2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review - By Kyle Edward
More Miles Per Gallon
The KIA Niro is all about practical efficiency. It’s no joke, rated at 52 city and 49 highway while the plug-in hybrid version is rated at 48 city and 44 highway but with 25 miles of electric range, I averaged 55 to 60 mpg combined around town. Another added benefit to the plug-in version is the extra off-the-line power, that instant torque from the battery is nice to have. If you do a lot of city driving, then the plug-in could be a great option for you with a starting price of $27,900. It’s around $4,000 more than the standard Niro at $23,340 but could be worth it if you want to electrify your drive.
I appreciated the inoffensive exterior design of the Niro. While most hybrid/electric cars take on an alien spaceship design, the Niro looks like a standard four-door sedan. This is great if you’re looking to use the Niro for its fuel efficiency and not to make a loud statement about your hybrid driving choice. That’s not to say the exterior is overly boring, it still features stylish LED accent lights on the front and rear. The hatch look is a bonus too plus it gives you added cargo space. You certainly won’t be attracting any attention to yourself driving the Niro and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
No CVT = Fun To Drive
One of my biggest complaints about hybrid/electric vehicles would be the lack of an automatic transmission which is often replaced by a CVT (continuously variable transmission). They make obnoxious whining noises especially when under heavy acceleration and provide a very numb driving experience as there are no real shift points. However, the Niro is one of the only hybrid/electric vehicles that actually comes with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic with a manual shifting mode. Having a real automatic makes driving the Niro engaging and fun compared to other vehicles in its class. It even has a sport mode which runs the engine at all times giving you a little extra zip. Handling is average although I found it to be a little unstable when taking a sharp curve quickly. Granted most Niro drivers won’t be doing that. After driving the Niro and some of its peers, I can honestly say it’s certainly the most fun to drive besides the Ioniq which is made by Hyundai.
Plenty of Amenities
When you think hybrid I bet cooled seats don’t come to mind. But that’s exactly what the top trim level Niro has, among other features such as heated seats, heated steering wheel, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, distance guided cruise control and blind spot detection. All of these features make the Niro a compelling choice especially when others just don’t offer as many creature comforts and safety features.
Simple Interior Design
If the Niro has any shortcomings, it would be its overly basic interior design. The dashboard is flat and made up of just two different materials which run together and look very boring. The multimedia system works fine but the screen is getting a little small. It does have integrated Google search which is a great feature allowing you to easily find your destination via the Google database. Considering the other choices in this segment, the interior isn’t terrible but could use an update. I wouldn’t let it stop me from buying a Niro but then again, why not just get an Ioniq.
Top Plug-In Hybrid Choice
With a starting price of $27,900 and around 25 miles of electric range, the Niro plug-in hybrid is a solid choice. In the city, the plug-in version is about 20/30 percent more efficient than the standard Niro. With government tax credits, the plug-in could cost just a thousand or two more. Depending on your driving habits and what you’re looking for, the plug-in could be just what you need. I did enjoy all of the safety and comfort features and for the price, it’s a good value. All things considered, the 2018 KIA Niro plug-in hybrid is one of the best driving and most appealing vehicles in its class.