Regular readers know I am a big fan of the Kia Niro. Yes, Kia did fly me down to San Antonio last year to spend a weekend driving the Niro through the Texas hill country outside San Antonio but I am a true journalist and cannot be bought with such things as sumptuous meals, free drinks, and courtside seats to a Spurs game.
The truth is, I was impressed with the Kia Niro. It is stylish, comfortable, and best of all, it’s an SUV that gets an honest EPA rating of 51 miles per gallon in its base configuration. It’s best feature is the six speed DSG transmission that makes it feel like a car with true sporting pretensions when the driver fells like playing.
Is it as quick as a Tesla P100D? No, not even close. But it costs one fifth as much. It’s a car even I could afford. And it has a rear seat real people can get in and out of, something that detracts from the overall goodness of the Chevy Volt. There are rumors the Niro PHEV will have a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs or so. No other PHEV offers that.
The Niro, like its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Ioniq, will come with either a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric powertrain. The hybrid is on sale now. The electric car is expected this summer. And the plug-in hybrid will be in US showrooms before Christmas.
With an 8.9 kWh battery, the Niro PHEV will have an EPA electric only range of about 25 miles. For those who think that’s too low, keep in mind the BMW 330e has a paltry 14 miles of range and costs twice as much. The Niro PHEV falls short of the Chevy Volt’s 53 miles of range but then again its battery is half the size and it will likely retail for $7,000 less. 25 miles doesn’t seem too bad when you’re saving 7 grand.