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2019 Kia Niro

$23,490 - $32,250
Price Range (MSRP)
Kia Niro

2019 Kia Niro Review

by Roger Biermann

The Kia Niro is a front-wheel drive compact crossover hybrid SUV that’s part of the three-strong Niro model range first introduced in 2017. It’s powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine connected to a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and a 43-horsepower electric motor which combine to make 139 hp. The range comprises the FE, LX, EX, S Touring, and Touring models, sharing a drivetrain but catering to various price points and specifications, but presenting a wider range than most hybrids do. As a practical hybrid crossover that’s loaded with features and boasting phenomenal fuel economy, the Niro really delivers. The styling appeals to the crossover-crazed world we live in, giving buyers an appealing alternative to humdrum hybrids like the Toyota Prius, which is one of the few hybrids on the market capable of getting near the magical 50 mpg mark.

2019 Kia Niro Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Niro?

Apart from the improved infotainment system, there haven’t been any updates to the Niro since it was introduced in 2017, except for the addition of new models to the range including the Niro EV. For 2019 the Niro Hybrid’s changes are minimal, with an update to the navigation software, and a minor trim adjustment - last year’s Graphite Edition model is now the S Touring trim.

Pros and Cons

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Comfortable interior
  • Broad model line-up for a hybrid
  • Decent cargo space
  • Appealing crossover body styling
  • Only available in front-wheel drive
  • Average ride quality
  • Not the most agile
  • Base model is scantily equipped
  • Powertrain feels a little dull

Niro Exterior

The Niro has conventional crossover styling, but it’s not a bad thing at all because it entices new customers to the hybrid market who aren’t ready for some of the more adventurously styled hybrid sedans and hatches out there. The front has Kia’s prominent ‘tiger nose’ grille, finished in gloss black on FE, LX, and EX trims, with a graphite finish on the S Touring trim. Roof rails are equipped from the LX model, while a power sunroof is standard on the Touring and optional on the EX. Headlights are projector beams, with HID clusters on the Touring. LED daytime running lights only become standard from the EX, while remaining optional on the LX. The three entry-level trims boast 16-inch alloy wheels, while the S Touring and Touring upgrade to 18-inch wheels, the S Touring with a black finish.

2019 Kia Niro Three Quarter Front Left Side View
2019 Kia Niro Three Quarter Rear Right Side View
2019 Kia Niro Side View
See All 2019 Kia Niro Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Kia Niro is marketed as a crossover SUV, but with just 6.3 inches of ground clearance it’s closer to a hatchback than a full-blown SUV. It has a length of 171.5 inches on a wheelbase of 106.3 inches. The width is 71.1 inches and the height is 60.8 inches. The base model FE, without roof rails, measures 60.4 inches in height, with all other trims boasting an extra 0.4 inches due to the added roof rails. Curb weight varies by trim, with the lightest models at 3,106 lbs while the heaviest Niro Hybrid tips the scales at 3,287 lbs.

Exterior Colors

Kia offers a total of five exterior hues for the Niro, although the entry-level FE only gets four options. Available across the range are Silky Silver at no cost, Runway Red at $295,and Snow White Pearl and Aurora Black Pearl, both at $395 apiece. On all but the base model, Deep Cerulean is available as a no-cost option too. This is down from last year’s nine-strong palette, with Metal Stream, Rich Espresso, Crimson Red, Gravity Blue, and Platinum Graphite all cut from the list.

  • Runway Red
  • Aurora Black Pearl
  • Snow White Pearl
  • Silky Silver
  • Platinum Graphite
  • Deep Cerulean

Niro Performance

All the models in the Kia Niro range are front-wheel drive and use the same 104-hp 1.6 liter, four cylinder engine with a six-speed dual clutch transmission. The engine is connected to an electric motor which makes 43 hp and together they produce a combined 139 hp. With a 0-60 mph time of around 8.6 seconds in the lighter FE trim, the Niro won’t be winning any races, but is still brisk enough to feel fun and sporty. Unfortunately none of the models have the option of all-wheel drive, or the ability to tow. It would have been great if Kia offered the Niro with a bit more power, but as it is, it can still perform adequately for most excursions around town. For more power the next best thing is the new Kia Niro EV, which offers 201 hp and a range of 239 miles.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available with all-wheel-drive and comes with a more powerful drivetrain, giving the Niro a run for its money.

