 2023 Kia Niro range will be made available in all 50 states. Pricing is yet to be announced, but we doubt Kia would forget its value-for-money roots with its newcomer. If this first impression is anything to go by, the Niro range could give the competition a proper run for the money.

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