The Kia Niro is the South Korean automaker's electrified-forward offering, that's only available with some kind of hybrid powertrain. The regular Niro was the first hybrid in the nameplate's lineup, which was followed by the Niro Plug-in Hybrid and will also become a trio when the Niro Electric arrives. Unlike other hybrids on the market, the Niro has a crossover-like design that makes it a great family car. Despite its large size, compared to other compact hybrids on the road, the Niro still manages to get up to an EPA-estimated 50 miles per gallon combined, which is impressive for a vehicle with so much versatility. The Niro isn't perfect, though, as acceleration is subpar at best and front-wheel drive is the only drivetrain layout for the model.

Best Value

Kia offers the Niro in five trims: FE, LX, EX, S Touring, and Touring. Pricing for the vehicle ranges from $24,430 to $33,090 (all prices include destination). Like other Kias, the Niro is a value-packed car with loads of standard features. Even the base model comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, keyless entry, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Even with the attractive list of standard features on the entry-level trim, we'd go with mid-level EX. It comes with heated exterior mirrors, roof rails, automatic headlights, fog lights, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, cloth- and leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, a 4.2-inch TFT trip computer, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror as standard.

Here's how we'd build our Niro EX:

  • Model:2019 Kia Niro EX Hybrid
  • Engine: 1.6-liter four-cylinder, AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor
  • Output:139 hp / 195 lb-ft combined
  • Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drivetrain:Front-wheel drive
  • MPG:51 City / 46 Hwy
  • Options: EX Premium Package ($5,300, HID headlights, a power sunroof, an eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, an 110-volt inverter, a memory system for the driver’s seat, stainless-steel door scuff plate trim, a gloss black radiator grille, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, a wireless phone charger, a 10-way power driver’s seat)
  • Base Price:$27,240 (including a $940 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$32,540

Performance

Kia Niro

The Niro won't blow you away with its performance, but the hybrid doesn't really feel like a hybrid, offering respectable performance from a standstill and having minimal body roll around corners. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is also out of the ordinary for hybrids, and, for the most part, masks the Niro's electrified side during daily driving.

While the driving experience isn't bad by any means, the Niro is geared toward getting good fuel economy figures. Therefore, acceleration, especially when traveling at highway speeds, isn't stellar. Sure, the Niro has two different drive modes – Eco and Sport – but they only make minor changes to the way the vehicle drives. The single-motor hybrid system can also cause some confusion between the Niro's physical and regenerative brakes. This friction can lead to a jerky ride under braking at times.

Style

Handsome, stylish, and sleek are all ways to describe the Niro, but then again, some may think the design of the hybrid comes off as boring. The vehicle also merges the lines between wagon and crossover, having a tall ride height and a lengthy roofline. On the inside, the tall ride height equates to a higher seating position and better visibility out of the vehicle. It also translates to a 19.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in place, which expands to 54.5 cubic feet in total.

Material quality leaves a lot to be desired, as hard plastics and cheap materials are present throughout the entire cabin. While the front seats are comfortable, three passengers will have a rough time being comfortable in the back. There's some good news for the interior, though, as the center stack has a simple layout and Kia's infotainment system is relatively easy to use.

The Best and Worst Things

The Niro provides consumers with a versatile body style and good fuel economy. That's a mix that few other brands have been able to bring to market for an affordable price. There's also the Niro's excellent value, lengthy list of standard features, and near-luxury available features.

If performance and all-wheel drive are on your must-have list, the Niro will disappoint.

Right For? Wrong For?

Kia Niro

Anyone looking for versatility and good fuel economy. The Niro is easy to drive and has the utility that consumers are looking for in an attractive package with an affordable price.

Deal with a lot of snow? Then the lack of all-wheel drive will be off-putting. Like to feel smooth torque push you back into the seat? The Niro can get you up to highway speeds and keep you there, but mashing the throttle doesn't exactly result in a thrilling experience.

The Bottom Line

Look past the fact that the 2019 Kia Niro is only available in front-wheel drive, and the vehicle shines. The Niro gets excellent fuel economy, is packed with all sorts of features, is easy to drive, and is more versatile than other hybrids because of its size. At the end of the day, the Niro is the real deal and a strong contender in the segment.