2019 Kia Niro Three Quarter Front Left Side View In Motion
2019 Kia Niro Three Quarter Rear Left Side View In Motion
2019 Kia Niro Rim

Engine and Transmission

Every model in the Kia Niro range is front-wheel drive and uses a 104-hp 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, which finds itself paired with a 43-hp electric motor. Contrary to what standard mathematics might dictate, the combined power output is claimed at 139 hp, while the drive is directed to the front axle through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Unlike most hybrids, the Niro has a traditional automatic transmission instead of a CVT and it makes a real difference. The shifts are more accurate, and power seems more readily delivered, but there is a sense of delay in the shift programming, particularly when hard on the gas from a standstill. To get the best performance off the line, Sport mode comes in hand to increase the throttle response and improve the shift times.

That said, the Niro is very nippy around town and most of the time the fact that it’s a hybrid will hardly be noticed. On longer journeys and going uphill, the 1.6-liter engine starts to feel the strain, but that’s only at higher speeds.

  • Engine
    1.6-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Niro needs a second or two to compose itself before it gets off the line and although the delay can be irritating, it can be easily remedied by the Sport mode. The drive of the Niro feels more like a car than an SUV and there’s very little body roll around the corners, the result of its lower ground clearance compared to many other crossovers. The ride, while not the best, is more than adequate and the Niro does an admirable job of keeping the bumps from being felt in the interior. The additional ride height benefits the Niro here, as the inch or so of extra suspension travel deals with larger bumps just a little easier.

The steering provides decent responses and doesn’t feel too light or too heavy, but in Sport mode weights up substantially. It naturally tracks straight and true with no dead spots to speak of aside from a vagueness on center. Braking is generally quite good, but under duress, the brakes can sometimes feel a bit spongy due to the changeover to regenerative braking. Even at speed, cabin noise is thankfully kept at a minimum and there are also no rattles or squeaks.

Niro Gas Mileage

Obviously, gas mileage is one of the main reasons to buy a hybrid and in this area, the Niro shines. With smaller wheels and thus less rolling resistance as well as less equipment, the FE is the most economical variant, with EPA-rated estimates of 52/49/50 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. These drop to 51/46/49 mpg on LX and EX derivatives, while the 18-inch wheel-equipped S Touring and Touring trims achieve claimed mileage estimates of 46/40/43 mpg. With an 11.9-gallon gas tank and 1.56 kWh lithium-ion battery, the base model Niro FE achieves a maximum range of 595 miles in mixed driving conditions. These gas mileage estimates are some of the best around, with only the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius getting close to that 50 mpg combined figure.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    11.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 52/49 mpg
* 2019 Kia Niro FE FWD

Niro Interior

While not in the premium category, the interior of the Niro still looks neat and solid with a combination of hard and soft-touch materials. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is small and comfortable and falls easily to hand with a fair range of tilt and telescopic adjustment. Controls are well laid out across the dash, and as is the norm for Kia products, the infotainment system is easy to use. Space is ample, but not exceptional, and while the front seats can easily accommodate taller adults, the space in the rear of the cabin is limited, particularly when seated behind taller front occupants.

2019 Kia Niro Infotainment System
2019 Kia Niro Infotainment System
2019 Kia Niro Infotainment System
See All 2019 Kia Niro Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The seating and interior space in the Niro is fairly good for a car in its class. Seating five might be a bit of a squeeze, but four can be seated quite comfortably. The front seats have 40.1 inches of headroom and 41.7 inches of legroom - adequate for tall drivers with a broad range of seating adjustment giving an ideal driving position, while the rear seats have 39.1 inches of headroom and 37.4 inches of legroom. Due to the abundant head and legroom, the Niro is quite comfortable, even for taller passengers, although rear occupants might find it snug behind a six-foot-tall driver. Front visibility is fine due to the tall seating position, but rear visibility can be a bit low because of the sloping roofline and narrow rear windscreen. Thankfully, there’s a standard rearview camera.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The Niro’s interior doesn’t pretend to be in the premium class. Instead, it offers excellent features in a neat and functional package. The dashboard has a combination of hard and soft-touch plastic with faux chrome and gloss black accents that also include a blue trim around the vents. The FE and LX come with either charcoal or grey cloth, while the EX is available in either a grey or charcoal mixture of cloth and leather upholstery. The S Touring is only available in charcoal cloth with leather, while the Touring only comes in charcoal leather.

