Kia says its new model, the Niro, is a small crossover. I say with no all-wheel drive available and a four-door boxy design with a hatch, the Niro is really a small station wagon. Decades ago, small wagons were a hit.
Built on the same platform as Hyundai’s Ioniq, smaller families will find much to like here. The Touring model has many extras, mostly inside. It includes luxury touches usually found on more premium brands, such as a heated steering wheel and heated and cooled seats.
There are no silly spaceship designs. The biggest gimmick is the fuel economy monitor. Premium audio from Harman Kardon sounds greats.
The only transmission is a six-speed dual-clutch automatic that works well. The panel includes controls for electronic driving aids like lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. Cutting edge a few years ago, Kia’s touchscreen navigation and telematics are getting a bit dated.
Where the Niro really has an advantage over some other hybrids is row two. Even adults can fit back there just fine. No row three seats are available, but that helps with cargo space.
A large storage tray provides an out-of-sight place for odd and ends.
A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine coupled with the electric motor provides only 139 horsepower. That means sluggish performance to go along with high mileage. Road noise is pronounced, especially on concrete highways.
So, for the 2017 Kia Niro Touring, I say thumbs up to great gas mileage, good cargo space, and luxury features; thumbs down to road noise.
I averaged about 46 miles per gallon. The pre-production model had no sticker, but the price will be about $30,000.