Have you heard about the newest model entering Kia’s lineup? It’s called the Niro, and is the very first hybrid SUV. Kia announced this vehicle as a part of its Green Car Roadmap, which is slated to increase the number of green vehicles Kia sells by a factor of three by 2020. If you are looking forward to seeing more environmentally-friendly vehicles on the road, you are probably excited about this announcement, when it was made at the Chicago Auto Show a few weeks ago. So, what can we expect from this first of its kind vehicle?
When most people think of hybrid vehicles, they think first of Toyota’s Prius. That vehicle has a very unique look, and the appearance was part of what drew people to it. It was designed to stand out, to be obviously different from strictly gas-powered vehicles. Instead of obviously proclaiming itself as a hybrid vehicle, the goal of the Niro is just to stand out. Instead of favoring the rounder design that many hybrids in many other brands have, Kia has opted instead for something sharper and a little more aggressive. It’s sleep, with a long roofline and an almost athletic stance.
Kia did not want the Niro to stray too far from its sport utility roots or to look out of place alongside the rest of the vehicles that Kia offers. It will still have the same tiger grille and flanked headlights that most Kia models share.
Inside the Niro, you’ll find roomier, more comfortable seating than is offered in other hybrid models, largely because the vast majority of other hybrids are sedans. Because it is a SUV, it can provide better seating and more leg room. And because it has a wheelbase of more than 106 inches, this vehicle actually has a fairly wide stance, giving you more room to spread out. Specific attention was obviously paid to ensuring there was enough leg room, headspace, and shoulder room.
Across the board, this vehicle is being praised for it’s distinctly non-hybrid design. It looks clean and rides wide and low, giving you great grip while driving. It looks and, most importantly, drives like, just about any other vehicle on the road. While some brands are shouting their green-friendliness to the rooftops by making their hybrids look clunky and almost toy-ish in design, Kia knows that it is important to make their cars, whether they are gas-powered, hybrids, or straight electric, still look like cars.
Better Gas Mileage
One of the biggest reasons people stay away from SUVs and opt, instead for a sedan is the huge decrease in gas mileage between these two types of vehicles. Most SUVs are lucky to get twenty miles to the gallon, while the average sedan could get more than thirty. The Niro gets fifty combined MPG, featuring an Atkinson Cycle 1.6-liter four-cylinder and a 1.56-kilowatt hour lithium ion polymer battery, both of which have been specifically designed for this vehicle.
This makes the Niro much better than even the Optima Hybrid, which currently gets only a comparatively low thirty-eight miles to the gallon. For those who are looking to spend less on gas (even though gas prices have been extremely low lately), or who simply want to decrease their carbon footprint, this is an ideal option. The kind of gas mileage just is not being rivaled by any other hybrid and certainly not by any gas-powered vehicle.
Along with the Niro, Kia has announced a range of other features and updates, some of which related directly to the Niro, and others which are related to other vehicles or to their lineup as a whole. For example, the Niro is equipped with a six-speed, dual clutch transmission, which is designed to make shifting smoother and faster, enhancing the performance of this vehicle and simply making it more responsive and more fun to drive than just about any other vehicle, and certainly more fun that other hybrids, which have long suffered from jumpy throttles and weird braking behavior.
One of the biggest talking points at the Chicago Auto Show was the cushiness of the interior of this vehicle, which is likely to be mirrored in improvement of the interiors in vehicles across the lineup. There was also better sound insulation, a high-class acoustic windshield, and even special mounts on the engines that dampened the sound and vibration of the vehicle.
Other advancements that are likely to be seen across the whole of the lineup include advanced blind-spot mirroring, better traffic alerts, cruise control that adapts to how you are driving, more streamlined systems for detecting and alerting drivers if they are departing lanes, and even improved emergency brake systems.
The last major introduction from Kia was the UVO3, which is going to be bringing some big changes to Kia’s infotainment system, and which is going to be available on the 2017 Kia Sportage. The new system will have three notable changes: more telematics systems, the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and music storage, on the vehicle’s own system. This means that drivers will have more information about their vehicle, will be able to control their smartphones from the UVO3 (for more than just texting and calling), and will actually be able to download music onto their vehicle and store it there, completely eliminated the necessity of syncing or plugging an mp3 player into the system!