Niro Trunk and Cargo Space

The cargo space in the Niro isn’t the best in its class but it's still decent thanks to storing the electric battery under the rear seats rather than the cargo area. The rear cargo space measures 19.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 54.4 cu-ft with the seats down. This makes it comparable, but slightly larger than sister-car the Hyundai Kona, offering more storage with the rear seats stowed. The hatch is a fairly large opening, and the load sill is low, which means it’s easy to access the cargo bay and store up to two suitcases.

Other than rear cargo space the Niro also offers decent space for smaller items inside the cabin, with storage in the glove box and center console storage compartment with removable tray. It also has front seatback storage, front cupholders, overhead console with storage, and front door pockets of a decent size.

2019 Kia Niro Full Luggage Space
2019 Kia Niro Luggage Space
2019 Kia Niro Trunk Space with Seat Folded

Niro Infotainment and Features

Features

Kia has loaded the Niro with features to keep up with all the impressively equipped rivals in its class, although the entry-level FE can be a bit sparse for most people’s tastes. The FE comes standard with projector headlights, a rearview camera, dual zone climate control, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. Going up the range, many more features are added depending on the trim chosen. Some of the features include HID headlights, onboard navigation, a wireless phone charger, lane change assist, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, and a power-tilt sunroof.

Infotainment

The infotainment system is what you’d expect from a modern SUV with even the FE model getting a seven-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, six speakers, AM/FM radio, AUX and USB inputs, Kia’s UVO services, and SiriusXM satellite radio with three months’ paid subscription. Optional on the EX and S touring models as part of the EX Premium package, and standard on the Touring model is the Harman Kardon premium audio system which comes with an eight-inch touchscreen, onboard navigation, and eight speakers including a subwoofer. The infotainment unit can definitely compete with most of the other vehicles in the Niro’s class and with the Harman Kardon premium audio system can even surpass some of them. It’s a pity that there’s no onboard Wi-Fi available.

Niro Problems and Reliability

There have been no recalls for the 2019 Niro, although there have been some complaints about the error lights coming on. The 2019 model hasn’t had any recalls, but the 2018 model did have a recall because of a fire risk caused by electrical resistance at the main relay. Otherwise, Kia has one of the best warranties in the business with a basic warranty of five years/ 60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty of ten years/100,000 miles. It also has a powertrain warranty of ten years/100,000 miles, an anti-perforation warranty of five-years/100,000 miles, and a ten year/100,000 mile warranty on the hybrid electrical components.

Niro Safety

The Kia Niro has been tested by the NHTSA and achieved an overall rating of four stars. The IIHS, meanwhile, gave the Kia Niro a best possible rating of good in nearly all categories and awarded it as a 2019 Top Safety Pick +.

Key Safety Features

The entry-level FE model comes with very basic safety features, but going higher in the range, the Niro has enough features to compete with the best out there. The FE comes standard with four-wheel ABS, child seat anchors, stability control, a rearview camera, dual front airbags, front-side airbags, side curtain airbags, and traction control. The EX and S Touring model add blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert under the Drive Wise grouping of safety features. Optional extra features on the EX and S Touring that are standard on the Touring model include autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist, driver attention alert, and adaptive cruise control.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Kia Niro a good SUV?

The Kia Niro has many brilliant attributes, but like all other cars also has some drawbacks. There’s no all-wheel drive available and it hasn’t got the best cargo space when compared to some of its rivals. In the performance department, the acceleration is slightly above average, but nothing special, and the handling is also average at best.

Where the Niro excels is in providing an economical way to travel, while sitting in relative comfort and having many features. The excellent fuel economy is a huge selling point but could be improved by getting the plug-in hybrid version. The interior has comfortable seats and a decent amount of space, even for long journeys. Combined with the up-to-date infotainment system, as well as the different driver aids, the Niro is competent for both long and short trips, and with a class-leading warranty owners can have peace of mind that they will be taken care of should any problems occur. For those weary of a switch to full EV, the Niro is one of the best hybrids with which to bridge the gap.

What's the Price of the 2019 Kia Niro?

