2017 Kia Niro Review

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2017 Kia Niro Overview

Kia has taken the hybrid crossover concept to what it asserts is a whole new level with the 2017 Niro. Sleek yet aggressive, cute yet confident, the brand-new Niro debuted at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show to the restrained acclaim of reviewers and consumers alike. Kia is even confident enough in its latest hybrid to have invented a new vehicle classification for it--the “hybrid utility vehicle,” or HUV.

Touted to be roomy, efficient, and fun to drive, the 5-passenger 5-door Niro is expected to offer a number of upgrades to typical hybrid performance parameters in an attempt to best competitors as the Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda CR-V Hybrid, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The Niro is also slated to be offered in a plug-in variant later next year.

A product of Kia’s little-known EcoDynamics division, the Niro will sport a hybrid-dedicated chassis and lighter body components constructed of aluminum and alloys. Kia says the Niro's aerodynamic profile has a sleek .29 drag coefficient, helping it to an estimated (and potentially class-leading) mileage of 50 mpg combined.

The 2017 Niro combines a unique 106-hp Kappa 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine with a 43-hp (32 kW) electric motor for a total of 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, managed by an enhanced 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A brand-new 1.56 kilowatt/hour (kWh) lithium-ion polymer battery will stow beneath the rear seat, allowing a flat load floor and 25.5 cubic feet of total cargo space. Kia has also redesigned its regenerative braking system for the Niro, hitching the system to a hydraulic braking mechanism for smooth, confident stops, even as it helps recharge the battery pack more efficiently.

Both Kia and reviewers have made much of the Niro’s unique Eco-DAS1 (Driver Assistance System), which offers a Coasting Guide and a Predictive Energy Control feature. The Coasting Guide mentors drivers on when to coast and brake for maximum fuel efficiency. The Predictive Energy Control technology uses the Niro’s standard navigation system and cruise control to anticipate hills, curves, and straightaways, coordinating effective energy usage and storage, and even determining when to switch to all-electric power and use the I4 to charge the battery. All of this, of course, means greater fuel efficiency.

With its enhanced powerplant, upgraded aerodynamics, and lighter components, the Niro is expected to offer agility and responsiveness comparable to (if not better than) Kia's popular Optima Hybrid and Hybrid Plug-in sedans.

Pending further details as the Niro’s showroom entrance date draws near, look for exterior features such as 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, and a rear spoiler. Inside, a clean, uncluttered dashboard layout is complimented by an unusually high driver’s seating position, while full power accessories, automatic climate control, and split-folding rear seatbacks come standard. The brand new Niro will also include Kia’s upgraded UVO3 infotainment and telematics system, with eServices emergency alerts and communications, Android Auto smartphone apps, standard Pandora internet radio, and a 7-inch touchscreen display.

Kia claims that the Niro's unique chassis and reinforced construction--including specially designed industrial-strength joint adhesives--will achieve best-in-class scores from both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). On top of that, look for the debuting 2017 Niro to offer such standard and optional safety technology as blind-spot warnings, lane-changing assistance, lane-departure warnings, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, and its upgraded autonomous emergency braking system.

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Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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