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  • 2017 Kia Niro Touring

    Posted on May 10th, 2017 ninarussin

    New hybrid crossover melds versatility and value

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Kia Niro

    2017 Kia Niro

    To compare the new Kia Niro gasoline/electric hybrid to the Toyota Prius is apples and oranges. In terms of fuel economy, the Prius beats the Niro hands down. But buyers wanting a more conventional crossover with the versatility for active lifestyles and excellent gas mileage will find a lot to love in the Niro.

    Kia continues to offer exceptional value throughout the product lineup, including convenience features such as Harman Kardon audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth interface, leather seating and keyless start in a vehicle priced below $30,000. Pricing for the base model starts at the $22,890 while the upscale Touring model tested starts at $29,650. Pricing excludes an $895 delivery charge.

    Available active safety features include autonomous braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control lane departure warning. Final MSRP on the Touring model, including the aforementioned-safety features is $32,840.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2017 Kia Niro

    2017 Kia Niro

    Over the past week, I put the peppy Niro through its paces on roads through Phoenix, Arizona’s East Valley as well as rural thoroughfares on the Gila River Indian Community south of town. Average fuel economy was about 44 miles-per-gallon throughout: one mile-per-gallon better than the EPA estimate.

    Power comes from a 104-horsepower four-cylinder and electric motor, mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Because electric motors develop peak torque at very low speeds, the car feels much more powerful, with excellent low-end acceleration. The six-speed automatic is a step up from continuously variable transmissions on competitive units, offering crisp, linear shifting.

    An electric power steering system delivers plenty of low-end assist for maneuverability with good on-center response at speed. A 17.4-foot turning radius makes it easy for owners to parallel park on the street.

    2017 Kia Niro

    2017 Kia Niro

    A four-wheel independent suspension soaks up bumps in the road while delivering a pleasingly firm ride and flat cornering. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Niro in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse. Standard blind spot monitoring illuminates LED symbols in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. The system is prone to false alarms, especially when two vehicles are stopped at a light with adjacent left turn lanes.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior so occupants in both rows can converse or enjoy the premium audio system.

    Versatile interior

     

    Kia Niro Interior

    Kia Niro Interior

    Keyless entry and start saves the owner from fumbling for his key fob after dark adding a measure of safety in urban areas. Inside, the Niro is loaded with the features today’s tech-savvy buyers are looking for, including available wireless phone charging.

    I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view with ample lower lumbar support for long drives. Rear seats fold flat, so buyers don’t have to lose the versatility of a large cargo area due to the vehicle’s battery pack. Despite the Niro’s compact dimensions, a road bike will fit inside with the front wheel removed. Roof rails are standard, making it easy to add an extra rack or cargo carrier up top.

    Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright daylight and after dark. Both climate and audio controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate.

    Standard safety

    The Kia Niro comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, daytime running lamps, a rearview camera and blind spot monitoring.

    Kia’s factory warranty includes five years of roadside assistance, up to 60,000 miles.

    Kia builds the Niro at its Hwaseong, Korea assembly plant.

    Like: A stylish versatile compact crossover with exceptional fuel economy thanks to its hybrid powertrain.

    Dislike: Blind spot monitoring system is prone to false alarms.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Kia
    Model: Niro Touring
    Year: 2017
    Base price: $29,650
    As tested: $32,840
    Horsepower: 104 HP @ 5700 rpm
    Torque: 109 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 46/40 mpg city/highway

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