The Kia Niro will be an all-new hybrid wagon for the 2017 model year. It will be the brand's first dedicated hybrid not based off an existing model. Unlike competitors such as the Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt, the Niro is being marketed as a hybrid utility vehicle (HUV) with more versatility than traditional hatchbacks.
The Niro will be powered by a 1.6-liter GDI engine mated to a 32 kW electric motor producing a combined 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Kia estimates an EPA fuel economy rating of up to 50 mpg in overall driving (compared to 41 mpg in the 2017 Toyota Prius v and 52 mpg in the non-wagon 2017 Prius).
That being said, the 50 mpg figure will be for the entry-level FE model. Other versions like the LX, EX, Touring Launch and Touring versions have a considerably less impressive target of 43 mpg overall, giving the vehicle a slight advantage over the Prius v. Unlike most other hybrids, the Niro will use a new 6-spd dual-clutch transmission with available sport mode.
The vehicle's exterior design blends the functionality of a wagon with the appeal of a higher ride height meant to appeal to shoppers in the popular crossover segment. Distinctive features include a wider stance compared to most Kias and sporty bits like roof rails and a rear skid plate.
Sadly, the interior still hasn't been photographed in much detail. However, it's a good bet the vehicle will feature the same level of refinement as the latest batch of models like the 2017 Optima. The Niro will benefit from the latest UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen display and support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Published cargo capacity comes in at 19.4 cu. ft. with the rear seats upright and 54.5 cu. ft with the rear seats folded and when making use of a rear cargo tray. For comparison, the Prius v has a stated capacity of 67.3 cu. ft. with the seats folded, although it's possible that real-world usability of that space may end up being similar once we conduct our hands-on review.
In terms of safety, expect to see a full range of the latest driver assistance tech such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection and more with the optional Advanced Technology Package (up to $2,300 extra depending on trim).
Expect a full review closer to launch.
Pricing & Release Date
The 2017 Kia Niro is on sale and beginning to arrive at dealers. Based on our analysis, special offers on Kia's Optima Hybrid have been very aggressive leading up to the Niro's launch. Promotional lease offers in particular have been outstanding thanks to large discounts.
Official Niro pricing will start at $23,785 with destination and range as high as $30,545 before adding optional equipment. Interestingly, the Niro has been positioned quite a bit lower in price compared to the 2017 Optima Hybrid, which ranges from $26,890 to $31,885.
Will shoppers flock to the new wagon and its attractive price point? That remains to be seen.
Pictured: 2017 Niro