The 2018 Kia Niro is not your stereotypical hybrid SUV. Available in five trims, the Niro starts at $24,180 (including a $940 destination charge) and is loaded with interior features, especially in the premium EX and Touring. A rather impressive powertrain is both peppy and fuel efficient, while cargo space is sparse. Most crossover SUVs are available in all-wheel drive, but the front-wheel drive only Kia Niro lacks this option, making it a better choice for drivers in warm weather climates or consumers looking for a crossover appearing vehicle that drives more like a compact car.
What's New for 2018
The 2018 Kia Niro enters the year mainly unchanged. A new Premium package and Touring Graphite Edition which is available with the EX trim leads the list of minor changes added to Niro. Kia has also included a lane keeping assist system in the Advanced Technology Package available in EX and LX trims.
Choosing Your Kia Niro
Consumers looking for a reliable daily driver have several ways to enhance their 2018 Kia Niro. The Niro is offered in five trim levels, the FE, LX, EX, Touring Graphite Edition and premium Touring.
Each Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that works in conjunction with an electric motor to produce a combined 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Power is applied to the front wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission. The base Niro FE returns an EPA-estimated is 52 miles per gallon city and 49 mpg highway, while the LX and EX riding on 16-inch wheels drop slightly to 51 mpg city and 46 mpg highway. When the 18-inch wheel upgrade is added to the Niro, fuel economy drops to 46 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.
The 2018 Kia Niro FE is well equipped for a base model. Starting at $24,180 (including a $940 destination charge), the FE rides on 16-inch wheels, includes 60/40-split folding rear seats, six-way adjustable front seats, and automatic headlights. A dual-zone climate control system is standard, as is a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and a six-speaker audio system. A rear-view camera, and both USB and Bluetooth connectivity are also included in the FE. The base audio system also includes a three-month SiriusXM trial.
The exterior of the FE is impressively sharp for a hybrid, which is available in four exterior colors. A rear spoiler is added, while a gloss black radiator grille with chrome trim and black fender and rocker rails spice up the outer appearance of the 2018 Niro. On the inside, an automatic windshield defogging system is a unique touch, and a front center console with armrest and storage is also included for no additional charge. While there are no available packages for the FE, consumers can opt for Aurora Black or Snow White Pearl for a nominal $395 charge.
A step up to the LX trim increases the starting price slightly to $24,490 but adds a load of extra goodies. This trim is slightly heavier than the FE, which is the primary reason for the drop in EPA-estimated fuel economy to 51 mpg city and 46 mpg highway. The LX adds roof rails, a smart keyless entry push-button start system, LED taillights, a rear-seat center armrest (with added cup holders), and a storage tray in the rear cargo area. The second trim also ups the ante by adding two additional exterior colors to choose, while gray and charcoal interior colors are available.
The LX can be spruced up with safety features by adding the LX Advanced Technology package. For an additional $1,450, Niro buyers score forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and a leather-wrapped gear shift and steering wheel. LED daytime running lights, and front fog lights top off this option package.
Power and heated front seats kick off the added features of the EX trim. Beginning at $26,990, the EX trim includes everything listed in the LX and Advanced Technology package, and adds a plethora of upgrades. A stylish, black upper console, a 10-way power driver seat, a second row USB port, and blind spot monitoring with the rear cross traffic alert system is also standard.
Where the EX jumps past the lower trims is the upgraded packages. The EX Premium Package is available for an additional $5,300 and includes a suite of options including HID headlights, a power sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an integrated memory system for the driver seat and outside mirrors. The options continue with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes navigation, a Harmon Kardon premium audio system with eight-speakers, a smart cruise control system, 110-volt inverter and wireless phone charger.
The EX Advanced Technology Package is also available for $1,950 and adds the autonomous emergency braking with the pedestrian detection system, the forward collision warning system, lane keep assist, smart cruise control, and 10-way power driver’s seat, which includes a two-way power lumbar support.
The EX's optional Touring Graphite Edition package that adds an additional $2,400 to the price but spicing up the exterior appearance with blacked out, 18-inch wheels, a metallic colored front grille insert, and Platinum Graphite exterior paint. A charcoal cloth interior with leather seat trim, the 10-way power driver seat, and Harmon Kardon audio system is also included in this trim. The increase in larger wheels will drop the EPA-estimated fuel economy rather significantly to 46 mpg city, and 40 mpg highway.
The final offering is the Touring trim, which packs the Niro with features included in the EX Premium package, and increases the starting price to $32,840. It rides on 18-inch wheels, adds the Harmon Kardon audio system, and a front and rear parking assist. The Touring is the premium trim, with no available packages besides the $395 extra cost for the Snow White or Aurora Black color.
Although considered a crossover hybrid SUV, the 2018 Kia Niro is better served as a hatchback. The lack of all-wheel drive or additional ride height pretty much limits the Niro to street only driving. However, an impressive fuel economy, affordable price, and peppy engine performance make it an attractive option for serious commuters. For consumers looking for creature comforts, the EX is a rather impressive choice. If fuel economy is the number one priority, the FE’s EPA-estimated 50 mpg combined is hard to overlook.
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