Superb fuel economy. Despite the 2020 Kia Niro’s relatively large body and classification as a subcompact crossover, the hybrid gets nearly the same fuel economy as smaller options on the market. The EPA rates the Niro to get up to 49 miles per gallon combined thanks to its frugal powertrain. That’s only slightly behind hybrid versions of compact and midsize sedans. If you’re looking for a hybrid crossover that gets good fuel economy, the Niro is a leader.
To get the best in fuel economy with the Niro, you’ll have to stick with the lower trims. The Touring trim comes with larger wheels and more features, bringing extra weight and increasing drag. This drops fuel economy to 43 mpg combined. Still, that's an excellent figure for a vehicle of this size.
Excellent value for money. The Niro upholds Kia’s claim to fame of being a value first brand thanks to its extensive list of standard features. While entry-level models of fuel-efficient vehicles usually don’t come with a lot of standard features, as their main focus is on saving you fuel, this isn’t the case with the Niro.
The base Niro comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, and more. For a vehicle that starts at $25,710, the Niro comes well equipped. One thing that’s missing as standard is automatic emergency braking.
The top-of-the line EX Premium brings things like a wireless charger, synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a Harman Kardon audio system, a heated steering wheel, and a sunroof. Few hybrids come as well equipped as the Niro.
Versatility befitting a crossover. For a hybrid, the Niro has a unique SUV-like shape. Not only does the design help it stand out in a segment filled with sedans and hatchbacks, it gives the vehicle more versatility than its competitors.
Cargo capacity in the Niro measures in at 19.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and a total of 54.5 cubic feet of cargo space in total. Since the Niro was designed from the beginning with the intention of being a hybrid, the vehicle’s battery pack doesn’t impede on interior space. Additionally, the Niro provides spacious accommodations for up to five people, as it even has enough rear head room and leg room for taller passengers.
Where’s all-wheel drive? Kia doesn’t offer all-wheel drive on the Niro. At a time when automakers are bringing all-wheel drive to small sedans and hybrid vehicles, it’s an interesting omission for the Niro that diminishes its appeal for consumers that live in areas that get inclement weather.
Piggybacking off the Niro’s lack of all-wheel drive is a lack of enjoyability. While hybrids aren’t known for being enjoyable to drive, the Niro firmly lands in the area of not having an athletic bolt anywhere in its body.
With only 139 horsepower from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, the Niro won’t win any drag races either. The powertrain’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is unique for a hybrid vehicle, too, but can stumble at lower speeds.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Kia Niro does something few other hybrids have managed to do: blend crossover versatility with incredible fuel economy. Excellent fuel economy is just one of the Niro’s many strengths, as it offers a great amount of cargo space, a spacious cabin, and a good mix of standard and available features.
While we’re extremely happy with the Niro, we’re left wanting all-wheel drive. Being able to send power to all four wheels is a must for a lot of consumers these days, so adding the feature would greatly bolster its appeal. Nicer materials and a more refined transmission are our only other nitpicks.
The Niro doesn’t have any real direct competitors – you’re either going to have to move up to a compact crossover or down to a subcompact hatchback or sedan. The Toyota Prius AWD gets similar fuel economy, but is even less of a performance vehicle and doesn’t have the same amount of interior space, though it comes with all-wheel drive.
The Honda Insight is a smaller overall vehicle, but gets similar fuel economy, comes with more standard safety features, and costs less. The Insight doesn’t have the same interior space as the Niro and doesn’t come with smartphone compatibility as standard.
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