2023 Kia Niro debuts in Seoul with wild looks and a sustainable interior

The second-gen Niro will continue to be available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric forms.


This thing looks awesome.


After getting teased earlier this week the second-generation made its debut in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday. Like the outgoing model it will be available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric guises, but the new Niro has a much bigger emphasis on styling.

The overall design was inspired by the Habaniro concept from 2019 and it has more of a crossover look than the first-gen Niro. It has a new interpretation of Kia's 'Tiger Nose' face with a thin trim piece spanning the width of the front end. Large headlight units contain 'heartbeat' LED running lights and there's a large mouth-like grille and lower skid plate element in the bumper. The EV gets a slightly smaller grille, a center-mounted charging port and unique detailing.


The taillights are super cool.


Moving onto the side view is where things start getting weird -- in a good way, I think. The glossy black body cladding surround the front wheels extends nearly all the way to the rear wheels and the entire thick C-pillar is finished in gloss black to give the car a two-tone look. The thin vertical LED taillights extend all the way up to the roof and are augmented by light pods low in the rear bumper that likely contain the turn signals and reverse lights. The rear hatch is pretty raked and features a large spoiler, while the tailgate has some nice surfacing to it. Overall I think the new Niro looks rad as hell and it fits in well with Kia's design language while remaining distinctive.

The interior is very reminiscent of the electric EV6 crossover and the new Sportage. The digital gauge cluster and central infotainment screen are combined into one big display and the angular shape dashboard flows onto the door panels. A dial-shaped electronic shifter sits on the center console alongside other controls and there's a mix of physical knobs and touch buttons for the climate controls. There's cool ambient lighting integrated into the dashboard and I love the two-spoke steering wheel and slim air vents. Lots of eco-friendly materials are used inside, like a headliner made from recycled wallpaper, seats with a textile made from eucalyptus leaves and water-free paint on the door panels.


The interior has lots of EV6 influence.


No powertrain details were given, but we wouldn't be surprised if the hybrid and PHEV models share their setups with the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. Expect a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-4 paired with an electric motor, with the PHEV getting a bigger motor and battery pack for a longer EV range. The EV should have a longer range than the current model's 239-mile rating, too. In applicable countries the Niro PHEV will have a Greenzone Drive Mode that automatically puts the car into EV mode in green zones like hospitals, residential areas and schools using navigation data -- and it'll also remember the driver's favorite places as green zones.

All three forms of the new Kia Niro will go on sale next year, with US-spec details to come later. It should start somewhere between $25,000-30,000, slightly higher than the outgoing Niro.

The new Kia Niro crossover has a lot more style

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Daniel Golson Former social media editor

Article updated on November 24, 2021 at 7:09 PM PST

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Daniel Golson Former social media editor
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