The FE is the cheapest Niro in the range and carries a starting MSRP of $23,490. Next is the LX which starts at $23,900 and the EX at $26,400. At the top of the line-up is the S Touring at $28,800, and the Touring at $32,250. These prices exclude any registration, tax, and licensing fees, as well as the destination charge of $995.

2019 Kia Niro Models

The Niro is available in five trims: FE, LX, EX, S Touring, and Touring. All the models are front-wheel-drive and use an electric motor paired with a 1.6-liter engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The FE comes standard with 16-inch wheels, dual zone climate control and a seven-inch touchscreen with a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX and USB ports, AM/FM radio, and four speakers.

Next is the LX, which adds keyless ignition, a rear center armrest with cupholders, roof rails, and LED taillights.

The EX adds extra in the way of 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, blind-spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert. It also adds leather and cloth upholstery, heated side mirrors, and additional USB port, and rear air vents.

The S Touring is next, formerly the Graphite Edition, adding a metallic front grill, exclusive Platinum Graphite paint, as well as a power-adjustable driver’s seat, eight-inch touchscreen with onboard navigation, and a Harman Kardon premium audio system.

The Touring model is the top of the range model and adds all the features from the lower trims and additional packages. Some of the features include heated and ventilated front seats, a wireless charger, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and a leather interior. It also has driver aids like lane keeping assist, front and rear park assist, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
FE
1.6-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front Wheel Drive
$23,490
LX
1.6-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front Wheel Drive
$23,900
EX
1.6-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front Wheel Drive
$26,400
S Touring
1.6-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front Wheel Drive
$28,800
Touring
1.6-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front Wheel Drive
$32,250
See All 2019 Kia Niro Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

With five available trims, Kia still gives the availability of three options packages on certain trims to bridge the gaps in the line-up.

The LX Advanced Technology Package is available for the LX only at a price of $1,450, and includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever.

The EX Advanced Technology Package is available on the EX only and includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and forward collision warning system, as well as ten-way power driver’s seat adjustment for a price of $1,950.

There’s also the EX Premium Package available with the EX trim, which for $5,300 includes a power sunroof, HID headlights, leather upholstery, a wireless charger, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, an eight-inch touchscreen with onboard navigation and a Harman Kardon premium audio system.

What Kia Niro Model Should I Buy?

The FE and the LX models are very well priced but are a bit sparse and don’t have some of the latest safety features like blind-spot detection available that we feel are important for a vehicle at this price point. Even when the LX has the Advanced Technology Package equipped, it still lacks some of the best features. The EX has a great level of standard features, but to get the best out of it, both the Advanced Technology Package and Premium Package needs to be added. It’s almost pointless buying the EX and then adding the packages because it brings the price to the same price point as the Touring, which is why we feel it’s best to only equip the EX Advanced Technology Package, saving yourself some cash, and still achieving impressive economy figures - a key reason for buying the Niro.

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2019 Kia Niro Comparisons

2019 Kia Niro
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2019 Kia Niro vs Hyundai Kona

The Niro is the least electrified of the three-model Niro range, which begs the question of whether or not it's even worth looking at in this guise? Perhaps the Hyundai Kona is a better, more traditional option. The Kona boasts more striking looks and offers a range of engines to cater to the requirements of many. It’s also available with all-wheel-drive, unlike the Niro. The Kona also drives like a hot-hatch, particularly with the turbocharged motor, but it suffers for its sins, with gas mileage estimates of nearly half what the Niro can provide. The Kona is more cramped than the Niro but packs equivalent levels of tech and comfort features, all at a much cheaper price. Still, the gas mileage of the Niro is tempting, and frankly shouldn’t be overlooked, making it our pick for the future-thinking young adult.

See Hyundai Kona Review

2019 Kia Niro vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The Toyota RAV4 hybrid produces more power than the Niro at 219 hp compared to the Niro’s 139 hp. It is also available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive while the Niro is only available in front-wheel drive. With AWD, it also carries a higher ground clearance of 8.1 inches compared to the Niro’s 6.3 and has a towing capacity of 1,750 lbs while the Niro has no towing capacity. The RAV4 is larger and has more cargo, as well as passenger space, but it comes with a price tag that’s $4,000 more expensive than the Niro. It also can’t match the Niro’s mileage estimates, making it more expensive in all aspects. Unless you really need the space afforded by the RAV4, the Niro is the better objective buy.

See Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review

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2019 Kia Niro Video Review