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The 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid: Full Test Drive

Updated on June 20, 2017

A Stellar Bargain in the Hybrid SUV Segment

If you were to ask me sixteen years ago what I thought of Kia Motor Company, I would tell you that they sold basic transportation at a cheap price. Gone are the days of the Kia Sophia, which was a simplistic compact car at a stellar price. Nowadays Kia has come a long way, from selling the excellent Optima to the beautiful new Sorrento SUV. Now Kia has high hopes of breaking into the hybrid market, with the 2017 Kia Niro which is not only a Hybrid but also a family SUV.

The Kia Niro is a brand new model, the first new Kia SUV nameplate that has been released since the full size Kia Borrego in 2009. I decided to test the Kia Niro because I have been a fan of Kia's recent design philosophy on their vehicles, and I am an even bigger fan of hybrid SUV models because of their versatility and financial savings.

First Impression of the Exterior:

Upon first looking at my 2017 Kia Niro test vehicle, I was impressed with the swooping lines throughout the body, as well as the large bright head lights and fog lights. The vehicle has an aggressive stance to it, and it comes equipped with black fender flares which give it a real SUV look. The model in which I was testing came in Snow White, and the color really showed well with the alloy rims that come standard.

First Impression of the Interior:

I will start things off with a wow, the interior is very well appointed. The black leather seats with white stitching have excellent lumbar support, and the most important feature for long drives is going to be the stellar placement of the cup holders. The touch screen navigation is top notch, with a full color display and easy to read icons with a very easy to figure out interface. The knobs are nice and big and do not feel cheap at all, and the same goes for the air conditioning controls which are right within reach.

The interior is very roomy, with plenty of room for four full size adults to make a long voyage without trouble. We drove for two hours straight, all freeway driving with no discomfort. The rear seating has a nice armrest in between the occupants, and there is plenty of head room thanks to a tall roof design. Cargo space is above average, we had a cooler and a few backpacks full in the rear cargo area and there was still plenty of room left.

Road Testing the 2017 Kia Niro:

Like with most of the recent Kia products I was already expecting to be impressed, after driving the Kia Sorrento rental that I had last year I was sold. This model drives great, the engine which is half electric handles itself pretty well. Acceleration onto the freeway is above average, you can really feel the CVT transmission shifting gears when it needs to take off the line.

The brakes were also very responsive, there were a few instances while driving in Tulsa, OK traffic that I had to stop abruptly and the vehicle did not slide or lose control. The steering is pretty smooth, nothing to out of place but I did notice that the vehicle does not have a very good turning radius. This could be due to the short wheel base, but either way the steering is still very decent.

Road noise was minimal, the ride is very quiet especially in regular city driving. The standard rear backup camera is really a nice feature as well, especially for having to parallel park. There was also decent power while going uphill, the little SUV didn't struggle at all, which is very impressive for a Hybrid.

Why I would actually purchase this hybrid SUV:

I am not a big fan of Hybrid vehicles by any means, and especially not an SUV. However, the 2017 Kia Niro is a stellar value for the price. You get the fuel savings of a hybrid vehicle, with the versatility of a gasoline SUV. Sure there could be a little more horsepower, but overall the Kia Niro is not a bad deal at all and for a lot of consumers this little SUV is just the right package.


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