Kia has made enormous progress with its Niro PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle). Just three years after the last all-new Niro, it’s been completely redone for 2023.
Suddenly, the last-generation model (sold right up through last summer) looks old-fashioned. The new model has a ton more presence. The black trim behind the rear doors is controversial. Some love it, but I don’t, and it’s an extra-cost option you can just say no to.
There are changes under the skin this time as well. The 139 horsepower in last year’s model is now a much more robust 180. The old 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds is now a much more respectable 7.3 seconds.
The 26 miles of pure electric range per charge before the powerplant switches to a gasoline/electric hybrid is now 33. And the Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimate when operating in hybrid mode has ticked up from 46 to 48 mpg.
The change in interiors is more like a five-year leap. Much more contemporary in design.
The one I drove is a 2023 Kia Niro PHEV SX Touring, which is top of the line. The base price is $40,785 including destination. It also includes a ton of standard equipment – a comprehensive suite of active safety features, electronic stability control, 10.25-inch center screen with navigation, Harman/Kardon premium audio system and a whole lot more.
There were only three extra-cost options on our test car, the aforementioned black C-pillar trim ($195), the SX Touring Cold Weather Package (supplemental cabin heater and heated rear outboard seats for $500) and carpeted floor mats ($155). That brings the as-tested price to $41,635.
Put another win in the Kia column. The Niro PHEV is a terrific compact crossover SUV.
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