I had the opportunity to go down to San Antonio, Texas and drive the 2017 Kia Niro myself earlier this month. You can see me driving the Niro in the photo below. I look like an idiot, but you can clearly see how much fun we were having driving it around.
Now, I thought it was a little odd to launch a hybrid in Texas and not some place like Oregon, but it turns out that Texas is the 3rd largest hybrid market in the US. Who knew! Another fun fact, San Antonio is the fastest going city in Texas for college educated millennials.
While I drove the Niro around with Alice from Thrill of the Chases we averaged 47 mpg. We were driving in the city and on highways. The Niro Touring model is supposed to get 40 mpg on the highway and 46 mpg in the city. Which means we beat the average! The Niro FE base model should get 52 mpg in the city, 49 on the highway, and 50 combined.
One of the reasons the gas mileage is so good is because it uses Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System). This system uses navigation to help you get better fuel economy wherever you are going. The Niro knows if you’re traveling uphill or down a hill and it adjusts to maximize fuel. They also used air curtains to reduce drag.
All of that added up, because the Niro now holds a Guinness World Record for lowest fuel consumption driving across the USA from coast to coast in a hybrid car, 76.6 mpg!
The car is super quiet when driving around and really didn’t drive at all like a hybrid to me. Maybe it’s because it has a different type of engine, an Atkinson cycle engine. At no point could I tell it was switching back and forth. It was peppy and responsive.
When they were designing the Kia Niro out in Irvine CA they were going for an “un-hybrid” look. And I gotta say they did it. When I came home from the trip one of the very first things a buddy ask me was does it look like a hybrid and my answer, “NO”. The Niro is wider and has a flat hood. Plus, it’s got a tiger nose grille and aggressive headlights. Overall it’s still lightweight, but it’s a more modern looking car.
Things I Liked About the Niro
Ample Leg Room – Some of the things I really liked about the Niro was the ample leg room. I’m not super tall, but I am not short and do not want to have to squeeze into a car. In the Niro I didn’t have too. My family of found would have easily fit into this car.
We put the trunk space to good use. Kia donated 10 trunk loads of toys to the local San Antonio Toys for Tots.
Another thing that really jumped out at me was how much of this hybrid is made with high strength steel. 53% of the Niro body is made with high strength steel. I don’t want to get hurt in a crash just because I am driving a hybrid.
Tons of Technology
The $32,000 Kia Niro hybrid Touring model I drove had all the bells and whistles like wireless charging, autonomous braking, smart cruise control, heated seats that can also be cooled, lane change assist, and blind spot protection.
The back seat is small, but not tiny and there is a house hold plug-in and air back there. As I’ve mentioned before I will not buy a car without air in the back, because my kids get so car sick.
The back seat will easily hold 2 car seats, but I am not sure it could manage 3 car seats.
Last but not least look at the dash panel. It is easy to read and not too cluttered.
Find out what my friend and auto expert, Nik Miles, thought of the Niro!