CRITICS' CORNER

What people are saying about the Kia Niro hybrid

Kia unveiled its first dedicated hybrid, the Niro, at the Chicago Auto Show last week. The Niro originated as a concept at the 2013 Franfurt Auto Show and is set to launch in early 2017. In the meantime, several critics, analysts and others had something to say about the crossover.

"Jointly designed at Kia's styling centers in Irvine, California, and Namyang, Korea, the Niro HUV (Hybrid Utility Vehicle) is the first car in the brand's portfolio to make use of its "all-new, dedicated eco-car platform." Falling approximately into the subcompact-crossover segment size-wise, the somewhat boldly designed Niro is the latest step in the maker's quest to nearly triple its global lineup of green cars by 2020. It's also Kia's first dedicated hybrid and will aim to lure Toyota Prius shoppers to the Kia fold." -- Car and Driver

"Prices have yet to be announced, but on paper and pictures the 2017 Niro looks like a practical and efficient way to get a few people and items around town. Not sure a car that tells you to coast will be able to deliver on the promise of being "fun to drive" but I like the idea of cheap and efficient transportation as much as the next city slicker." -- Jalopnik

"Kia says the seating position is higher up like the Soul, and the battery pack is under and behind the rear seats like the Prius, so you can lay the cargo floor flat for easy storage and versatility. Kia says Niro has better cargo area than Ford C-Max hybrid and the Toyota Prius. And no split hatch window. Win. Even with the rear seats up, there is plenty of storage for a road-tripping family of four. Unlike the Soul, Kia has emphasized noise cancellation on the interior. Kia's UVO infotainment system is better than Subaru's and Toyota's, so it's got that going for it, which is nice." -- Chicago Tribune

"With gas prices possibly dropping below $1.00 per gallon, now might not be the best time for Kia to release an onslaught of hybrids, though the technology will be useful when fuel costs climb again." -- Autoweek

"Hybrids live or die by not just how well they save fuel, but how smartly they manage all the technical steps of getting power to and from the wheels and at what price; more than most cars, it's impossible to pass a verdict on the Niro from pictures alone. But so far, Kia appears to have made smart, and even lucky, choices." -- Yahoo Autos

"Kia calls the Niro an SUV, because, why not? That's all anybody is buying these days. At 171.5 inches overall length, 70.9 inches wide, and just 60.4 inches tall, it's larger than a Soul, smaller than a Sportage, and it has more interior space than a Toyota Prius or Ford C-Max. As it's three or four inches lower in height than most small crossovers, its proportions look more like that of a hatchback or wagon, which is a good thing in our mind. Admittedly, step-in height is more like a compact crossover's, though the Niro will be available only with front-wheel drive, at least for the time being. To distinguish the Kia from Hyundai's first model off this hybrid architecture, the related Ioniq Hybrid is shaped more like a Prius." -- Automobile

"The last time we saw Kia's funky Niro concept was nearly three years ago at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and it certainly caught our eye. It was far from production, but with its futuristic design we knew it was a long time in the making. Fast forward to today and consider our eyes caught again. The all-new 2017 Kia Niro hybrid utility vehicle has arrived and it is ready to be unveiled at this week's Chicago Auto Show. It will be its first appearance, but there are many more firsts that the Niro will provide. Some of those include a dedicated and all new eco-car platform, in addition to a unique hybrid system. With the Niro, Kia is continuing to grow their electric lineup, and it is set to challenge the fast-growing hybrid segment. It is all part of Kia Motors' Green Car Roadmap, a plan launched in 2015 with the goal of creating 11 hybrid models by 2020. The South Korean automaker had four hybrids at the time and has added the Optima and Soul EV models since." -- New York Daily News

You can reach at autonews@crain.com. -- Follow on Twitter
Tags: Niro

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