2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review

Niro Plug-In Hybrid

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2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Overview

The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) is all-new for the 2018 model year. This model expands the Niro lineup, which launched last year with the Niro hybrid. The Niro PHEV combines the utility of a crossover with the fuel-efficiency of a plug-in hybrid.

The model offers three trim levels with power across the lineup provided by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It also has an 8.9 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and 44.5 kW electric motor. Together, these offer a combined 139 system horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The Kia Niro PHEV comes with a choice of EV, hybrid, eco, or sport drive modes, which lets the driver tailor the transmission response to focus on conserving fuel and battery power or to deliver a more responsive ride.

The Niro PHEV has an all-electric range of up to 26 miles and achieves an EPA-estimated 105 MPGe combined. Total driving range with gas and electric combined is 560 miles. The battery in the Niro PHEV is tucked under the cargo floor and the rear seats to maintain the same cargo room found in the Niro hybrid, which offers 19.4 cubic feet for cargo with the rear seats upright or 54.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The single charging port is located by the driver’s side front fender, and the vehicle can be fully charged in roughly 2.5 hours using a Level 2 240V charger or under 9 hours with a Level 1 120V charger.

In the development of the Niro PHEV, weight reduction took priority. The PHEV sits on the same platform as the Niro hybrid, which uses over 50 percent advanced high strength steel, but goes a step further by using the same steel in other parts of the car, including the seat frames. Weight was also reduced by using aluminum in the hood, tailgate, and select suspension components.

There are three different trim levels to choose from, starting with the LX priced at $27,900. The base model comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, bi-function projection headlights, auto light control headlights, LED positioning and turn signal lamps, front fog lights, and LED daytime running lights. Acoustic windshield glass with a shade band, solar control front windows, privacy glass, and heated back-lite glass also come standard. The LX also offers roof rails with optional crossbars, a matte black grille, Hybrid Blue bumper accents, and a 120V charging cable.

Inside, there’s a tilt and telescopic steering column, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster, a hidden storage tray in the cargo area, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and cloth seating surfaces. The driver and front passenger seats are 6-way adjustable and the rear seats split-fold 60/40 for loading cargo. There’s dual-zone automatic climate control and a unique driver-only air conditioning function that directs air only to the driver to reduce air conditioning power consumption.

Infotainment includes a 7-inch color touchscreen with an integrated reversing camera that features dynamic guidelines. The UVO eco infotainment system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM, four speakers, and two tweeters. There are also two front fascia power outlets, auxiliary and USB audio input jacks, and a rear USB charger. Steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, and push-button start are also standard.

UVO eco provides additional connectivity that focuses on the needs of eco-minded drivers. It allows for remote monitoring and charge scheduling to take advantage of off-peak utility rates. UVO eco can also be used to adjust the vehicle’s preset cabin temperature, turn on window defrosters and the heated steering wheel, and lock and unlock doors all from a smartphone.

The mid-grade trim is the EX with pricing starting at $31,500. It adds power-folding heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, a deluxe high-gloss door garnish, deluxe door armrest covering with stitching, satin chrome inside door handles, cloth and leather seating trims, heated front seats, and a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar support.

The top trim is the EX Premium, which is priced from $34,500. This trim adds LED headlights with beam assist, a gloss black outside front grille, deluxe scuff plates, a larger 7-inch TFT LCD display with tachometer, and a 110V inverter. The interior features ventilated front seats with integrated memory for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, and an upgraded infotainment system, which has a larger 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and a premium Harman Kardon sound system with 8 speakers.

Every Niro PHEV includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, driver attention assist, and smart cruise control. The EX trim adds lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, and the EX Premium adds a front and rear park assist system. The Kia Niro PHEV offers no optional packages, so there’s no way to get the additional safety features on lower trim levels. In general, upgrade options are limited and only include individual items like mud guards, wheel locks, and carpet floor mats.

Updated

Nicole Wakelin's passion for cars started on the day she went for a ride in a bright red Ferrari as a teenager. She writes reviews and covers everything cars for CarGurus, The Boston Globe, BestRide, AAA, Autobytel, and numerous other outlets.

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