For some time now gas prices have been consistently low and analysts are predicting that the low prices will persist for a little bit longer. Nonetheless, we all know that ultimately they will go up again. Automakers perfectly understand this and are busy upgrading their drive-trains to provide increased fuel economy.
Kia is one such automaker, the automaker plans to triple its lineup of hybrids by 2020. One of the new planned vehicles is the 2017 Kia Niro which made its public debut recently at the Chicago Auto Show.
Kia designers have worked tirelessly to create a vehicle that combines efficiency with a body that looks like a conventional car than a hybrid. The automaker even goes ahead to refer to the Niro as a “hybrid crossover”. The vehicle is based on Kia’s new eco-car platform.
2017 Kia Niro Exterior
While many automakers design models that scream “hybrid” for the masses to notice, Kia took a different turn. The Niro looks like a conventional model. The automaker aim is to offer a highly efficient hybrid without sacrificing the functional utility or the engaging emotional design. Kia looks to avoid the criticism that befell the Prius despite its impressive hybrid drive-train. Critics argue the Prius physical profile is unexciting.
The 2017 Kia Niro features Kia’s signature “tiger-nose” grille. The grille is flanked by a pair of near vertical headlights which are angled towards the A-pillars. The front also features vertical air vents on the bumper and a lower grille all which give the Niro a sporty look.
At the rear, you will notice design cues borrowed from the Sportage such as the small rear glass, high-mounted taillights, tiny bumper lights as well as a trapezoid-shaped license plate recess. The vehicle has some unique features such as its one-piece taillight and rear glass design, a sporty tail-gate spoiler, C-shaped LED light clusters and a body colored apron withe aluminum inserts. The side view is similar to the Sorento. Towards the rear, the crossover seems to go the coupe way with a thinner D-pillar.
For a hybrid, Kia did a great job in integrating the Niro into its lineup of crossovers. Though it is not as impressive as your regular crossover, the vehicle won’t look out of place when lined up with other crossovers.
2017 Kia Niro Interior
The interior of the 2017 Kia Niro looks nice and inviting. At the front, the instruments cluster is very informative and colorful. It has a large touch-screen befitting a crossover. Its center console and door panels have been designed with storage areas for small objects.
The vehicle rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase; this together with its wide stance and short overhangs ensure sufficient head, leg and shoulder room for all passengers. Its seats are upholstered in a quality material and the seat cushions have an increased pad density which improves the comfort of passengers.
Stiff suspension bushings, an acoustic windshield, special engine mounts and more sound insulation features ensure the cabin is very quiet from wind, road and engine noises.
The engine is placed underneath the rear seats which help to create more space for passengers and cargo. Tech’ wise the 2017 Kia Niro comes equipped with Kia’s UVO3 infotainment system with a 7.0 inch touch-screen. The system offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities. In terms of security, it features stability and traction control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, ABS and lane departure warning.
Engine Specs and Performance
Under the hood, you will find a hybrid drive-train. The unit combines a 1.6 L, 4-cylinder gasoline engine which is rated at 103 hp with an electric motor rated at 43 hp. The electric motor draws its power from a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion battery the rear seats. The two combine to give the Niro 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The drive-train is paired with a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission system.
To reduce weight, the automaker has done away with the 12-volt battery and the vehicle uses the same lithium-ion battery for starting up. EPA ratings are not yet out but the automaker is targeting a rating of 50 mpg. If it is achieved, this will be pretty impressive considering the vehicle offers SUV-like utility. This will also place it just behind the Prius which returns 52 mpg on combined drives. To achieve this impressive fuel efficiency, Kia leverages a new technology which includes Predictive Energy Control and an ECO driver’s assist system which offers Coasting guide.
Coasting Guide notifies the driver when to coast and when to brake to optimize efficiency. Predictive Energy Control on the other hand combines with cruise control to help manage the best times to recharge the battery or to expend extra energy to maintain speed efficiently.
According to credible reports, a plug-in hybrid will be offered at a later date.
Price and release date
Expect the price of the 2017 Kia Niro to fall slightly below the market leader, the Toyota Prius. The recently released 2016 Toyota Prius has a starting price of $ 26,000 so expect the Niro to start at around 25,000.
The new Kia Niro 2017 made its debut at the recent Chicago Auto Show. Sales will start in the second half of this year (2016).
Of late automakers are trying their best to improve their hybrid engines to offer high numbers of fuel efficiency. One model that is leading the way is the Toyota Prius which commands a great chunk of this market segment. Hyundai is also coming up and fast with their Hyundai Ioniq.