2023 Kia Niro Hybrid

PHOENIX — In a world of lookalike vehicles few standout with an uncommon yet attractive design appeal. It's easy to see that one could make a legitimate claim that the throughly redesigned 2023 Kia Niro is one of them. Part hatchback, part wagon and part SUV, there's design cues from its Kia sibling the Soul. Undoubtedly the most exclusive and unique aspect of its exterior is the contrasting black colored "Aero Blade" with its slight protrusion across the rear-most pillar that directs airflow through and around it toward the rear hatchback.

For 2023 the Niro is offered in three hybrid-electric vehicle trim levels, LX, EX and our tested SX Touring that sits stop the lineup. Niro is also offered as a plug-in hybrid with an estimated driving range of 33 miles as well as a pure-electric choice with 253 miles of range. Our pure hybrid SX Touring is rated at 49 MPG combined city and highway driving and during our weeklong testing returned an excellent overall 47.9 MPG. Our overall tankful of regular gas indicated a total 479 mile driving range.

With room for five, the test Niro came extremely well equipped including the premium Harman Kardon audio system and dual 10.25-inch digital display screens. The excellent fuel economy matches well with a surprisingly roomy interior and roomy cargo versatility. Passenger-space including legroom, headroom and hip room have all increased over the 2022 Niro model with rear-seat legroom increasing the most.

Power comes via a 104-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and a hybrid electric motor that together produce a peak 139-horsepower that's connected to a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with power to the front wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not available on any Niro trim level.

Inside, the cabin is noticeably contemporary with a nod to eco-friendly fabrics and materials including leather-like seating material made with "bio" polyurethane and Tercel fabric thanks to eucalyptus leaves. The headliner is courtesy of recycled wallpaper. Niceties in our SX Touring included wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, power sunroof and rear liftgate, 18" alloy wheels, LED projector headlights, SirusXM, pushbutton starting and more. Oddly, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is by wire.

The Niro Hybrid tested here is an overall excellent vehicle and one of the best we've driven. However, there are a few compromises. While equipped with selectable drive modes from Sport to Eco and an interesting Green Zone, we wished for more horsepower especially when getting up to highway speeds and when overtaking slower traffic on two lane highways. We also thought the cabin was on the noisy side with too much road noise penetrating the cabin.

Overall, the new 2023 Niro is more than just a redesign for the small SUV that clearly improves upon, interior room and design, environmental considerations and numerous hybrid and electric variants.

2023 Ki Niro SX Touring Hybrid

Vital Stats

Base Price: $34,790
Price as Tested: $36,435
Engine: 1.6-Liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and hybrid
electric motor.
Transmission: 6-speed dual clutch automatic
Horsepower: 139
Seating: 5

Fab Features:
Superb fuel economy
Roomy, modern interior
Unique, attractive exterior design

— Jim Prueter